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Mama and Papa Have a Store

Last updated Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Author: Amelia Carling
Date of Publication: 1998
ISBN: 0803720440
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2007

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: The youngest child in a Chinese family that has emigrated to Guatemala City describes a typical day, from early morning to night, in her parents' dry goods store. The engaging account includes the sights, sounds, and smells inside and outside the busy shop, introducing an interesting melange of cultural elements as seen from the preschooler's point of view. A Mayan Indian family is among the day's customers; they purchase strands of thread to weave colorful designs into their clothing. The narrator's five siblings come home from school for a big midday dinner, then play on the roof terrace (they live behind the store); in the afternoon there is a storm, and the lights go out. There is a timeless quality to this account, which is based on the author's memories; it is only in a note on the title page that a time frame is established. Carling's lovingly detailed watercolors in candy-box colors illustrate her memories. They have a slightly naive and childlike quality that ideally suits the subject matter. A pleasant family story that should enrich library collections, especially those looking for multicultural themes.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Read the authors notes on the copyright page and on the back flap of the cover. Find China and Guatemala on a map. Discuss how far the people had to go.
•  Do you know what an abacus is? Have you ever seen one? What do you use to add and subtract?
•  What language do you speak at home with your family? Does your family use words from other languages?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  This family talks about Nine Rivers, where theyre from in China. Does your family talk about where they came from? Do you know what it is like there and how its different from here?
•  How did the Chinese people get to Guatemala? [They had to go on ships.]
•  Have you ever eaten food from a culture different from your own and in that cultures style? Have you ever eaten with chopsticks?
•  Have you ever been in a store that sells things from several different cultures or countries? What types of items did they sell?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Chinese lantern. Fold a rectangular piece of construction paper in half lengthwise. Make a series of cuts along the folded edge, perpendicular to the edge; dont cut all the way through. Unfold the paper, and then glue or staple the short edges together. Cut a strip of paper inch wide and six inches long for the handle.
•  Fold a rectangular piece of construction paper in half widthwise. Make a series of cuts along the folded edge, perpendicular to the edge; cut to within 1 inch of the edge. Open up the paper. Using the colored strips of paper provided, weave strips of paper through the cuts on the paper to form a woven mat. Fold the mat in half to make a hat like the ones the mountain women in the book wear. Tie your hat on with string.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!