Something Old, Something New ~ A DRA Production

Seven bestselling authors. Seven incredible second chance romances. One epic anthology. What would you do for another chance with the one you love?  Something Old, Something New – a unique novella anthology – tries to answer this question with fantastic, different, desi dramas. Whether it is shapeshifters or shifting interracial … Continue reading Something Old, Something New ~ A DRA Production

The Struggle Book Series (Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020)

The Struggle Book Series is written by Patrice Smith, Donna Smith, Shannon Smith, Charity Smith and Faith Smith. Published by Real Food is Good, these books were sent to me by the author Patrice Smith to review for the Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020.  A set of three, these books follow the journey of four young girls Diamond, Sheila, Crystal and Felicity. The books give a wholesome view of a young black Christian family living in Southern US.

 

Book1: Mom and The Summer Time Blues

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Four sisters, a mother who is Vegetarian/Vegan and summer, that is the gist of this book. On surface seems simple enough, four sisters, Diamond, Sheila, Crystal and Felicity are typical teenager/tweens wanting to have a fun summer. Unfortunately for them, their mother is a vegetarian/vegan who would like them to follow a healthier diet/lifestyle and considering the prevalence of lifestyle diseases, the mother is not wrong. The girls, however, feel that the mother is spoiling their summer vacation by: a). giving them healthy food, not giving them junk food and making them exercise; b).making them do extra school work in the vacation, including writing the book. Considering the age of the sisters you can agree why they called the book Summer Time Blues. Each of the four girls have individual, rather strong personalities and each of the girls gets her own chapter where she talks about what she likes or what she finds infuriating, making each of the girls’ someone whom you may know.

Reading about the four sisters and their grievances against their mother reminded me of my childhood days, being one of three sisters I could relate to them, especially middle child Sheila ( I too am a middle child). The final chapter of the book is written by their Mom and being a mother myself, I can empathize with her. In fact, I think her chapter was my favourite! All we want is for our kids to be happy, to have good values and good habits, unfortunately, that wish seems to put us in opposition with our children.

 

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Book2:4 Girls and 1 Bathroom

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The stories of the Smith girls continue in this book. They are in a new grade with Diamond being a freshman, Sheila going into seventh grade, Crystal into grade5 and Felicity into grade4. The title of the book mentions the bathroom and you can understand the struggle of four girls sharing one. All four are different, with different sensibilities and attitudes, for them to share and get along while sharing the bathroom is understandably difficult. The book starts off with them describing their new grades and how they feel about it and how they cope in a new grade. Their description of the bathroom and how they share it speaks volumes about them individually. The book though, doesn’t stay on the topic of the bathroom only, the four girls also describe their trip to Chicago. The girl’s description of the trip was relateable for any middle-class family. It actually brought back memories of our family trips, with each one having their own agenda and own schedules but having to follow what “Mom and Dad said”. Each of them had their own perspective and reactions to the trip, which is what makes it a family.

Felicity’s description of the return flight had me in splits, her annoyance at a late-night flight with small children was very real. There have been many a time when I have sworn to myself not to travel with kids and many a time when I have been that mom whose child would create a ruckus in the flight (So have been on both sides of the fence for that one). As always the chapter written by mom is my favourite, it is almost if she is reading my mind and writing the chapter. Guess moms all around the world think the same!

 

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Book3: The Struggle is Wheel

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The last and final book of the struggle series, this book follows the four girls in two grades, until Diamond is about to step into the college.  The elder two girls, Diamond and Sheila learn driving and get their licenses, while the younger two, suffer through their driving practice. You can sense the girls getting more mature and more aware of themselves and the world around them. They are still a unit though. There is a part where Diamond and Sheila compare as to how Diamond is the parenting guinea pig as compared to the younger three sisters. How, when the parenting hacks by their mother and father didn’t work on Diamond they changed their techniques for the other three. This is something which I think all of us parents will be able to relate to. You can feel Diamond wanting to be an adult and yet having the uncertainty if she can handle all the responsibility. My favourite bit in this book is, however, Felicity’s take on loopholes and on group projects. I am quite sure if I made my teenager read it, he would also nod in agreement with her views. This book also has a very helpful list of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and also tips for ACT and SATs.

All three books are written in an engaging narrative style. You, the reader somehow, becomes their confidante and the girls, a treasured part of your family. It is almost as if the girls are complaining to you about the injustices wrought on them or trying to explain their feelings to you. There are illustrations (by Patrice and Faith Smith) interspersed with the narrative making it more entertaining.  To make the books more “Teachable” (to quote the girls), there are a lot of instances in the book which happens in regular lives which might be mundane but still are precious enough to make them a life lesson.

Each book has a list of questions which can be asked to the children after reading the book. There is also a vocabulary list at the end of each book, I am guessing in the hope that the children might pick up a dictionary to look up the meanings. The most precious, however, are the photos of the family at the end of each book.

 

*********************************************************************MultiCulturalChildrensBookDay 2020 poster

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

 Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

 

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

The Courtesan, The Mahatma and The Italian Brahmin ~ Manu Pillai

On reading the above title one might wonder about the correlation between the courtesan, the mahatma and the Italian brahmin. The correlation is that these three colourful characters made an impact in their times but were lost in the fogs of time. They were not as important or influential as the Mughals or the sultans, but yet, they were important in their own way in their own part of India. Like these three, there were many other characters from all strata of the society, ones who were once deemed not important enough, who have now been given a voice in this book. The third book by Manu Pillai, following the Ivory Throne and Rebel Sultans, this book is a selection of essays on topics from the seventeenth century onwards with the last essay being on our modern times. This book travels from Deccan to Nagaland to Paris and has characters ranging from Dara Shikoh to ordinary people, covering topics ranging from history, religion and culture.

If you followed Manu Pillai’s column in The Mint ( which has now sadly been discontinued), you might find the topics familiar as most of the essays are curated from the column. If, however, you haven’t read his columns then this book is a treasure trove of anecdotes and forgotten footnotes of history. Moving away from dry facts, his style of writing history makes it more personal, more relatable, more approachable.

Personally, my favourite two essays from the book were “The Engineer and the Rice Bowl”  and “The Essay for our times”. The former is on Sir Arthur Cotton, the man who laid the foundation for PWD, the ubiquitous government entity found in each and every city. The essay makes you aware of an Englishman who came not only to rule but who also fought for better conditions for Indians. The latter essay, “The Essay for our times” is an interesting take on Nationalism and Hindutva, something which is critical and pertinent in the current political situation of India.

The blurb of the book says “To dip into these essays is to be absorbed in India’s story and reflect on the experiences of men and women whose lives were full of passion”. “To dip into India’s history” is true with this book as it tells you stories about the forgotten bits of history, which in some cases, also make you go “A-ha!”. Since the book is a collection of essays, it is easy to read, without the reader having to bother about the continuity of chapters. It is not a historical treatise, but for the fringe history lovers, the ones who would want to know more about Indian history, but don’t have the patience to sit with a dry history tome, this book is definitely recommended.

Emperors of the Peacock Throne ~Abraham Eraly

The Mughal rule forms one of the most important periods of Indian history. Whichever side of the fence you might be sitting on, you cannot deny that the Mughals left an imprint on future generations in terms of culture, art and architecture. There have been countless books written, innumerable movies made on them. Their era is one of opulence, decadence, intrigue, immortal love stories, and path-breaking architecture.

This book is based on the remarkable three centuries from the establishment of the Mughal dynasty by Babur, whose destiny led him from Samarkand via Afghanistan to India, to the much-reviled Aurangzeb, the last of the “Great Mughals”.It shows how piece by piece Babur laid the foundation of the empire; Humayun lost the empire and lived life as a nomad; Akbar’s reign in which the empire reached the pinnacle of power; Jehangir, who even though an opium addict, held on to the empire, giving it a much needed peaceful time, leading to greater riches; Shah Jehan, who built architectural marvels, ushering in an age of culture; Aurangzeb wresting the empire from Shah Jehan and how at the time of his death the empire had become so big and unwieldy that he spent the last years of his life suppressing rebellions.

This is a balanced book, it portrays the Mughals as they were without sugar-coating their faults or unnecessarily trying to malign them. However, the author can be harsh and even acerbic at certain times. The author draws from medieval sources especially the in-court chronicles along with works from European travellers. Drawing from two diametrically opposite sources gives his work a more balanced approach. Apart from concentrating on the Mughals, he also gives a glimpse of other characters important in that age, specially Sivaji. In fact, about five chapters are on the rise and fall of the Marathas. Such is the impartial approach that two versions of Sivaji’s meeting with Afzal Khan( of the famous tiger claw incident) are given, leaving it on the reader to decide which version to believe in.

The book includes the lifetime of all the first six Mughals ( as well as Sher Shah Suri), but it is by no means an abbreviated history. This book is for people who want to read an unbiased history of the Mughal rule and for those who have a serious interest in history. Even though the book is entertaining it does get a bit heavy and dry in places, thus a more serious approach is needed. Are there fallacies in the book, quite certainly, for instance, there is hardly any mention of the rise of Sikhism and the events leading up to the start of Khalsa during the Mughal rule. But on the whole, the book gives an insightful view of the Mughal rule. It is an exhaustive body of work which needs to be appreciated for an in-depth and unbiased view.