Books Contours of Love DiverseKidLit Early Readers Features Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[DiverseKidLit] Love Between Sisters transcending Cultural Boundaries in PictureBooks from Uganda, Italy/UK, US

Three picturebooks that feature love among sisters.

Myra here.

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Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was Lu and Bean Read’s podcast interview with our own Bethany Edwards about Finding the Best Biracial Kids Books. Click on over to hear the whole podcast and to see a list of the books Bethany recommends!

Social and Emotional Learning Bookshelf

In case you have missed it, we have just launched our Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Bookshelf – which continues to be a work in progress because it is a massive project that will evolve as more books find us.

I have recently updated this with the Social Awareness Bookshelf which has around 500 multicultural/ international picturebooks. In total, there are over a thousand books, arranged according to themes, in this SEL bookshelf, so please do check it out.

Since we are featuring different kinds of love, I thought it would be good to share three picturebooks that talk about love among sisters – across three different cultural settings.

Sleep Well, Siba and Saba

Written byNansubuga Nagadya Isdahl Illustrated by: Sandra Van Doorn
Published byLantana Publishing, 2017 ISBN: 1911373099 (ISBN13: 9781911373094) 
Borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

Siba and Saba are sisters described to frequently lose things: from sweaters to silver sandals, to slippers.

Children who have a habit of losing stuff would definitely identify with Siba and Saba. Despite this, “the only thing they didn’t lose was each other.”

For the longest time, the sisters would dream of the things they lost as soon as they have fallen asleep, after their father sings them an Ugandan lullabye: “Sula bulungi, Siba and Saba, Sleep well, Siba and Saba.” Then one evening, they started dreaming of things they have not lost. And this is where dreams and foretelling gloriously merge in a magical realist kind of narrative.

I found this to be an interesting tale where the place seems like an actual character, so distinctly conveyed is it in Van Doorn’s brightly-coloured art, the vividness of the crowded “kampala” (see image above), the sisters’ names, and the rhythm and language of the father’s lullaby. Definitely a book that can be added to your multicultural bookshelf.

Sister Day!

Written by: Lisa Mantchev Illustrated by: Sonia Sanchez
Published bySimon & Schuster/ Paula Wiseman Books, 2017 ISBN: 148143795X (ISBN13: 9781481437950)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

Jane looks up to her big sister Lizzie and wants to spend a lot of time with her, since she has “the best imagination” and tells the nicest stories.

However, Big Sister Lizzie always seems to have something scheduled or planned and simply does not have time left to spend with Jane. There is always homework to finish, soccer practice, play dates, ballet class, piano lessons, karate – the list goes on and on each day.

This book resonated with me a great deal as it reminds me of the young children here in Singapore who seem to be overbooked with the number of activities they need to go to, on top of making certain that they are doing well academically.

Lizzie does need to relax a little bit, especially since young Jane desperately needs a “sister day” – how the two managed this, I shall leave for you to discover. A very thoughtful and sweet story of how important it is to make time for the people we love.

Whatever Happened To My Sister?

Written and Illustrated by: Simona Ciraolo
Published by: Flying Eye Books, 2015 ISBN: 1909263524 (ISBN13: 9781909263529)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

Full disclosure: this is my favourite of all the three featured stories here. I am a huge fan of Simona Ciraolo’s picturebooks (see here for my review of The Lines On Nana’s Faceand here for my review of Hug Me). 

The story begins with this hushed secret of sorts, this young girl’s quiet suspicions that her older sister has been replaced by someone who looked like her:

She has stacked up multiple evidence that led her to this incontrovertible fact: (1) her sister just all-so-suddenly became so tall; (2) she has become so secretive, keeping herself locked always in her room; (3) a sense of fashion that clearly abhorred anything pretty and gravitated towards things punk and rock-star-like:

She wanted to get more information by talking to her sisters’ friends, but lo and behold, they are all just like her sister! The image below is my absolute favourite:

This is a classic illustration of how image and text just work together so perfectly: the image above says it all paired with condensed, powerfully sparse text that has zero need for elaboration. How the two sisters found a way back to each other’s hearts is a beautiful and subtly-told narrative of longing and love regained.

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#LitWorld2018GB Update: 14 of 40 – Uganda (Author is from Uganda)

Italy/UK (Simona Ciraolo is from Italy but now based in the UK, USA (Lisa Mantchev is a Northern Californian)

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “[DiverseKidLit] Love Between Sisters transcending Cultural Boundaries in PictureBooks from Uganda, Italy/UK, US

  1. All three books look delightful. I especially love the first two illustrations in Siba and Saba, and the last in Whatever Happened…the former because they’re just so beautiful and the latter because it is so true, so telling (and so funny). Thanks so much for sharing these. Thanks as well for introducing me to the meme. I have two children’s picture books With Grace (a Caribbean fairytale) and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which I would love to see be a part of the diversity dialogue PLUS I love to read and discuss diverse books so I’ll be sure to look it up. Great post.


  2. I had never head of Simona Ciraolo, but What Happened to my Sister looks amazing! I also need to find Sleep Well, Siba and Saba. Thanks for these recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

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