Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shen's Books Giveaway!

I am very pleased to introduce our Melting Pot Familes to a fabulous literary resource: Shen's Books!
Shen's Books is a publisher whose mission is "to produce multicultural children's literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on the cultures of Asia." They will be giving away one of their beautiful books to a lucky MPM Blog reader! Here's how it works:

1) Click on the dragon logo above to visit the Shen's Books website.
2) Go to the "Our Books" section
3) Choose the book you would most like to win, and
4) Leave a comment here, on the MPM Blog, with your selection*
5) My faithful little assistants will draw a winner on Monday, Oct. 20th.

*Note: to be eligible for drawings and giveaways, you must be an MPM Blog subscriber (to subscribe, simply enter your email address in the subscribe box at the right)

Renee Ting, President of Shen's Books, recently did an e-interview with Melting Pot Moms. She shared a little more about her company, multicultural book selections, and interesting anecdotes about Cinderella tales from around the world!
MPM: Tell us a little about your company; what is your mission/philosophy?

Renee: As a publisher, our mission is to produce multicultural children's literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on the cultures of Asia. Our goal is twofold: firstly, it is very important to us to introduce American children to the Asian cultures because to many children, Asia is still a fairly unknown and exotic place. We believe that the more exposure children have to people and places that are unfamiliar, the more tolerant they will be when faced, in real life, with new ideas. Secondly, we want Asian countries and children to be represented in the literature for those students who are Asian themselves. It is comforting for a child to see pictures of people whose features look like theirs in the books they read. It is important for them to know that the population of characters inhabiting their library reflect the population of our melting pot country. To these ends, we choose our incredibly talented authors and illustrators to create books for elementary grades that reflect the highest standards of art and literature.

MPM: What criteria do you use in deciding which products to carry?

Renee: All the stories we publish must include at least one
character who is Asian, or partly Asian, and must reflect in some
way the culture of either the character's country of origin or a melting-pot culture of inclusiveness. Ideally, the stories are fun and interesting, and the reader may learn about a culture or what a place looks like without realizing they have learned something. For example, in the book, The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson and Kazumi Wilds, the story is about a girl who spends the day with her two grandmothers, one Japanese and one American. However, through the pictures and dialogue, readers will learn about what Japan looks like, what people eat, and a little bit about Japanese history. They even learn a little bit about Maine.

MPM: You have a great collection of Cinderella stories from around the world; how did this collection begin, and which countries are represented? Can you tell us a little about the similarities and differences of these stories?

Renee: Our Cinderella collection began, like most things, through a combination of chance and feedback. When we had a few multicultural Cinderella titles available, customers expressed interest in having more. Of course, when the Cinderella books were the biggest sellers, it was clear that people were interested and wanted more and more. Whenever a new Cinderella book was published, we added it to our collection. We even published several of our own ethnic versions, including the Hmong, the Cambodian, the Filippino, and the Indian versions.

Most Cinderella stories, no matter where their origin, have the same basic structure of a poor girl who is mistreated by her stepmother, but then overcomes her difficulties to gain love and riches in the end. The differences really reveal each culture. For example, most versions include a magical creature akin to our "fairy godmother." However, in the Hmong version, it is the family's cow. In the Indian version, it is Grandfather Snake. These details reflect what each culture venerates, and considers as good spirits.

MPM: Anything else you'd like to share?
Renee: I'd like to particularly mention two books that feature multiethnic main characters. As mixed families become more and more the norm, we are seeing a lot more books published that address characters that bridge cultures and ethnicities. I really love seeing this trend, because just like with Asian characters being great for Asian kids to identify with, mixed-race characters are necessary now too.

Two books of ours that feature multi-ethnic families are "The Wakame Gatherers" and "Romina's Rangoli." In "The Wakame Gatherers," the main character is half Japanese and half Caucasian, but the family lives in Japan. When her grandmother from Maine comes to visit, she spends the day with the two of them at the seashore gathering wakame seaweed and translating for them. My favorite part of the book is the moment the grandmothers realize that they were enemies at one time, but now they are family.

"Romina's Rangoli" is about a girl who is half Mexican and half Indian. When she is given an assignment at school to create an art project that reflects her culture, she doesn't know what to do. She doesn't want to leave either of her cultures out, and comes up with a brilliant solution.

Thank you, Renee, for an insightful interview and for providing such a wonderful resource for children and families of all ethnicities!


Kristina said...

My girls are half Chinese and would love to win The Magical Monkey King book. It would be a great addition especially since Kieli was born in the Golden Monkey year which happens only every 60 years. It is fun to read books that have some of the animal traits we may relate to and with our heritage in mind.

Alicia said...

What a great collection of books! We like the Wakame Gatherers - the illustrations are beautiful, and it appears to be very educational too. My children are Caucasian and Japanese, so it will be nice for them to see a family like theirs. :-)

Lalita said...

What a beautiful collection of Children's books! We are especially interested in "Romina's Rangoli" which is about a girl who is half Mexican and half Indian. My daughter is half Italian and Ukranian and half South Asian (Indian)so I think this would be a great read for her and one that she can relate I'm soooo curious to hear the brilliant solution that Romina in the book comes up with!!

Jaya said...

Thank you for this great resource! We would love Anklet for a Princess: A Cinderella Tale from India, for our little princess. :-)

De Anna Kayan said...
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The Lucas Family said...

WOW these books look so amazing! I would love for my daughter either Domitila or Abadeah. Both would allow her to learn about her Mexican and Filipino cultures. Thanks for sharing these books with us.

sara g said...

Thanks so much sharing this wonderful collection books with us. I would like to to get a copy of Romina's Rangoli or any of the Indian books from India.