Tag: #children

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.




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!



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.


*********************************************************************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,


Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,


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


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


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

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The Vedas And The Upanishads ~Roopa Pai

Hinduism is difficult to understand. Most of us, who call ourselves Hindus do so because we were born in a Hindu household. We follow customs and rituals thinking that it is the way it is supposed to be done, confusing the rituals with religion. Each person has his/her own definition of what Hinduism is, some call it religion, some call it idol worship, some call it a way of life, some, have even confused it with nationalism. It is one of the most complex and yet the simplest concept/religion/philosophy (pick what suits you best). Despite all the variations and plurality in Hinduism, there is however a constant, none can deny that, the Vedas form the bedrock of Hinduism.

Roopa Pai is one of my favorite authors for children, especially those ten years or older. She has written books on Economics, science, and Krishna Deva Raya for the young ones, making complex concepts easy for them. She wrote the brilliant “The Gita, for children” ( read my review here https://undecidedindubai.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/the-conversation/). She has now followed it up with the book “The Vedas and The Upanishads”.Running at almost four hundred pages, this book skims the basic core of Hinduism. It has the Vedas, their introduction, the layers, the meters used for chanting the Vedas, the important Gods mentioned in the Vedas and a few of the important hymns, including my favorite the “Nasadiya Sukta”. The Upanishad section deals with the need and the history of Upanishads, a brief about Adi Shankaracharya and the ten principal Upanishads. Each of the ten Upanishads has been given its own chapter, its Shanti mantra(in English), the back story, the gist, explanation and an after story. The after-story is usually in the form of an example so that the children can relate more easily. Since each Upanishad has its own chapter, if you want to revisit and read only a particular Upanishad, you can pick that.

By the author’s own admission this is not an exhaustive work. It, however, is a great way to introduce children (and even adults) to the complexities of one of the world’s oldest religion. The book introduces the basic concepts in an easy way so that children can understand it. Written in an easy narrative style you can almost imagine the author talking to you while you read. What saves the book from becoming too preachy or “Satsangi” is the language and the references to the current world. She gives examples to illustrate the main points, the examples are such that the children can identify with. She has tried (maybe sometimes too hard) to sound appropriately “teenagery”, making the book more relatable.

There is lots of fun trivia amidst the heavy duty concepts. Do look out for the connection with T.S.Eliot, the topic, “How West Was Won” ( which in it’s sub-context, also points out to the syncretism in India) and the ultimately cool one, about the movie Matrix! Such trivia and popular fiction references make the book more unique. The book does not stand aloof and isolated but co-relates to issues being faced in the world today, like fake news for instance.

One of the drawbacks of this book (in fact, it is true for almost all recent books I have read on Hinduism) is the fact that the Sanskrit shlokas are in English. Sanskrit is hard enough, to read a shloka in English is even more difficult. The shlokas might be in English to make the books more approachable to people who cannot read Sanskrit and thus have a more global reach. However, I would prefer if the shlokas were printed in Devanagari script as well as in English. It will make it easier for people like us who can read Sanskrit and I do think it will add a musical cadence in reading the book. To be fair to the author she has translated the shlokas in English and given their meanings. In some instances, she has even given the pronunciation of the word.

Would I recommend this book? My answer will be an emphatic yes!!

This book is not a definitive guide, but it makes an excellent starting point, for both children and adults. The book doesn’t try to influence or enforce any belief. Even though it is the author’s interpretation the readers are free to make up their mind about the concepts introduced in the book. Do be aware that the concepts, even though told through stories, are quite complex. If in your enthusiasm you are handing the book to a ten-year-old, the child might not understand or may not want to read it as they might find the book heavy going. In fact, even as an adult, you need to be in an open frame of mind to understand and absorb the words.I, myself, took frequent breaks while reading so as to appreciate what the author had written. I would recommend the book for ages thirteen upwards (though good luck with convincing them to read what you recommended!).