|Image from Amazon.com|
This is the story of two boys are the same, same, but different. Although Elliot lives in America and Kailash in India, the pen pals discover their similarities through letters and drawings. They both take the bus to school, although one is a yellow bus and the other powered by bicycle. They both live in cities, although the sights on the streets differ. The book ends with the words, “We’re best friends…even though we live in two different words. Or do we?"
The illustrations are combination of childlike drawings and paper collage. Pages are marked with an E (Elliot) or K (Kailash) to make it clear which world the pages are depicting. The pictures show the color and life of the separate locations and the simple, descriptive text draws your attention to the differences and similarities. Although Kosstecki-Shaw points out the cultural differences, she does so in a very positive and celebratory way.
A few years ago my mother began describing objects, people, and places with the phrase, “It's the same…but different.” It became a family joke and consequently we found out that in many Southeast Asian countries “Same, same, but different” is a common phrase used to compare items or cultures. You might say that your shoes that look like Nikes (but aren’t) would be same, same, but different. Or that many cultures celebrate the New Year, but that the celebrations are same, same, but different. Naturally, when I saw this book on the library shelf I knew it was destined for my book bag.
|Image from Dancing Elephant Studios|
This book is great for preschool through early grade school children, especially in conjunction with geography, social studies, or a pen pal unit. Pull out a world map or globe and point out the U.S. and India. Talk about how many miles it is between the two countries. The two boys talk about what it looks like where they live. Ask the children what they see on their street and make a list of their responses. Point out that even people who live in the same geographic area will have differences in what they see out their window or on their way to school.
Elliot and Kailash also compare their alphabets (I think Kailash uses the Hindi alphabet in the book. Please let me know if I’m mistaken). Print out the alphabets of different languages and pass them around for the kids to compare and contrast. Count the letters in the different languages. How many of them have more or less than 26 letters? Practice writing different letters.
For fun, learn the handshake that Elliot uses to say hello to his friends. Try some of these handshaking games.