Picture Books - Multicultural Feed

When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest and P.J. Lynch

When Jessie came across the SeaEcono-Clad Books, Topeka, 2003

Hardcover, 40 pages

ISBN: 978-0-6136-9484-1

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Set at the turn of the 19th century, this is a tale of immigration and finding a new home in an alien land.  It is beautiful, haunting and heartwarming.  As I read it, I shed a tear or two over the story of Jessie, sent from Europe to America at the tender age of thirteen.  She leaves behind her grandmother to live and work as a lacemaker in New York cit.

Magnificently illustrated with wonderful sensitivity and compassion by Kate Greenaway medallist P.J. Lynch.  It is rare to find a children's book so beautifully illustrated.  The pictures could easily hang on a gallery wall.  Both my daughters (aged 9 and 5) loved this story and begged for it to be read again and again.


The Sailor Who Captured the Sea by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

The Sailor who captrued the seaHarperCollins Publishers, Place, 1999

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-0602-3710-3

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

In this lavishly illustrated book, Ms Lattimore tells the story of three Irish brothers who worked on illustrating the Book Of Kells. The brothers lived in a time invasion from Viking lords and Irish kings. Beautiful Celtic knot work and sensitive illustrations compliment the story of an artist finding his voice. 

Other books in this series: The Flame of Peace: A Tale of the Aztecs; The Prince and the Golden Axe: A Minoan Tale; Why There is No Arguing in Heaven: A Mayan Myth


The House of Wisdom by Florence Parry Heide, Judith Heide Gilliland and Mary Grandpre

The House of WisdomDK Publishing, London, 2000

Hardback, 48 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7513-7217-5

Suggested reading age: 8+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

This is the true story of Ishaq, a young boy who lived in Baghdad in the ninth century. At that time the west was struggling in the dark ages while in the east, scholars discovered and translated the works of the great Greek philosophers.  Ishaq becomes a scholar like his father and travels far to collect manuscripts for the house of wisdom. The House of Wisdom was the centre of new ideas and learning, drawing scholars from all over the works. 

I loved the glimpse into another culture and time that this book offered.  As a lover of books, I wish that I could have visited or worked in the House of Widsom.


The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park & Bagram Ibatoulline

The Third GiftClarion Books, Boston MA, 2011

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 13 digits

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

A young boy journeys across the desert with his father, collecting tears. The tears are pearls of sap that seep from a stunted, knotty, spiny tree when his father cuts the bark with his axe. His father knows by smelling a leaf and feeling the bark, which trees we give the best tears. The tears dry on the tree and are broken off quickly and carefully. They are used for medicines, to flavour wines and the most expensive ones are used for funerals. However, this time, the biggest tear has another destiny.


Daisy Saves the Day by Shirley Hughes

Daisy Saves the Day

Walker Books, London, 2014

Hardcover, 40 pages

ISBN: 13 digits

Suggested reading age: 8+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Shirley Hughes is another of my favourite author / illustrators.  Daisy Saves the Day is a good picture book for older readers curious about what things used to be like for children.  As well as a glimpse into the past, it is also a great story.  Daisy Dobbs is sent far from home by her mother to be a scullery maid.  Although Daisy works very hard, she isn't very good at housework and longs to be able to go to school again.  This could be a good book to read to kids who are having a hard time at school.  Perhaps things aren't so bad for them after all!


Let's Eat by Ana Zamorano and Julie Vivas

Let's Eat

Scholastic, New York, 2003

Paperback, 32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-4390-6758-4

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Julie Vivas is one of my favourite illustrators and in Let's Eat she has teamed up with Ana Zamorano to create a gorgeous tale about Antonio and his family.  

Every day at 2pm, Antonio and his family gather at the big wooden table his Papa made to eat their lunch.  There are seven people in the family, soon to be eight as Antonio's mother is going to have a baby any day now.  I loved the family mealtimes with Alicia asking a thousand questions and Salvador wriggling off his chair to hide under the table.  This book is full of Spanish phrases and has a glossary at the back.


Red Butterfly by Deborah Noyes and Sophie Blackall

Red ButterflyCandlewick Press, Massaachuesetts, 2007

Hardback, 32 pages

ISBN: 9780763624002

Suggested reading age: 8+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

This lovely book tells the story of how the secret of silk was smuggled out of China by a young princess.  Her parents arranged a marriage for her with the Prince of a nearby desert kingdom.  She was young and did not want to leave home.  Her maid buried within her elaborate hairdo the seeds of the mulberry tree and the eggs of the silk worm so she would have something from home to comfort her.  


Ayu and the Perfect Moon by David Cox

Ayu and the Perfect MoonWalker Books Australia, Newtown, 2011

Paperback, 32 pages

ISBN: 13 digits

Suggested reading age: 4+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

This is the story of how Ayu is chosen by the Prince of her village in Bali to dance the Legong dance.  It is the dance of the angry bird and is danced under the light of the full moon.  The dancers wear elaborate costumes and head dresses.  

This is a special story in our family as the girls' nana and siya spend winter in Bali each year.  They also love the beautiful drawings and lively tale.


The High Street by Alice Melvin

The High StreetTate Publishing, London, 2011

Hardcover, 52 pages

ISBN: 978-1-8543-7943-6

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Alice Melvin is the talent behind this beautifully written and illustrated book.  I just loved everything about it.  The wonderful, read-a-loud rhyme accompanies some gorgeous fold-out drawings as Sally visits the High Street to buy all the things on her shopping list.  The High Street seemed quintessentially English to me.

My five year old daughter loved the way that the pages opened to reveal what was inside each shop.  The ending has a delightful twist as Sally tries to find the last thing on her list- a yellow rose.


Mouse Mansion: Sam and Julia at the Theatre by Karina Schaapman

Mouse Mansion - TheatreAllen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2013

Hardcover, 68 pages

ISBN: 978-1-7433-1843-0

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

In this gorgeous book, Karina Shaapman has created a whole miniature world out of cardboard orange boxes to tell the story of Sam and Julia at the Theatre.  As she says, Mouse Mansion is "...a little bit wonky, with a retro, shabby-chic look about it."  It is the best dollhouse you will ever see and it fills both children and adults alike with a sense of wonder.  I cannot do it justice in this review - this is one book you really have to see for yourself.

Other titles in this series- Mouse Mansion: Sam and Julia, Mouse Mansion: Sam and Julia at the Circus.