A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kamala and Maya's Big Idea is a picture book inspired by real-life events in the childhood of U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris and her sister, Maya, written by Maya's daughter, Meena Harris. It tells the story of when the two sisters got the "big idea" to ask the landlord of their apartment building to turn an unused courtyard into a playground. He said no, but Kamala countered by saying that the building's families could build it, and he gave his permission. The rest of the book shows the community -- kids and grown-ups -- working together to make it happen. Ana Ramírez González's colorful, cheerful illustrations make their hard work look like loads of fun.
What's the story?
Young sisters Kamala and Maya get a notion to turn the empty courtyard of their apartment building into a playground, so Kamala writes the landlord a letter, and Maya draws him a picture, and they take them to him. When he hears KAMALA AND MAYA'S BIG IDEA, he turns them down. So Kamala writes him a longer letter, asking for a slide, swings, and a sandbox, and again he says no. Then they go see him a third time and bring other kids with them, and Kamala says their families will do all the work, and he says he'll allow it. So they take the idea to the neighbors, many of whom say they'd like to help but they can't. But then, one by one, neighbors step up to help in the ways they can. Mr. Green, who works construction, helps build the sandbox. Mrs. Lopez, who works at a garage, brings a used tire to help make a teeter-totter. "No one could do everything. But everyone could do something." Then they hold a bake sale and sidewalk sale to raise money to buy a used slide, and everyone contributes an item to sell. They celebrate with a big potluck. Back matter shows childhood photos of the sisters and one of the sisters and the author today as adults.
Is it any good?
This charming story of not taking no for an answer and organizing to create something positive for the community is a joyful, inspiring example of kid activism. Kamala and Maya's Big Idea shows that kids can be leaders and teach grown-ups what's possible. Readers will also get to know something about who Kamala Harris is, now that she's a candidate to be vice president of the United States, and learn about her roots as a leader from a young age. And they'll be swept up by Ana Ramírez González's kid-like illustrations that show neighbors coming together and working hard to make where they live a better place for everyone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the community project in Kamala and Maya's Big Idea. Can you picture yourself leading a project in your neighborhood? What would you do? Who would you get to help?
Kamala and Maya are sisters, but they work together well. Have you ever worked on a project with your brother or sister? What was it? How did it work out?
Do you think grown-ups should listen when kids have an idea? What big idea do you have?
- Author: Meena Harris
- Illustrator: Ana Ramírez González
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Activism, Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: August 21, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 8
- Number of pages: 32
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: September 25, 2020
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