January 31 is Multicultural Book Day and that arrives this year on the heels of the American Library Association’s 2020 announcements of youth media awards. Among the rich array of picture books, novels, youth audience nonfiction, audiobooks, and apps, authors and illustrators, and children’s literature experts who received plaudits this year, we think these would enhance anyone’s celebration of Multicultural Book Day:
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga’s audiobook edition, produced by Live Oak Media, received an Odyssey Award Honor for stellar production. Written by Traci Sorell and narrated by Lauren Hummingbird, Agalisiga (Choogie) Mackey, Ryan Mackey, Traci Sorell, Tonia Weavel, the print book and the audiobook have been sweeping up a variety of awards for authentic storytelling, voice, and imagery. AudioFile Magazine describes the production in its review:
The sounds of crickets, a crackling campfire, and music greet listeners as five narrators share the meaning of the term “otsaliheliga,” a Cherokee word meaning “We are grateful.” Each narrator lends a unique voice to the story, complementing the diverse contemporary Cherokee families who are depicted celebrating every season. Cherokee pronunciations are beautifully delivered to help listeners understand the language….
The American Indian Youth Literature awards were also announced during the Youth Media Award ceremony. These commenddations are administered by the American Indian Library Association (AILA), an affiliate of the American Library Association Reawakening Our Ancestors’ Lines: Revitalizing Inuit Traditional Tattooing, gathered and compiled by Angela Hovak Johnston (Inuk), with photography by Cora De Vos (Inuk), published by Inhabit Media, was awarded Honors in the Young Adult category.
Earlier in the American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting, the United States Board on Books for Young People announced their Outstanding International Books for 2020. All of these make excellent choices for Multicultural Book Day! We are especially pleased to point up:
Inhabit Media’s The Pencil, by Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula, with illustrations by Charlene Chua, brings young picture book readers a compelling story that also introduces how cultural artifacts influence multicultural meeting points in a story of the post-European contact era in an Inuit household. You can read more about this one, and see some of the delightful illustrations, too, in this review from CanLit for Little Canadians.
Thukpa for All, by Praba Ram and Sheela Preuitt, with illustrations by Shlipa Ranade, and published by Karadi Tales, offers picture book readers a story of making Tibetan soup in a cooperative series of additions and tasting (Yes, recipe included!).
Slightly older children, and lovers of non-Western art, will want to tuck into USBBY- recommended The Parrot and the Merchant: A Tale of Rumi, translated by Azita Rassi with illustrations by the author Marjan Vafaeian, and published by Tiny Owl Publishing. Horn Book’s review describes this one:
First published in Tehran in 2013, this retelling of Rumi’s thirteenth-century fable changes the gender of the merchant from male to female. Illustrations employ unusual color combinations and loads of texture and detail….
Middle grade readers can dive into one or both of the USBBY recommendations for the age group published by Pajama Press. Michelle Kadarusman’s novel Girl of the Southern Sea features an Indonesian setting well known by this Australian-Indonesian-Canadian author. Nonfiction readers can turn to The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women, by Alisa Ross and illustrated by Amy Blackwell, to explore adventurers, inventors, and creatives who took chances to follow their inspirations.
Happy Multicultural Book Day reading to you all! And congratulations to this newest crop of award-winning authors, illustrators, readers, and publishers!