Award for diversity in Children's Literature


Toni Kohm: Sam besucht Oma und Omi in Großbritannien
(Sam Goes to Visit Grandma and Granny in Great Britain)

This fascinating picture book about diversity will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It follows a week in the life of Sam, who is visiting Grandma and Granny in Great Britain. Sam goes to the construction site with Granny and helps Grandma with her work at the Street Art Festival. Sam learns how Grandma and Granny live in their little town, which is very close to the water and to London, the capital of Great Britain. Life there is exciting and, above all, colourful. This colourfulness can be seen in the book’s pictures and people. The people are all different and yet alike in that they are all valuable. Sam is not described as male or female, giving the reader the freedom to choose Sam’s gender or understand the character as a non-binary person.

The children's picture book "Sam besucht Oma und Omi in Großbritannien" was awarded the KIMI Siegel for diversity in Children's literature.
Jury voice:
A book that helps you to review and overcome prejudices in a fun way.
Review by Tebbie Niminde
The story is primarily about the adventurous visit to the grandparents. Also, other stories are told unobtrusively and in a variety of ways: about life in the big city or sexual orientation. The author does not use personal pronouns [for the main character]. Therefore the reader has the freedom to choose a gender for the main character. And last but not least, thanks to the impressively beautiful illustration, the children experience the importance of diversity.

Review written by Birgit Brockerhoff 
Netzwerk der Regenbogenfamilien Köln (Network of Rainbow Families Cologne)

Toni Kohm’s picture book “Sam goes to visit Grandma and Granny in Great Britain” succeeds in being an enriching gift for all children. The book was rightly awarded the KIMI Siegel 2019 (KIMI Seal 2019; The seal for diversity).
Grandma and Granny are a lesbian and married couple. Two tough lesbians, who are employed and filled with creativity and joie de vivre. We are accompanying Sam on a one-week trip to pay them a visit in Great Britain. Together with Sam we visit Granny’s job, join Grandma on a street art festival and go to the beach. There is even time to catch a glance of the British Royal Family. 
 Pictures from “Sam goes to visit Grandma and Granny in Great Britain”
There is a lot to be discovered on the colourful pictures. I especially like that the people in the pictures are portrayed in a diverse and multifaceted way. Inside the airport we can see a person in a wheelchair, a punk with a colourful mohawk, an elderly black lady, people from all cultures and religions of the world - just like in reality at an airport.
With Grandma and Granny children get to know two women who have grown old and who know what life is all about. This way the book gives girls and boys a feminist perspective of older women - a perspective that is not drenched in clichés and scripted roles, as is usually and too often the case with children’s books (old women wear dresses, knit, bake cakes, etc.). It is not thematised that the women are a couple. It is natural for Sam that Grandma and Granny belong together. 
Sam is a 4-year-old child, who is deliberately kept gender neutral. Girl or boy, or diverse? This completely lies in the eye of the beholder. Sam is Sam, sometimes curious, sometimes tired, just like every other child. The book refrains from personal pronouns and with that gives readers and viewers the freedom to experience the world in the book without constricting standards and templates. 
Alongside this, we also get to learn about England and London through the book, while the English language and English breakfast are also introduced. I really like how children are actively invited to get creative with the book - it can be turned 180 degrees, at times we can try and spot Sam. The open-ended questions invite you to further narrate the pictures for yourself. 
On the last day of Sam’s visit, we join Granny and Grandma at the PRIDE parade in London. “It is a big festival, symbolising that all people are the same.” Yes, that is exactly what this book enchantingly portrays: We humans are diverse and colourful, we are old, we are young, we are white, we are black, we are healthy, we are handicapped, we have a queen or a female chancellor, we eat bacon, sausages and fried eggs for breakfast or we don’t. We are all the same despite all these differences - we all have value.
In the next book, which will hopefully appear soon, we will accompany Sam to Australia, because Grandma and Granny are moving to Sydney soon. I am looking forward to it.

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