Made by Raffi, a children’s book that addresses timely issues such as bullying and gender roles, has recently been shortlisted for the Little Rebel Children's Book Award.
The book, written by Craig Pomranz and illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, tells the story of Rafi, a shy young boy who is often teased at school. After discovering his love of knitting and sewing, he must face taunts from his classmates. Intended for children ages four to seven, Made by Raffi shows how children struggle with gender stereotypes and how they can ultimately overcome their intolerance.
Combining the talents of Pomranz, a singer and actor from New York City, and Chamberlain, the illustrator of Has Anyone Seen Jack?, Look Out He's Behind You, My Two Grannies, and My Two Grandads, who lives in Lyme Regis, UK, the book should resonate with young children learning to embrace their differences.
New book review for ages 5-8 from Children's Books Ireland here: https://t.co/QpB0yuJAtc— RTÉjr (@RTEjr) April 27, 2018
Made by Raffi By Craig Pomranz, Illustrated By Margaret Chamberlain @FL_Childrens @QuartoKids pic.twitter.com/TIrXI1iSgc
Pomranz says the book, which has been published in eight languages and 11 countries, was inspired by a true-life incident. The writer says he wrote the book to support young children who are perceived as "different" because of their appearance or interests.
"When [my godson] was very young, he seemed to have a hard time, and I thought knitting might be one way for him to learn how to focus and find some calm. I bought him some needles and yarn and he really took to it. He started creating things like scarves for everyone I knew. He really liked to knit and sew and did it everywhere, on the bus and even at school," Pomranz told the Latin Post. "Other kids teased him, but he was so focused on his projects he eventually won their respect."
“It is a funny, colorful book with a serious message and will interest those who care about promoting diversity and embracing our differences, as well as all children seeking to fit in,” Pomranz said.
We read ‘Made by Raffi’, a story which celebrates all our different interests and talents. Then we made ‘me’ posters to share what makes us special and what we love about ourselves and our lives! #BeingOurselves #youthmentalhealthweek pic.twitter.com/Vptbdj5F9e— Class 1 (@cp_class1) February 6, 2018
According to StopBullying.gov, children who are bullied can suffer negative physical, school, and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities. These issues often continue into adulthood.
The book has also inspired a song, Different, composed Amanda McBroom, who wrote Bette Midler’s iconic The Rose, and Michele Brourman, who wrote most of the songs in The Land Before Time series. Different can be downloaded here. Pomranz, a critically-acclaimed singer, is currently working on new books, which may include Raffi. There has also been interest in the US in a Raffi television series. He will be performing at the Gardenia Restaurant & Lounge in Los Angeles on November 15 and 16 and at the Kranzberg Arts Center in St. Louis on December 7 and 8.