Step up to the Plate, Maria Singh
by Uma Krishnaswami
Tu Books, 2017
Set in Yolo County California in the 1940s. The top story features Maria Singh, a girl from a mixed marriage (India/Mexico) who loves baseball, but woven into the story are multiple subplots. The rich layers include: a heartfelt story on how the family and community made up of different cultures support each other during important challenges, even when they may not normally support each other; old laws where people not from America can’t purchase their own land; interracial marriages are not allowed; and baseball for girls. It includes insights on women working during World War II when men were on the battlefields.
I heard Uma Krishnaswami speak at a picture book bootcamp and she gave a talk like no other I have heard. I felt empowered to write. She detailed several of her journeys to publication, sharing how the stories started, evolved and ended. Insightful and meaningful.
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You’re Safe With Me
by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry
Lantana Publishing, 2018
The positive messages and story are perfect for this bedtime book, but it was the cover’s detailed India-styled drawings that pulled me in. Each page is beautifully illustrated with rich colors and details. I had to slow down and carefully study each one so I wouldn’t miss the nuances of their story.
The story itself takes place in an Indian forest at night. Night sounds for little ones are normal and the baby animals sleep through them. But when a storm passes through, the new night sounds frighten the young animals. Mama Elephant walks through the forest, comforting each animal. In a lyrical voice, she explains what each noise means. For instance:
Swish-swish! The trees moved. Ooh-Ooh! The wind moaned. The little animals woke up and whimpered.
“Don’t worry about the wind,” whispered Mama Elephant. “He’s an old friend of the forest. He brings us seeds from faraway lands.”
Mama Elephant reassures each animal of the thunder, lightning, the waters in the river and other sounds. Her explanations cleverly introduce nature’s cycles and explain how each sound supports their forest.
The positive, lyrically-written story with its stunning illustrations make this a book that will reassure its readers.
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