Friday, January 25, 2019

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 BOOK REVIEWS!

~ BOOK REVIEW for The Last Cherry Blossom ~


Following the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, this is a new, very personal story to join Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Yuriko was happy growing up in Hiroshima when it was just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan's fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden fom its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and the air-raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based loosely on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s firsthand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding them that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.


*****(5) out of 5 Stars!

The middle-grade novel, The Last Cherry Blossom, is a profoundly sad and moving tale.  Even aside from the backdrop of the war story, this family has many secrets that hide much pain.

As someone whose father, uncle and grandparents were at Pearl Harbor for the beginning of (the USA’s involvement in) World War II, I have always had a preconceived idea about that conflict.  Reading this book about a family in Hiroshima caught in the even more devastating end of that same war, was very eye-opening. 

The book seemed to give an excellent representation of a culture other than what we typically experience in the United States.  While I am unfamiliar with a Japanese lifestyle, particularly in the 1940’s, the feel of the book seemed very authentic.  Some of the cultural stuff and language was hard to grasp, but most of it was at least somewhat understandable in the context of the narrative.    

The main story revolves around 12-year-old Yuriko, and really seems to present a robust and detailed view of her daily life.  We get to know and care for this character, as well as becoming invested to a lesser degree to those around her.  It is heart-breaking to see the toll that the war takes on their community even before the main incident occurs for which that city is known. 

The author deals with the events of August 6, 1945 in a straightforward and honest manner.  She neither exaggerates them for effect nor ignores them for the comfort of the reader. 

Amplified by the war and ultimately the atomic bomb and its aftermath, was the tragedy of Yuriko’s family situation.  I found it profoundly sad how things played out in the story, let alone what became of everyone later. 

I did find the ending to be rather abrupt and ambiguous.  I would have liked more information about what happened to Yuriko in the following years.  An epilogue of some sort, even if just a summary of her life, would have felt more fulfilling.  Even if she was just a character and not an actual (fully) real person, it would be nice to know how things were for her and what become of her. 

Overall, I found this to be a very thought-provoking and interesting book about a little remembered time in our world’s history.  It is one that I believe everyone should read, especially older kids and young adults, many of whom may not have any real grasp of the events of that horrific day. 

"But that is how life is, Yuriko-chan.  In our lives we must experience both beginnings as well as endings.  It is like the season changing after the last cherry blossom falls."

Kathleen Burkinshaw is a Japanese American author residing in Charlotte, NC. 
She’s a wife, mom to a daughter in college, and owns a dog who is a kitchen ninja. 
She has presented her mother’s experience in Hiroshima to middle and high schools for the past 8 years. Writing historical fiction also satisfies her obsessive love of researching anything and everything.
The Last Cherry Blossom, is recently nominated for NC School Library Media Association YA Book Award, recently nominated 2019-2020 Volunteer State Book Award, 2018 & 2016 Scholastic WNDB Reading Club selection, 2016 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award Finalist (southeast region), nominated for both the NC Sir Walter Raleigh Fiction Award and the 2018 Sakura Medal in Japan.

~ BOOK REVIEW for Mindfulness for Kids ~
30 Fun Activities to Stay Calm, Happy & In Control


Mindfulness for Kids offers fun activities for kids ages 6-12 to stay cool, happy, and present with mindfulness.

Homework horrors, chores, and not-so-friendly friends — that’s enough to make any kid’s brain hurt. The secret to staying cool is easy: it’s called mindfulness — and this book gives kids fun activities to practice it on their own.

Mindfulness for Kids applies mindfulness exercises to stories and real-life scenarios that kids go through at home, school, and with friends. Shared through the voices of five children: Jasmine, Willow, Kayli, Colby, and Zeke, Mindfulness for Kids is an engaging, kid-friendly guide for handling tough situations and powerful emotions mindfully.

From using belly breathing to help with panic before a presentation to actively listening to siblings, Mindfulness for Kidsaddresses the everyday challenges that kids face with:

Mindfulness 101 that teaches kids what mindfulness is, and how they can be mindful of their emotions and senses.
Relatable, real-life scenarios that kids encounter at home, school, and with friends.
30 Fun exercises that show kids how tricks like a gratitude list, “counting to calm”, and even yoga poses can help them relax and feel better from not-so-nice feelings.

Mindfulness is a kind of superpower we all have but don’t know how to use. In this book, kids will learn how to use this power to feel good about themselves and the world around them through activities and stories told by kids, for kids.


***(3) out of 5 Stars!

This book definitely spoke to its target audience of children ages 6 to 10.  As an adult reading it, I found it a little simplistic, but kids probably won't have the same issue, especially younger ones.  There were many helpful coping mechanisms mentioned, but not any that seemed particularly "fun" as the title implied they would be.  Still, I can see where it might be a helpful resource for youngsters trying to learn to self-regulate.  The presentation of the coping mechanisms by one of five "kid" narrators seems like something that would help real kids connect with the concepts in the book.

Named to Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012 for her first book, Captain No Beard,award-winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Her new nonfiction series, “If You Were Me and Lived in…” combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us.

Writing for children has opened up a whole second act for her. While she is still working in her family business, this has enabled her to share her sense of humor as well as a love for history and culture with the audience she adores. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th 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 homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book Council, The Junior Library Guild,

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat Babies, Candlewick Press, Chickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcito, KidLitTV, Lerner Publishing Group, Plum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Carole P. Roman, Author Charlotte Riggle, Huda Essa, The Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift, T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Claudia Schwam, Lori DeMonia, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC

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.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup, Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media!

MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.

We will be giving away Book Bundles every 5 minutes!

Twitter Party Details:

When: Friday, January 25th
Time: 9 pm to 10 pm EST
Hashtag: #ReadYourWorld
Sponsored By: Make A Way Media


Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians, and Educators:

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

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