Multikulti Leon : Dumma Bilbana / Silly Car Track
Jarmaine J Kisuule’s sensitive bilingual easy reader is up to date and dualistic in many ways. Firstly, it is written in two languages, English and Swedish, it engages two continents, Africa and Europe and it addresses the common issue of divorce or separation.
Little Leon lives with his European mother and stays with his African father during the holidays as he lives in another city. The story takes place on a bad day at his mom’s home where the stress of having separated parents impacts on what should be the joyful activity of playing with his cars on his favourite car track, a gift from his father.
In the story Leon positively embraces the realities of being a product of two cultures when he refers to his skin colour, that resembles neither of his parents’, as the characteristic that makes him “handsome”. It also gently allows the listener/reader to observe and possibly relate to feelings of frustration and the resulting destructive behaviour that follows. However, Leon’s tantrum is not without remedy as an honest discussion and a helpful telephone call make things much better in the end.
In addition to being an easy reader, Multikulti Leon lends itself well to reading aloud with the potential for many pauses for interesting discussions with 3-9 year olds especially with the help of Stina Rudebjer‘s clear, engaging and supportive illustrations. It also works well as a language learning tool and in bilingual families.
One can’t help but infer semi-autobiographical qualities to the story as the author, Jarmaine J Kisuule, is himself born of Ugandan and Swedish parents. He also works with young children which shows in his choice of small-child relatable language and the pedagogical empathy of the stories’ structure.
Multikulti Leon, Silly Car Track/ Dumma bilbana is the first of an eventual series and we look forward to possibly meeting some of Leon’s “mutlikulti” friends (hinted at in this book) in subsequent titles to follow.
As books are “both mirrors and windows” MeR sees Mutlikulti Leon relating to a wide audience via empathy and reflection. On that note, we would like to encourage authors and illustrators to send us material to review provided it is in line with our vision of increasing #representation of children’s culture within Sweden.