­Makeda Makes a Birthday Treat

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. (I Can Read 2). Sept. 2023. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063217263; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780063217249.
Gr 1-4–For her birthday celebration, Makeda is thrilled to make coconut drops for her classmates. Her siblings tell her kids will want cupcakes. But Makeda is determined to make coconut drops. Makeda, Momma, and Nana sing, dance, sip tea, and tell stories while they make their beloved coconut drops. Readers feel the nostalgia that Makeda and her family experience for their island homeland. When Makeda arrives at school, some kids ask where the cupcakes are. Others make faces, comments, and ask about potential mistakes. The coconut drops don’t look like cupcakes. When Makeda’s best friend, Glory, steps up and tries one, soon others follow. The class then launches into conversation about the foods, stories, and traditions they enjoy with their families. This early reader aptly illustrates what can occur when children are brave enough to share their family's culture and background. Illustrations and text work in tandem to show what students can do to foster awareness of individuals other than themselves, and how to talk about differences. Makeda and her family have brown skin, and her class includes children with a range of skin tones, body types, and abilities.
VERDICT An inclusive early reader that celebrates dialogue about individual differences.

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