Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match

MarisolMcDonaldDoesntMatchWritten by Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios, with Spanish translation by Adriana Domínguez
Children’s Book Press, 2011 (as of 2012 an imprint of Lee & Low Books).

Ages 4-8

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina is a perky bilingual tale about a mixed-heritage girl with a lot of spunk, by award-winning author Monica Brown (Waiting for the Biblioburro; Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People).

Inspired by the author’s personal experience as a Peruvian-American of European, Jewish and Amerindian descent, Marisol McDonald introduces us to a one-of-a-kind girl who defies stereotypes.

Stripes, polka dots and flower prints peacefully co-exist on Marisol’s outfit ensembles. In real life, however, her looks, clothes, playground games and food preferences seem to puzzle her friends, who love to say she “doesn’t match”.

Enchanting and quirky Marisol clearly marches to the beat of her own drums. And why wouldn’t she? After all, there’s nothing wrong with liking peanut butter & jelly burritos; wanting to play a game of soccer-pirates; or signing her first name in cursive and her last in print.

When a school friend challenges her, “Marisol, you couldn’t match if you wanted to!”, Marisol sets out to prove him wrong, dressing for school the next day in a single solid color, eating a “regular” peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch, playing a “normal” game of soccer… and feeling wrong all day long, until a thoughtful note from her teacher snaps her back to her old, cheerful, “mismatched” self.

Radiating joy and fun, Sara Palacios’ Pura Belpré Honor illustrations bring Marisol to life and convey the riches of her life and heritage. Children will enjoy looking for and finding clues in the pictures to all the different cultures, as well as to the story’s geographical—and very apt—setting.

Marisol’s lively story ends on a happy and sweet note, leaving readers with the important message that diversity is something to be embraced and celebrated.

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Moon Mangoes

Moon MangoesWritten by Lindy Shapiro, illustrated by Kathleen Peterson
BeachHouse, 2011.

Ages: 4-8

The winner of a Moonbeam Silver Medal, Maui-based author Lindy Shapiro’s Moon Mangoes is an ode to children’s imagination and a meditation on parental love.

Sitting on the front steps of their “tiny blue house with olive green shutters”, Mama and Anuenue (Anu, for short) cuddle up just before bedtime. Facing the beautiful mango tree in the front yard, they engage in a soothing and poetic dialog, prompted by Anu’s “what if” questions.

“What if I ate up all those mangoes one by one, and I got so full that I turned into a mango tree?” begins Anu.

“I would bring you fresh, cool water to drink every morning. I’d gently pull out any weeds that block the sun…” answers Mama.

Anu continues her litany of “what ifs” by asking what would happen if, instead of a tree, she turned into a kolohe ilio (dog), a pulelehua (butterfly), a pua’a (pig), a mo’o (lizard), a honu (turtle), and, finally, the moon that shines on their mango tree. Anu’s imagination, like Mama’s love, knows no boundaries.

Mama’s answer to each question assures Anu that she would be understood, cared for and loved, “no matter what if”.

Patterson’s full-page illustrations, whose wispy surfaces seem to have been wind-swept, aptly chronicle the inquisitive girl’s imagined transformations––from child to different animals to silvery moon and back again.

This story will get a nod of recognition from parents; and any child who has ever snuggled with a loved one to imagine, read or listen to stories will enjoy the familiar feeling of connection and security the book conveys. Moon Mangoes’ many qualities make it a perfect choice for bedtime or lap reading.