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Name__Hannah Eudy & Grace Ku__________________________

Checklist for Critiquing Multicultural Literature (NBGS Project)

Refer to this sheet as you complete your multicultural literature critique paper (also known as
the Notable Books for a Global Society Project). Include two copies of this sheet with your
paper, one for you to complete a self-assessment before you turn in the paper, and one for my
assessment and comments. These are the minimum expected requirements. You may, of
course, exceed these expectations as you complete the assignment.

____ Title page.


____ Introduction.
____ Purpose of the assignment. I think you nailed this part.
____ The steps you used in completing the assignment. How you went about selecting and
finding books for the assignment. Nice job with describing your choices and reasons for each
book selected. It might be important to also discuss some challenges you faced while choosing
books and completing the assignment. Not everything goes well, and you might talk about book
access more as well as time management.
____ Your own definition for multicultural or global literature and how you arrived at this
definition. How your original definition for multicultural or global literature changed as you
completed the project. I appreciate the open minds and hearts both of you have shown in your
emerging definitions. As a note, there are some grammar and proofreading errors there—book
instead of books, for instance—so you will always want to give the paper one more read to find
those.
____ List of the eight multicultural titles read for project in APA bibliographic form. (This
bibliographic information will appear separately for each book you read within your paper and
then again, at the end of the paper.) A brief critique of each of the eight titles you selected for
the project. You would summarize the books and point out their strengths and weaknesses. You
need to list all the books you chose and then summarize and critique them. You have discussed
them here and identified some strengths and weaknesses, but more evidence should be
provided as well as a discussion of genre and format and organization for each book. You do
this to some extent but not on each book. Excellent comments on Between Shades of Gray. I
wonder if the author made the choices she did because it is hard to truly know the characters
due to the duress of the situation and because so many died or disappeared.
__ Thorough discussion of the Notable Books for a Global Society criteria that shows you have
read, considered, and used this criteria for the books you have read for this paper and why. You
will need to offer specific examples from the books, of course. You don’t have a discussion of
the criteria BEFORE applying it to your book. Insert that section after the discussion of the
books you read.
____ Strong references to the Children’s Literature, Briefly text and one other journal article or
any other relevant pieces—if you use another relevant piece, you must delineate the applicable
parts for this paper—as you explore multicultural literature and make your book choice. Weave
this information into your paper, possibly when you explain the assignment’s purpose or the
criteria or rationale for multicultural literature. Several articles on multicultural literature are
available on Angel.
____ A thorough examination/critique of one multicultural book from one of the NBGS lists that
you might consider using in your classroom. Why might this book appeal to students? To a
lesser degree, you will also critique your two honor books, and offer support for their inclusion
on the list.
____ A critical reaction paper expressing the book’s strengths and weaknesses and its
usefulness in your classroom. Why this particular book out of all the other titles you read or that
have been nominated? How does it meet your criteria for good multicultural literature?
____ A critique and evaluation of the book’s relevant literary elements, including plot, theme,
voice, and characterization as well as writing style. You must provide extensive examples of all
of these.
____ Conclusion. What did you learn from this assignment? What do you still need to learn?
What would you change if you did the assignment again? How can you tie the assignment to
coursework for this course and previous courses?
____ Bibliography of references used for critique. This includes the book you critiqued, your
honor books, all other books read, and additional critical references that informed your paper.

Name____________________________

Checklist for Critiquing Multicultural Literature (NBGS Project)


Refer to this sheet as you complete your multicultural literature critique paper (also known as the Notable
Books for a Global Society Project). Include two copies of this sheet with your paper, one for you to
complete a self-assessment before you turn in the paper, and one for my assessment and comments.
These are the minimum expected requirements. You may, of course, exceed these expectations as you
complete the assignment.

____ Title page.


____ Introduction.
____ Purpose of the assignment.
____ The steps you used in completing the assignment. How you went about selecting and finding books
for the assignment.
____ Your own definition for multicultural or global literature and how you arrived at this definition. How
your original definition for multicultural or global literature changed as you completed the project.
____ List of the eight multicultural titles read for project in APA bibliographic form. (This bibliographic
information will appear separately for each book you read within your paper and then again, at the end of
the paper.) A brief critique of each of the eight titles you selected for the project. You would summarize
the books and point out their strengths and weaknesses.
____ Thorough discussion of the Notable Books for a Global Society criteria that shows you have read,
considered, and used this criteria for the books you have read for this paper and why. You will need to
offer specific examples from the books, of course.
____ Strong references to the Children’s Literature, Briefly text and one other journal article or any other
relevant pieces—if you use another relevant piece, you must delineate the applicable parts for this
paper—as you explore multicultural literature and make your book choice. Weave this information into
your paper, possibly when you explain the assignment’s purpose or the criteria or rationale for
multicultural literature. Several articles on multicultural literature are available on Angel.
____ A thorough examination/critique of one multicultural book from one of the NBGS lists that you might
consider using in your classroom. Why might this book appeal to students? To a lesser degree, you will
also critique your two honor books, and offer support for their inclusion on the list.
____ A critical reaction paper expressing the book’s strengths and weaknesses and its usefulness in your
classroom. Why this particular book out of all the other titles you read or that have been nominated? How
does it meet your criteria for good multicultural literature?
____ A critique and evaluation of the book’s relevant literary elements, including plot, theme, voice, and
characterization as well as writing style. You must provide extensive examples of all of these.
____ Conclusion. What did you learn from this assignment? What do you still need to learn? What would
you change if you did the assignment again? How can you tie the assignment to coursework for this
course and previous courses?
____ Bibliography of references used for critique. This includes the book you critiqued, your honor books,
all other books read, and additional critical references that informed your paper.
Hannah Eudy & Grace Ku

Notable Books for a Global Society Project

Teaching & Learning 307

Washington State University COVER PAGE

Introduction

As the community is becoming more diverse every day, people should be able to present

and spread awareness of the history, traditions, and values behind multiple cultures to provide
others the opportunity of a rich cultural knowledge. In our enriched classroom, we have had the

opportunity to enlighten ourselves further through multicultural literature. Culture is a difficult

context to grasp, unless the individual has lived or experienced some aspects in a specific

culture. Certainly, it would be such a great opportunity if everyone is able to travel across the

globe to connect with one another. However, sometimes this experience is not possible to

achieve, because not many individuals can attain traveling due to certain circumstances. It would

not be possible for everyone in the world to travel all around the world, and be embraced with

different cultures. Therefore, multicultural literature is the next best option because it provides a

wide variety of understanding.

From the usage of multicultural literature, young readers will understand that other

individuals in the world have so many great stories to tell all across the world (Lopez-Robertson,

2017, p. 48). No matter how much the individual lived differently, the readers begin to

understand that they are all humans who can tell stories about their lives to others. These books

will help give a “global outlook as well as understanding that members of the human family have

more similarities than differences” (Tunnell, 2015, p. 201). Each story from a different culture is

valuable and should be shared with others. We wanted to broaden our awareness of other

cultures and fully grasp this beautiful genre, so we chose a multitude of different cultural events

and groups through the analysis of eight books.

Purpose

The purpose of this project is to acknowledge and understand the cultural diversity in our

world by the usage of enhanced literature. Multicultural books can bring awareness and

appreciation of individuals who may seem different from the reader in a positive manner and
present the reader’s own culture, as readers are introduced to magnificent books from other

places in the world (Tunnell, 2015, pp. 200-201). With the usage of these books, readers are able

to be familiarized with the cultures that may be unfamiliar to them. These books need to also be

free of stereotyping, so that the book is respectful and reflects on the specific group of the

individual’s life (Lopez-Robertson, 2017, p. 49). For multicultural books, stereotyping is the

major subject we need to avoid, and sometimes that can be challenging, but authors must do

ample research. Tunnell states, “Cultural details need to represented accurately in literature”

(2015, p. 203), and later mentions for outsiders that they must, “...make concentrated efforts not

only to understand but also to inhabit a different cultural world, and they may indeed be able to

write with an accurate voice” (Tunnell, 2015, p. 203). This in turn shows that with a hefty

amount of research authors can attain a level of merit to write about other cultures. The purpose

of these books are not to divide cultures because of their differences, instead, it is to create a

bond between distinct cultures. It is a way to show a connection between different cultural

aspects.

We want to create a community that is accepting each person, no matter how much they

are different from one another. People are generally scared of being different, but in fact being

different crucial to individuality. As cultures are flowing through the passage of time, the

peoples’ duty is to accept others and celebrate diversity. Ironically, even though the world is

expanding to become a more multicultural world, there are conflicts in life that make it difficult

for people to be united into one population. The major conflicts the world has is due to the

population’s xenophobia, the “mistrust of fear of people who are strangers or foreigners”

(Tunnell, 2015, p. 201). Children may grow toward xenophobia, due to the environment they

lived and grew up in and if there is a lack of opportunity for them to learn. This is why the usage
of multicultural books is beneficial toward the society we live in today. With the usage of these

multicultural books, teachers and parents “...help children avoid the pitfalls of ignorance that

breed intolerance, hatred, and conflict” (Tunnell, 2015, p. 206). With using multicultural books

will slowly terminate ignorance, and those students will have an open mind.

Multicultural books do not only bring awareness or understanding of different cultures to

individuals, but it can also help children of minority groups as well. The children who are in a

minority group need “...books that bolster self-esteem and pride in their heritage” (Tunnell, 2015,

p. 202). With the usage of these multicultural books, the students will be able to relate and

understand that it is okay to be different, compared to their peers. Especially when the

classrooms the students are in is not a diverse classroom, the students may have low confidence

or struggle with their identity if no one relates nor understand their culture; especially if the

students are bullied because of their differences. As Lopez-Robertson (2017) states in his article,

teachers should “...encourage students to connect their lives with schooling and asks teachers to

make this possible through the spaces and actual engagement opportunities they create in their

classrooms” (p. 49). The school community should be an accepting environment that children

grow and expand, while learning.

Steps took

For the Notable Books for a Global Society Project, there were so many books that we

were able to choose from. At first, by looking at the long lists of books, we were overwhelmed

on how to choose eight potential books for our project. All the books had so many cultures

represented through, socioeconomic status, traditions, and history. Our goal was to pick a wide

range of time periods and events that would tell us about a differing portion of history and its
people. We agreed to choose books that portrayed multiple perspectives, books that encouraged

cultural awareness of specific cultures, and books that spread awareness on the calamitous events

of the past.

Surprisingly, we were interested in similar topics, especially on the historical novels that

were based on genocide. Hannah found a book that covered the Holocaust which interested her

because she had never seen a perspective of the the Hitler youth side at all. Grace found a book

about Stalin, based on a perspective of a young girl who was in imprisonment under the Soviet

Union. This book interested her, because she did not know much about Stalin compared to how

much she knew about Hitler. We faced some difficulties with finding specific books to read for

this project. Despite the many choices for our potential books from the lists, it was still relatively

hard for us to pick books that all revolved around a specific genre or theme. Compared to the list,

there were too many students who wanted to get books with similar themes. Especially when

there was only one physical copy of the book at the library. As a result of this challenge, we

began to meander away from what we had originally planned. We then decided to find different

themes other books covered, so that we had a wide range of selections. We began to think this

would be interesting, because of how many books in the lists covered different cultural aspects.

Fortunately, because we were able to look into books ahead of time, we were able to find books

that were enriched with information that interested us.

As we found these two books that interested us, it helped us find other additional books

that interested us based on the various cultures presented. We began searching for other chapter

books, in which we found a poor white family living in Virginia, as well as a book utilizing two

children’s perspectives of Sudan. We then knew we wanted to find four picture books, in which

we found a book about a young slave boy who had a vast amount of courage to gain freedom.
This book offered insight into a devastating life that we would never be able to relate to but have

a better understanding of now that we have read it. Another book we found was about a Japanese

cat searching for the meaning of her name. We thought this was intriguing because the Japanese

culture was woven into each page, which is why we chose it as we wanted to know more about

Japan. The last book we chose was about a girl who wants to be like her family and wear a

malafa, and the reason we chose this is that it had beautiful illustrations, and I personally wanted

to know more about that particular cultural attire. The eight books we chose for this project were

Hyun-joo Bae’s New Clothes for New Year’s Day, Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s The Boy Who

Dared, Ellen Levine’s Henry’s Freedom Box, Reibstein’s Wabi Sabi, Sepetys’ Between Shades

of Gray, Ruth White’s Little Audrey, Kelly Cunnane’s Deep in Sahara, and Linda Sue Park’s A

Long Walk to Water.We chose our eight books carefully, as they each addressed a unique topic.

Definition

Grace:

Before I started this project, I thought multicultural books were generally based on

different cultural aspects. Despite that, I grew up in a multicultural area, and surprisingly I did

not know much about what multicultural books had covered. Generally, I interpreted

multicultural books in a narrow view. The community I grew up in during primary school only

brought in multicultural books for foreign language courses, learning a new culture, or holiday in

school. The little exposure I had in the past led to only knowing the culture I had been exposed to

or was familiar with. I believe the multicultural books that were covered were always the

cultures that were present in the classroom. If the students in the classroom had the specific

culture, we were most likely going to learn about their cultures..


I always thought these books were presented through a “happy” viewpoint, where it

gave the readers information of foods they ate or clothes they wore. In reality, there were many

different aspects multicultural books had covered that I was not entirely exposed to. I did not

know that books about the tragedy behind the history were considered multicultural books. I

always believed that historical books and multicultural books were a separate genre. Now, after I

completed this project, I began to understand the importance and presence of the multitude of

culture in this genre. The reason of this is because there are so many details that these books

cover in all the various cultures. Multicultural books are not always written in one format, these

books can be relatable to the individual.

After completing this assignment, I have began to understand and have been enriched

with cultural knowledge compared to how much I had known before. These books can be the

bridge that connects individuals to one another despite the differences in their life. Especially as

a teacher, I understand that it is important to cover all aspects, because there is so much diversity

in the classroom. The diversity grows every day, so as teachers, we should understand the

importance of sharing different multicultural books that will help students to understand and be

aware of the history, traditions, and values that are behind each culture. We need to help bridge

the gaps between the differences, and understand that we all can relate or connect with one

another in some way.

Hannah:

Before I read this chapter or started this project, I thought multicultural literature was

about all different types of people, cultural groups, and ethnic groups, including all perspectives.

The main part of my thoughts were that this literature made sure to include everyone and show
the perspective of each group of people. As a child I was introduced to these types of books

through other genres because my teacher did not introduce this topic as its own, but this week I

feel much more immersed into this genre than ever before. I grew up in a suburban of Seattle

where there was a decent amount of diversity, so we had plenty of opportunities to learn about

others, and the teachers tried their best to utilize all of the literature they could. Sometimes

teachers would be working on a unit with this genre, and they would have kids in the class bring

their parents for a day to talk about their culture and brought in food for everyone. I had many

positive experiences with this genre because I got to read about what was unfamiliar to me which

broadened my worldview of other groups of people.

When I read these types of books I was always interested because I was enlightened on

the different cultural elements of a group. I learned the foods, traditions, religious views, and

lifestyle of other people. The main multicultural books I think we focused on in elementary

school, was Native American text, as we would have potlucks, pow wows, plays, read a variety

of material, and would visit the museum at University of Washington. I remember focusing on

these groups of people throughout school, which was really nice when I came to college and took

a Native American music class.

After finishing this project, my definition of multicultural literature has been enhanced. If

I would not have read some of the books I read, then I would not have the knowledge I have

now. I would say that multicultural literature is so vital for everyone and especially becoming a

teacher. When I teach I will make sure to use quality multicultural literature to expand the

knowledge of my students as it is so critical to their learning, and it may be the first time they are

exposed to a culture that is different from their own. My greatest take away from this project and

adding to my definition, is that cultures are so vast, and the perspective of all are valuable.
Through reading my four books and writing about them helped me realize that learning about

others, what they think, what they believe, and what they think of my culture surrounds this

genre. Multicultural literature is positively accepting, celebrates that diversity, and understands

everyone for who they are because they deserve that. A misconception I had before this project

was that this genre was not about White people. But in fact I was wrong as the U.S. is filled with

different cultures, and stripping that away from someone takes away their individuality. I

remember learning this last year in Teaching and Learning 339 that there are countless languages

across the U.S. contributing to that vast culture. Being aware of everyone’s culture is important,

and of course that can be hard to do, but this project has taught me to keep striving to understand

more cultures. My thinking has changed dramatically after reading our books, especially our

winner!

Multicultural Titles

Bae, H. (2007). New clothes for New Year's day (1st American ed., translated ed., English

ed.). La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller.

This story is about a young girl who excited to dress up in her new clothing that her

mother and father gave for New Year’s Day. The setting of the book is in Korea, based on the

clothing hanbok she wore. She narrates in sequence of how each of the clothing is worn in steps.

She tells the readers directly the details of the clothing, of how her parents provided this clothing,

the kind of fabric they are made out of, and how beautifully detailed each items were. This book

did a great job of expressing the cultural clothing and also details on the customs the girl

celebrates.
The strengths the picture book have are how knowledgeable the author was to the topic

and the detailed, colorful illustrations that went along with the story. From the words the author

used, and how the author explains some of the clothing resembles good luck and the information

given in the author’s note. Bae labels all the information of different clothing, along with the

illustration of the young girl from the book. The illustrations were filled with so much color, as

they closely resemble the colorful clothing she wore for this special day. She even brings the

history behind the traditions and clothing, so that the readers understand the significance of the

customs the young girl participates in. An example from the book, “Put on the new shoes, the

new flower-embroidered shoes” expresses an example of the details that were included in each

specific clothing (Bae, 2007, p. 19). I believe the weakness the picture book had was the lack of

information on the tradition of New Year’s Day. It would have been interesting and more

informational if the book talked more about it being a new day. Even though the book is mainly

about the new clothing for New Year’s Day, I believe it would have been more culturally

enriched if the author began with more about why or how the people celebrate New Year’s Day.

Bartoletti, S. (2008). The boy who dared (1st ed.). New York: Scholastic Press.

This story is about a boy named Helmuth, also known as Helmut, who was a boy in the

1940s Germany. At this time in Germany, Adolf Hitler was the chancellor and became the fuhrer

before World War II. Helmuth lives with his his brothers, Hans, and Gerhard, as well as his

mother Mutti. They live next door to their grandparents, and are nervous about the actions Hitler

takes. From the beginning, Helmuth is a proud German boy, but as the events unravel he starts to

question the society he lives in .The restrictions placed upon the people start small, but then

progress, and pretty soon Helmuth cannot go to certain shops because Jewish people own them.
This is where he starts noticing the inequalities of his time, and he does not like them. Helmuth

eventually has to join the the Hitler Youth, and loses touch with his friends Rudi and Karl.

Helmuth’s brother Gerhard brings a restricted radio home, and Helmuth uses it to find the truth

and is interested in resisting against Hitler and the Nazi party. He brings his two friends in, and

they all decide to post the truth all over town, but Helmuth gets caught by his supervisor, and as

promised gave no names to the officials. Rudi, Karl, and a co-worker get sentenced to certain

terms, but Helmuth’s bravery wins him the death penalty as well as the remembrance people

have for him.

This story has some interesting structural components. This exemplary historical fiction

novel is filled with many historical pieces making it believable, but also an intriguing storyline as

it is fiction. The novel had many moments where we both thought it was less fiction and more

nonfiction. As for the format, this book is not a traditional chapter book as it is separated

uniquely on the page by extra spacing as well as symbols. The story hops from past to present,

and is told in third person. This may make it seem less personable, but in fact it is extremely

emotionally intense. This story also includes many pictures, documents, and uses the German

language in places which promotes cultural awareness for the reader.

As for a weakness, this novel could have utilized more substantial interactions between

the harsh Nazi perspective, resistant group, and Jewish people. I think this because the book

showed multiple perspectives of people in Germany, but I would have liked a richer perspective

of the Nazis and more on his stepdad, Hugo, contrasted with the other groups of people. The

book included all the of these perspectives which I learned a lot from, but I felt it glossed over

their interactions that could have been elaborated on. I would have also liked to have seen more
of the German resistance and their further interactions between the Nazi and Jewish population,

because that was the most shocking aspect of this book for me.

The strengths of this novel include the authenticity of the time period due to primary

sources including documents, recollections of events, picture, and prison records. The author did

extensive research, as well as interviewed two of the protagonist’s best friends who were also

convicted. Bartoletti also included a bunch of pictures, a timeline, and a document of the

information pertaining to Helmuth’s execution on pages 175-190. These documents made the

reader feel immersed in the time, making all the events seem pertinent and real. On page 175,

there is a photograph of Helmuth, and it really makes me feel uneasy because he was so young

and it helps the reader understand the pain more thoroughly (Bartoletti, 2008). Bartoletti was also

informed by Helmuth’s brother, Gerhard about a letter that was sent to him which was recalled

by memory. Another strength is the in-depth treatment of cultural issues, as I felt that this

moment in history was a severe moment especially for the people of Germany. I was immersed

throughout the whole story in the society’s issues, which felt completely surreal as I had never

experienced such an emotional response before. Since this was a new outlook to me personally,

it made all of the components of the culture magnified, especially with the torn population. It

was heartbreaking, and I would hope I would be apart of the resistance right alongside Helmuth

if I was a German living under Nazi Germany. There were so many elements I had missed, and

after reading this I feel so enlightened on the events of pre WWII, during, and post WWII. I feel

for the people of Germany, as well as the Jewish people as always, and the Nazi party I feel the

same towards. I can relate to the Germans who wanted change, as they were forced into a

hellacious dictatorship, and they too were victims.


Levine, E., & Nelson, Kadir. (2007). Henry's freedom box (1st ed.). New York: Scholastic

Press.

This true story is about Henry, as the book follows how he was born into slavery to how

he went on his long journey to freedom in Philadelphia. Henry never knew when his birthday

was, because he was born into slavery. Until the end of his freedom, Henry had faced many

difficulties in his life. When he was young, he was sold and separated from his family to the

master’s son as the master began to become ill. In the middle of the book, it seems as if Henry

was finally happy again with his new family, his wife, and his children in the new place.

However, as Henry’s master began to lose money, his family was sold and taken away from him

when he was working at the factory. As his happiness was taken away from him again, he

worked with other individuals and did something that was unimaginable. He mailed himself in a

box, and traveled all the way to Philadelphia in hopes of being free. On March 30, 1849, the day

he was finally free in Philadelphia, became the day he was born as Henry Box Brown.

This book is a historical fiction, based on the true story of Henry “Box” Brown. The book

is written in chronological order of his life, from him working as a slave since a young age to his

long journey toward his freedom. Since the book was written in a third-person narrative, the

book did resemble as informational, written as Henry’s biography. These elements helped the

book to feel as if the readers were going along with Henry, toward his long journey in his life.

Especially, on when he was taken away from his family and his new family as taken away from

him, readers were able to connect with the loss Henry had faced in his life.

The strengths of this picture book are the clear, distinct presentation of slave owners and

abolitionists, and how detailed Henry’s journey in a box was from the text and illustrations.

Despite the heavy content and concepts of the book challenging younger readers, the book did
such a fascinating job on representing individuals who were for and against slavery in the past.

The book hit one of the NBGS criteria, where it has accurately portrayed the cultural and

authentic character aspects. The readers are able to understand how the slaveowners were harsh

and heartless toward Henry and other slaves, while abolitionists were there to help slaves to be

free and be treated as a human again. The contrast of the relationship the main character had with

certain individuals in the book were comprehensible. The text and illustrations were well thought

out and organized. The illustrations of the book were so detailed, that it gave me additional

details on how difficult Henry’s long journey was in a box. The close-up illustration of Henry in

a box in an uncomfortable position additionally helps the readers to understand what Henry did

was not an easy thing to do (Levine, 2007, p. 32). This displays the hardships that many would

not understand without reading this masterpiece.

The weakness of this picture book was the lack of detail the book had for specific

characters. For example, when Henry went to ask Dr. Smith for help, the book described him as

a “white man who thought slavery was wrong” (Levine, 2007, p. 22). Even though this

description did a splendid job on showing contrast between two populations during slavery to a

younger audience, it would have been nice if there were more description about certain

individuals in the book. Then, I believe the book will have more information and elements on

why people like Dr. Smith, were important or such a great help during that time period.

Reibstein, M., & Young, Ed. (2008). Wabi Sabi (1st ed.). New York: Little, Brown.

A cat named Wabi Sabi lives in Kyoto, Japan with her master. A visitor asks her master

what her name means, but she have never known what it could possibly mean until now as her

search begins. Wabi Sabi ponders what it could mean, and goes on a journey to figure out her
name’s meaning after her master says it is difficult to explain. Wabi Sabi asks her friend

Snowball who tells her it means beauty, while Rascal who was a mean dog told her it would be

too hard to explain to an ordinary cat like herself. She continually wonders, and a bird comes to

her intangible rescue telling her of a monkey named kosho who may know. Wabi Sabi heads to

the mountain where Kosho resides and travels through the magnificent city. She arrives and he

tells her it is difficult as well, and asks her to look within herself and her surroundings to find the

meaning. He explains that life consists of simplicity with is alluring with a cup of tea in hand.

Wabi Sabi heads back to her home where she passed through a temple where she may not have

found beauty before, but has grown through this journey. She returns home and her master could

not have been happier and neither could she at simple peace.

This story is a poetic picture book. I enjoyed this genre as it was peaceful and I was able

to immerse myself into Japanese poetry more so than in the past and the illustration style was

unique. The story is written in past tense and is in third person, but some of the poems are in

present tense. The story is formatted sideways and the illustrations take up both pages as it

almost looks like a calendar. There are Japanese inscriptions written on the side with a glossary

in the back to refer to as well as the history of Wabi Sabi. I loved the organization and formatting

of this picture book as it was unique and I do not usually see this kind of picture book. This story

would be great for the classroom as it really paints the Japanese culture beautifully.

Some weaknesses of this book include the lack of cultural issues. I think this was a

wonderful representation of Japanese culture as far as I can tell as an outsider, but I felt major

issues were not addressed. Name meaning may be of high importance, but I think the picture

book could have gone more in depth of cultural issues. No one seemed upset with Wabi Sabi for

not knowing the meaning, as the master was also unsure who had named Wabi Sabi (Reibstein,
2008, p. 1). The other animals, besides Rascal just seemed to want to help rather than shun her.

Another weakness would be that the interactions between other cultural groups were not clear,

since all the audience knows is that the visitors wanted to know what Wabi Sabi’s name meant.

Another clue that they may have been another cultural group was their differing attire from Wabi

Sabi’s master. Knowing this, the audience was not given substantial detail about the visitors or

many interactions. Lastly, apart from the visitors, the only other interactions were between the

master, Wabi Sabi, and the animals.

Strengths of this story were the profound cultural details. The whole time I read this story

and reread it I was more intrigued than the last read, because it was filled with immense details.

The story engulfed me in detail and it helped me better understand Japanese culture through the

use of haikus, art, and Japanese writing beautifully written throughout the story. The illustrations

use both the pages and are sideways which helps the holistic nature of the story adding colossal

detail. For example, on pages 21-22, an elaborate temple is depicted and shows the near end of

Wabi Sabi’s journey, where beauty is solidified for her. The story was powerful because I was

able to imagine myself as Wabi Sabi through her adventure to find meaning, and the rich culture

helped me do that in a way I could relate and broadened my views further. At the end of the

story, Reibstein declares Wabi Sabi “...feeling simply and beautifully at home” (2008, p. 28).

The reader feels satisfied as does Wabi Sabi. Another strength of this story is the accuracy of

Wabi Sabi’s problem solving capabilities. Throughout the story, Wabi Sabi was not afraid to ask

for help as a version of problem solving, by traveling through the city, to the mountain, and to

other animals. I felt this story was realistic in terms of problems that people may have, as I know

in my own life I often ask for help. Relating these beautiful multicultural titles to our own lives is
what I love taking out of these stories which helps me to ultimately understand and be more

culturally aware.

Sepetys, R. (2011). Between shades of gray. New York: Philomel Books.

This book is about a sixteen year old named Lina, who is taken away with her mom and

brother Jonas to a labor camp in Siberia. Her life and dreams for her art school were taken away

in one night, when the Soviet secret police barged into their home unexpectedly. Her and her

family were taken away with other prisoners, and there were people she recognized from her

neighborhood. Out of all the prisoners, Lina creates a connection with a boy named Andrius

throughout the story. The way Lina and her family are taken away in an overcrowded train was

not the only tragedy Lina had faced. To make the matter worst, Lina’s father, along with so many

other men, was taken away to a different camp and was sentenced to death. Unfortunately, the

book ends openly where Lina never knows whether or not her father actually survived.

Throughout the long, endless labors, humiliation, terrifying days, Lina and her family pull each

other by their hope to be free again together as a family. Near the end, numerous prisoners are

malnourished and grasping to survive with little to no resources of food and medication. As

Lina’s mother passed away, one of the guards who befriended Lina, calls for help of doctors

before he leaves, which led to the people being treated and survived. In the epilogue, it is shown

that Lina’s jar was found by an anonymous worker, which was full of papers she wrote and

drawn as she was imprisoned in Siberia for twelve years. At the end of Lina’s letter, it shows that

she had married Andrius and she hopes that her recordings will help the world to remember and

stop this terrifying history to repeat again in the future. The book did such an amazing job of

showing two different types of people in the novel, the Soviets and the Lithuanian people. Both
of the cultures spoke their own language, and Lina’s mother, Elena, was the role of the bridge

that helped each side to understand each other throughout the book. Elena is such an important

character in the book, her role will be explained further in the next paragraph.

The strength of this book was how the writings focused on the theme of the book from

the beginning to the end, along with the main character development. The theme of the book was

the importance of love, despite the great suffering, violence, and hatred Lina and other characters

had faced throughout the novel. Since the first part of the novel, Lina had been full of hatred and

desire to avenge the Soviet officers, Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (NKVD), due to

obvious reasons. There are numerous passages that shows the relationship between the NKVD

and the people who were imprisoned, for example, this quote from Lina’s thought at that

moment was, “Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's

was worth a pocket watch” (Sepetys, 2011, p. 27). This shows the issue Lina had understood,

that as soon as an individual was imprisoned, they are no longer treated as humans, and instead,

treated as objects.

However, in contrast, Elena, always reminds Lina to focus on staying together and to

survive even to the end. Elena faces these conditions positively, with hope they will be released

if they remain in good terms. Despite Lina’s disagreement, Elena’s compassion began to change

the bald man and Kretzsky (one of the NKVD) positively as a result. The theme relates to Lina’s

character development, how at first she did not want to help others or take orders from the

NKVD. However, she began to see how each individual she knew began to change and adapt to

NKVD’s orders in order to help both themselves and their family to survive. Lina began to focus

less on the NKVD, and instead, began to voluntarily do what was necessary in order to help her
and her family to survive. Another strength is the writing style, in using the contrast between

Lina’s life before and after she was captured.

Throughout the book, the readers see flashbacks of Lina’s past while she is living her life

at the labor camp. Both people compliment the beauty of the children, Lina and Jonas, and how

they “...look just like their father” (Sepetys, 2011, p. 34). In her flashbacks, Lina and her family

is laughing with one another as they are waiting to take their picture by the photographer. In

reality, the laughters she had with her family is gone as she and her family is being sent away to

imprisonment. It pains me how different her life was before and after, the words in the book had

helped me connect deeply to what Lina had felt. The use of these flashbacks shows the drastic

changes in Lina’s life, and emotions of Lina, and how deeply she misses her home. The book

also uses flashbacks to invite reflection, critical analysis, and response toward how people were

treated under the Communist rule. An example of this section is when Lina’s father told Lina,

“How could Stalin simply take something that didn't belong to him, something that a farmer and

his family had worked their whole lives for? 'That's communism, Lina,'” (Sepetys, 2011, p.105).

It shows the dictatorship Stalin had over the people at this time, where it was so easy for people’s

lives to be taken away instantly.

The weakness of this novel is the different perspectives of the individuals at the labor

camp. I understand that the book was based on Lina’s perspective and centered mainly around

her family members, however I believe it would have been more interesting and full of

information if there were more details on certain characters in the book. There were some hints

and few narration on what happened to each of the characters, when the characters had a

conversation with Lina. However, it would have made the book more emotional and detailed if
there were more description on what happened to the people throughout their lives at the labor

camp in Siberia.

White, R. (2008). Little Audrey (1st ed.). New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

This story is about a young girl named Audrey, and her family. Her family consists of her

mommy, daddy, and sisters named, Betty Gail, Eleanor, Ruth Carol, and Yvonne. It is interesting

because the story is written from Audrey’s perspective but is written by her sister Ruth Carol.

The family lives in Jewell Valley, which is a coal mine, as their daddy works there and they do

not have to pay for their house and gets stipends of scrips to buy food. As Audrey navigates life,

she gets tonsillitis and scarlet fever and is bullied for being skinny and is often called skeleton

girl. The family struggles on and lost one of their babies at seven months old, and their daddy has

an alcohol problem. Near the end, their daddy gets in a car crash with some of his buddies and

passes away, and people bring them a lot of food as they grieve. Since no one in their family is

working in coal mine, they must move so they plan to go to Roanoke where their mommy’s

sister lives and mommy considers working to be the family provider.

This historical fiction novel was an interesting piece because as with our winner, this also

felt like less of a fiction. This book does a great job of relaying the facts as it is presented

through the antagonist’s sister in first person and is written in first person. The way in which it is

written was curious because it is first person, as the author is portraying the sister which was new

to me and I enjoyed reading it. The story is separated into traditional chapters and also includes a

picture of the family which was nice to refer back to when trying to remember all of the

children’s names.
Some weaknesses of this story would include the pace in which the story took. I felt

while reading that the story finished way too quickly for someone’s life especially considering

the events that occurred in the family’s lives. Some of the smaller events went at a moderate

pace, but the big events of the story generally only touched briefly on the emotional responses

and events that would seemingly take place. After daddy died, the story almost abruptly ended,

and I was hoping for more detail as that part tore me up with sadness. Another weakness includes

the lack of representation of multiple cultural groups represented. I felt as if there was a main

cultural group who lived in the coal mine, and no other prominent groups were clearly present. I

think as far as the book goes, the socioeconomic status of the town was well represented, but not

many two or more cultural groups were substantially represented, as the book mainly focused on

the interactions between the people in the town.

The strengths of this novel were the portrayal of the different families and their own

living in the coal mine. Audrey and her family was dirt poor and were living from paycheck to

paycheck, and scrips to scrips scraping by for enough food with the seven people present. This

was an accurate representation of characters in terms of their economic status. The families were

able to live for free in the coal mines but with audrey’s weight loss she needed more sustenance

to gain that weight back. Audrey was recognizably skinnier by bullies, and White says, “Skeleton

girl! I cross my thin arms over my chest. I look down at my bony knees. And my face grows hot

with shame. Skeleton girl is ten times worse than Little Audrey” (2008 p. 56). This shows how

the bully’s comments affect Audrey as she is more than what her weight makes her look like. On

the last day of school, students gave their beloved teacher fruit and her teacher, Miss Stairus,

offered her a banana as Miss Stairus knew she was undernourished. The economic status of this

family was portrayed believably.


Another strength I noticed was the language used by these 1940s Virginians. They

used language that I have heard my Michiganian grandmother speak in the past such as

“...worshboard…” (White, 2008, p. 28). I appreciated that portion, because I know that all

across the United States there are different dialects of English used, and I have heard the

dialect they used in the story in my life. This is another element that makes it more

believable to me as a reader because I can connect to the people and their speech patterns.

2 Honor Books

Cunnane, K., & Hadadi, Hoda. (2013). Deep in the Sahara (1st ed.). New York: Schwartz &

Wade Books. (1st Honor Book)

This is a beautifully crafted story about a girl named Lalla who lives with her family in

West Africa. Lalla longs to be like her family as she admires her mother’s beauty. She sees that

her female family wears malafas, but she does not, and wants to wear one like them. Her Mama

tells her that malafas represent beauty, and her sister says they are mysterious. Lalla notices that

malafas can have magnificent color schemes, and thinks she needs one to grow up and be like

her family. Her cousin tells her that if she wants to be like them, a malafa is a start, while her

Grandmother tells her a malafa is a tradition. Her Mama gives Lalla a malafa at the end, as Lalla

understands what a malafa encompasses as her and her mother recognize faith may be the

biggest component of all.

This is a cultural picture book that includes many pieces from Lalla’s culture. I loved the

style of picture in this book as it was stunningly gorgeous. The story was formatted mostly with

the writing on one page, but some pages both had writing. The pictures were organized on both
pages as a mural like illustration and brightly colored which made it visually pleasing. The story

included words in their language, and then the word would be translated to English to promote a

better cultural understanding, and there is a glossary with the same words in the back for people

to refer to for extra exposure.

A weakness of this story is that I wish there could have been more detail on the cultural

element of the malafa. I found this story relatable, as a child generally longs to be just like their

family as they are raised by them and naturally do what they do. Many children and adults

recognize this to be true, but I want to know more about the malafa, about why they wear it, and

more detail on what it represents to each person and the men of their family. I am always

interested in hearing about cultural attire because it can have such great meaning, and it can have

different meaning for the individual. Cunnane & Hadadi describe Lalla’s longing, “ Women

whisper on the corner, veiled head to toe in malafa, color of lime and mango. More than all the

gold on a bride’s crown, you want a malafa so you can be a lady too” (2013, p. 12). Lalla

describes the beautiful attire, which is shown by the illustrations. The illustrations help depict the

colors and meaning of the malafa further creating understanding for the reader. I would also want

to hear more about Lalla, and what she thinks of the malafa after she wears it for awhile.

Strengths of this story are the language of the story. The author did an excellent job of

including words and language from this group of people, and I really appreciate that. There is a

glossary in the back as well to greater understand what some of those words meant. The story

also would use words in their language and then translate them in text as they are also in the

glossary, “‘Wahai. Come…’” (Cunanne & Hadadi, 2013, p. 23). I find this special because for a

kid, as well as for me I was able to learn about a new culture quite easily. The illustrations also

helped me conceptualize some of imagery of this cultural attire as well as what the unfamiliar
words meant. Not to mention how intricately exquisite the illustrations were, helping the reader

identify new cultural terms. Another strength was the format and quality of this story, I felt the

illustrations really complemented what I was reading and learning. As I viewed the illustrations,

they really added to the story. I felt that the text and illustrations were quality and the message of

this story was relatable and pleasant. Due to this story’s excellent wordage, format, quality, and

its informative cultural piece, we have chosen it to be one of our honor books.

This book has been chosen to be one of our honor books because it has met much of the

criteria, is uplifting, cultural, and would be helpful in the classroom. As for criteria, this book

includes many cultural details such as the character’s homes while portraying their social and

economic status. Cunname & Hadadi describe the houses and activities the characters partake in,

“In a pale pink house the shape of a tall cake, you watch Mama’s malafa flutter as she prays”

(2013, p .3), and on page 4 the illustrations depict this language. The figurative language of

alliteration and the metaphor of the houses are used to describe these cultural aspects to help the

reader understand easier and assists with interpretation. This story is uplifting because it brings

culture to beautiful illustrations and a lovely story about a girl wanting to be like the ladies of her

family which was heartwarming. When readers can understand the context through figurative

language, imagery, and connections to the text, they enjoy and learn more. This book is cultural

and teaches readers through the language used, and the glossary helping further to show what the

bolded words mean. This story would appeal to students because they can relate to it, the family

structure, and the mesmerizing illustrations. Students would see that another culture might be

different from their own, but can involve similar attributes. It is important to teach students about

the similarities between people, but it is also vital to highlight the differences for a better

understanding of others. This story does that perfectly, as it shows kids wanting to be like their
family, but immerses the reader in another culture. This story is of high quality and provides

authentic language and style which will promote sensitivity in the classroom. Students will be

able to reflect on what they read, analyze, and respond to the literature in ways it might be like

them as well as how it is different. There are many activities that could be used with this book

through excellent reflections, discussions, and responses. I would use this book in the classroom

because it helps create culturally sensitive kids, and shows them other perspectives.

Park, L. (2010). A long walk to water. Boston: Clarion Books. (2nd Honor Book)

This book is about two characters who lived varying lives in the country of Sudan. Nya

is a young girl who walked eight hours every day to bring water for her family. The water is not

clean, however, it is the only water that is closest to their home for them to survive. Due to this

condition, hundreds of people from the population are suffering with illness throughout their

lives. The other main character in the book is Salva, a boy who walks the endless land to find

safety, as his home was torn by the war. Throughout his journey, he encounters people he knew

and also new people who were important in his life as support and survival. Two of these young

children went on a long journey to find hope and survival in different ways. The two stories

occur uniquely in different time periods, but eventually, these two characters meet one another at

the end of the book. Salva was able to find a new life and home in America, and was able to

come back and help his country in the future. He was one of the workers who brought schools

and wells with clean water for the people in Sudan, including Nya. Constantly, Salva recounts

his uncle’s words, “A step at a time. Our problem at a time - just figure out this one problem”

(Park, 2010, p. 110). This emphasizes the importance of his uncle’s role and the relationship

between Salva and his uncle. Salva’s uncle was the major turning point in his journey, where he
began to grow and change, obtaining courage and independence as he began to walk toward his

ultimate goal, to find his family and a safe place to stay. The quote gives an example of how his

story began to progress, “Each time, Salva would think of his family and his village, and he was

somehow able to keep his wounded feet moving forward, one painful step at a time” (Park, 2010,

p. 41). In this quote, the portrayal of his hardships he experienced is visualized by his feet, but he

still manages to continue as he grasps his little hope toward a better life.

As stated above, the two characters are represented in the book by switching narrations

from one another throughout the book. This book is historical fiction, where Nya is created by

the actual lives of girls who lived like her during this time, and Salva is factual where it is based

on a true story about himself. This information at the end of the book answered my question of

why Nya was written in a third-person narration, while Salva’s story was written in first-person

narration. Salva’s story is based on Salva himself, where he helped create a story of hope and

dreams of helping one another. Nya’s story represents the other people who he had encountered

that tried to overcome their hardships in life with hope. Salva’s story was personal, the part

where he had directly experienced, while Nya’s story was experienced through others, from the

perspectives of others. This description relates to the book’s theme on not giving up hope, no

matter how difficult their circumstances was to survive.

The book included strengths based on the NBGS criteria, for example, the book had

provided in-depth treatment of cultural issues and actually included a specific cultural group in

the book, rather than including it in as a “quota”. The book expresses the difficulties and fear the

people had faced in Sudan at that time. A quote from the book expresses how the people are

affected from the cultural issues, “Nya could see the questions in her mother's face every

morning: Would they be lucky again? Or was it their turn to lose someone?" (Park, 2010, p. 34).
Like this passage, the book did such an amazing job of expressing the emotional changes the war

had affected the Sudan population. For example, the book states how, “...the Nuer and the Dinka

had a long history of trouble” (Park, 2010, p. 16). This quotation express the two polar opposite

populations, due to the war that is occurring in their country at that time. Throughout the book,

the characters hope the people they meet are not the opposite side, because of their long history

of conflict. However, towards the end, the characters begin to understand that their differences

do not matter. In the last chapter, for example, Nya is told by Deb that this man “...drilled many

wells for his own people. This year he decided to drill for the Nuer as well (Park, 2010, p. 115).”

The end of this quote express not only Salva had reached his dream to help others who struggle

at his home, but also the acknowledgment on how they are all humans despite their differences.

This shows that they do not generalize all the population as one, but in fact, the book shows

individuals in the same cultural that deal with distinct obstacles in life.

The book also emphasizes two problems, from the two major characters in the book. The

book hits the criteria from Part I, of how it provides a in-depth treatment of cultural issues. Nya

suffered from lack of clean water and battled illness, as well as the gender inequality in her

society. Salva directly experienced war, where his family and his home was torn apart and he

was left alone to find a refugee camp to survive. The book expresses how the characters

overcome these obstacles in life, to survive and benefit in their life. The weakness of the book is

I believe lack of details in Nya’s life compared to Salva. Salva did have more journey in his life,

as he encountered countless places and people. However, it could have included more on what

Nya was thinking during the journey she took to find clean water for her family that may have

helped the book be more intriguing. Overall, the book did such a splendid job of showing two

polar opposite lives of people who lived in Sudan, and how they can be related to one another in
some way at the end. Due to the NBGS criteria, portrayal of characters, cultural aspects in the

book, this book is noted as one of our honor books among other books. I will like to use this

book in the classroom to spread awareness on how each individual can be affected

differently from war. I want to give an example to the students that in one community,

Sudan, numerous people are struggling to survive in their own ways. Both of these

characters face these difficulties differently, however, they are relatively similar. The

students will begin to acknowledge and understand the different issues or obstacles the

young children of their age struggle with in the world today. By comparing the characters’

lives with their own lives, students will be able to reflect and understand the importance of

knowing how each people in the world live to survive.

NBGS Criteria

Our thorough analysis of our eight books has been assisted by the Notable Books for a

Global Society Criteria. The NBGS criteria includes countless community books that helps

encourage culture, race, sexual orientation, values, and ethnicity through writings. This criteria

includes portraying the culture accurately through a character’s characteristics of their physical

attributes, cerebral abilities, problem solving skills, leadership abilities and collaborative

measures, and status of their wealth and social standing. Cultural details must be rich, and

diversity of humanity shall be celebrated. Cultural issues must be addressed, and people within a

group or interactions between two cultural groups must be authentic and significant. While

representing minority groups there must be a purpose, rather than unintelligibly representing a

group of people, and in this section, the books must meet at least one part of this criteria. The

next set of criteria must all be met in the books, which consists of thought provoking text, ability
to examine, and respond to the text. The language as well as style must be intriguing, as well as

meeting the standards for quality for the specific genre. Lastly, having a captivating format and

have merit. The criteria above describe what we have used to evaluate our eight books.

The NBGS is meaningful toward schools, and any other community we are part of. The

NBGS expresses the importance of acknowledging all the elements in the global society and our

world. We cannot neglect any culture, because it is indeed part of our lives and helps us become

more culturally aware and sensitive. These books talk about the cultural and ethnic diversity,

however, it goes well beyond that area. It talks about what is happening or happened to our

world, and to the people who live around us. These books show us the reality and truth behind all

these issues, information, and skills of the individual. What these requirements really mean to us

is that the rich culture of each group of people is identified and portrayed in an authentic way.

The literature can be read, and the reader can feel the utmost positivity that what they read was

accurate and true to the culture. The reader can then understand more cultures with each book of

quality they read. These requirements help readers to know what an acceptable multicultural

book is, and prevents misconceptions.

Winner

Out of all the eight notable books we had read, we chose Bartoletti’s The Boy Who

Dared as our winner, based on the NBGS criteria and our reactions. The book is a great

example to be used in the classroom, especially how the book gives a different perspective

compared to the usual one that we are familiar with in school. In schools especially, when

we hear about Hitler and Nazis, the information we mainly hear is from the Jewish

population and the Holocaust. Never before have either of us heard of a book that was from
this unique perspective, heroes on what we deem as the enemy side. We can draw parallels

to today’s current political fiasco of America, as it is so terrifyingly similar to this

perspective that seems new to us. The German side was always glossed over, where we

demonized them and thought they were all enemies. From what we learned all the

Germans glorified Hitler advocates but after reading this book, it is apparent that people

were bystanders or opposed him just like our current political climate. This book will help

students to understand that the Germans in general were not the antagonists at that time,

in reality, it was just Hitler and Nazis themselves and our thinking has changed on

dictatorial societies.

As this book has heavily impacted us and our lives, it would do the same for

students. As I read this story, I physically felt my thinking change and it was absolutely

unbelievable. With this abundant amount of passion, I think our students would also feel

similar emotions and appreciate this novel. I never thought that there may have been

another side, I always thought the enemies were the Nazis and Hitler and that everyone

blindly followed. I feel I had some naive viewpoints of the Germans because I was

presented with a lack of perspectives. Tunnell states, “Not only are people missing in

history texts, but so are varying historical perspectives” (2015, p. 156). What Tunnell has to

say deeply affects me, because I feel like I was not given the necessary information to

conceptualize other perspectives of a delicate issue. As I do not want to feel criticized over

our current political state, the resistance of Germany would not appreciate others thinking

they were the enemy when they were merely hoping to make a change or trying to survive.

I think this book would be so influential and appeal to the students in a classroom, and

start that change of thinking early, because history is not always exactly what we were
taught in elementary school as it was often sugar coated for Grace and I. Tunnell declares,

“When dealing with historical events, it is important to deal plainly with the truth” (2015,

p. 157). I think it is important to remember that sugar coating often time leads to ignorant

thinking for students as they will not be able to accurately identify culturally historic

events or people.

This book is a historical novel, and the plot is based on a real person’s biography. The

plot is about a boy named Helmuth who grows up in Germany during the 1940s, and rebels

against Hitler with the help of his friends as he uncovers secrets being kept from the people of

Germany. Helmuth stands up for what he believes in, and bravely gets sentenced to death.

The story is about a real person, which helps the readers to connect to his life by bringing up

additional notes like photos throughout and of his life, interviews, and other primary sources.

This shows the readers that this work itself is not entirely fiction, but in fact, is enriched with

numerous resources that shows us these events happened in the past and are part of an actual

person’s life. In addition to that, since the book is a historical fiction, it still includes the literacy

elements; plot, theme, voice, characterization, and writing style.

The book included more strengths and weaknesses, beyond the ones that were stated

above. Bartoletti (2008) begins the book with this passage:

It’s morning. Soft gray light slips over the tall red brick wall. It stretches across the

exercise yard and reaches through the high, barred windows. In a cell on the ground floor,

the light shifts dark shapes into a small stool, a scrawny table, and a bed made of wooden

boards with no mattress or blanket. On that bed, a thin, huddled figure, Helmuth, a boy of

seventeen lies awake. Shivering. Trembling. It’s a Tuesday. The executioner works on

Tuesday (p. 1).


The first passage immediately draws in the readers to the setting Helmuth is in. Bartoletti

fantastically depicted the starting the book after he is already imprisoned, and facing his life

sentence. This occurs before the book goes back to the time when Helmuth was enthusiastic with

the German power, the reality behind the violence and discrimination, as well as narrating the

book by using flashbacks. At first Helmuth did not understand why his Opa and Oma feared

Hitler, who was “...a man who wanted to fight for Germany and make it better” (Bartoletti, 2008,

p. 10). He believed, like most of the Germans, that Hitler was doing this to help reduce

inflammation and unemployment; to end suffering to all. However, he begins to see the truth that

made him realize Hitler was not as angelic as people said. It all began with seeing his usual

bakery owner who was Jew when, “...a sick feeling rises in Helmuth’s stomach. His mouth tastes

sour… window shades are drawn, the store dark, Herr Kaltenbach gone” (Bartoletti, 2008, p. 33).

Bartoletti does not shy away from showing how people were affected due to Hitler’s domination.

As there were people who thought Hitler was doing the best for them, there were others who saw

what the Nazis were doing was not right, but still proceed to do it to live.

Apart from Helmuth, the characterization of other characters significantly displayed the

other perspectives of Germany. Helmuth’s mother, Mutti, and his step father, Hugo are two

examples of the differing characters of this story. While Mutti is a quiet, rule following, good

hearted mother, Hugo is a severe Nazi. Bartoletti (2008) discusses Helmuth’s view of the

relationship between Mutti and Hugo:

It grinds Helmuth’s stomach, the way Hugo makes all the decisions, as if he is the father.

He decides what Mutti will make for breakfast and dinner and asks Helmuth if his

homework is done. And now Hugo has even decided on the radio. Helmuth cannot

understand what Mutti sees in a man like Hugo, but Hugo seems here to stay (p. 39).
This begins to show how Helmuth views his mother and stepfather’s relationship through a

negative lens. In addition, it emphasizes Mutti’s submission, and heightens Hugo’s dominance

creating a parallel to Hitler’s oppression. In contrast, Bartoletti often describes Mutti as, “Mutti

grows quiet” (2008, p. 111). This depicts her attitudes throughout the whole book as she

generally stays quiet and is more of a bystander to protect her family. On the contrary, Hugo is

often demanding, controlling, and strict, as he defends the Hitler’s actions. Bartoletti offers

insight to Hugo’s aggression, “Hugo pounds the table with his fist. ‘We’re at war! We can’t

permit such defeatist talk…’” (2008, p. 111). This displays Hugo defending Hitler, and

degrading disloyal civilians. The relationship between Hugo and Mutti and Helmuth’s

perspective of them displays their differing views.

Bartoletti does not leave the details behind through her writing style by the horrific,

gruesome events Helmuth had experienced in his life. Another example of Bartoletti’s writing

(2008) is when Helmuth is imprisoned, “Sobs. Footsteps. The drag of feet. A minute passes. Two

minutes. Three. Then, in the distance, metal against metal. The guillotine snaps its iron jaws with

a clang that rights throughout the prison. Silence” (p. 37). She uses many action words to directly

show and express the horror Helmuth had experienced to the readers. She is able to use words, to

express the emotions Helmuth was feeling to the readers directly.

Another strength of this novel was how it was centralized with the theme, courage. There

were many characters who sensed in some way that the banishment of non-German resources

and discrimination to Jewish people were not right. Bartoletti lets the reader know that

Helmuth’s teacher, Meins, also thought as he did, but knew it was too risky to speak of. Meins

later questioned Helmuth’s actions because he knew Helmuth was smart but resisting against the

government was hopeless (Bartoletti, 2008, pp. 173-174). This shows immense courage on
Helmuth’s account, but his teacher reflected that it was rather reckless of him. However, not

many of them stood up, because of their lack of courage against the evil power among them.

Helmuth was one who had courage against Hitler’s power, despite his young age. Helmuth’s

thoughts are as follows, “All I did was tell the truth, and you have sentenced me to die, just for

telling the truth. My time is now and your time will come” (Bartoletti, 2008, p. 163). Despite

that, Helmuth’s life ended in a tragic note, he did not regret nor wanted to go back because he

knew what he did was ethical. And finally, Bartoletti showed the readers how much research she

had done to make this book as accurate as possible. In the author’s note and bibliography, she

recommends various resources to the readers to look further into for more information. The book

is so culturally authentic, due to the wide range of resources and interviews she personally did

with the people from Helmuth’s life at this time.

The one major weakness of this book was the lack of details presented for each

individual’s perspectives, as stated earlier in the previous section. Especially to the individuals

who had a different perspective, compared to the main protagonist Helmuth. For instance, when

Helmuth was slowly understanding the truth of what Hitler and the Nazis had hid from the

German population, there were individuals like Hugo, who did not change as much compared to

Helmuth. Hugo is one of the characters that changed near the end of the novel, once Helmuth is

executed from revealing the truth behind the Nazi’s lies. I believe if the book had more details of

how the individuals felt or reacted to Helmuth’s trial, it would have broadened the narration and

details of the book. Despite this weakness, the book was definitely filled with various elements

that enriched the cultural aspects and details of the story. Because of the literature elements and

NBGS criteria, this book deserves to be the winner.


If a book is listed on the NBGS list, then it would have had to pass the required NBGS

criteria which is passing one part of the first criteria, and passing all of the second part

requirements. Our winner invites reflection, analysis, and response since it touches on a delicate

cultural issue, and readers are shocked by what they read promoting reflection. Analysis occurs

because the reader examines each detail of Helmuth’s life, his family, and the community

revolving around complex political structure. Response is invited as people start talking about

what they read, and why they are excited or depressed about the book’s topic. This book

demonstrated unique language or style through its flashbacks from present to future with intense

imagery which also depicts the setting. Tunnell states that historical fiction presents vast

possibilities for readers to experience another person’s life with an additive of emotion (2015, p.

155). Throughout reading our winner, I was flushed with emotion and understanding of the new

information I was reading about which shows exemplary writing from the historical fiction

genre. As for an alluring format, the book presented accurate facts with some fictional aspects,

and near the end of the book there are photographs and superb documents from the era on pages

175 to 190 creating quality literature. All of the second part of the NBGS criteria has been met.

Conclusion

Multicultural literature provides many insights to create an enlightened community

for mutual respect and understanding. In general, we both learned a substantial amount of

information from this assignment. This can also been seen easily from our previous

definition of multicultural literature to what we define it as of right now from completing

this assignment. I feel we went into this project knowing a lot less than we both thought,

and it makes us think we have so much more to learn; as of now, we would like to continue
broadening our viewpoints of this genre, because there is a lot of literature that has been

exposed to us, but there is so much more we need to discover. Especially since both of us

are English Language Learners Endorsements, it is important for us to understand, learn,

and expand our cultural views. As future teachers, we need to create a classroom

environment that is both accepting and an environment that each individual can relate to. If

we did this assignment again, we would have liked to have chosen a specific topic to focus

on, to see more perspectives from the same topic. This would show us a deep

understanding of a culture we may or may not know well.

This assignment has tied into all of our previous coursework for this course, as

literature can be used for entertainment as well as learning. Learning about all genres has

been a major goal for this class, and this is another piece to that goal that we are seeking, so

this connects to the whole course. As for previous courses, this assignment connects to all

of the ELL courses such as Teaching and Learning 333 and 339, because these books helped

us better understand the material from the past and our future learning. In those classes

we learned about individuals who struggle with English, and reading these books help us

better understand the differences in culture. With learning about multicultural literature, it

helps us also relate back to the classes because it is all about connecting their culture to the

classroom which this genre can bridge that gap.


Bibliography

Bae, H. (2007). New clothes for New Year's day (1st American ed., translated ed., English ed.).

La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller.

Bartoletti, S. (2008). The boy who dared (1st ed.). New York: Scholastic Press.

Cunnane, K., & Hadadi, Hoda. (2013). Deep in the Sahara (1st ed.). New York: Schwartz &

Wade Books.

Levine, E., & Nelson, Kadir. (2007). Henry's freedom box (1st ed.). New York: Scholastic Press.

López-Robertson, J. (2017). Their Eyes Sparkled: Building Classroom Community Through

Multicultural Literature. Journal of Children's Literature, 43(1), 48-54.

Park, L. (2010). A long walk to water. Boston: Clarion Books.

Reibstein, M., & Young, Ed. (2008). Wabi Sabi (1st ed.). New York: Little, Brown.

Sepetys, R. (2011). Between shades of gray. New York: Philomel Books.

Tunnell, M. O., & Jacobs, James. (2015). Children’s literature, briefly (6th ed.). Upper Saddle

River, N.J.: Pearson.

White, R. (2008). Little Audrey (1st ed.). New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.