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Monday, January 27, 2014

Julie the Black Belt Series - Product Review

Today is the last day to enter my current giveaway!!


Disclosure: I was sent these books digitally to review free of charge from Immedium. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. I am including links to each item for your convenience but do not receive anything if you purchase them.

http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2014/01/multicultural-childrens-book-day-celebrating-diversity-childrens-literature/

Today is Multicultural Children's Book Day!! Last week I reviewed Cathryn Falwell's Rainbow Stew as an official reviewer for the day. Now over at Pragmatic Mom and Jump Into a Book are the blog hop with all the books shared in one place and you can share your own review of a multicultural book. There are also some giveaways being held by a few of the sponsors!   Barefoot Books  is hosting a giveaway on their Facebook page.

After reading my Rainbow Stew post, Immedium contacted me to see if I would review a few of their multicultural books. I of course jumped at the chance. They sent me three Asian American books to review. I am going to review two of them for you today and the final on on Friday for the Chinese New Year. I hope you will join me on Friday for my other review. 


http://www.immedium.com/products/julieblackbelt.html
http://www.immedium.com/products/julieblackbeltfire.html 

The books I am reviewing today are a series. The second book in the series, Julie Black Belt: The Belt of Fire by Oliver Chin was recently released. Since we had not read the first book in the series, Julie Black Belt: The Kung Fu Chronicles by Oliver Chin, they sent us that one as well.
Julie
Julie is a young Asian American who loves Brandy Wu, a kung fu master actress. Her parents ask her one day if she would like to learn kung fu and maybe earn a black belt like Brandy Wu. She decides to give it a try. Her younger brother, Johnny, also wants to try, but she says if he is good she will teach him after she learns. She tries on the uniform for class and thinks it needs a belt. At the class she is surprised when her teacher or Sifu (teacher in Chinese) as the students call him is a young man. At first she thinks all she is being taught is easy things but when she tries them she discovers they are much harder than she thought. At one point Julie is ready to give up and that is when Sifu whispers that a black belt is a white belt that doesn't give up. After that she is enthusiastic about kung fu and earns the yellow belt in the end. She knows she is on her way to a black belt.


Sifu
The Belt of Fire picks up where the Kung Fu Chronicle leaves off. Julie goes to her first yellow belt kung fu class. Then as they are starting the doorbell rings and a student in a different color outfit but with a yellow belt enters. He is introduced as Brandon, who moved into the neighborhood. Julie becomes jealous because Brandon seems better than her. She tries to compete with him. Soon the two students are making mistakes left and right because they are too focused on each other than themselves. Sifu's teacher comes for a visit and she helps Julie and Brandon learn to work together and to focus on themselves instead of each other. It works and they are able to make a great team. 


Johnny
What I love about both of these books is how it takes the girl to be the heroine in a typically male sport. I also love how it brings races (Brandon is white) together to have the same goal of bettering each person. The messages are so well woven into the stories. In the first book, Julie learns to not give up and keep trying even when it seems hard. In the second book, Julie and Brandon learn not to compare themselves to others, but to focus on oneself. The books themselves are written in an almost comic form, so it is a great way to expose younger children to comics and the upcoming graphic novels. I read the first book to Hazel this morning and she really liked it. She cannot wait to hear the second one. 

Both books are available for sale at Immedium's website. They are each $15.95 in hardcover. They are a wonderful way to introduce kung fu to young children as well as teach a few of the lessons from it.