Agatha’s Reviews for Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

  • JANUARY 2020 My Reviews

I am so honored of reviewing a book written both by an author and agent, #AnnaOlswanger for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, #ReadYourWorld, while celebrating the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in my country Greece with speeches and events in most major cities and the Greek islands.



Greenhorn is based on a true story and readers will discover another aspect of the Holocaust. It is a story of a Holocaust survivor who arrives at a New York Yeshiva in 1946, with other boys, whose parents died in concentration camps. Daniel, the young boy, carries with him a small box, without permitting anyone to open it. The narrator, Aaron, a 6th grader knows about concentration camps and makes any effort possible to explain to other boys, what the new twenty Holocaust boys have experienced. Aaron is rejected because he stutters and his effort seems pointless.

So, Aaron approaches Daniel, and protects him from other students as well as helps him to acquire self-confidence and get rid of the reliance Daniel exhibits to the box. The core theme of friendship is exhibited in a unique way by the writer, comprising the underlying references to bullying, social exclusion because of learning disability and the need to find a helping hand to confront life, at a school’s social context.

Daniel is a survivor of an atrocity, carrying a very significant piece of it with him, and Aaron is the person who encourages Daniel to open up, trust him and start a new leaf in his life. Once the content of the box is revealed, then feelings of compassion inundate the reader, for a boy who survived but has in his own soul the traces of human atrocity, depriving him of the most beloved person on earth, his mother. The other boys’ worries seem insignificant to those of a boy who tries to keep a connection with his past which has been the worst of someone’s nightmares.

The author includes a glossary of Jewish terms used in the book. In the “Afterward” she explains the real-life story behind her fictional writing, based on the experience of Rabbi Rafael Grossman.
The illustrator, #MiriamNerlove depicts the characters’ depth thru the watercolors and increases the tension by giving a kind of voice to the story.
I would definitely recommend this book for students from 8 years to 12, having background info on the Holocaust combined with activities like those Web Resources, suggested by the Jewish Book Council:

Children of the Holocaust

Daring to Resist
Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau Coun-ty

Museum of Tolerance Online…/b.486…/k.CAD7/HomeMOT.htm

The Holocaust Explained
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


In 2016 Anna co-produced a short film adaptation of the book. The film trailer is up on YouTube and here is a couple of photographs from the film:

A discussion guide for families and for teachers. Both are available for free on Anna’s website and on the publisher’s website (


About the Author and Illustrator
Anna Olswanger is the author of Shlemiel Crooks ( Junebug Books, 2005), a Yiddish-inflected Passover story, named a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and PJ Library Book. In 2011 the Kaufman Center premiered a family musical based on Shlemiel Crooks at Merkin Hall in New York. Anna is a literary agent and lives in the metro New York City area with her husband. Her website is

Miriam Nerlove is a freelance artist and illustrator. A graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, she received her master’s degree in printmaking from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and worked for a time in the photograph and slide library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She currently lives with her family just outside Chicago, where in addition to illustrating, she enjoys writing, music, and painting, and working part-time at a library.


JANUARY 2020 My Reviews

Being a reviewer for 5 years for, Multicultural Children’s Book Day #MCBD, and a Global co-Host for Greece 💙🌍🇬🇷 for a second year, it brings me great joy to be the reviewer of a children’s writer and well known Greek actor, Zisis Papaioannou, for Multicultural Children’s Book Day – 2020, as an author and reviewer!
This is “the book I was gifted to review for the event”

Book Title: “Vassiliki, the magical Echo of Epidaurus’s”
Writer: Zisis Papaioannou
Illustrator: Velisaris Bourdos
Publishing House: SIDERIS, 2019

Image may contain: text

Vassiliki is a girl who dreams about her own echo in the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, known for its stunning engineering, and acoustics.
During her dream, she gets to know the Theatre’s poignant dynamics, through the harmony of its architecture, she explores its structure along with the presence of echo, depicted as a young lady. The dreamlike situation functions as an apocalypse for Vassiliki because it is both enlightening and revealing for her own self.
The Epidaurus Theater located within the archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Asklepios, engenders sentiments of owe and queries to little Vassiliki, the fact that her own echo can be heard from any part in the Epidaurus Theatre, makes Vassiliki wonder whispering, “How can this be possible? How can this be possible?”
She stands in the middle of the stage and experiences the exceptional feeling of her own echo bouncing back. Even when Vassiliki wakes up in the middle of the night, the echo accompanies her and enforces her desire to travel again in these magical places as she did in her dream.

Zisis Papaioannou, uses the technique of poetic flow in his book and offers the chance to the reader to travel in the Epidaurus Theater and join his own echo along in a journey of self-discovery and initiation in opening his soul to all possibilities of the magic world of the unknown but “seen” with the eyes of the heart and those of belief.
The illustrator Velisaris Bourdos, with his beautiful colors and shapes leads the reader to immerse in the Epidaurus scenery where echo unfolds her figure and guides little Vassiliki, in a subtle palette of colors, with the sun to prevail. The Ancient Greek Theater’s Echo along with Vassiliki’s expressive looks, transfer the reader to a magical world, the one that the visitor can sense in Greek Archaeological sites where ancient beliefs and modern reality seems to overlap, making the unseen, not a state of mind but a state of truthful existence.

Suggested Links to check and get more info on Epidaurus:……/236-the-story-of-epidaurus-ancient-th…

Agatha Rodi



Zisis Papaioannou was born in Kalabaka, in central Greece, where he still lives sharing his free time in Athens, too. He completed his studies at the “Greek Art Theater Karolos Koun” and was trained at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art & Ideas), the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Spezia, (Introduction in Aristotle’s and Plato’s Philosophies and the World Heritage). Since 2017 he works as an actor.
He took part in many theatrical plays, T.V series as well as in cinema productions (five movies in Greece and abroad). In 2016 he was the lecturer for two academic semesters at Anoikto Laiko Panepistimio, giving lectures on “Experiential and Corporeal Mime thru the use of Theatrical play and Character Animation”.
In 2017, his first children’s book was published by Ostria Publications, under the title “Elpiniki-Voices and Whispers in the Acropolis Museum”, which comprises activities related to culture. He is a member of IBBY, and of Greek Actors’ Association.
In 2015 he got the award for his digital screenplay “Getting to know our internet habits: the mischievous side of social media”, having as a theme the adhesion to Mass Media, within the frame of “Development of Methodology and Digital seminars for the Learning Objectives of Primary & Secondary Education”, with the Bodies of the Institute of Educational Policy and the Specialised ones of the Institute of Educational Policy and the Hellenic Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.

  • JANUARY 2019 My Review 

Celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day is an awesome way to connect people from all over the world and I am really happy to know so many wonderful #Greekwriters. I was so curious to trace Elisavet Arkolaki and talk with her, and here I am reviewing her unique book “Where am I from?”I hope you enjoy this beautiful book and get inspired as I did! You may consider my review long but believe me, the Artist, Platon Mortis, Platonas-Πλατων, as well as Elisavet Arkolaki, have done an exceptional work!

Book Title: Where am I from? – World’s 1st graffiti illustrated picture book for children, in the making! Crafted for children roughly from 3 to 8 years old artist Platon Mortis, Platonas-ΠλατωνAuthor Elisavet Arkolaki, Malta MumPublisher Joanne Micallef, Faraxa Publishing:
The book I am reviewing this year is the very first graffiti illustrated book for children and it will be published in the summer of 2019! When Maria Kamoulakou referred to Elisavet Arkolaki, the Greek young woman who had this brilliant book project idea, I got smitten and I knew I had to find more about her.

Elisavet (aka Liza) had the idea of writing a story that gives a universal answer to the burning question “Where am I from?”, and to combine it with street art illustrations. The story portrays children from different racial backgrounds, living in countries from all six inhabited continents. The children gather together and try to find a universal answer to the burning question Where am I from? an answer which isn’t true just for them but true for everyone. The writer launched a Kickstarter campaign in July 2018 to bring this book to life and they raised about 10,700 euro. In fact, all the book characters will be painted based on real children, a mum, and a baby from the backers themselves who commissioned the art, and all except one are of mixed cultural backgrounds. How cool is that?

Check more of this wonderful Review here:

  • JANUARY 2018 Multicultural Children’s Book Day is today!My Review of “Marvellous Mexican Misunderstanding!”

I am so thrilled joining the Multicultural Children’s Day last year was the second time meeting such a huge number of supporters, knowing so many writers, with fabulous Diverse elements in their writings. This year, 2018,  I am reviewing a middle-grade picture book the “Marvellous Mexican Misunderstanding” written by Evi Triadaffylides, illustrated by Nefeli Malie presented on (


Well, Worldwide Buddies, being 2018 Gold Sponsor for the event, is a series of fictional, educational stories for children with characters from different countries around the globe. Its aim is to introduce little ones to the diverse realities and wonders of the world, early on, helping them learn different perspectives, and imagine a more beautifully complex world.

I feel so excited reading the story whose main theme has to do with the festivity is “El Día de Los Muertos” or Day of the Dead. A young boy, Adri, goes back to live in Mexico with his family and once the celebration has to take place he thinks he will die! Through well-structured dialogue and beautifully chosen words, the members of his family initiate the reader in the different ways the Day of the Dead is celebrated, offering the chance even to grownups to be informed about this unique Mexican Tradition!


The misunderstanding in Adri’s mind functions as the way to present the celebration and its importance in uniting family and especially kids with their ancestors. I read the story in my English Class and my students got impressed especially by the existence of the Janitzio island where Mexicans and visitors from all around the world celebrate the Day of the Dead. The illustrations depict the area along with  Mexican culture in the best way with colors and themes that make the book unforgettable for any kid!


Don’t miss the chance to read this beautiful book and use it in your class as a guide to Mexican culture!Here is a great site  You will surely have the  desire to  experience the “Day of the Dead.”

Day of Death in Oaxaca - Mexico

Great info to include in choosing “Marvellous Mexican Misunderstanding” is down below,  with a variety of sources, to get to know more about this important celebration, enjoy the sweets’ recipes and the “marigolds” specially made for the celebration.

Aztec skulls Mexican Day of the Dead colorful

“Coco” is the story of Miguel, a young boy eager to follow his passion for music in a family that has banned music for several generations. (Disney Pixar)

More about Multicultural Children’s Book Day:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in the home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators. 

Current MCBD Sponsors:

MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. View our 2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors here:

View  2018 MCBD Author Sponsors here:


We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts:

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of the 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party!

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians, and Educators:

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

  • JANUARY 2017 “Nowhere Girl” Review for Multicultural Children’s Day!

“Nowhere Girl”  written by  Ammi-Joan Paquette ( 

I joined the Multicultural Children’s Day last year for the first time and I really got a blast by the enormity of the supporters and the Diversity of books presented. This year I am both Thrilled and Honored because I am reviewing  a Literary Agent’s  beautiful Middle-Grade novel under the title “Nowhere Girl”  written by  Ammi-Joan Paquette ( Once seeing the wonderfully illustrated cover the girl’s (Luchi-Ann’s)  eyes captured my attention and I traveled to exotic Thailand!



“Nowhere Girl” is a middle-grade novel whose 13-year-old narrator, Luchi -Ann, is  American but raised in a women’s Thai prison. She keeps her mother’s memory alive in her heart during perilous moments, thinking of her, functions as a safeguard. Soon after her mother’s death, Luchi-Ann, having a limited knowledge of how the real world is outside the prison’s walls, starts a journey to discover two unknown worlds that of Thailand’s and of her final destination’s, America. Her blond hair and skin color make her a foreigner “a farang”, not being able to have a sense of belonging somewhere. Luchi-Ann demonstrates her respect for Thai cultural elements and explores the exotic surroundings of Bangkok while the plot evolves step by step following her on that  Odyssey. Luchi -Ann is overwhelmed by her journey’s experiences and the secrets they unravel, having her adventurous spirit to be interwoven with emotion, mystery and inner strength. “Nowhere Girl” is an appealing story of a girl’s self-discovery and determination to overcome the shadows of the past thru forgiveness, keeping sacred memories alive! Luchi-Ann’s story is a unique one to be read, offering the chance to students to encapsulate Thailand’s atmosphere and enjoy the vivid colors of a lyrical description.


My Teen students, both girls, and boys were curious to know more about the book, especially thinking of a recent story of a 16-year-old who managed to travel from Thessaloniki area, in Northen Greece to Europe having the police authorities wondering how on earth did this happen. Any determined Teen can travel around the globe either for adventure reasons or as being the only choice to realize a dream. In our class discussions, girls were more eager to follow Luchi-Ann’s steps than boys who analyzed the risks and thought such an endeavor would be hopeless. Then we often hear on the news about the children who are brought up in prisons, since their mothers choose to take them there. This fact gave us the chance in class to discuss and have assignments regarding children’s psychological impact and its influence on their later life. Various questions related to children’s imitation patterns following adults’ behavior fueled a series of discussions and essays.



E-Gar-Fuk Khai– In some American schools, the game cat and mouse is commonly played. In this game, a circle is drawn and rocks (cheese) are put in the middle of the circle, while one child (cat) guards it. The object is for all of the other kids playing (mice) to take the cheese without the child guarding it (child in the circle) touching them. In Thailand, it is called Crow Sits on the Eggs.

Ling Ching Luk– Another popular children’s game of Thailand, is called Monkey’s Run for a Pole. In this game, one child stands in the middle of every other child that will be holding on to a pole. The one child in the middle, will not be holding on to a pole. That middle child is the monkey. The players will be given a signal by an adult, to run to another teammates pole, in an attempt to switch positions. At that time, the monkey, or the middle child without a pole will try and touch a pole before another opponent does. The child without a pole is the new monkey.

Tang Te– a popular activity in Thailand among kids in kindergarten and first grade. In America, this game is also known as hop scotch. For this game, the ground is drawn on using chalk, numbering squares up to ten. The children must try to hop into every square without stepping out.




Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

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 holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that.

More about Multicultural Children’s Book Day


Current MCBD Sponsors

MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, <arel=”nofollow” href=””>Audrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers IncorporatedKidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte RiggleChronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author sponsors include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah StevensonMonica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNationAndrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to Remember


Free Multicultural Books for Teachers

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents

Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for the official hashtag, #ReadYourWorld.

  • JANUARY 2016 Book Review & Activity for “Vanilla and Chocolate” written by Fantastic Colombian Author Maritza M. Mejia,  celebrating multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Book Review and Classroom Activity of Vanilla and Chocolate.

Written by Maritza Martinez Mejia

Illustrated by Estella Mejia

For Multicultural Children’s Book Day #ReadYourWorld

By Agatha Rodi – Author

Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD) falls on January 27, 2016. The mission of MCCBD is to not only raise awareness for kids’ books that celebrate diversity but to also get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries. MCCBD assigns a book for participating bloggers to review.

I reviewed Vanilla and Chocolate written by Maritza Martinez Mejia and illustrated by Estella Mejia. I recommend this book for children ages 5-8 years old.

Vanilla and Chocolate is a bilingual storybook written both in English and Spanish for children; that not only helps them to discover the meaning of being tolerant towards others but also teaches them the joy of friendship. Vanilla and Chocolate, are friends but simply because they become a “Black and White” background Vanilla’s parents didn’t want them to play together. Their teacher invents the Family Day so when both families meet the situation changes and they are all happy together. It is a beautiful story having a great choice for words such as Vanilla and Chocolate, bringing to mind the colors and taste of ice-cream flavors. The illustrations’ simplicity conveys the message in the best way reminding to bilingual young learners that the colors we choose to embrace in our life give the most important meaning to it.

Being a great fan of vanilla and chocolate ice-cream I decided for the following activity in class.

Activity for Vanilla and Chocolate.


Vanilla’s parents arrived at the even with a huge tub of vanilla and chocolate ice-cream.

Here’s the recipe for my Chocolate pie to bake in class and accompany with ice-cream.

Chocolate Pie

  • 3 cups of cake flour
  • 1 ½ cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar(I prefer the apple cider one)
  • 10 tablespoons of corn oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder
  • 2 ½ cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of soda powder

Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 ½   tablespoons of corn oil
  • 200 gr of black chocolate

You will mix the ingredients using the above order and you will carefully stir with a mixer. You preheat the oven for 10 minutes at 450°F and then you bake for 45 to 50 minutes, at 350°F. When the Chocolate pie is ready you let it cool.

You put the black chocolate in a pan and you add 2 tablespoons of corn oil to let it melt, then you spread it on the top of the Chocolate pie. Enjoy!