Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Books featuring Biracial Kids and Families

I am always on the search for books, magazines or movies that feature biracial children or families. It's hard to find dolls, let alone books that represent a biracial or multiracial background. I have recently stumbled upon several that are wonderful and deserve some recognition! Enjoy!
The pattern on a young girl's quilt comes to life at night and becomes the backdrop for her dream. Although the artist rarely depicts adults in her picture books, she most likely used her own biracial (African-American/white) daughters as models for the children in her books (all published by Greenwillow) which include: Holes and Peeks (1984), The Trek (1985), Now We Can Go (1986) and Where Can It Be? (1985).

A small boy and his sister like it when Daddy's adult sister comes to live with them. The aunt (who is white) finds a place in this happy biracial family: she plays the trumpet and gives the boy and girl lessons. She splashes with them in the biggest puddles. Daddy paints her picture. She helps Mama with her weaving, and they laugh together and listen to the radio. But sometimes the aunt is sad and stares out the window all day. She misses her home, Mama says. Soman's pictures in watercolor and pastel are fresh with the summer greens and flowers of this comfortable house in the country. Words and portraits of the casual, funny young woman are affectionate and poignant, true to the child's viewpoint. Many kids will relate to the story of an adult they love but whose sadness they can't fully understand.

The middle child in a interracial (black/white) English family compares herself to her siblings, speaking matter-of-factly about differences in skin color.

There are two Mrs. Gibsons in this young girl's life, and she remembers both of them lovingly.The older Mrs. Gibson has skin the color of chocolate, big hands, and a big voice, and she gives big, fat hugs. The younger Mrs. Gibson has skin the color of vanilla, writes Japanese, and cooks the family food from her homeland. It is not until the end of the book that readers discover that the first Mrs. Gibson is the girl's grandmother, while the second is her mother. This probably will be a surprise to those too young to figure out the relationship, but even without that pertinent bit of information, children should enjoy getting to know these women. The story does get repetitious at times; however, sturdy, detail-filled paintings will help hold attention. An author's note tells readers that this is Igus' personal story.

A biracial (African-American/white) girl helps out in her family's bakery on Christmas Eve.

The narrator enumerates qualities inherited from her parents--a face that's ``a little dark, a little light,'' somewhere between Mama's ``chestnut brown'' and Papa's fair skin; hair that's ``halfway in-between'' blond and black A mixed-race child celebrates the rich inclusiveness of her life in a joyful picture book. "Just right!" Each double-page-spread shows how members of the family are individuals with likes and dislikes, hobbies and habits that move beyond stereotype. Mom orders vegetarian; Dad orders ribs and bagels; the child likes it all. Mom does ballet; Dad dances to rap. Mom likes African masks; Dad goes for modern art; the child loves the Egyptian part of the museum. Each page has a rhyming refrain that ends, "just right". In keeping with the upbeat text, Trivas' energetic illustrations are full of movement and affection.