Hardcover, 40 pages
October 6, 2015 : Feiwel and Friends
Source: Raincoast Books
Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them.
Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.
Mike’s dad is “a deep brown” and his mom is “rich cream and honey”, and he’s a confident, lively, happy, perfect blend of both. As his parents say, he is mixed “just right”. Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way – sometimes people look at him funny or make comments about his curly hair, and some kids at school want him to choose an identity. As Mike says, though, “there are so many flavors to savor and taste! Why pick only one color or face? Why pick one race?”
In Canada’s urban centres, mixed families are on the rise. Vancouver has the highest rate of mixed-race couples in Canada, while in Victoria around 37% of all visible minority residents are in a mixed union. Canadian mixed families are most likely to include a parent who is of of Japanese descent (79 per cent), Latin American (48 per cent), black (40 per cent) or Filipino (30 per cent), according to a 2011 study. Mixed families come in an endless array of forms, and there is no one single “mixed family” experience. Different families can face different challenges, depending on a wide range of factors. Canadian mixed kids might often come from families that look different than Mike’s, but whatever the scenario, Mike’s upbeat, relentlessly positive spirit, and the love with which he and his parents embrace their mixed family, can apply to families whatever their background might be. Mike is proud of who he is, and his parents love him and are proud of him, and that’s a message that all families can get behind.
Taye Diggs’ text is like energetic, spirited free verse poetry. I’d recommend practising a bit before reading it aloud, just to master the sometimes uneven rhythm, but I can see it making for a lively, engaging read aloud experience. Stories like Mixed Me! exemplify the idea of books as windows, mirrors and doors. Children from mixed backgrounds can see themselves celebrated in the text and images, and can gain strength from this positive portrayal, while their peers can help gain perspective into another experience, and can also better understand the impact that their words and actions can have on their peers.
Colourful, positive, lively and fun, Mixed Me! is an example of the kind of variety we need more of! I’d love to see stories like this that include families with different elements, particularly with Asian parents. How about a child with a Japanese parent and a black parent? Or a child with a Chinese parent and an Indian parent? I’ve had these families in my programs, and I’d love to see them represented in the stories I share with them! Please make it happen, writers and publishers!