WOW Review: Reading Across Cultures

Introduction and Editor’s Note

WOW Review invites readers to the fourth issue of its first volume. Rich with insights to books you may have read or will want to add to your summer reading list, this issue’s theme of “Through the Eyes of a Child: Resiliency and Hope across Cultures” offers a universal glimpse of the strength of children across many nations. Naturally, the perspective presented in much literature for young readers is that of a childhood protagonist; and, while this is appealing to children and adolescents, it also provides insights into childhood across the globe for readers of all ages, insights that may prove quite different from the ideological childhood expectations of many citizens of western nations. Literature that depicts the challenges of childhood can offer fresh insight into the potential of children everywhere—insight into the resiliency of children whose stories are told in these books but also insight into the potential for children outside such experiences to critically read and develop understandings about children of other nations. Such insights are the fabric of future citizens of a democratic and caring global society.

The children you will meet in the 4th issue of WOW Review come from a range of times and places. In the midst of World War II Germany, Liesel, the main character in The Book Thief, leaves her family to hide from the Nazis and finds solace and escape from loneliness in books. The Braid reveals the inner strength of two sisters who are separated when the family emigrates from Scotland to Nova Scotia during the Highland Clearances of the mid-19th century. Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom tells the story of Little Mo and Martha Tom and the friendship that resulted in the Choctaw tribe of Martha Tom helping Little Mo’s family and other escaping slaves to freedom. In a contemporary setting, Joyce, the Korean-American protagonist in The Fold, deals valiantly with the challenges of teenage life and her identity struggles within a diverse society. Eduardo Calcines shares his resilience growing up in Castro’s Cuba in Leaving Glorytown: One Boy’s Struggle Under Castro. This autobiography relates the significance of family in trying times as does the autobiographical account of Francisco Jiménez in Reaching Out, a book that offers a hopeful glimpse of education as a way to move out of poverty and into a successful career. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You introduces readers to Jeanne whose memoir of coming of age during the genocide in Rwanda reaffirms the strength of young people in dire situations. And, even in the world of fantasy, young readers can observe resilient and hopeful spirits in the unlikely friendship of a young lion and rabbit in the wild in Artie and Julie. Also, Moribito, an epic medieval fantasy set in an Asian context, shares the survival of Chagum, a royal child whose own father was seeking to kill him. While the main focus is on the strong female warrior and body-guard, Balsa, Chagum’s role and endurance is significant as the bearer of the “egg of the water spirit.”

As you take time to meet our hopeful and resilient youthful characters who represent diverse eras and areas of the world, perhaps you will be inspired to respond to the insights presented here or share your own favorite resilient child. Your responses are appreciated! WOW also invites you to submit a review of an international book. The call for submissions for Volume II provides the guidelines as well as the focus for upcoming issues. We accept reviews on an ongoing basis and look forward to your submissions and comments.

Janelle B. Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX