The Elephant and the King for Multicultural Children’s Book day 2018

Today on my blog I am celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 by telling you about  a book called The Elephant and the King

Let me tell you the background to MCBD

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Book cover showing drawing of two children surrounded by African wild animals
Front cover of The Elephant and the King by Sylvia Medina

My Book

I was given my book by our sponsor Green Kids Club. They create gorgeous colourful picture books to teach children about the planet, its ecosystems and the creatures who live here.    My book is one of a series where two children Maya and Victor drink water from The Green Spring and are granted the ability to talk to animals.

So, are you ready to pay attention?

I am going to:

-tell you what I think about the book

-tell you my idea for an activity to encourage reading 

-tell you about the Twitter party

-tell you where you can go to find more books about our fabulous planet.

My book review

Series:Green Kids Club

Age: 7 upwards

Source: Sylvia M Medina (author)

This colourful book is gentle in tone and charming in its illustrative style.  This means it is able to deliver a tough message without upsetting even a sensitive  child.  Victor and Maya are visiting Botswana and meeting their friend Maatla when Maya asks to see an elephant,

young girl with backpack close up
An innocent request

Maya’s desire to see an elephant worries her friend Maatla as he is aware that the elephants are under attack from  poachers.  The children learn that there are people who will kill an elephant to take the tusks.  Tusks are a unique substance for carving and they are valuable in Asia.  (Woolly mammoths had tusks too and you don’t see many of them about. )

An African boy points at an elephant and a poacher holding a tusk
Weeeell. maybe

Maatla takes the children to look for elephants and, inevitably, drama and excitement follow.  Maya and Victor have magic powers that allow them to help animals and those powers can be shared with.  Maatla is given the same gift and he is stupefied when he can suddenly hear animals speaking.  The ending is a happy one but pages of facts at the back of the book open children’s eyes to an unpleasant situation going on in the world right now.

If you read this book to your children you mighy tell them that public opinion persuaded the Chinese to ban the sale of ivory.  Young eco-warriors need messages of hope.  Despite the poachers’ activities, this book gives a strong sense of that Africa’s animals are precious and valued.  

This is the first and only book I have read from this series.  Animal lovers will find many more on Amazon.

My activity to encourage reading

Remember I said I had an activity?  OK, here is my book gift package idea.

The story about the baby elephant in danger got me thinking.  And when kids start thinking they want to play.  How about when  you go to Amazon to buy this book head on over to the page where they sell African animals.  It is called Schleich and they have all the animals from The Elephant and the King.

You can act out the exciting scenes where the baby elephant is in danger and the lion and the other animals get involved.

I want to be Maya. You can be a warthog.

The Twitter party?

Join in by typing #ReadYourWorld

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

 

You want more great books – start with great publishers. 

Where? Here!  These guys have sponsored us because they care about Multicultural books enough to publish them.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal Bowe, Gokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and MFL Publishing Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Don’t forget the teachers

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

 

 

Geeky Mikita – physics genius, baby-sitter and STEMINIST

Geeky  Mikita was very flattered to be invited to do an interview for the STEMINIST website.  

cute cartoon of schoolgirl with afro hair
Brainiac baby-sitter Geeky Mikita

The STEMINIST website interviews women who work in STEM.  If you ever wondered what jobs a girl might do in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths then have  a look at some of the things these women get up to. You are gonna be impressed- and maybe even a little bit envious but inspired too!

Just for example; Melissa works with sharks.  Judith went to Jordan to teach girls about water in their environment, Islin is a “weather junkie” in Alaska and she has very good advice for girls picking a career,

Here is Mikita’s quote about her heroes:

“Stephen Hawking is an impressive multi-tasker and so is Beyonce. Stephen Hawking is a cosmologist as well as a theoretical physicist and Beyonce is a mum as well as a musical genius. They are like me cos I had to babysit and do my homework at the same time.”

You can read her full STEMINIST interview here.

Top 12 best Natural Hair books for children

a tiny black girl plays in the hair of a giant black girl
Art from Emi’s Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair

I have always loved long curly hair and as a teenager I used to draw girls with flowing tresses (we did not have he phrase “slayed tresses” in Ireland back then).  My own hair is fine, uber-straight and incapable of holding any kind of curl or kink. So drawing curls was the closest I got. And photographing Barbies for BlackHair magazine.

But not everyone who is capable of curls wears their hair curly.  There are plenty of reasons for that  – which I won’t go into here – but part of it has to do with confidence.

If you think your child might be a naturalista who would like to wear their hair in a natural afro then a book featuring BIG HAIR might guide their journey. When kids are young it’s all about self-image and empowerment.    And that’s where books come in.  Some books are not specifically about hair but feature a character with a natural style. Most are in the 3 and upwards age-range.

So let’s go. Here is a list of the Top 15 best big hair books for children.  

1.Big Hair Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Batesdrawing of a little girl with an afro smiling with her hands in the air
Most of my book choices feature a child of African descent living outside of Africa and therefore surrounded by European hair.  In this book a chirpy little girl faces that situation head on with her poem.

“I’ve got big hair and I don’t care
And even though the kids may stare
I lift my hands up in the air
And smile and say…
I love my hair”

2. Color My Fro by Crystal Swain-Bates

I’m mentioning Crystal Swain-Bates again because she has  made natural hair something of a cause.  Let Amazon guide you to books like Naturally Me, Black Fairy Tales, SuperMommy and many others where the covers depict fabulous fulsome black hair

3.Emi’s Curly Coily, Cotton Candy Hair by Tina Olajide

The artwork by Courtney Bernard is beautiful so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

 

4.Daddy Do My Hair? Beth’s Twists by Tola Okogwu

A black daddy styles his little girl's long curly hair
This book has a sister book called Daddy Do My Hair-Hope’s Braids.  Art is by Rahima Begun. The author does book readings around London and has her very own blog called My Long Hair Journey.

5.Numbers with Bella by Lorraine O’Garro

This book has a Jamaican little girl with Afro puffs on the cover.  On the back cover the same girl in her contemporary clothes is seen slapping away happily on African drums.  As part of the Irish diaspora I appreciate books that make other people feel at home in all the countries they  identify with.  

The companion The Alphabet with Bella has artwork of her taking part in what I think is the Notting Hill Carnival waving her British and Jamaican flags and wearing a glorious feather crown.   Art is by ‎ Katlego Kgabale (Illustrator)

 

6.I Know I Can by Veronica M Chapman

Check out the gorgeous mother in this book with her skinny jeans and natural fro.  There is a sweet picture off the little girl sleeping with her hair in a silk scarf as she dreams of an exiting future visiting the  Paris, Cuba and Africa.  Daveia Odoi is the illustrator.

 
 
Usually in this series Lola wears her hair in cute twists but in this story both mum and Lola go natural.  Rosalind Beardshaw did the art.

a little girl with an afro hairstyle reads to her baby brother who is on her lap

 
 
 
This is my only book with a boy on the cover.  (I’ll fix that when I do  my blog about books with locs and braids).  Mike is always answering questions about being mixed.  He knows he’s perfect because this is what his parents say:
 
Mom and Dad say I’m a blend of dark and light: 
“We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right.”
 

10Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe 

Smiling young black girl reading a book
 
There was very little by way of a preview on Amazon so I hopped over to the author’s website –  This small and carefully curated site is a delight , well worth a look.  It has elegant, girlie art, three dancing bunny rabbits, prints for hanging and a colouring book.  And Mechal ships to Europe.
 
My own book has a strong theme of natural hair.  The lead character Bekki the Fairy has a crazy do (don’t ask) but the hairstyle you see most in the book is the loose natural style of Geeky Mikita the genius baby-sitter.  I updated the cover to add more of the baby-sitters.
 
 
A posh school, schoolgirls in the backdround and a fairy looking shocked.
Afrovisibility on the front cover
 
The stylist gave Mikita a grey streak in honour of Albert Einstein.  The other models wore their hair as they always had done – I hade worked with the models for years pior and each girl brought her own style – braids for Ruby, natural for Jada-Kai and with extensions for Keysha.
 
 
At the back of the book a real life scientist, Mumbi,  talked about black hair and gave all the baby-sitters hair advice.  There are jobs for female scientists in the hair industry.  Black women entrepreneurs played  big role in the products we have today.  In amongst all the silly scenes in my book is sneaky positive message!  
 
 
 African little girl with afro hair and a crown
 
This book really is ‘last but not least’.  Urbantoons  started following me on Instagram just as I was finishing up this blog.  I’m happy he did! He hails from Mali and has wonderful items (dashikis and hi-tops!)  on his website celebrating ethnicity, identity and the spread of multiculturalism. 
 
Have I missed any? Please let me know.

 

 

Where to buy beautiful black dolls online – Update

close up of light skinned black doll with long braids.
The Ava doll may be hard to find.

Anyone who knows me probably knows that I own far too many dolls for someone of my age.  My collection of Christie, Wesley, Madison, Nikki and other black Barbie dolls is being taken out of the cupboard for self-isolation. 

I wrote this post at Christmas so it needs to be updated.   There are many new dolls on the scene.  With the Corona Virus dolls are getting a lot of attention from doll artists on Instagram and doll events such as #ramandchariswedding on Insta are spreading the word about black dolls.

I am adding some new dolls – a mix of dolls for kids, grown women like me and men.

I found this site when i was looking for Zuree the Patwa talking doll.  Kunaka Kids has a fabulous mix of “African and Caribbean Inspired” accessories, stationery, book  and, of course, dolls.  There is even a music box with a tiny Nia ballerina!  Very desirable and cute!

Nia Bellerina music box

The the doll range is extensive. The African dolls have African names and clothing and come in many different sizes – soft rags dolls, Barbie sized girls and sturdy little girl dolls. I will highlight the 14.5 inch Molemo dolls, proudly wearing their tribal colours- Xhosa, Ndebele and more.

The Zuree doll with her fiesty Jamaican voice box can be seen and heard here. She comes from London but I suspect her heart is in Jamaica.

These flashy 12inch dolls are beloved by adult collectors.  The collections of high end fashion dolls include the Ru Paul doll.  The Fashion Royalty collection, which is updated every year,  has dramatic characters with names like Dasha D’Amboise and Baroness Agnes Von Weiss. 

The Meteor Collection has characters of West African descent, Keeki and Zuri.

Black fashion doll in high fashion clothing
Keeki Adaeze™ from Integrity Toys’ Meteor Collection
Continue reading “Where to buy beautiful black dolls online – Update”

#KidLitArt – Fiverr meets Kei-Ling and the Ivory Princess

In my day I believe I was responsible for the most expensive children’s book illustrations ever.  My “Fairy in the Family” books with their lavish studio photos of real models absorbed all my spare cash.

Mum looks at her daughter who has a thought bubble containing a pig with pig-tails
We paid for models, dresses, dress-maker, photographer, designer, roses, pig, jewellery, toothbrush, fruit and pot scrubber.

I was intrigued to hear that I could buy illustrations for as little as five dollars from a website called Fiverr.  Fiverr is one of those new ‘gigging economy’ websites where sellers all over the planet offer tantalising art works.  The offers are presented in the first person “I will sing your jingle for a fiver”, “I will create your cartoon portrait for a fiver” and so on.

The website has the feel of an affordable sweetshop.  I have decided to give it a go for my book “Kei-Ling and the Ivory Princess”.  After looking at dozens of drawings I have settled on someone with very cure drawings on her profile page.

Cute drawing of a little girl sitting in the garden with her sausage dog
Can I get something this nice for only a fiverr?

 

The first thing I noticed was that while many people offer a service for a fiver, added extras can bump up the cost.  But the sellers vary widely in their pricing.  There are bargains to be had but also you can pay what you feel to be fair and right.  I would feel bad about paying five dollars for something this good.

I am very excited to think I can have something as lovely as this after a few days wait and a few euro going out of my PayPal account.

A cute drawing of a little girl dressed as a princess
Can I really have this for a Fiverr?I 

I have sent off my own version of a front cover to an artist in the Philippines.  I want a cover, not just a drawing and I want commercial rights so the cost is closer now to fifty than five and heading upwards.  I think this style will suit my characters and give them a professional, commercial look.

My own cover is here.  This labour of love took many hours with hand drawn pictures researched and coloured by hand.  I cannot wait to see how the artist reinterprets my drawing.

A Chinese little girl holds hands with an African girl in front of an African scene
Kei-Ling is magically transported to Africa

 

Bekki the Fairy meets Zolie Zi

A photo of Bekki the Fairy and a drawing of Zolie Zi are accompanied by the words Bekki the Fairy talks to Zolie Zi. A butterfly decorates the page.
Will Bekki and Zolie have anything to talk about?

Bekki the Fairy is very excited to meet Zolie Zi, also known by her nickname “Miss Chit Chat”.  Zolie is the narrator of a series of books set in the Helping Hands Academy for Gifted and Talented Children.

Before we start check out the pics of Zolie on this video.  She’s a cutie!

Bekki: It is good to meet you. My name is Bekki the Fairy and I can do magic. Tell me, what is special about you?
 
Zolie: Hi Bekki! Nice to meet you! Wow, you do magic, that sounds cool!! You will have to show me some of your magic one day! Well, what makes me special is my love of Science. My teacher says that the science that I like is called, Metaphysics and Astrophysics. I would like to build my own space ship one day so that I can travel beyond the light barrier. I am fascinated with space and I want to travel to different planets to see how other kids live.
 
Bekki: If someone tries to bully me or my friends I do a spell to turn them into a slug or frog for few minutes, how do you deal with bullies?
 
Zolie: I usually tell my mom, a teacher and I confront the bully. It is isn’t always an easy thing to do, but somebody has to do it. My mom said that my voice has POWER.
 
Bekki: Who do you think smells nicer, you or your brother?
 
Zolie: Definitely me!!!

A smiling little boy in a tshirt with arms folded
Zylee smells fine from here

 Bekki: I come from London but I am a mixture of Nigeria, Ghana, Brazil, Portugal and Scotland.  Are you a mixture?
 
Zolie: Yes, I am a mixture of two tribes from Africa, the Bushmen and Zulu and I am also African American.
 
Bekki: Wow! No wonder you can take on the bullies! Tell me about your doll mommies. Do you have many of them?
 
Zolie: Yes, I have so many doll mommies. I think about 500 or more by now.
 

 

Two pictures, one shows a Zolie Zi plush doll. The other shows a cute little girl holding her doll tightly.
The doll mommies enjoy cuddling Zolie

 
Bekki: How do school-kids in America react when they meet you?  Who was the best person you met?
 
Zolie: Kids get really excited when they see me. It always amazes me to see boys who are really happy to see me, sometimes they even try to cut the line in front of the girls to get to me. The best person that I met was a little girl named Yakini. Yakini was so shy to meet me, but she was my biggest fan, she has everything Zolie Zi.
 
Bekki: What about boys? Do you like boys? And do they like you?
 
Zolie: My mom doesn’t allow me to even think about boys. She says that I will have plenty of time for boys and that I have to focus on my books. No, I don’t like boys right now, I think they have the coodies!! Yes, boys like me all the time. Ewwwww…
 
Bekki: Is it true you have been to the Bahamas? What other cool places have you told your stories?
 
Zolie: Yes, I have been to the Bahamas two times and I am going back again this year. I have told my story in the Netherlands and Canada.
 

Beach scene in the Bahamas
Zolie has been to the Bahamas….jammy!

 
Bekki: My baby-sitter Rose watches Dallas on the TV. Is your life like that? Do you ever wear a cowboy hat?
 
Zolie: No, Dallas has changed a lot. They are building a lot of houses and apartments in the country where I live. Oh yes, I am a true cow girl and I have worn a hat before. I love wearing hats, they are pretty cool!!  
 

Bekki: Is it true your story was on the radio read out by a very special presenter. Tell me about that, please.

Zolie: Yes, my story has been on the radio several times, but one little girl named Wynter Avery reads my story every Saturday. She read my first book on air and now she is on my second book.
 

A little girl DJ sits next to her Zolie Zoi doll while preparing to read a story on air.
Look who is in the studio with Wynter Avery

 
  
Bekki: I live in London and I’d like to be a doll mommy. Where can I get Zolie doll?
 
Zolie: You can order a Zolie doll on Amazon.com or on my website zoliezi.com

 

Bekki: My mum gets the fabric for her dresses in the Netherlands. I hear there is a shop called Coloured Goodies  where people can buy your things. What can they buy?
 
Zolie: Yes, you can buy my things at Coloured Goodies. They carry my book in Dutch, my new drawstring bag and my doll.
 

A backpack decorated with Zolie Zi's face and name
Don’t leave bananas at the bottom.

Bekki: What do kids in the Netherlands think of you?
 
Zolie: The kids absolutely love me. I can’t wait until they read my book.
 
Bekki: Who wrote a book about you and why?
 
Zolie: My Author Sonya J. Bowser wrote a book about me after being bullied on the job which resulted in her being fired. After being fired, she felt powerless and discouraged. It was the first time that she felt like her voice had no power and was silenced.
 
She decided to use her niece Sariah Martin as my face and Sariah also inspired my lisp because she also has a lisp. When she wrote the story she had Sariah in mind because she noticed that Sariah would be a target for bullying because of her lisp so wanted to use my story to encourage her and other girls/boys to love themselves for who they are.  You must never let anyone bully you to make you feel powerless.

A flyer for Zolie Zi's book.
Here’s how Zolie looks in her book.

Bekki: Would you like to come and hang out with me in London? Kids over here would love to meet you. We can go to the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton together and visit the library next door.
 
Zolie: I would love to come. Just let me know and I am there!!!!!
 
Bekki: Thanks for chatting Zolie.
 
Zolie: Thanks for having me Bekki!!
 

 

A video showing drawings of the book character Zolie Zi
Zolie Zi is always up to something

 
Bekki hopes you liked her second ever interview.  Now she wants be be a helpful fairy and tell you where you can find out more about Zolie Zi.
 
The Zolie Zi website with games and things to buy is here.
 
There are pictures of Zolie and her author and her doll mommies  on Instagram.
 
People in the USA can go to Amazon to get the books 
and and a dolly
 
Here is where UK and Ireland readers can get the latest book –