Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review-The Unboy Boy by Richa Jha (Guest post from Emily Kilgore)

MCCBD Blog Post: The Unboy Boy by Richa Jha

Guest Post from Emily Kilgore

Multicultural Children's Book Day

As an elementary teacher and all-around lover of children’s literature, I was ecstatic to learn about Multicultural Children’s Book Day. MCCBD’s mission is clear: to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. “Young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions, and religions within the pages of a book.” The event is sponsored by countless supporters of diverse books (listed below) and urges people to review diverse books, raising awareness of quality literature. Well, if that doesn’t sound like something right up my alley, I don’t know what does.

The only hitch? I don’t have a blog. But that didn’t hinder Mia and Valerie, MCCBD founders – the mission holds strong even through technical problems. I was quickly hooked up with Becky (Project Manager for MCCBD and an avid blogger) to be a guest blogger for this event. Not long after that, I was paired with author Richa Jha and mailed a book to review.

The Unboy Boy

The Unboy Boy by Richa Jha was shipped to me all the way from India. I cannot express the excitement of opening a book that came from the opposite side of the world. My original thought was, “This is diverse in itself!” Much to my amazement, the text was filled with more diverse content than simply its publishing location.

The story is of a young boy named Gagan who enjoys things such as “the sun and the birds and the flowers.” His brother, his classmates, and even his grandfather tease him for his unboy-like behavior, calling him names like “sissy,” “mousey,” and “baby girl.” The only person in the story who seems to support Gagan is his mother. Even still, Gagan feels lonely and sad.

The story hits a climax when Gagan and his classmates attend an overnight camp at school. What begins as a fun time together turns scary as the kids exchange stories of trolls and ghouls. To make matters worse, Scuttle, Charit’s cat, goes missing. Pretty soon the kids’ imaginations take over and everyone imagines terrifying things, such as murderers popping out of the ground with knives. In the end, the cat is found by none other than Gagan himself, proving to everyone that he, too, can be brave.

The text is ideal for discussing gender stereotypes. Jha writes of stereotypes to the extreme, such as when Gagan’s grandfather says, “Here, be a man and play with this!” while holding out a gun. Another questionable stereotype depicted in the book is when Gagan is reading a picturebook while his brother and friends are trying to get him to do boyish things. I certainly don’t want to send the message to children that reading is a girly – and therefore weak — thing to do! The stereotypes of weak vs brave; girly vs boyish, are strong throughout the story. Even Gagan was not truly accepted until he succumbed to the stereotypes and did a brave, boyish thing: saving the cat when everyone else was too scared to do so. In any reading with a young child, it would be critical to point out how extreme the stereotypes in the book are.

When I read the story aloud to my class of second graders, many of them could not get past some of the illustrations. Many latched on to the images of the gun and bloody knives while others were scared of the ghouls. While I understand the intent of showing scary images in the text to parallel the boyish stereotypes, I think it was overdone. The students in my classroom were not used to seeing images like these in picturebooks and had a difficult time talking about the theme and characters of the book because they were so wrapped up in the pictures.

Despite these concerns, the book does address a serious issue of gender stereotyping. It is a conversation that must be had at home and in schools, for it is a danger to force children to act a certain way based on preconceived stereotypes. As Gagan shows, children can feel isolated, sad, lonely, or confused if they are forced to act in a way different than they naturally feel.

Below are possible ways to use the book as a discussion-starter at home or in a classroom:

  • Focus on diversity:

o   Why did people treat Gagan differently?

o   What were some things Gagan did that others thought were girly?

o   What are some things you like to do? Are they boyish things, girlish things, or both?

o   Do all boys need to like the same things? Do all girls need to like the same things? Why or why not?

  • Focus on bullying:

o   How did everyone’s repeated teasing impact Gagan?

o   What could you do if you noticed how Gagan was feeling?

o   Have you ever felt bullied like Gagan?

  • Focus on characters:

o   How did Gagan feel when he was teased?

o   How did Gagan’s feelings change from the beginning to the end of story?

o   How would you describe Gagan? What character traits does he have?

  • Focus on illustrations:

o   How do the illustrations help you understand the story better?

o   How do the illustrations take away from the story?

o   Do any of the illustrations catch your attention? Why?

  • Focus on theme:

o   What is the theme of the book?

o   What do you think Richa Jha wants you to learn?

o   Would you recommend this book to someone else? Why or why not?


It is critical to get more diverse texts in the hands of our readers. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions or comments about how I use diverse texts within my elementary classroom.


Also, a special thanks to the Multicultural Children’s Book Day’s sponsors:


MCCBD’s  2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press,Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold SponsorsSatya House,,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,   Chronicle Books   Muslim Writers Publishing,East West Discovery Press.


Visit the MCCBD blog on 1/27/15 to view our huge link-up of over 150 bloggers sharing their multicultural book reviews and activities. Teachers and parents can also check out the Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Teachers and Parents page HERE.





Author dreams? PUBLISHING and MARKETING Class Series from Blue Cottage Agency

Dreaming of publishing a book? Do you already have published works that you could use a little help with? Check out the PUBLISHING and MARKETING Class Series from Blue Cottage Agency

Learn about Publishing from local Literary Publicist and Agent Krista Rolfzen Soukup

 Brainerd Book Publishing and Marketing Class

Get the scoop on Social Media and blogging and how it can be used to  gain visibility for your business or books from LAMS Communications

LAMS Communications

Learn about the basics of Word Press websites including understanding a dashboard and admin panel, creating posts and pages, tags, categories, SEO, uploading media, using images, media libraries and website security.
Instructor: Corey Kretsinger, Midstate Design – Quality Websites

Mid State Designs

Classes will be held at the Franklin Art Center Room #1
$25 per class
Tuesdays in February 6-8 p.m.

Grab flyer and sign up info HERE


Brainerd Public Library Brown Bag Lunch & Learn Thursday features Crow Wing Energized

Brainerd Public Library Brown Bag Lunch & Learn Thursday, January 15 features Crow Wing Energized
From noon to 1p.m. on Thursday, January 15 the community is invited to the Brainerd Public Library, 416 S. 5th Street, for a Brown Bag Lunch and Learn with Cassie Carey, coordinator for Crow Wing Energized.
Cassie Carey, coordinator for Crow Wing Energized.
If living more healthy is one of your resolutions this year, you won’t want to miss this energizing presentation about all the activities taking place in Crow Wing County to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
Crow Wing Energized began just a little more than a year ago as a grassroots effort co-led by Essentia Health and Crow Wing County Community Services. This volunteer based effort has engaged more than 200 community leaders in making a difference and garnered the support of Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) funding. Focus areas include Healthy Choices, Mental Fitness, Workplace Wellness and Community Connections.
The Crow Wing Energized lunch and learn is the kick-off to a monthly series at the library that will focus on various aspects of health and wellness in our community. Mark your calendar for Thursday, February 19 at noon when Carmen Thelen will present on having a “healthy brain”.
This event is free of charge and all are welcome and encouraged to bring their own healthy lunch to enjoy while learning more!


5 Winter Skin Care Tips {Guest Post from Tracy Watson of Nature’s Genesis)

5 Winter Skin Care Tips


As we all know Winter can and does wreak havoc on our skin. Here are a few winter skin care tips that will leave your skin feeling soft, dewy, hydrated and moisturized.

Tip #1-Taking Essential Fatty Acids is vital for healthy cell membranes. Without permeable cell membranes nothing goes in and nothing goes out, which means no nutrients can penetrate and no toxins can be eliminated. Our cell membrane is strictly dependent on EFA’s that are found in walnuts, dark leafy greens, flax & chia seeds, cold water fish and supplements.

Tip #2-Never use soap on your face.( If I could have a $1 for every lady who told me she used soap on her face……I would have quite a few extra dollars in my bank account)..and the sad part is…their skin showed the effects. Soap is alkaline and extremely harsh on your skin. It strips your natural oils and causes Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TPWL) which causes skin dehydration. Without proper hydration, skin sensitivities, acne and the overall health of your skin is compromised

Tip #3-Using a toner with hydrating components such as our Cucumber Hydrating Toner will help lock moisture within the skin especially when you apply our Ageless Hydrating or Vitamin C serums while the skin is still damp from the toner. The right toner with the right ingredients is like a refreshing drink of water to your skin. It is proven that moist skin is 10x more permeable than dry skin meaning when you apply serums with active ingredients those ingredients will penetrate deeper within the skin creating change.

Skin Scripts Cucumber Hydration Toner 4oz

Tip #4-Skin needs extra protection during the winter months including a more emollient moisturizer such as Skin Scripts Hydrating or Peptide Moisturizer or Natures Genesis Herbal Infused Cream Therapy or Nature’s Genesis Reparative Anti-aging Cream Therapy. Extreme temperatures both hot and cold pull the moisturizer from your skin leaving the skin feeling taut and dry. If your skin is dry and flaking that means the surface of your skin is dehydrated and needs to be exfoliated. Exfoliation will allow our nourishing serums and moisturizers to penetrate deep within the epidermis.
Nature's Genesis Herbal Infused Cream Therapy  4oz

Tip #5-Running a humidifier or a crockpot in the bedroom will do wonders for your skin. Since dry air sucks moisture anywhere it can…even from your skin, using a humidifier will help bring moisture back into to the air and into your skin. Personally, I wouldn’t be without my crockpot on the nightstand….give this a try…you will feel the difference right away.

If you have any questions about skincare please contact Tracy. It’s a pleasure serving the Brainerd Lakes Area both in Skincare products/treatments and 100% acne safe makeup.


Make your day Beautiful.



Tracy’s passion for making women feel Beautiful can truly be seen through her work.She has a unique ability to enhance the beauty you already possess and to diminish some of the less flattering features to ensure that you feel your absolute prettiest no matter the occasion! You can connect with Tracy via the Nature’s Genesis website or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

You can visit Tracy at her salon-Located at J. Amelia’s-4572 Main Street Pequot Lakes, MN 218. 568.4952 in a historic church surrounded by the eloquent town and unique shops of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. An organic wellness salon and full day spa $10 off any service in the salon and day spa.

Make your list and check it twice, our Sugar Plum Treatment is both delightful and nice!
Tis’ the season for soft, glowing skin! This treatment features a sweet Holiday Berry Enzyme and a rich Vanilla Clove Hydrating Mask. These fruit enzymes gently exfoliate while infusing the skin with antioxidants and the Vanilla Clove Hydrating Mask locks in moisture and intensely hydrates dry, winter weathered skin

If you need any changes or anything else please let me know


Essential Health Gains Unique Gift

Taken from Essentia Health Press Release-Piano and its players are gifts from volunteers

Talented volunteers and a generous donation are bringing piano music to patients and visitors at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd.

The St. Joseph’s Auxiliary recently donated $13,500 to purchase a new baby grand piano that sits in the second-floor mezzanine overlooking the hospital’s main lobby. Volunteer pianists play from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Essentia Health

PHOTO CAPTION: Bonnie Groneberg, a volunteer, plays the new baby grand piano at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

Volunteer Diane Saumer Guidi recruits and schedules the pianists. A well-known professional vocalist with her own band, Diane says she called on musicians she knew and some she didn’t. Her roster includes those professional musicians along with piano teachers and even a nurse who works at the hospital. “We have a variety of music played by a variety of talents,” she says.

Diane delights in what the live music brings to the local hospital. “I watch people come in and they all have a certain set look. You can see the impact immediately when they hear the piano music,” she says. “Their faces lift a little. They smile. It makes a difference in their attitude. It puts a spring in their step.”

“I have seen patients come and sit for long periods of time, just listening,” says Deb Anderson, the hospital’s volunteer coordinator and gift shop manager. “Some of the players have a following who come to the hospital and sit in the lobby just to listen to the piano.”

Both Diane and Deb have heard compliments on the music, which highlights Essentia Health’s value of hospitality.
“I truly believe that there is something to music therapy,” Deb says. “When I see people walking by or stopping to listen and they have smiles on their faces, it warms my heart to know that the volunteers who give of their time and talent to raise money for the piano have made a difference in that person’s life, that day, that moment.”

SIDEBAR: Join the Auxiliary

New members are always welcome in the Auxiliary that serves Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
Auxiliary members do a variety of volunteer activities, including running the hospital gift shop and holding other fundraisers. In the last fiscal year, the Auxiliary raised more than $45,000 and donated $26,050 to support programs and help buy equipment. Its 220 adult volunteers and 10 junior volunteers also gave 27,760 hours of service.
To learn more, contact Volunteer Coordinator and Gift Shop Manager Deb Anderson at 218.828.7610 or e-mail


Celebrating New Year’s Day – A New Calendar and a New Start

New Year

I don’t know what it is about the simple act of changing a calendar year, but New Year’s Day is always a time of resolutions and renewal in our home. We take this chance to start fresh and change things which we have not been happy with the previous year. While some things cannot be changed, such as medical issues and the nagging car repairs that come at the most inopportune time, there are many things about our lives which we can change when we set our minds to the task.

The first tradition we have at our home is that of buying a wonderful and decorative calendar to hang on our wall. Sometimes we are given one for the holidays, other times we purchase our own. Every New Year’s Day I remove our old calendar and hang our new one. In the process, I first copy over any important family dates such as birthdays or anniversaries which I need to remember throughout the New Year.

Many people set out to celebrate New Year’s Day by making resolutions which they really don’t have any real desire to fight to keep going throughout the year. If you have ever been in a health club or gym in January, then you know how many people can be there that you will never see again come February. It would be almost funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

The key to making your New Year’s resolutions and having them become reality in your life is to start small and really dedicate yourself to what you want to change in your life. If you are overweight, or even simply want to get into better shape, start with eating better and walking around your own neighborhood before you shell out the big money for a membership to a gym.

Another good way to spend your New Years Day is to take the opportunity of the New Year to clean out and purge your living quarters. It is very common to bring home your gifts from holiday celebrations and then have no where to put them. By doing some much needed de-cluttering and purging you can have space for all of your new treasures and make some nice donations of your unused items as well. Two of the best places to get rid of your unwanted items are through your local thrift store or Thrift stores will generally take just about anything which they can re-sell to others. With you send out an e-mail to your local area and the person interested in what you have to offer will come pick-up your unwanted items. Both your thrift store and are good ways to keep your unwanted items out of the landfill.

In our home, we spend New Years Day first transferring the calendar, and then we move into the kitchen where we go through all of our cabinets and take a good inventory of what is in each of them. For things we have a lot of, we make an effort to use some of it up in the next few months. For things we will need to purchase we put them on our master shopping list. While we are in the kitchen we also try to find items which make good donations to our local food pantry. For instance, if I have been getting great buys on soup and have 30 cans of it, I will usually give half to our local food pantry and keep the rest to cover us for the rest of winter.

On addition to some of the suggestions above, it is always a good idea to look at the New Year as a time of renewal and a time when you can make changes to your life. However, rather than having lofty resolutions which you cannot keep, start small and make goals to change things over the next year or even longer. By making realistic goals you can change the things in your life that you choose to.

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