Introduction and Editors’ Note
This wonderful collection consists of three picturebooks, one novel in verse, two chapter books, and one mix manga novel/picturebook addressing the importance of family and community artifacts in pursuit of survival and dignity.
Sometimes the artifacts support a character’s quest for survival. In Blood Brothers, Calvin or “Poet Boy” writes poems to share about his experience as one of three white brothers who contracted HIV from tainted blood infusions. This novel in verse describes the harassment and rejection experienced by the siblings, from school peers spitting, cussing, and assaulting them to hateful graffiti sprayed on the front of their home reading: “AIDS SUCKS! / GET OUT OF TOWN! / NO! NO! NO!” (p. 108). The poems eventually allow Calvin to find his voice and fight against prejudice, fear, and ignorance. In Ida in the Middle, Palestinian-American Ida is ostracized in her predominately white school and concerned about the implications of Islamophobic bullying. Invisible but also overtly seen as Palestinian, Ida sees how school initiatives, intended to be supportive, are still grounded in misinformation about historical and current events in the Middle East, which lead to misrepresentations and stereotypical views of Palestinians. After eating magic olives from her relatives’ farm in Palestine, she is transported to Busala, her family’s ancestral village and learns about the life her family would have lived if they had not moved to the U.S. She also learns about Palestine’s history and constantly fears that her home will be bulldozed by Israelis.
Other artifacts address the power of creating new adventures. In the bilingual picturebook, Arletis, Abuelo, and the Message in a Bottle / Arletis, abuelo y el mensaje en la botella, the adventure begins when Arletis finds a bottle on a Cuban coast with a message. After reading “If you find this bottle, please write and tell me about your world” she begins a beautiful friendship with Steve, the old man who wrote the message and who had forever wished to sail around the world. In Temple Alley Summer, Kazu discovers the history and interconnectedness between the old house where he lives, the mysterious temple in his neighborhood, a map, the Buddhist statue with the power to bring people back to life, and the ghost of a long-dead girl who wears a white kimono. But some adventures are more voluntary or pleasant than others. In Gibberish, Dat has recently moved to a new place where the language sounds like gibberish and people look cartoonish. As a result, Dat moves through his world almost silently, saying little but his own name. Eventually, Dat meets Julie, a monster-looking gibberish speaking girl who teaches Dat English words through drawings and labels. Julie’s notebook became a vehicle to embark on adventures around bilingual worlds and new friendships. In the manga-inspired story of Shuna’s Journey, prince Shuna goes on a dangerous quest for a golden grain to save his community from poverty and hunger; the mysterious seeds are from a secret land with the power to grow crops for generations to come. When Shuna finds the hostile Land of the God-Folk he sacrifices his speech and memory for the golden seeds. Upon Shuna’s return, he relies on the strength and kindness of Thea and her sister, both whom he once saved, to bring back his memory and save his kingdom.
In our last picturebook, The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, artifacts constitute symbols of cultural pride but also individuality as young Harpreet introduces his colorful patkas (a smaller under-turban for Sikh boys) and his enjoyment of wearing them. However, when he moves across the country to a new home, he begins wearing colors that he associates with nervousness or shyness. As Harpreet gradually adapts to his new environment, the white patka that he once wore when he did not want to be seen, becomes the patka he wears when he wants to be reminded of his new enjoyment for snow.
Which artifacts are dear to your heart and your stories? Why?
Please consider submitting a review for our future issues. The editors welcome reviews of children’s or YA books that highlight intercultural understanding and global perspectives around these themes:
Volume 16, Issue 1 – Open theme (Fall 2023) – submission deadline September 15, 2023. The editors welcome reviews of global or multicultural children’s or young adult books published within the last three years that highlight intercultural understanding and global perspectives.
Volume 16, Issue 2 – Multicultural or global biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and/or fictionalized biographies (Winter 2023) – Submission deadline November 15, 2023. The editors welcome reviews of global or multicultural children’s or young adult books published within the last three years that highlight biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, and/or fictionalized biographies about important figures across the world.
María V. Acevedo-Aquino and Susan Corapi, Co-editors
© 2023 by María V. Acevedo-Aquino and Susan Corapi