Thursday, May 15, 2014

Children's Book Week and Diversity

Normally my children's book reviews show up every Monday, but in honor of children's book week, I thought I would squeeze in an extra review. Since the only book that I haven't yet read at my house is Henry & The Incredible Incorrigible, Inconveniently Intelligent Smart Human by Lynn Messina, a trip to the library was mandatory. But don't worry, the review for that title will be forthcoming in a few weeks.

While at the library browsing, I noticed a book with a great cover that immediately made me think of the book diversity conversations that have been going on in social media lately. So I scouted around a bit  more and found some other books that looked diverse and decided that's what I would post about today.

The book whose cover caught my eye, Our Community Garden, provoked a conversation between the children's librarian and I. She informed me that our town, Shelby, Ohio has it's very own community garden. I wasn't aware of this and as soon as it stops raining, I think I will go down and have a look see.

Meanwhile, I really enjoyed reading Our Community Garden which takes place in San Francisco. Several school aged children live next door to a community garden where they each plant something different. Tom`as grows tomatillos for his famous salsa, Cassandra grows carrots, Allison Chin grows asparagus beans, and Audrey grows skinny, purple, eggplant. When harvest time roles around, everyone makes a special dish out of the vegetables they grew and they all have a community feast.

Not only does this book show a diverse group of children, it also promotes community which seems to be lacking quite a bit in this day and age. I heartily recommend this book!

As I continued to wander the aisles looking for any books that might catch my eye, I saw two additional books by an author I had previously read. A while back, I read Everybody Bakes Bread, by Norah Dooley, which I enjoyed immensely. So when I saw Everybody  Brings Noodles and Everybody Cooks Rice, I knew they were must reads for my diversity post.

In Everybody Brings Noodles, Carrie helps arrange a neighborhood block party. Everyone is making something special to eat, and each dish turns out to be a noodle dish. This thrills Carrie to pieces since noodles are her favorite food and she has a blast trying noodles dishes from all around the world.

In Everybody Cooks Rice, Carrie's mother sends her off to fetch her brother for dinner. As  Carrie visits each neighbor where she thinks her brother might be, they are all cooking rice dishes from different countries around the world. Each family offers Carrie a small helping, and by the time she returns home,  she is too full to eat the rice dish her mother has made.

What I love about these books are the glimpses into a community of diverse families and the different ethnic recipes they are preparing. And a beautiful bonus to each book is the inclusion of recipes at the end. Not only do these books entice me with their interesting stories, but they appeal to the cook in me as well.  And speaking of rice, if you want to add a new recipe as well as new reads to your diet, here is a rice recipe that is a favorite at our house.

Yellow Chicken Curry (Indian)

1 pound skinless boneless chicken diced
1 TBS Red Curry Paste
2 TBS Sugar
1 TBS Yellow curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 can cooked sliced carrots
1 can sliced white potatoes
2 cups instant brown rice cooked

In large skillet cook chicken and set aside. In now empty skillet add curry paste, sugar, curry powder, and coconut milk. Mix thoroughly and simmer on medium heat. Next, add carrots and potatoes which have been drained. Last, add chicken and stir well. Simmer for about ten minutes so the flavors can blend. Serve over prepared rice.

Well, that about wraps it up for today. Join me next week for another exciting episode on my normal Monday. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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