Madlenka by Peter Sis
Rating: 5 Stars
Summary: Madlenka takes a trip around her New York City block to tell everyone that her tooth is loose. Each new shop that she comes to becomes a virtual trip around the world for Madlenka as they all are characterized by elements of their owner’s home country.
Madlenka is a treat in that we get to experience a tour of the world with Madlenka as she travels through the city block. I feel that this story is a mirror book for me in that my experience as a white American is similar to that of Madlenka. However, I have never experienced such diversity as a minority, and it was cool to see her curiosity and how she has come to understand the uniqueness of each vendor’s culture and background. Sis’s illustrations also add a certain dynamic to the story that deepens the richness of the experience as the book continues. His progressive use of color as Madlenka comes to each new vendor or shop is a neat feature that helps to draw attention to detail in a fun and dramatic way. Also, I love that each country is represented with a variety of elements that Madlenka tells us about and then concludes with an imaginary scene of her own immersion in that particular culture.
This story is so interesting and interactive in its own way. As Madlenka journeys throughout the city block, we are invited to share in the experience and even physically turn the book all around to take it all in, which is an aspect of this story that I think would be appealing to kids. In the classroom, this story would complement a unit on the exploration of cultures from around the world, and would also help students understand that many of these cultures are represented here in America. I think that this fact alone would be a great topic to discuss so that children can see that the way people live across the globe is not separate from what we experience here. Rather, we will likely come into contact with people of many cultures just as Madlenka does, and so this story would be beneficial to help foster an appreciation for different cultures and show us that we all live together.