I have long been a campaigner for and champion of more inclusive diverse books for children, so when I came upon information about this event I joined up immediately. When you campaign so hard for publishers to publish diverse books and work hard to create them, it is such a thrill to join forces with those who want to promote them and let all those people longing for diverse books know what's available.
As part of this great project, one children's book was assigned to one blogger, who has to give an honest review.
Sherrill S. Cannon of New Hope, Pennsylvania, is now retired and travels the country with her husband in an RV, going from coast to coast to visit their children and grandchildren, sharing her books along the way. Most of her books try to teach something, like good manners and consideration for others. All of her books are also part of a fundraiser for both imbullyfree.org and CureJM Foundation.
As a former teacher, Sherrill obviously understands the importance of children seeing themselves in the books that they read. For me, this has to include books which are not about color or culture - so
I was really pleased to see that in a story about art, Sherrill worked hard to make sure lots of different children were included.
Sherril tackles a complex subject of perception and self esteem. In my experience, young children are very uninhibited in their approach to art - they love color and pattern and the mess and fun of creating pictures. Then at about eight or so years old, they begin to feel under pressure to draw pictures OF something and can quickly get frustrated if the work on the page does not look like what's in their head. We adults don't help by constantly asking, "what is that?" rather than asking open-ended questions or commenting on the wonderful colors of the drawings.
The young narrator (we never see him/her, but just hear his/her voice) of this story gets frustrated when he/she can't capture their idea of his/her dog on the page and never manage to finish their picture. Sherrill authentically captures this frustration in the young narrator's voice.
The picture gets accidentally blown into a near-by art dealer's store and is submitted for an art prize. While the judges are no clearer as to what the picture is of, they praise its color and depth, texture and brush strokes and award it first place. All is going well until that is, the narrator explains that it is the work of a child. The judges don't believe it could be a child's work and the narrator thinks that since it's not the work of a 'real artist', it should not be in the gallery but 'at home on our fridge'.
For me, the author is a let down by her publishers here as I was left a little conflicted by the message of the book - I think a skilled editor would have teased apart the quite complex issues and utilized Sherrill's knowledge and experience in the classroom to come to a more satisfactory conclusion.
This is probably the editor in me coming out! Other reviewers have nothing but praise for the lessons that can be learned from this charming rhyming story.
All this reading and reviewing would not have been possible without the support of the very generous sponsors:
Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold Sponsors: Satya House, MulticulturalKids.com, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild, Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books, The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors: Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow Books, Author FeliciaCapers, Chronicle Books Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.
MCCBD is also partnering with First Book to offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books through their channels during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it and now we have a way to do it! The Virtual Book Drive is LIVE and can be found HERE.
MCCBD has collaborated with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year.
The MCCBD site is here and you can find extended information here.