“Double! Not Half” by Rod D. Gottula
NOTE: This book is a finalist in both the Children's Book and First Book categories.
Rod D. Gottula’s book, “Double! Not Half,” is true. It is relevant. It is timeless. It is a necessary read for all ages and peoples. And, fortunately, it is a High Plains Book Awards finalist in two categories: Children’s Book and First Book.
It is a story which looks deep into the phrase “half-breed” with simplistic honesty. In his book, Rod Gottula tells his childhood story of growing up “half” Japanese on his mother’s side and “half” American on his father’s side.
After his family moves from Montana to Japan for a year, young Rod is called “hafu,” meaning “half of something” in Japanese. Though he is not bothered by this term, his father is. In a most clever turn of phrase, his father states, “You are not half; you are double!” Now, young Rod understands two things: that the world recognizes the separation of races and that his father is brilliant in his ability to add the two backgrounds into a double blessing. His father lovingly tells him, “There is no such thing as half a human being.”
This reviewer read “Double, Not Half” to several of her students. Of course, they all said it was good, that they liked it, that the pictures (by Arthur Lin) were nice. While these are positive statements, no comment struck home as poignantly as this one from a second-grade girl: “I can relate to this book. Other kids look at me like I am weird because I am shy and cannot read very well. But I like to draw and am good at it. I have double what some kids have.” The most important praise for any author is for his or her reader to be able to relate to the story he or she tells. This, then, is the highest praise for Rod D. Gottula and his book “Double! Not Half.”
TerraBeth Jochems is a retired teacher from Billings Public Schools and is now the founder of 3 H Tutoring, a literacy ministry providing help, hope and honor to struggling readers.