Although today's kids usually communicate through texting or email, Elliot from the United States and Kailash from India use pictures and a few simple sentences to exchange information about their lives.
Their teachers facilitate the snail mailing of pictorial letters, just as the author-illustrator did when she visited Nepal, which provided the inspiration for this book. The title, also used as a refrain throughout the book, is a popular saying in India and Nepal, heard by Kostecki-Shaw when she traveled there. Elliot and Kailash explore their similarities and differences, concluding that their lives are "Different, different but the SAME!" The engaging childlike acrylic paintings with crayon, pencil, tissue paper and other collage elements show the busy crowded American streets of Elliot's city, the traditional buildings of Kailash's riverside village, the taxis and buses in the States and the taxis and camel-pulled carts in India. The English alphabet is reproduced on wide-ruled notebook paper and the Hindi alphabet (unfortunately unidentified) on a small slate, and both typical American pets (dog and fish) and a whole farmyard of Indian animals appear. Both kids live unusually low-tech lives (no computers or cell phones in sight), but they each enjoy learning about their pen pal's world.
Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea of traditional two-way communication and demonstrates just how small our world can be. (Picture book. 5-7)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
The theme of commonalities among the world's children is a familiar one, so readers aren't likely to be surprised that a city-dwelling American boy and his pen pal in rural India have a lot in common, even if those similarities are embodied in different ways. But Kostecki-Shaw (My Travelin' Eye) makes her tribute to brotherhood sing in a way that feels fresh and inviting. Both of her heroes are anchored by warm, caring home lives: for Elliot, that means living with his parents and baby sister in a brick row house, while Kailash shares a farm with 23 members of his extended family "and our animals." Elliot uses art to fuel his imagination, while Kailash uses yoga. "Same, same but different" is Kostecki-Shaw's refrain, but what keeps it from being saccharine or pedestrian are her terrific naïf, mixed-media pictures. Working in exuberantly detailed spreads with a playful sense of proportion and perspective, she immerses readers in her heroes' worlds, showing them as confident navigators of even the busiest landscapes. On every page, readers will sense they're in the company of a generous, open-minded talent. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 1-2--While traveling in Southeast Asia, the author learned the popular saying that inspired this charming story of friendship and universal connections. In an American city, Elliott paints a picture of his world as part of a school project. His teacher mails it "across the oceans" to Kailash, who soon replies with his own drawing. Elliott lives in a city where tall buildings hide the sun, and cars and taxis crowd the roads. Kailash is growing up near a river in a village where "peacocks dance under trees shaped like umbrellas." Although their worlds seem different, the boys are not. They discover that they both like animals, enjoy climbing trees, and ride the bus to school. The correspondents compare their cultures and eventually they decide that their worlds aren't so different after all. The imaginative multimedia illustrations, drawn in an animated, childlike style, add vibrant color and rich details to the story. Kostecki-Shaw presents a meaningful message of inclusivity in this engaging title. Like Elliott and Kailash, young readers will conclude that children from other cultures are "different, different but the SAME!"--Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA[Page 78]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.