Book Fiesta!

Author: Pat Mora

Illustrator: Rafael López

Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers 2009

Number of Pages: 26

Genre: Fiction


            Book Fiesta is a book that is written in both English and Spanish. The book is about the Mexican holiday El día del niño (The Day of the Child) and a celebration of books. There are multiple children in the book who show the different ways this day can be celebrated around the world. Book Fiesta is a picture narrative, which allows the images to tell most of the story with support of few words.

The book can function as a mirror, window, and door depending on the reader. If a reader has previously celebrated The Day of the Child then this book would function as a mirror. They would be able to personally connect to the text because it is something they have experienced. This would also be a mirror for a lot of readers because throughout the text there are many different cultures represented along with some different disabilities. If a reader has never celebrated The Day of the Child the text would function as a window for them. The book would be a window because they are able to see into a different culture’s celebration. The book could also function as a door for readers who have not celebrated this holiday but wish to participate in it. It can give these readers different ideas on how to celebrate the newfound holiday. There are many different cultures represented on each page of this text. For example on page 2 there is a picture of a Chinese building and on page 5 there is a picture of a Greek style building. There are also books throughout the text that are in all different languages. On page 4 there is a picture of a little boy in a wheelchair, which allows people with disabilities to connect with the text. On my favorite page there are two children reading books next to a donkey and a Mexican style building. The text on this page says, “We read in English and Spanish, in Chinese and Navajo too” (Mora, page 3). I like this sentence because it shows the readers that there are many different languages and cultures in the world. Not only does it show this but also that when different cultures come together great things can happen like friendship. All the children in the text are reading books. On each page the children are having a great time reading books. This is an important image for young children to see since books are becoming less popular. By seeing the images young readers can hopefully gain a new viewpoint on books. The pictures in the text are beautiful. They are cartoon like images that look like they were made from cut outs of different colors of paper. This text did a good job at showing different cultures and the importance of books.IMG_3516

Buffalo Dreams

Author(s): Kim DonerIMG_4387

Illustrator/Photographer: Kim Doner

Publisher and Year: WestWinds Press in 1999

Number of Pages: 38

Genre: Fiction


This story is about the Bearpaw family and how they decide to make a trip to visit the only white buffalo on earth which is a symbol in the Native American culture for a spirit named White Buffalo Calf Woman, and the children believe that touching the calf will bring them magic. The oldest child, Sarah, is given an eagle feather from her grandfather’s headdress which is supposed to represent strength to her dreams, and she decides she wants to give this feather to the calf so that “her dreams can grow, too” (Doner p.11). In the end, the two children accidently end up in the buffalos’ pen and have a close encounter with the white buffalo calf’s mother, but before they end up escaping from the mother buffalo, the calf comes over and puts her head into Sarah’s palm.

The illustrations are large and usually take up the whole two-page spread. The images are also unframed which makes the reader feel like they are also experiencing everything with the characters. The images are also very detailed and realistic which again add to the reader feeling like they, too, are a part of the scene. I also noticed that at the bottom of each two-page spread was a dreamcatcher, but it showed the progression of making a dreamcatcher from its beginning stages in the beginning of the story to the completed dreamcatcher at the end. The characters in this story are both described and illustrated as Native Americans which are accurately represented in relation to their culture, not just the stereotypical idea of how Native Americans look, act, or dress.

When first reading this story, I thought that it was just a story about a Native American family visiting a rare white buffalo because they thought it was magical. However, after reading the author’s note and the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman in the back of the book, I realized that this story was inspired by a Native American legend about a White Buffalo Calf Woman who helps answer the dreams of believers, and an actual white buffalo calf that was born in 1994 named Miracle. I believe this story is a great window for children to learn about the Native American culture because it includes Native American legends and traditions. I also think that this story works as a mirror for modern day Native American children because there are not many stories which talk about Native Americans in a modern day setting. Overall, this story is a great way to introduce Native American culture into children’s literature.


I Have Heard of a Land

Author(s): Joyce Carol ThomasIMG_4391

Illustrator/Photographer: Floyd Cooper

Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers in 1998

Number of Pages: 26

Genre: Historical Fiction


This book is about an African American woman who is travelling westward to claim land in Oklahoma. It describes the challenges that African American pioneer women faced, like having to sleep in a sod hut with a saddle as a pillow, but it also illuminates the pride and freedom that they now have. The story is based on the westward movement in the 1880s, and more specifically, the author’s own family experiences while moving to Oklahoma.

The illustrations in this story both mirror and add to the text of the story. For example, the illustrations describe what the text is saying, but in more detail. Also, every illustration covers the entire page, there is no white space on any page, therefore, every image is unframed. This causes the reader to feel like they are there experiencing the westward movement with the characters. The colors of the images are all shades of brown which give an earthy and powerful mood to the story, but the darker shades of brown portrays a more serious and sorrowful mood. I also noticed that the main character is usually facing or looking to the right of the page which can symbolize her determination to keep moving until she finds her own piece of land.

This story can be used as a mirror to teach children about the Oklahoma Land Runs which allowed not only African Americans to settle and gain land, but also single women. I believe it could also be a window for children to begin to learn about the hardships that African Americans, especially females, were facing at this time in history. I also believe that it could be a mirror for African American females because not often are African American women depicted in literature as tough, hard-working, and independent. This story also touches on the idea of self-perseverance and personal journeys by the way that the main character never gives up on her westward journey even though she may face unexpected challenges along the way. Therefore, I believe this could function as a door to encourage children to always follow their dreams, but also realize that it will not be easy and it will take a lot of hard work and determination but it is worth it. All in all, this story is did a great job of retelling an often looked over event in history that gave African Americans and females the chance at freedom and opportunity.

Oh No, Gotta Go!

Author(s): Susan Middleton ElyaIMG_4360

Illustrator/Photographer: Brian Karas

Publisher and Year: P. Putnam’s Sons in 2003

Number of Pages: 28

Genre: Fiction


This book is about a little girl who forgot to go to the bathroom before she got in the car and she tells her parents that she cannot hold it in. As the story continues the little girl and her parents are on a journey to find somewhere to stop so she can use the bathroom, speaking mostly English and using various Spanish words throughout. Then at the end of the book, the family finds a restaurant where the little girl can use the bathroom, but when they get inside the line is super long and they end up going to the front of the line because she cannot wait any longer, and then the little girl feels relieved after using the restroom.

The illustrations in this book are all brightly colored and have many zig zag lines and shapes, these both representing the high energy and troubled emotions that the family feels while scurrying around town looking for a bathroom. The images are definitely needed to help young readers understand the meaning of different Spanish words. In fact, on one page all the stores are labeled with their Spanish name. It was interesting to read a mostly English book that included a variety of Spanish words, but I feel that this is a great way to introduce young readers to a second language, as well as another culture. The illustrator also did a great job of including a variety of ages, genders, and races within the characters; however, I felt that the main characters who were depicted as a Spanish speaking family were misrepresented and looked very White. Another observation I had was that almost all the female characters in the story were wearing either a dress or skirt, which I feel is a stereotype of the way females dress.

When I initially read the story, I perceived it to be a funny story which included some Spanish words. But I believe that this story could be a window for students to learn more about a second language, specifically Spanish, which can be very helpful in teaching young children how to appreciate another culture and language other than their own. I also think this is a great book for children who may come from a dual language household to recognize the value and importance of being able to speak and read in more than one language. Overall, the book can be a great tool for introducing Spanish to young children.

A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream

Author(s): Kristy DempseyIMG_4365

Illustrator/Photographer: Floyd Cooper

Publisher and Year: Philomel Books in 2014

Number of Pages: 28

Genre: Historical Fiction


This story is set in New York in the 1950s, and is about a little African American girl who goes with her mother to work, which is at a ballet school, and she falls in love with ballet. The story continues with the young girl always wishing and dreaming of becoming a prima ballerina, and one day the Ballet Master sees her dancing backstage and allows her to join ballet lessons at the school. At the end of the story, the little girl’s mother takes her to see Janet Collins perform at the Metropolitan Opera House, as she debuts as the first African American prima ballerina, and the little girl then realizes that she can do anything she sets her mind to.

The illustrations in this book are large and drawn with detail. All the images have a pinkish-brown color scheme, which I believe adds warmth to the images and makes the reader feel comfortable with the main character. The illustrations are also unframed and take up the whole page, which helps the reader to feel as though they are also experiencing everything with the characters. Also, the way the text is placed on each page almost resembles movement and dancing, which can be related to the little girl’s never ending dream of becoming a dancer and how she is always moving towards her end goal.

When first reading through this story I thought it was a great story about a little girl who never gives up on her dreams of dancing, but after reading through the story again, and reading the author’s note, I realized that there was a deeper message within this story. The author was inspired to write this story based on the true event of Janet Collins becoming the first prima ballerina to be hired from the Metropolitan Opera, and the story briefly touches on segregation within the U.S. pre-Civil Rights Movement. I believe that this story could be used as a window for children to learn about segregation and how everyone was not allowed the same opportunities. However, this story does not explicitly state anything about segregation or the Civil Rights Movement, and the young girl is portrayed in a way that is very happy, which does not send the reader the correct message about the hardships that many African Americans may have faced during the 1950s. I also think this book can be used as a mirror for African American children who may feel like they have struggled with having the same opportunities as white children, and also for children who are living with a single parent who has to work a lot in order to provide support for their family. This book could also be used as a door to teach children to never give up on their dreams. Overall, I believe this story does a great job of encouraging children to follow their dreams, but I am not sure that this book accurately represents the way many African Americans felt during segregation.

Masai and I

Title: Masai and I


Author: Virginia Kroll

Illustrator/Photographer: Nancy Carpenter

Publisher and Year: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992

Number of pages: 27 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Culture, Realistic Fiction, 2-3, Picture Book

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little girl named Linda who learns about East African culture at school. The culture she learns about are proud, tall people called the Masai. When she goes home, she then compared her life to that of a Masai and talks about how different her life would be if she were to be a part of their culture.

This text could function as a window for some students because it allows the readers to learn about a new culture. The book does an excellent job of showing the comparison of life here in the United States and the life of the Masaian people. It shows just how different the two cultures are and yet how they are the same. Throughout the book it talks about the different ways the Masaian culture may complete a task and then goes on to explain how Linda and her family may complete it as well. For example, Linda talks about how her little brother goes to the faucet to get water but if they were living in East Africa her brother would have to walk long distances to a water hole and bring back the water in a giant gourd. In doing this, the writer does a good job about representing the comparison of different cultures.

Through out this book the illustrations seem to have thin lines to represent speed and movement to show Linda moving through time. In one of the images in the book it shows Linda looking out the window as she thinks about how different life would be if she lived in East Africa. This shows progression or growth of the character. It shows that Linda is enhancing her knowledge about this culture and growing as she learns these new things. It also shows how they do things and how different it is compared to Linda’s culture in the United States.


Yo! Yes?

Title: Yo! Yes?


Author: Chris Raschka

Illustrator/Photographer: Chris Raschka

Publisher and Year: Orchard Books, 1993

Number of pages: 29 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Culture, Fiction, K-1, Picture Book, Award Winner

Genre: Fiction


This book is about two boys who meet each other as they are walking down a street one-day. One says, “Yo!” to the other and this sparks the friendship between the two. This book also is a Caldecott Honor Book.

This text could serve as a mirror because students could relate to this in some way by connecting their own life experiences to it. It may remind them of a time they went on a walk or may remind them of a time that they made a new friend. This book also shows two different cultures in this book. One boy is White and the other is African American. However, I do see a stereotypical aspect to the book when I looked deeper into the illustrations. When depicting the African American boy. His attire seems to be more comfortable and not as formal, including sneakers and more of a “hip-hop” style. For the White boy, he is dressed in a nice button up shirt with a suit coat over it and very nice pants. I think that the illustrator could have both of the boys in t-shirts and sneakers, rather than one dress up and the other in more laid back attire.

There are no frames in this book so as the reader, we can be involved in this on a more personal level and be a part of this story as well. It also starts out using a dark blue colored background to show the emotion of the boy who has no friends and is very sad and lonely. As the story goes on it goes to a light pink color, then to a yellow background. This shows the progression of the character’s emotions turning from sad to happy.


Doña Flor

Author: Pat Mora

Illustrator: Raul Colón

Publishing Information: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

df 1 df 2


Doña Flor is a warm-hearted giant lady living in a village in the American Southwest. She can talk to all kinds of animals and make friends with them. One day, a terrifying noise scares all villagers. Doña Flor goes on an adventure. With the help of her animal friends, she finds out that the origin of the noise is a puma, which is relatively smaller than her. In the end, she makes friend with the little puma as well.

Besides the Golden Kite Award, this book also won a Pura Belpré Award for illustrations and a Pura Belpré Honor for narrative. The story demonstrates multiculturalism by depicting Doña Flor as a Latino lady. The text functions as a window for children to look at an imaginary world and at the same time shows children the beauty of human nature. She would “tuck her animal friends in and read them a good-night story” (p. 12). When the whole village is frightened by the noise, Flor is worried and thinks “what can I do to cheer my friends up” (p. 18).

I found the book problematic for the following reasons. First of all, in the story there are always some children laughing at Flor because she is giant. However, when they need Flor’s help, they would still say, “Por favor, Flor, could you give us a ride” (p. 3). And then Flor says nothing and “took just one of her giant steps and was at the school door” (p. 3). Children might interpret this plot in a wrong way and think that it is okay to be rude to other people because they are still going to help them in the future. Secondly, although it is nice to depict the main character different from normal people for teaching children to accept the differences among people, the giant figure of Flor suggests that human beings are more powerful than nature. Some texts also reveal this point. For example, “Flor knew that her village needed un rio, a river, so to make her neighbors happy, Doña Flor scratched a new riverbed with her thumb” (P. 18). Children should learn to respect nature instead of always trying to conquer nature.

Perceptually, the author uses a lot of descriptive sentences which makes the story more engaging. For instance, the first sentence of the book is “Every winter morning when the sun opened one eye, Doña Flor grabbed a handful of snow from the top of a nearby mountain” (P. 2). The pictures are not framed which give readers a view from within. The illustrator uses warm colors generally to depict the gentle atmosphere. Structurally, most of the text and images do not overlap. Ideologically, the book teaches children to be brave and not afraid of nature. Also, the nobility of Doña Flor tells children that it is nice to help others. Overall, it is an amazing and beautiful story.

The Reverend Thomas’s False Teeth

Author: Gayle Gillerlain

Illustrator: Dena Schutzer

Publishing Information: BridgeWater Books, 1995.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

teeth 1 teeth 2


Reverend Thomas was coming to Gracie’s home for dinner. Gracie and her family were so busy preparing the dishes for Reverend Thomas. However, he accidentally lost his false teeth overboard. Everyone tried to get the teeth for Reverend Thomas but they all failed. Finally, clever Gracie helped him find the teeth and they all enjoyed the delicious meal together.

This book includes spiritual and religious elements. The text serves as a window for children to look at one specific aspect of culture. Through the book, readers can have a glance at what the life of a Christian family is like. Therefore, readers can better connect the story with their own life.

I find this book problematic in various ways. Firstly, gender stereotypes and discriminations are presented. In the story, Gracie stayed at home and helped her mother prepare the dinner. We can see that her father was not doing anything because he is only mentioned by “Daddy rushed off with Will” (P. 8). Her brother was playing outside and not helping either. Besides, when people tried to think of methods to get Reverend Thomas’s teeth, nobody listened to Gracie. Secondly, when things happened accidentally, people pray. However, with all due respect, praying is not the way to actually solve the problem. After Reverend Thomas dropped his false teeth, the only thing he did was “praying for the safe return of his lost teeth” (P. 8). All of the neighbors helped him look for the teeth and Gracie’s brother Will even jumped into the water. It is not fair for everyone else to do the job for him even if he is honorable. Thirdly, when I read the method Gracie used to get the Reverend’s false teeth, I got a little confused. I think the author should elaborate it a little bit more about how Gracie used chicken for bait to catch the teeth.

Perceptually, the illustrations use bright colors to depict the joyful atmosphere. The pictures are not framed. Therefore, readers can have the view from within. Structurally, text and images overlap. Ideologically, the book teaches children to use their wisdom to solve problems instead of doing things without thinking.

Whoever You Are

Author(s): Mem FoxIMG_4398

Illustrator/Photographer: Leslie Staub

Publisher and Year: Harcourt in 1997

Number of Pages: 26

Genre: Fiction


This book begins with the main character telling the reader, who they assume is a “little one,” that people all over the world may have different homes, skin color, schools, and lands, but they all have a heart that is capable of all the same emotions. Then the story continues to tell the “little one” that people may be different as they get older, but again reinforces the idea that everyone is similar because everyone has the same emotions.

The illustrations in the story are very important in adding dimension to the text on the pages. The author talks about how there are many different people throughout the world, but the illustrator captures the different cultures in the images by including characters of many different ethnicities, genders, and ages. The images are all brightly colored which is inviting for children to look at, as well as creating the idea that differences make the world a more colorful place. Because of the multitude of ethnicities on each page, I would conclude that no specific race has been given power. However, I believe that some of the images portrayed women as the stereotypical gentle caregiver. For example, in the last few pages, a group of women are all holding children in dresses waving goodbye to the main character, even though there were males throughout the story. Another issue I had with some of the images was the fact that I was not sure that all the different cultures were accurately represented, because I was unsure how the illustrator went about deciding how to represent each culture.

I believe that this story is a great way to teach young children about diversity and also about how everyone is similar when it comes to emotional capabilities. I believe that this story works as a window for children to see that there are many different people and cultures throughout the world, which may be different from what they have experienced in their life. This story also works as a mirror for some children because it represents a multitude of cultures, some of which are not often shown in books. I also believe this book can work as a door for children to learn to see differences in other people but to realize that these differences make individuals special, yet all people are the same on the inside. Overall, this story would work well for teaching young children that all humans are similar in that they all have feelings, especially living in a world that tries to put other people or groups down in order to feel powerful.