Book review: The Adventures of Joy Sun Bear: The Blue Amber of Sumatra

I am honored once again to review a kidlit book for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. This year, I received a charming, early-middle-grade book from Joy Sun Bear, an organization that provides “global education for kids and classrooms.” Co-written by Blanca Carranza and John Lee, with illustrations by John Lee, The Adventures of Joy Sun Bear: The Blue Amber of Sumatra is the first in a series that will share “information about the world, diverse cultures, global issues and social-emotional learning” through fun, engaging books and activities. 

When a little orangutan named Tipah is chased from her rainforest home by bulldozers, her family flees to the community of sun bears and orangutans who live near the Big Fig Tree. But the adults there argue over whether to welcome Tipah and her family. Some fear that the strangers have cursed Big Fig, resulting in a mysterious lack of figs for Harvest Day. Stoking their argument is a magical Trickster who feeds off of discord.

Joy, a sun bear cub, and his sister Ayu befriend Tipah, realizing that “They aren’t cursed, they’re refugees.” But the angry Trickster doubles its efforts to cause trouble. Soon Joy is on a perilous journey to set the rainforest right, impeded by a tiger, a python, and a runaway bulldozer. He finds help from a magical frog (“That frog has some explaining to do!”), a shape-shifting hummingbird, and a glowing blue stone with amazing powers.

Kids will enjoy the combination of well-written adventure, humor, and magic. Grown-ups will appreciate the gentle lessons about treating oneself, other people (and animals), and the environment with respect, as well as the timely message of compassion toward refugees. I found the writing to be engaging, clever, and thoughtful (“They’re [being] mean because they’re scared.”). The bright, cartoony illustrations every few pages express characters’ emotions with humor and charm.

Readers and their grown-ups will find plenty to discuss as well as simple actions they can take to reduce deforestation and help refugees in the back pages. While waiting for the next book in the series, kids can also check out free coloring pages and a crossword puzzle or learn more about Sumatra through Joy’s travel journal, which includes geography, country facts, food, culture, animals, and more with a craft, recipe, and coloring activity. 

For more information about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, read on!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!

*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors
*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors

Medallion Level Sponsors

Honorary: Children’s Book CouncilThe Junior Library GuildTheConsciousKid.org.

Super Platinum: Make A Way Media

GOLD: Bharat BabiesCandlewick PressChickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcitoKidLitTV,  Lerner Publishing GroupPlum Street Press,

SILVER: Capstone PublishingCarole P. RomanAuthor Charlotte RiggleHuda EssaThe Pack-n-Go Girls,

BRONZE: Charlesbridge PublishingJudy Dodge CummingsAuthor Gwen JacksonKitaab WorldLanguage Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ LanguagesLee & Low BooksMiranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, RedfinAuthor Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s DaughterTimTimTom BooksLin ThomasSleeping Bear Press/Dow PhumirukVivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie FlettMehrdokht Amini,

Author Janet BallettaAuthor Kathleen BurkinshawAuthor Josh FunkChitra SoundarOne Globe Kids – Friendship StoriesSociosights Press and Almost a MinyanKaren LeggettAuthor Eugenia ChuCultureGroove BooksPhelicia Lang and Me On The PageL.L. WaltersAuthor Sarah StevensonAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleHayley BarrettSonia PanigrahAuthor Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing DreidelsAuthor Susan BernardoMilind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu KidTara WilliamsVeronica AppletonAuthor Crystal BoweDr. Claudia MayAuthor/Illustrator Aram KimAuthor Sandra L. RichardsErin DealeyAuthor Sanya Whittaker GraggAuthor Elsa TakaokaEvelyn Sanchez-ToledoAnita BadhwarAuthor Sylvia LiuFeyi Fay AdventuresAuthor Ann MorrisAuthor Jacqueline JulesCeCe & Roxy BooksSandra Neil Wallace and Rich WallaceLEUYEN PHAMPadma VenkatramanPatricia Newman and Lightswitch LearningShoumi SenValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci SorellShereen RahmingBlythe StanfelChristina MatulaJulie RubiniPaula ChaseErin TwamleyAfsaneh MoradianLori DeMonia, Claudia Schwam, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls RevolutionSoulful SydneyQueen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty ArabAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot MommyBiracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s EyesDescendant of Poseidon ReadsEducators Spin on it Growing Book by BookHere Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin LeeJump Into a BookImagination Soup,Jenny Ward’s ClassKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsRaising Race Conscious ChildrenShoumi SenSpanish Playground

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

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