WOW Review: Reading Across Cultures

This first issue of Volume III serves as a grand reminder of the vast and complex spaces that constitute the global community—geographical spaces, spaces across time, diversity of issues and challenges as well as commonalities. The picture and chapter books in this issue reflect complex stories and together cut across time, culture, geography, and genre.

A quick look at the titles reviewed in this issue points to the complexity of insights to be found in international literature. Fly Free (Roseanne Thong, 2010), a picture book that focuses on acts of kindness, takes place in Vietnam while A Step from Heaven (An Na, 2003) is a novel telling of a young Korean girl in an immigrant family pursuing the American Dream—geographically, quite a distance from the Asian continent. The White Swan (Okimoto and Aoki, 2002) tells of adoption that begins in China and concludes with the adoptees beginning their lives in the United States. Seeking freedom knows no particular era. Struggles for freedom by both slaves and women in Cuba are the focus of The Firefly Letters (Margarita Engle, 2010) set in the early 1800’s while another struggle for freedom from oppression is described in contemporary Burma as children are forced into war in the novel Bamboo People (Mitali Perkins, 2010). Across the global culture, issues abound from that of supporting and empowering the poor farming communities in Honduras through education, as found in The Good Garden, to issues associated with the struggle for identity that take place in an adventure packed fantasy novel of ancient Japan, Across the Nightingale Floor (Lian Hearn, 2005). Two other books reviewed here remind us that the vast global communities share many experiences in contemporary times. The Black Book of Colors (Menina Cottin, 2009) originally published in Mexico, shares the importance and beauty of all our senses and resonates with all cultures.  Monsoon Afternoon (Kashmira Sheth, 2008) while focused on a young girl and her grandmother in India, reminds readers of all cultures about that special bond between generations.

As selected titles are reviewed, many others are recommended within each review to extend even further the potential insights to the cultures, eras, and places of the global community. The reviewers hope that readers will recognize and share other titles that come to mind as they read this issue of WOW Review. Such linked but varied titles can serve to strengthen the connections among global citizens while making more accessible the rich diversity of this community.

Janelle B. Mathis, Editor of WOW Review

*Note that our next issue will focus on the theme of “Holocaust around the World.” You can find submission guidelines on this site.  We look forward to your submissions, due November 15, as we explore this theme from a variety of perspectives and genres.  If you have further questions about submissions or wish to notify us in advance of a particular title you are planning to submit, please contact Janelle Mathis or Melissa Wilson , special editor for the Holocaust theme.

7 thoughts on “WOW Review: Reading Across Cultures

  1. Pingback: Bamboo People
  2. Pingback: Fly Free!
  3. Pingback: The Good Garden
  4. Alyssa says:

    This book sounds like I would enjoy it. When I first started reading about it, I thought it was going to remind me of KIRA-KIRA. That book also mixes her native language into the text, but it flows enough that you can too usually figure out what it means through context. For this book, I would like the “aha” chapter titles and the complexity of the circle element. It’s also a good book to add to any collection as it’s always nice to be culturally diverse with your collection.

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