Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2014
Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day for 2014. In fact, this is the inaugural event! I heard about this at the last minute and was very lucky to be able to participate and bring everyone who reads KLR a chance to find some great multicultural children’s’ books. This week the review of Josephine will be posted. This book is from one of my favorite publishers and a sponsors of today’s event, Chronicle Books. But there are plenty reviewing Josephine today, so I am bringing you something different. I hope you enjoy it.
Taj Cleans the Garage
by Renee Prewitt & Michaela Nienaber, illustrator
The Prewitt Group, LLC August 1, 2013
Age 4 to 8 32 pages
“Taj always wants new cars for his train set, so his parents encourage him to start earning the money to buy them. Much to his surprise, Taj’s new chore turns into an exciting adventure where he is the only one who can save the day.”
“Just like his friend, Manuel, Taj loved his train set. When they played together, they took turns filling up the cargo cars, building new tracks and driving the trains to cities all around the country.”
Taj loves trains and wants to get a new boxcar for when he plays trains with his friend Manuel. After receiving his allowance, Taj still needs two dollars for the boxcar. He could wait until next week’s allowance or find some other way to earn the money. He decides to earn the money now. Taj’s next-door neighbor needs help finding a flashlight and then stacking boxes in his garage. Mr. Ryan works with Taj a while and then goes inside to make lunch for he and Taj. Taj keeps looking, opening box after box until he finds the flashlight Mr. Ryan holds dear. Checking it out, Taj turns the light on and illuminates a young boy named Jackson. Jackson asks Taj to join him. The two boys fly off on Jackson’s horse, Thunder—a Pegasus.
They meet up with Jackson’s father who is ready to hunt cheetahs. He will reward anyone,including Taj, that captures one of the majestic animals. Later, Jackson and Taj see a cheetah that runs away up a hill while its two siblings hide in a tree trunk. Jackson runs off to get his dad. While Taj waits, an elephant approaches and asks Taj not to take the cheetah cubs. Their parents are worried, waiting for them to come home. The elephant asks Taj to help the animals—elephant, monkeys, lion, birds, and other jungle animals—take the cheetahs home to their parents. Taj wants the reward. He could get the new boxcar and maybe more. All he had to do was wait for Jackson and his dad. Then, Taj remembered something his mom always said,
“Do for others what you want them to do for you.”
Taj knew he would want help getting home if he were lost. He helps the cheetahs board the elephant and then he hops on. The group returns the cubs to their ecstatic parents. They insist on rewarding Taj with fruits, a necklace, and a crown. The elephant declares Taj “King of the Jungle.” Taj rides on the elephant until awakened by Mr. Ryan, who thanks him for a good job and pays Taj two dollars.
Taj Cleans the Garage sends a young boy on a fantastical adventure into the jungle with another boy named Jackson. Taj can earn a reward and purchase his desired trains if he captures a cheetah. Soon, Taj is alone and must deal with an inquisitive elephant. Does he capture the cheetahs—and a reward—or take the cubs back home—and lose the reward? Do you ever wonder if your children, or your students, listen to you? Taj listened enough to remember his mother saying to treat others, as you want to be treated. This one sentence, this one rule, is the best wisdom children could learn and live out. Taj does the right thing, by returning the cheetahs, and learns that a reward–or money–is not as important as doing the right thing.
Taj also has a magical adventure, flying on Thunder high over the city. Taj becomes scared. Then they are over the ocean, but not high enough. A pirate—a pirate-cowboy—tries to lasso the two boys. The pirate would have gotten his prize had Taj not knocked the lasso away. On the ground, in a jungle, Taj gets up close to all kinds of wild animals, including a ride on an elephant. Who would not want such an adventure, at any age? The illustrations bring the story to life with colorful scenes that are candy for your eyes. The color pops from edge to edge and enhances the story. Kids will love these illustrations.
I do wonder about a couple of things. Taj was still opening boxes when he found the flashlight and left for the jungle. He returned when Mr. Ryan woke him up. When did he do a “great job?” Why did Mr. Ryan pay Taj for a job he could not have completed? Will kids notice and wonder? Maybe not. The other thing I wonder about is the writing. The writing itself is good. Taj Cleans the Garage is well-written and edited, stays on track, and uses words most young children will understand. But why do the paragraphs look like blog posts instead of book paragraphs? There is a white double space between each paragraph instead of a five-space indent.
Taj Cleans the Garage takes readers to the jungles of Africa or India. The author does not say. Whichever jungle kids want to explore is where they can take Taj and Jackson. The story deals with hard work, perseverance, and thinking of others feelings, in addition to the “golden rule” do unto others, as you want them to do unto you. The first couple of pages contain narration, but then the author kicks the story into high gear and shows us everything going on with lively dialogue. Even the elephants speak. Taj Cleans the Garage definitely is a show not tell story children will love. Parents will not mind their child’s request for a second or third read when they have all these wonderful voices to imagine and speak.
Learn more about Taj Cleans the Garage HERE
TAJ CLEANS THE GARAGE. Text copyright © 2013 by Renee Prewitt. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Michaela Nienaber. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, The Prewitt Group, LLC, Detroit, MI.
Check out all the Multicultural Children’s Book Day entries at these bloggers HERE or at the websites of the co-hosts and co-founders, Jump in a Book and the Pragmatic Mom. And do not forget, Erik is also reviewing for today’s event. A direct link to his multicultural book review is HERE.
Later this week, KLR will review Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson, published by Chronicle Books. Josephine is a picture book biography about the great Josephine Baker of song and dance . . . and WWII.
Finally, please leave a comment telling us what you think about the review or about this new annual kid lit event.
If you would like to join this group, post a review of a Multicultural Children’s Book, then email me and I willl list your review and let the sponsors know of your post. Email: critiques2005-MCCB@yahoo.com
In honor of our upcoming national event Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature, Platinum Sponsor Wisdom Tales Press is offering one lucky reader the chance to win a full set of all Wisdom Tales books! Yes, that’s right: You could win a full set of all Wisdom Tales books that are currently […]