One thought on “Less Than Half, More Than Whole

  1. Lauren Freedman & Angeline Hoffman says:

    Michael Lacapa, is both an author/illustrator and I especially like this book that he has written with his wife, Kathleen. Michael stated that the reason why he titled this book, Less Than Half, More Than Whole, is based on the amount of Apache blood his children have to have to enroll in the tribe. More over, this book is the experience his family went through coming from a multicultural background, and the struggles of identify.
    The first illustration captures three boys skipping rocks across the lake. The three boys are from different ethnic backgrounds: Anglo, Indian, and part Indian/part Anglo. They see their faces in the lake and realize they are different, from the color of their hair, eyes, and skin. The question of identity comes up. Will says, “I’m all Indian, I think you’re only half, or less than half.” The main character, Tony [Kathleen and Michael’s son], is searching for an answer to the question, “What does it mean to be less than half?”. Tony goes to four family members to seek the answer. Each one gives a different answer. His sister explains that they are part Indian and part Anglo, and that sometimes you wonder where you belong. This story is full of searching and seeking answers to one’s own identity. My response is that every one has a question as to their own identify in one way or another. I feel for Tony who goes to his family members to seek the answer to Not being Less, but More Than Whole.
    From the front cover illustration to the very last page this story is filled with beautiful, colorful, and symbolic images from different Indigenous designs that will capture the reader’s attention. Furthermore, reference to each symbol is given at the conclusion of the story.
    I agree that this book explores the notion of mixed race identity extremely well. It is a moving story that will engage all readers in thinking about who they are and how their identity if important to them and to those around them.
    Another book that comes to mind when I read Less than Half, More than Whole is Part Asian/100% Hapa, a book initiated by Kip Fulbeck in response to the question, “What are you?” It is a book of photographic portraits taken by Fulbeck with each person providing an explanation in their own handwriting about their identity. Each person has two pages – on the right is the photograph and on the left are their words. Above their words is printed a list of the ethnic groups they belong to. A dictionary definition of Hapa is given in the beginning of the book:Hapa; adj. slang. of mixed racial heritage with partial roots in Asian and/or Pacific Islander ancestry [der./Hawaiian: Hapa Haole (half white)]. There is a forward written by Sean Lennon and an Afterword by Paul Spickard. The people contributing to the project range from a very young child who scribbles his explanation to men and women of all ages. It is a book that ought to be in every classroom pre-K through graduate school.
    A couple of examples:
    1. Portuguese, Filipino, Spanish, Chinese, Hawaiian
    “I am a person who is blessed with various ethnic origins. I identify closely with the Pacific Islander culture because of the Aloha spirit that embraces all mankind.
    2. Vietnamese, English
    I’m a strange bird, and multi-racial although no one believes me. I’m a ballerina, a UCSB graduate, unemployed, and applying to grad school. I’m Vietnamese and if you hear my mom speak you would believe me too. I’m scared of the real world…
    3. Filipina, Lithuanian
    I am the Jewish daughter of a Catholic father.
    I am the tan sister of a white brother.
    I am the actor with both the romantic lead monologue and the ethnic monologue in her back pocket.
    I have been Persian, Mexican, Assyrian, Mestiza & the girl with the good tan.
    I come from all groups. I am a member of anything if one person thinks so.
    I am fortunate.
    4. Dutch, Indoesian
    I am not who you think I am.

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