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

BOOK1 COVER_MomAndTheSummertimeBluesFront

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

BOOK2 COVER_4GirlsAnd1BathroomFront

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

BOOK3 Cover_TheStruggleIsWheelFRONT

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.

 

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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

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

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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

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2 thoughts on “The Struggle Book Series (Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020)

  1. The Struggle Book Series (Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020) by Patrice Smith et al.. has been reviewed by Harshita ( ashnhash).
    The review has clearly indicated that these books propagate the wide spectra of- First three phases of human psychology. In addition to this, the reviewer has also enhanced the value of these books by correlating it with her actual life at many points. A great act of encouragement.
    I, at this stage, would like to congratulate the authors for their wonderful creative work.
    In addition to this, I extend my special thanks for their effort of spreading the knowledge beam to enlighten the World, especially to parents and would be parents,
    This act will cherish a noble society.
    Dr S .K .Nanda

    Liked by 2 people

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