I often get writers offering to send me their books for review. Since I get books to review from Here Wee Read and occasionally from Multicultural Children's Book Day (I just love these organizations! :-)) I often turn down the advances of most authors who contact me randomly. I simply don't have the time to review all their books. But once in a while, I will accept one. This next book is one of the few books I accepted from an author who contacted me. Upon reading it, I knew that I had made the right choice in picking this book.
We Are One is written by the adorable mother/son team, Pinky Mukhi and Param Patel. I mean, how can you not love that already, right! Their collaborative work is a charming picture book that is perfect for the ages of 4-9 years old. It was inspired by Param's questions to his mother regarding the differences between their Indian culture and the cultures of his group of friends at school. Having lived in India, Europe, and the United States, Pinky wanted to impart the beauty of diversity and the lesson that despite our differences we are connected. Thus, together they wrote We Are One.
The story starts out with the main character, Mintu, feeling very insecure about revealing his culture, food, and language to his school friends who are visiting his home. He even asks his mom if they can refrain from speaking their native Indian language, Gujarati, while his friends are in their home. As a person who immigrated to the United States as a child, I can't tell you how much I can relate to this scenario. I am certain that Pinky and Patel will find many readers who will also be able to relate to it. Being different as a child can be very difficult and it is refreshing to read a book that addresses that struggle.
As the guests arrive, Mintu quickly learns that each of them have their own unique cultures. One child is from Mexico and the other has an Italian background. Then as in life, they find commonality through what else but food. As they eat the paratha bread that Mintu's mother has just prepared, the child from Mexico mentions that paratha is just like the tortillas his family makes at home. In that magical moment the children slowly start to realize that even in our differences, we have more in common with each other than we may think.
What I also love about this book is that it addresses the issue of disagreements. As the visit to Mintu's house progresses, the children find themselves not getting along and Mintu's mother is there to teach them that disagreements don't have to lead to a lack of friendship. As long as we respect our different viewpoints, we can remain in each other's good graces.
This book is a journey of appreciation to one's own uniqueness and the uniqueness of others. At the end of that journey is where you find the beauty of diversity. It is a journey that I hope we all take at some point in our lives and I think that this book is a great way to introduce that journey's path to little ones.
By the way, a treat at the end of the book is that the authors share the paratha recipe that Mintu's mom makes in the story. So wishing you all tons of loving bedtime story moments and yummy paratha making and eating memories in the kitchen. What a wonderful way to introduce lil ones to a new food or a different culture. Enjoy!
Thank you to Pinky Mukhi and Param Patel for sharing their journey with us and for sending me a free copy of We Are One in exchange for my unbiased and honest review. We Are One can be purchased on Amazon.