Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Magic Poof - Finally A Book With a Character Who Looks Like My Kids!!

The lack of diversity in Children's Books has been a bit of a hot topic lately, a recent study shows that only 3% of children's books are about Latinos, even though nearly 25% of children in public school are Latino. Most studies suggest that perhaps 10% of children's books published over the last 18 years have multicultural content and/or characters -- a major disconnect with the population at large. 

As a parent of some absolutely multicultural kids, it is rare for a character in a book to look like them and reflect their family. (My husband's mother was from the Dominican Republic and his father's parents were from Canadian with African and Anglo ancestors. My parents are of English and German descent). The result?  Boys with curly (and often crazy) hair, blue eyes, tan skin. 


Dani Dixon, a talented writer friend of mine (who herself has a comic book series, 13, which is refreshingly diverse) suggested that I needed to check out The Magic Poof written and independently published by Stephen Hodges, a colleague of hers, and Illustrated by T. Kyle Gentry. Stephen happily offered me a copy. The second I saw the cover, I immediately knew why my friend thought of us when she saw his book..it is PERFECT for my boys. 

Seriously, a book about an African-American girl who has giant, curly hair that is magic!!! How could the boys not love it? 

When I came home with the book, Caterpillar immediately wanted to me to read it to him. I did, and he asked me to read it to him two more times (that makes 3 times in a row -- which is a lot for a not quite 2 year-old who rarely stays attentive for one full read-through of any book). 

When I showed it to Wild Thing, he gasped: "She has crazy hair just like me!" 

I know their hair has been crazier and has had more poof than it does in these photos, but I think you get the idea. Plus, these were taken at a standard photo set up not that different from the set up when we meet Ange-Marie who is getting ready for Picture Day at school.
The book ends with a fabulous picture of her and The Magic Poof taken on Picture Day.
The proof of impact of the book on Wild Thing lies in his actions. Even when I can't read it to him, he likes to just sit and quietly looked through the book, page by page, several times. I see how much he enjoys seeing someone in the pages that reminds him of himself, and I realize how rare that has been for him with most of the children's books we read. In fact, the book inspired him to name his hair too. The name he selected? Dumbo. Perhaps, he envisions his hair making him fly.

What I think makes the book special is the idea of giving a child's unique character trait its own persona, particularly a magical persona. I see how this book could empower any child who looks at themselves and sees something that is different from most of the children they know. Ange-Marie (our lead character) loves her Magic Poof and considers the Poof to be her best friend. This made me smile, as my brother is constantly reminding me that you have to make your insecurities your friend, rather than letting them consume you. Ange-Marie has done that. The biggest drawback for me was that I didn't feel that there was quite enough magic. In the book, we see that the Magic Poof can transform himself into any shape and can float Ange-Marie to the ceiling, but I just wanted more. I envision Ange-Marie becoming some type of superhero with her Magic Poof!! Given that Stephen has additional books planned, as well as an animated series, I am hoping to see a transformation with Ange-Marie becoming an amazing African-American female superhero in the future. 

If you're interested in finding more Picture Books with Diverse Characters, What Do We Do All Day recently shared 21 Picture Books with Diverse Characters and Pragmatic Mom has a wonderful Diversity Picture Books post as well. If you have a favorite book featuring a diverse character, please leave me a comment with the title so that I can add it to my library list. And, if you think you'd like to check out The Magic Poof yourself or learn more about the book and author, simply visit themagicpoof.com. I'll also be hosting a sponsored give away of the book soon, so check back or follow me on Facebook to make sure you don't miss it.

Finally, I'd love to know what makes your child unique. How do you celebrate this uniqueness? Please share! 

I'm sharing this at: Creative Kids Culture Blog HopMom's LibraryThe Sunday Showcase and Kid Lit Blog Hop.

Pssst...I thought I'd share a little bit about the author too: Stephen Hodges began his creative career in second grade by recording epic stories with his best friend. His love of storytelling and theater carried him through Arizona State University and into the film industry. One day, while working to help other industry creative types achieve their dreams, Stephen played with his wife's big poof of curly hair at the breakfast table before she'd had her tea. After enough time spent stretching her hair into shapes and giving it a funny voice, he came up with The Magic Poof. Upon vetting his idea with African-American and educational scholars, he set his own dream in motion. Stephen currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their star-in-the making Havanese dog, Buttercup. He is hard at work on the next Magic Poof book and animated series, as well as several other television projects. 
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11 comments:

  1. What a fun concept that also celebrates multiculturalism!

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  2. Thanks for including our list. This sounds like a fun book. It's so important that kids can see characters like them in story books.

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  3. I had hair just like your boys as a little girl, and I would have LOVED this book (check out the picture in this post: http://mamasmiles.com/everything-i-need-to-know-i-learned-at-home/)! My siblings all had more "normal" hair, and they used to call me a poof head.

    I am a huge fan of diversity in picture books, and hope to see more and more published.

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  4. What a fantastic book! And your kids are gorgeous (wild hair and all). ;) It's reminding me of my brother who has super-curly hair. He used to sleep with a tuque on his head to try to flatten. Poor kid! He still keeps it cropped short to this day.

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  5. Interesting blog....I read the book cover to cover and I didn't see any mention of the book being about a mixed race child. You bring up great points but I thought she was a young African-American girl. Where are you getting it from that she is of mixed race?

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  6. How interesting to find a book where your kids can picture themselves as a main character. The illustrations look adorable - just like the pictures of your boys!

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  7. Nothing like a little self identification to make a book more appealing to young children!

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  8. This book sounds terrific! How wonderful that your little ones could look at it and see themselves - isn't that what we all hope for when we pick up a book? To read something that touches us and speaks to us? I will have to read this one!

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  9. So glad you came and shared this post at Booknificent Thursday this week! I loved it when you shared it with the facebook group, and I'm just so happy you came over to the link-up party! Hope to see you again there soon!
    Tina

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  10. Hahaha I can totally relate to the hair! There are some days my son's hair out of control LOL I will definitely look into this book. Thank you for linking up at the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #6

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  11. You have been featured on this month's Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop! http://alldonemonkey.com/2013/08/18/creative-kids-culture-blog-hop-7/

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