I can't imagine being a child immigrating from a foreign country, not knowing how to speak the language, how to write the language or even understand the language of your new country and then having to enter into a brand new school where you know no one.
It must be such an intimidating and frightening experience not just as a child but really at any age. Today's book shines a light on that subject and hopefully will give you some insight and wisdom as to how three immigrant children cope with assimilation into a brand new culture.
Authored by Anne Sibley O'Brien
Unwrapping some of the illustrations...
About the book...
Three students from different countries in the world move to the United States. Maria is from Guatemala, Jin, is a South Korean boy, and Fatimah is a Somali girl who who wears a hijab.
The author paints pictures of each child's struggle to fit in and learn at their new school. Maria has trouble learning the language, in her country the language flows like water and the children are chatting constantly to each other. Jin struggles with the letters thus inhibiting his ability to read the stories that he loves. Fatima feels different from the others and isolated which causes her anxiety because she doesn't fit into the norm of the classroom.
Slowly the three children are accepted into the school community. Through sports, art and shared stories they start to bond and be accepted by those around them.
The illustrations are watercolour-and-digitally created also by the author. It's wonderful to see other diverse students in the classroom setting, like the one in a wheelchair. Through author's notes you learn how difficult this transition is and the different reasons why families choose to emigrate to a new country. You learn about the children's persistence to carry on and not give up, how brave they must be to come into a strange environment each day to learn, and how happiness prevails when they are finally included into the school community.
O'Brien knows exactly those feelings because she too at one time was an immigrant which gives her authority to speak on the subject. It is a wonderful book to share in a classroom setting with your students and then have a conversation about accepting new children into your class and even into your whole school.
About the author/illustrator...
Anne Sibley O'Brien (AnneSibleyOBrien.com) is a children's book creator who has illustrated thirty-one books, fourteen of which she also wrote. Picture books include JAMAICA'S FIND (Houghton Mifflin) and six other Jamaica books by Juanita Havill; and TALKING WALLS (Tilbury House) and four other titles by Margy Burns Knight , for which they received the 1997 National Education Association Author-Illustrator Human & Civil Rights Award.
O'Brien wrote and illustrated THE LEGEND OF HONG KIL DONG: THE ROBIN HOOD OF KOREA (Charlesbridge), which won the Aesop Award and the Asian-Pacific American Award for Literature, and was named to Booklist's "Top Ten Graphic Novels for Youth 2007." With her son Perry O'Brien, she co-wrote AFTER GANDHI: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE (Charlesbridge), which won the Maine Literary Book Award, and is on IRA Teachers' Choice and NCSS Notables lists.
A number of her books are contemporary portraits of immigrant families in the U.S., including WHAT WILL YOU BE, SARA MEE? (Charlesbridge), the story of a Korean-American first birthday by Kate Aver Avraham; and MOON WATCHERS: SHIRIN'S RAMADAN MIRACLE (Tilbury) by Reza Jalal, which was a finalist for the Maine Book Award. Her latest title, A PATH OF STARS, is a picture book she wrote and illustrated about a Cambodian-American family, commissioned by the Maine Humanities Council.
O'Brien's passion for multiracial, multicultural, and global subjects was kindled by her experience of being raised bilingual and bicultural in South Korea as the daughter of medical missionaries. She reflects on race, culture and children's books at her blog, "Coloring Between the Lines" (www.coloringbetween.blogspot.com).
She also performs as a singer and actor and has created a one-woman show entitled "White Lies" (www.WhiteLies.ws). She lives with her husband on an island in Maine, and is the mother of two grown children.
Read on and read always!
It's a wrap.
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