Amy Hodgepodge - All Mixed Up!, Grosset & Dunlap, May 2008
Authors: Kim Wayans, Kevin Knotts
Illustrator: Soo Jeong
Amy Hodges is starting 4th grade, and is very nervous. She has always been homeschooled, but has asked her parents if she can go to a real school. After her first day, she is not sure whether she made a good decision. Some people aren't very nice, and Amy isn't sure whether she really fits in. When the mean girls say she looks weird, she worries that she won't ever fit in because she is a mix of Korean, Japanese, white and black.
Soon, Amy finds out that there are other people who are mixed up too, Cole and Lola have parents who are black and white, Pia has parents who are white and Chinese, and so forth. When Amy tells of her four origins, they nickname her Amy Hodgepodge, which she finds to be a wonderful way of embracing her heritage.
As the story goes along, Amy faces other fears, and discovers there are other ways that people can be different that are also hard to face. With courage and acceptance, she and her classmates find ways to accomplish their dreams.
While this description may make it sound like the issue of race is a big part of the story, it really isn't. One of the best things about this book is the way it tackles the issue of different backgrounds with subtlety, never letting it overshadow the real story of Amy finding out who she is and what she is capable of. I appreciate books that handle diversity and multiculturalism without being swamped by them.
I strongly recommend this book for parents with kids dealing with diversity, as well as for classrooms and libraries. I look forward to reading more books about Amy Hodgepodge. My only concern is that this is listed on Amazon and some other sites as intended for ages 9-12, but the language, writing style and characters are more appropriate for ages 7-9, especially second and third graders.
Four stars out of five.
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