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Gr 1-3- Romina's father comes from India, and her mother comes from Mexico. The girl is proud of her dual heritage, but when her teacher asks each child to bring something to school that represents their family, she is unsure what to do. How can she choose one of her beloved cultures without slighting the other? The girl's solution is to make a design reflecting an Indian art form using a traditional Mexican medium. Iyengar's writing is a bit stiff and didactic in some places, but it is clear, and readers will be able to navigate without trouble. Some Hindi and Spanish words are not translated in the text, but context makes them clear. The pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are realistic. Depicting Romina's family, their ethnic foods, and the girl's diverse classmates, they appear to be done on a heavy, textured paper that adds depth and interest. Colors are saturated and intense but not overly bright. An author's note explains rangoli and papel picado (Indian and Mexican art forms, respectively), including illustrations and fairly detailed explanations. While the answer Romina finds to her problem will not work for all interracial children, it will give them ideas for when they have to complete a similar assignment. The book can also be used to start a valuable discussion of the great diversity of this country.-Marian Drabkin, formerly at Richmond Public Library, CACopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Posted September 20, 2007
This is a very nicely crafted story about a young American girl, Romina, whose father is from India and whose mother is from Mexico. Romina is given a school assignment to create a project that represents her heritage, an easy task maybe for students that have a single cultural background, but since Romina is of mixed cultures she struggles with what to do for her project. No matter what she chooses she leaves out either one side of her family or the other. As she asks family members for help she begins to discover common bonds and similarities between the cultures. Finally she comes up with a project that combines a traditional Indian art form with a traditional Mexican art technique to create a project that is both a combination of cultures and a unique expression ¿ just like the protagonist herself. Given that in the last census almost 20% of the U.S. population identified themselves as being mixed ethnicity or mixed ancestry, this book is very timely and true to life. It is somewhat aggravating that with all of the hundreds of ¿multicultural¿ picture books being published, almost all focus on cultural or racial roots being singular (i.e. the African-American experience, the Mexican-American experience, the Japanese experience...). Romina¿s Rangoli is a welcome and realistic exception given how diverse a population we have -- it is a shame there are not more picture books like this that address the needs of bi-cultural or multi-cultural families. The book lends itself well to the classroom also. I currently use it in several lesson plans about cultural similarities (which leads to lessons on tolerance), family trees, and multiculturalism. I have had many students that respond extremely well to it, they light up and get excited about the opportunity to say that they are not just of one culture or race (I have one student that just used to identify himself as African-American and now he proudly explains that he is African-American and Caribbean-American. Another student is Irish and Swedish, another Guatemalan and Native American, and many others ¿ about half of my class actually!) which has lead to some great discussions, connections, and projects. The book also has well written author¿s notes that describe the traditional Indian art form called Rangoli and the Mexican art form of papel picado that are featured in the storyline and that the main character utilizes as a starting point to create her own unique bicultural expression. Highly recommended.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.