Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar

Sugar in Milk by Thrity Umrigar; illustrated by Khoa Le. Oct. 2020. Published by Running Press Kids.

Brief summary: A young girl misses her family, friends, and cats as she tries to accumulate to being a new immigrant in America. Her aunt and uncle provide their niece with her own bedroom filled with toys and books, but she is still depressed. Her aunt takes her on a walk where she shares an old Persian myth that encourages her niece to go outside and get to know the new country with a different viewpoint.

An Indian king is not sure about opening his land to a group of refugees from Persia, as his land is already crowded. The Persians are unable to understand the rejection of the king, so he pours a glass of milk all the way to the very rim. He tells them that his land is too crowded and cannot take any more people just like this glass cannot take another drop of milk. The people begin to leave until their leader says for everyone to wait. Their leader takes out some sugar from his pocket and slowly stirs it into the milk carefully not spilling any milk and gives it to the king. “And just like sugar in milk, we will sweeten your lives with our presence.”

The king understands even though they do not speak the same language. He hugs the leader and laughs while welcoming the people to India.

Comments: Touching story. I tried rephrasing it, but reading it yourself will be better.

The illustrations are beautifully done. I appreciate that the end pages are not stark white but with an ornate style of a fancy cup of milk in a pattern.

Thrity Umrigar Shares Persian Folk Tale Of Immigration In ‘Sugar In Milk’

A Different Pond by Bao Phi

A Different Pond

A Different Pond by Bao Phi; illustrated by Thi Bui. 2017. Published by Capstone Young Readers.

Brief summary: A young boy gets up early with his father on a Saturday when most people sleep in. They get ready to go fishing being sure to stop by the bait store to buy minnows. It is before dawn and still a little cold as they stand by the pond fishing. The boy gathers some wood to build a fire. As they wait for a bite, the father and son eat a bologna sandwich. His father talks about how he fished at a pond like this when he was a boy in Vietnam. They catch a few fish and are happy. The sun is starting to rise as they drive back home. The fish in the white bucket will be their dinner later that night. Both of his parents get ready to go to work leaving him to take care of his siblings. After dinner, he goes to sleep dreaming of the pond his father fished from as a child.

Comments: In the back of the book, Boa Phi shares his story of what it was like for his family to come to America as refugees from the war in 1975. He is the youngest of six children. Like the parents in the story, his parents worked multiple jobs as well. Bao Phi shares how they fished for food not as a sport but for food just like the family in this picture book.

Illustrator, Thi Bui, is also born in Vietnam.

The illustrations are done in graphic novel panels at times.

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Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

Blue Sky White Stars

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus; illustrated by Kadir Nelson. 2017. Oils. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary: This patriotic poem celebrates the beauty and symbolism  of the American flag with illustrations of the country’s people, land, and history.

Comments: This would be a nice book to share for Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, or Flag Day.  The poem is short. The illustrations are full-paged and capture the face of the hopes many of the immigrants seek. Several of the people are working together for the same dreams and goals in their lives.  This would be a good exercise for students to share what they think those dreams could be.

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Three New Cat Picture Books in 2017 by Angela Ferraris

Three New Cat Picture Books 2017

One of my students asked if I liked dogs. “I love dogs. Well, I really like many animals.” I then realized why she asked me that. I had photos of my four felines on my desk. I dressed up as a cat for Halloween. I then noticed that many of the picture books I read to the students were about cats.  I knew I had unintentionally been focusing on cats.  What can I say? I was guilty of a bias for cats.   I found three more cat picture books that I adore.

Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He's the Favorite

Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Edward Hemingway. Pencil, ink, and digital media. 2017. Published by Two Lions.

Brief summary: Mr. Fuzzbuster and Lily have been together since they were both tots sharing life events throughout the years. Mr. Fuzzbuster is concerned with the additional pets (Fish, Frog, Bird, and Dog) and that he may no longer be Lily’s favorite. He writes her a note asking what pet is the favorite. Lily walks through the house telling how each of her pets are her favorite in a certain category. Mr. Fuzzbuster gets the favoritism he seeks but then wonders…

Comments: Mr. Fuzzbuster is a true cat–always wanting to be the center of attention.

Buy here.*Big Cat, Little Cat

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper; illustrated by Elisha Cooper. 2017. Black and white illustrations. Published by Roaring Brook Press.

Brief summary: There is a white cat living alone in a house until a black kitten arrives learning all about how to live the house through the white cat’s teachings. The black cat grows to be the same size as his new friend. They spend many years together until the white cat gets older and does not come back. Then one day, a white kitten joins the black cat who shows the new kitten how to live in the house.

Comments: This cat picture book continues in the mind of the reader. The life cycle. This would be a good story for the school counselor to read when a student’s pet dies. One could share this book to help explain death and dying and how we go on.

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Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush's Incredible Journey

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz, and Amy Shrodes; illustrated by Sue Cornelison. 2017. Published by Crown Books for Young Readers.

Brief summary: Kunkush, a beautiful white cat, and his family must leave Iraq to find a safe place to live. Sura and her four daughters and son  pay smugglers to get them out of the country only being permitted to take food and water. Kunkush is concealed in a basket. The cat stays hidden as they go to one country to another. They arrive in Greece and must all get on a small rubber boat. Once they land though the frightened cat flees into the woods. After searching for hours, the family has to leave. Two volunteers, Amy and Ashley, notice a white cat living with a colony of cats on the island and take it to the vet to get help and cleaned up. They rename him Dias. Amy keeps the cat in her apartment. The two volunteers are determined to find the owner and put up a Facebook page. Amy’s time in Lesbos has ended. She takes Dias back to Germany where some of the refugees traveled. A British couple keep him. Soon Dias is found by his family who are living in Norway. Doug, a photographer, take Dias to Norway to reunite the cat with his family.

Comments: This is a story that can be shared with students by showing the cat’s journey on Google maps and learning about countries the family traveled through on their journey.  Refugees and immigrants can be discussed. What causes someone to flee their country? How would you feel only being able to take food and water with you? This story could be used to discuss feelings. How do you think Sura felt when her husband was killed and she had to flee? What did she think was going to happen to her and her family? How did the family feel while being smuggled? What about when they could not find Kunkush? How did they feel when they were reunited in Norway? There are  photos  of the cat and map of his journey. This is a  picture book that could have several discussions and lessons not only with elementary schoolers but for older students as well. Warning: Kunkush dies in 2016 from a feline virus.

Buy here.

*(I may get a commission for purchases made through links in this post through the Amazon Affiliate Program.  Books reviewed were checked out of the public library and not sent to me free for review).