Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Malaika’s Costume

Hohn, Nadia L. (Author)
Luxbacher, Irene (Illustrator)
Groundwood Books 2016. 32 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781554987542 (hardcover)
9781554987559 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, setting

Award

USBBY Outstanding International Books List – 2017

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Malaika is excited about dancing at Carnival to the Calypso rhythms of her native Caribbean island. She dreams of being a rainbow peacock but, with her mother away in Canada trying to earn money to help her family, and with Grandma offering up an old, dusty costume from her long-ago childhood, Malaika is losing hope. With a bit of resourcefulness and vision and some help from the community, she and Grandma turn things around. And she dances in the streets as proud as a peacock.

This vibrant and moving story is told in the authentic first-person voice of young Malaika. Her language is permeated by Caribbean dialect, with its strong rhythms pulling the story forward. “Canada is cold like an icebox and something they call snow is on the ground, Mummy tell me.… The snow look like coconut sky juice. She say that children play in it and build man with it. What a sticky mess!”

Vivid imagery in a folk-art style comprising mixed-media collage, graphite and oils is used to capture island life from a child’s-eye view. Colourful flowers and sweeping children’s costumes are juxtaposed with a calendar filled with red crosses, marking the days. Lush landscapes and rich characterization contrast with children’s pencil drawings on the edges of the lined notepaper that frames the text.

The challenging subject matter, that of a child separated from her mother, leads nonetheless to a feeling of triumph: we make the most of what we have. A list of vocabulary and definitions is provided at the front.

  •  

    Do a picture walk of a few pages. What is happening? Discuss the characters and setting.

  •  

    Discuss situations that might require parents to be away from their children. How do you/would you feel if you were separated from your parents? What details in the text tell you how Malaika feels about her mother being in Canada?

  •  

    Make inferences about the meaning of unfamiliar words. Compare your inferences with the definitions in the small glossary.

  •  

    Use a graphic organizer to show how Malaika’s attitude toward the old costume changes throughout the story. Why do you think she changes her mind?

  •  

    Look at teacher-selected images or videos from Kiddie Carnival online. Draw and describe your ideal carnival costume.

  •  

    Do a picture walk of a few pages. What is happening? Discuss the characters and setting.

  •  

    Discuss situations that might require parents to be away from their children. How do you/would you feel if you were separated from your parents? What details in the text tell you how Malaika feels about her mother being in Canada?

  •  

    Discuss how the language in this text is different from (and similar to) the English you are familiar with. Do the differences interfere with your understanding? How does your background influence the way you express yourself? Is it the same with the French language?

  •  

    The third page has a description of Canada from Malaika’s point of view. Use this model to write a more accurate description of Canada from your point of view.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use creativity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture