Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Read Your World is on January 27, 2015. More about this at the end of the book review.
I am privileged to be a Multicultural Children’s Book Day blogger and doubly honored to receive a digital copy of the fantastic book Larry and Friends from the very-talented authors Carla Torres and Nat Jaspar (Available in English and Spanish)
Larry and Friends
by Carla Torres and Nat Jaspar
Larry and Friends is a captivating story about immigration and integration.
The protagonist, Larry the Dog, is a juggler from Brooklyn and his friends are a diverse set of animals from all over the world. The story recounts why the characters end up relocating to New York City, how they became friends with Larry and how life has taught them a thing or two.
Larry and Friends is primarily a book for children, but its spirit, aesthetic and subject matter will appeal to readers of all ages to be read for both pleasure and food for thought. The tale is truly inspiring; through their life stories, the whimsical characters bring forth the brightest possibilities of the human spirit.
My Book Review
Larry and friends is a wonderful story about immigration, friendship, love and kindness, that celebrates diversity and supports tolerance.
Brilliantly written and filled with endearing characters connected through a strong thread of friendship and love, humor and excellent life lessons, this book absolutely stole my heart.
I enjoyed meeting the colorful characters from various countries, making this a truly international book.
Larry, an American dog is a juggler who juggles balls better than chores and believes every day should be a happy day. It is his birthday today and he’s expecting many friends from all over the world! The gorgeously illustrated book introduces the reader to Larry’s friends who arrive at his party. There is an introduction to each friend as he/she arrives, a background story about her origins and how she came to be in New York and how they became friends.
Did you know that New York is the most linguistically diverse city in the world with over three million foreign-born residents who speak over 800 languages? This makes it the ideal setting for the book.
Ringadingadong goes the bell, as Larry’s friends arrive one after the other, bringing with her a distinct cultural and geographical flavor.
The characters are adorable.
There’s Magda, the Polish pig, thoughtful yet wise. She was sent by her parents to New York to “become a competent secretary” but she ends up following her heart and becomes a street artist, walking the tightrope.
There’s Henrik the Irish Hare who has a knack for enjoying the beauty of the moment. Then there is Cecilia the Peruvian Llama encouraging you to contemplate “What good are so many things if you can’t have love?”
Larry’s other friends include Coqui, the Puerto Rican frog, Gugu the African Zebra, Pedro the Ecuadorian guinea pig, Jin the Korean fox, Ashki, the Native American buffalo, Sumita the Indian Elephant and many more. Each friend brings her own special flavor to the birthday party.
The book concludes with everyone celebrating Larry’s birthday together.
Distinct in her own right, each character has a life lesson to share, proving that attitude determines the direction life will take you.
The narrative is so engaging I found myself laughing aloud with the author’s sense of humor. Every page has a takeaway message that is deeply profound, yet simply expressed. The characters are wise, compassionate and fun.
The book will expand your mind, fill your heart – and if you are a fan of languages as I am, you’ll add to your foreign language vocabulary.
What can I say? I have a very soft spot for children’s books and Larry and friends is simply one of the best. Although classified as a children’s book, I believe there are messages for readers of any age. The illustrations are gorgeous!.
Here are a few curated quotes from Larry and Friends
The book reminded me of my childhood days when we would stage plays with characters from different states, in their native costumes. Even recently, my son’s school enacted an episode of Mind Your Language that brings together people of different nationalities learning the English language. I think this book would make a wonderful class/school activity both for elementary school and high school to learn about people from around the world.
Praise for the book:
Larry’s illustrations have also won several illustration awards locally and international, to name the most important ones are the American Illustrators Awards, and the Applied Arts Magazine illustration Awards, the Latin American illustrators Awards.
About the authors:
Carla Torres is an illustrator born and raised in Ecuador. In 2005 she landed in New York looking to expand her mind, her soul, and her vision as an artist. Since then her work has been exhibited in several venues locally and internationally and has won several illustration awards. She has illustrated many children’s books, Larry and Friends is her first book as an author and illustrator.
Nat Jaspar is a writer. She was born in Belgium, grew up in Venezuela, and moved to New York in 1997—the first place where she finally felt like she belonged. She has worked as a journalist, a copywriter, and an editor. She’s obsessed with blogs and her short stories have appeared in Spanish-language literary sites. She started writing children’s stories for her niece a few years ago and got hooked from then on. She loves all characters from Larry and Friends, but if you push her to choose and push and push… she will finally confess that Cecilia, the Peruvian llama who challenges her fate, is her favorite one.
About Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.
Children’s reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom (More about Mia and Valarie here) teamed up in late 2013 to create an ambitious (and much needed) national event. On January 27th, 2015 this dynamic duo will be hosting yet another Multicultural Children’s Book Day as a way of celebrating diversity in children’s books.
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.
The Multicultural Children’s Book Day team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along via book reviews, author visits, multicultural book lists and visit the huge multicultural book review link-up that will occur on the MCCBD website 1/27/15 and via our hashtag #ReadYourWorld on Twitter and other social media.
MCCBD’s 2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold Sponsors: Satya House, MulticulturalKids.com, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild, Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books, The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow Books, Author FeliciaCapers, Chronicle Books Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.(Sponsorship details can be viewed HERE.)
The cohosts are listed here.
We’re also partnering with First Book to offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books through their channels during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it and now we have a way to do it! The Virtual Book Drive is LIVE and can be found HERE.
MCCBD is collaborating with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year.