Review from the Intrepid Museum's Amadella Clarke (Brooklyn, NY)
At the Intrepid Museum in New York City, young children 5-7 years old, gathered for a reading of We Are One at the Falling of the Sun, by Tasha Ina Church. They were instantly mesmerized by the vibrant pictures that illuminate the artful storytelling. The children seemed to feel the sorrows and joys of the characters as the characters discovered and perused what matters: love. The children asked questions like: “Why can’t he be up there?” And: “Why can’t she be down there?” I loved their curiosity! They explored the otherworldly creatures that are all too human: mermen and mermaids, guppies, the sun princess. Later, we created our own sea creatures from clay!
During the story, I interjected, asking the children what was the same about the creatures and what was different. Comparisons are a fun, simple way to open young minds. It can allow them to think about other classmates and about themselves.
At the end of the story the children were in awe of the explanation of why the sun meets the ocean. One boy, a seven year old, stated, “Well, it doesn’t mean that that’s why the sun actually meets the ocean; it’s more to show that they can live together, at least some of the times.” At least some of the time…Cultures are beautiful and indeed this book is a celebration of that beauty. It is also beautiful when we can come together, at least some of the time. The realization that we are one enables us to celebrate our uniqueness and see ourselves in the big picture.
Later, Mathew, a 14 year old who has attended the museum’s summer program for many years but now helps out, stated:
“As I was reading the book, I began to piece the story together. Like most people, the protagonist is searching for more, that most believe he will never find. When he meets his love and sees that others disapprove, he sees that he is being denied access to the one he loves simply because they are different. At this point I saw that the leading motive of the story is diversity and tolerance. This book gives children a good look at the world and one of it's common problems, intolerance. Beautifully written, beautiful pictures, and a great story.”
We Are One at the Falling of the Sun is a teacher’s dream- an invitation to the imagination, to the limitless of the mind, to our uniqueness and similarities. While perhaps intended for an audience somewhere in the middle, the group of 5-7 year olds, and the 14 year old reader, gained a great deal from this book. The book is a tool and opens the door to serious discussions…and seriously cool art projects! It meets you, the reader, where you are and takes you someplace you might not have expected.
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