Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Same, Same but Different

Horn Book (November/December, 2011)

Kailash, from India, and Elliot, from the United States, exchange letters and drawings in this joyful celebration of transcontinental pen-pal friendship. In Nepal and India, author-illustrator Kostecki-Shaw learned the saying "same, same but different" to compare cultures, and the boys use it throughout the book as they learn about each other's families, abodes, schools, alphabets (Kailash's is Hindi, yet not identified as such), and ways of greeting. Simple, predictable, repeated text, written in a handwritten but clear font, makes the story easy to read. Brilliantly colored illustrations created with collage, acrylics, crayon, pencil, and tissue paper help highlight the two worlds and make the book perfect for sharing with a crowd. Tiny details (stamps, painting on walls, signs on city buildings) add interest for close viewing as well. The children in the stylized art, large-headed and open-eyed, add humor to a book that could have simply been a lesson in "let's all get along." Young readers will close the book longing to have a friend from another place; for schools with global partnerships, this will be a go-to book for introducing these projects to classrooms. robin l. smith

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