Different You with the Same Heartbeat
Children from around the world share a some of their favorite things in Different You with the Same Heartbeat. One boy likes to play soccer, while another plays basketball. One girl grew up eating chicken curry, but another eats wonton soup. Some children know Spanish, and others know Chinese, or perhaps Arabic. In whatever language, they enjoy listening to music! Many like to dance, whether it is Salsa or Crump or Bhangra. They enjoy different clothing, from sundresses to abayas, T-shirts to turbans. But no matter what their varying likes and interests, they are not so different after all.
Different You with the Same Heartbeat is a colorful, simple picture book that introduces children to various cultures around the globe. Some of the children’s interests will be familiar to American readers, while others will be completely new. The juxtaposition of the two will help young readers more readily accept those clothes, activities, and customs that are different from their own. For example, a girl picking daisies in her sundress will probably be a familiar picture, whereas one wearing an abaya would be much less so, but both girls are happy and comfortable in their own style of clothes. Sometimes it is the name that may be more unfamiliar, but with the child doing a familiar activity, or vice versa.
The book has a nice message of inclusiveness, although I would appreciate more points of similarity explicitly shown, for example showing some of the common activities among children (going to school, being with their families, etc.). I did not like the illustrations as well as the text. They were bright and colorful, and the children seemed friendly, but some of the drawings seemed a little too stereotyped, especially for a book that is trying to overcome xenophobia. The young African-American boy playing basketball plays in a broken-down, unkempt court next to a forbidding brick wall; this seems to really play to an unkind racist stereotype. I found the eyes of the children to be a little odd (except for the Chinese boy and girl – but why were they singled out for a different drawing style?), and the faceless characters in the background of some pictures were somewhat unnerving. However, the illustrations of some unfamiliar terms (Crump, Bhangra, Abaya, Ughniyah) will help children understand them. Children will also enjoy looking for the red heart beating on each child’s chest. This book gives a gentle way to make the foreign benign and acceptable to young children, and is sure to spark good discussion about similarities and differences among the world’s cultures.
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