4 New Multicultural Picture Books: Gratitude, Island Culture, Rap, and Hannukah!

Several of these picture books recently won awards (or honors) in the ALA YMA in January. And one of them is brand new, hot-off-the-press in 2019. All of them celebrate different cultures from each other, and different cultures from traditional American majority culture. And all are worth checking out from your local library!

Thank You, Omu! by One Mora. Little, Brown, 2018. 40 pages.

Thank You, Omu! is a delightful twist on the story of Stone Soup. In the original folktale, three visitors to a community make soup from their stones–and the various offerings the villagers end up bringing. In Thank You, Omu!, Omu ends up giving away all of her soup to those around her. At the end of the story, she has no soup. What will she eat? Collage illustrations, repetition in the text, and bright colors make this a read aloud winner, and a good reminder that the Lord calls us to give generously. Don’t miss the back matter. Coretta Scot King/John Steptoe Illustrator winner; Caldecott Honor. For another book about giving thanks–from the Cherokee nation–see We Are Grateful (one of the recent Sibert honorees).

Islandborn by Junot Diaz and illustrated by Leo Espinosa. Dial, 2018. 48 pages.

What do you do when your teacher asks you to draw where you’re from, but you can’t remember anything about the place you’re “from”? Everyone else in your class is from different places, too, but they remember their former homes. Perhaps asking other people who are from the same place you are will help? In this vibrant, childlike book, the Island comes to life through drawings of people’s memories–even the scary parts. Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor

The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Frank Morrison. little bee books, 2019. 48 pages.

It’s hard to imagine a more fitting exploration of the roots of rap than this exuberant homage to the jazz, hip-hop, and rap legends in coupled with grafitti style illustrations. The Roots of Rap is a celebration of ground-breaking musicians, both male and female, and a history of the evolution of this particular musical style. Author’s note, illustrator’s note, and a timeline of rap history round out the back matter and are not to be missed.

All-of-a-Kind Family Hannukah by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. Schwartz & Wade, 2018. 40 pages.

The All-of-a-Kind Family series is beloved by many; can a picture book about this beloved family carry on the tradition? Well, yes and no. Part of the charm of the original series is getting to picture the family as you choose. A picture book always changes that dynamic. The story centers around the youngest daughter and the family’s celebration of Hannukah. It’s a nice addition to the All-of-a-Kind canon, but probably not a book most will want to own. Winner of the Sidney-Taylor Award for younger readers.

Have you seen any of these picture books? What did you think?
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