WOW Review: Reading Across Cultures

Introduction and Editor’s Note

“Hope Amidst Conflict” provides a resonating theme in this issue of WOW Review. One purpose of literature is that of taking readers into stories where, despite the challenges, decisions, and outcomes, hope is always present as a source of resiliency, agency, and imagined possibilities. This issue of WOW Review provides glimpses of this theme across genres, reading levels, and contexts. What is most interesting in the titles reviewed here is the source of hope — a reminder that humans are surrounded by evidence of hope in their daily lives.

In stories that tell of lives affected by war, hope is found through many venues. In A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, sunflowers symbolize the hope of survival while art provides the hope that Mari, a young Japanese American girl, needs within Topaz Internment Camp. Language and writing provides hope in Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. In The Shepherd’s Granddaughter, hope is found in family and in the potential future of the Palestinian people. Iqbal is a source of hope for the children working in the carpet factory as he encourages them to believe that freedom is possible and its source resides within them. Alfred Nobel established the Nobel Peace prize as a result of others’ misuse of his discoveries regarding explosives. Alfred Nobel: The Man behind the Peace Prize tells of this award that recognizes hope for peaceful efforts around the world. Not My Fault presents scenarios about bullying and hopefully challenges readers to take responsibilities when they encounter such situations. Guji, Guji sends the message of hope that family, love, and loyalty to one’s personal identity can affect challenging decisions of right or wrong. The central character in Climbing the Stairs finds hopeful support through books as she deals with the tension of compliance with traditional expectations of an Indian female in 1941. Wanting Mor shows a young girl’s search for identity as hope is offered through her faith in Islam and her deceased mother’s love. And, finally, 14 Cows for America demonstrates hope through a herd of cows provided by a Maasai tribe to help heal the wounds of September 11, 2001.

As you read these reviews and are inspired to read the titles that might be new to you, the optimistic perspectives within each book will hopefully ignite a new desire to share these international titles with readers of all ages. As this is only a sampling of the titles that might be gathered within this theme, we welcome your suggestions and additions. You can find submission guidelines on this site as well as resources for identifying cultural authenticity. If you have further questions about submissions or wish to notify us in advance of a particular title you are planning to submit, please e-mail Janelle Mathis.

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

4 thoughts on “WOW Review: Reading Across Cultures

  1. Pingback: Iqbal Reflection
  2. Alyce Dougan says:

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It shows viewers what its like to live in India during the struggle of WWII. It also shows some of the hardships women faced during this time. While reading this I felt very close to Vidya. I would reccomend this book to anyone especially young teens who are trying to find themselves.

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