Same, Same, but Different

Multicultural Book Project: Presented by Megan Graham

Book Introduction:

Title: "Same, Same, but Different"

Author & Illustrator: Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Topic or theme of book: Regardless of where we geographically live, we all have similarities that bring us together.


  • 2012 South Asia Book Award (winner)
  • Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award

"Art and storytelling dance seamlessly together. Kids are natural storytellers … and they are naturally curious. … I think this is where their desire to read and write begins. This visual and sensory learning is a powerful combination in developing literacy." - Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Information about the Author and Illustrator:

On her website, Dancing Elephant Studio, Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw reminisces on how she enjoyed drawing at a young age and always knew she wanted to be an artist. She expresses the role that teachers had in her life, as she had the opportunity to share her creativity in many of her classes. After graduating from high school, Jenny attended Kansas City Art Institute and was later hired as a gretting card artist at Hallmark. Although she truly enjoyed being an artist for Hallmark, she had a lifelong dream of traveling and decided to pursue it by traveling around to a variety of different places. While traveling, she became a freelance illustrator and worked on a variety of projects. For the past five years she has been teaching at American Greetings, The Illustration Academy, and absolutely loves it. She wrote her first book, "My Travelin' Eye" in 2008 and her second book, "Same, Same, but Different", was published in 2011. Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw was inspired to write and illustrate a multicultural book through her travels around the world. According to her blog, her love for traveling started at a young age because her dad would often travel and share his stories with her. More specifically, she spent time in Nepal and India, which helped her obtain a realistic representation of this culture and create the picture book, "Same, Same, but Different". The title of the book came from a popular phrase that she heard people share during her travels about different cultures. Furthermore, during her travels, she spent an abundance of time at a school called Sunshine School and organized an art exchange with students in the United States. This real-life example became the main focal point for her book, "Same, Same, but Different". During her free time, Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw enjoys spending time with her husband and their daughter, Tulsi, at their home in New Mexico.

Interview with Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

After receiving the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award, Jenny shared her thoughts on the book, her traveling life, and enthusiasm for receiving the award. You can find information regarding the interview at

"One Picture is worth a thousand words" -Chinese Proverb

This represents an illustration from the book when the two pen-pals are discussing how each of them gets to school. Elliot and Kailash both attend school, but get to school in two different ways. The media for this illustration was acrylics, crayon, and tissue paper. This specific illustration indicates how different their transportation might be, but still allows them to get to the same places. The contrast provided by the illustration gives the reader insight on how the two cultures differ.

Criteria for High Quality Multicultural Literature

  1. This book includes characters with a cultural group or two or more cultural groups who interact substantially and authentically. As already shared before, the title of the book came from a popular phrase that was repeated by individuals in India to describe how cultures are different, but similar at the core. This idea of cultures being different, but still the same is represented in the book, as we learn about Elliot's life in America and Kailash's life in India. These two cultural groups interact substantially, as the book remains focused on comparing their two lives through a series of illustrations and the text. The illustrations also represent the two culture groups interacting authentically, as the boys give a realistic representation of what characters their age would like to do or be knowledgeable about in terms of their culture. For example, through the boys exchanging letters and pictures, the reader visualizes how they like to do the same activity, but have different trees to climb in, which gives a realistic representation of their different, but still the same worlds they live in.
  2. Characters authentically reflect the distinct cultural experiences of a specfic cultural group. Family can play a critical role in a culture and two different families are depicted in the story, as one lives in America and the other in India. The characters authentically describe their family as a way to express their cultural experiences of a particular cultural group. Elliot describes his family as the people in his immediate family, such as his mom, dad, and sister. However, Kailash describes his family as including his grandparents, aunts, and cousins. These characters authentically reflect cultural norms for their specific cultural groups, as it is more common in the Indian culture to have more extended family living under one household. Although the characters authentically reflect a specific culture group when describing their families, they also show authenticity when sharing their different alphabets, as their languages reflect their specific culture groups. Furthermore, they discuss languages when they are explaining how each of them say hello. Kailash says "namaste" and Elliot says hello and does a handshake or bump. The interpersonal and social interactions that are acceptable helps with explaining their culture experiences. Finally, the boys share their favorite subjects in school to give the reader insight on some of their experiences. Kailash prefers to express his creativity in yoga and Elliot likes to express himself in art class. The characters authentically depict their family, language, and their favorite subject in school to explain specific details of their culture groups.
  3. The setting is representative of and consistent with contemporary time, place, and situation of a particular culture. The setting of this story is both in India and the United States. These two places are consistent with the contemporary time, place, and situation of the two cultures. For example, Kailash shares that a river goes through his town, the sun is hot, and peacocks are present around the town. Contrary to this setting, Elliot explains that there are tall buildings in his city and there are many cars on the streets. The illustrations demonstrate how this setting represents a contemporary time and place. Furthermore, the setting is focused on each of the main character's experiences. The reader has the opportunity to view each of these cultures from the lens of a young boy. Overall, the setting for the story seems to be relevant, realistic, and reflect the present time period.

Teaching Application

Grade Level: 1st Grade

Standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.9 Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.

Objective: The student will be able to compare and contrast the experiences and culture norms of the two main characters.

Lesson Procedure:

  • The lesson will begin with the teacher asking the students to individually draw a picture of their family. Once the students have completed their drawing, the teacher will ask the students to hold their pictures up above their heads and have the students look around the classroom at their classmates' work. The teacher will ask the students, "What differences and similarities do you notice about our drawings?" The teacher will explain that everyone has a different family, but we all have someone that we consider to be a part of our family. Then, the teacher will show the students a picture in the story, "Same, Same, but Different", that shows each of the boy's families.
  • Then, the teacher will share with the students that they are going to read a story about two different boys from two different places who have many similarities. Next, the teacher will show a map of the two different places, India and the United States, to help the students understand the setting of the story.
  • As the teacher reads the story, the students will be asked questions about how the two boys are similar and different. "Both of the boys like to climb trees, but how is this activity different for each of them?", "What do you notice about the places they live?", "What do you notice about the illustrations to represent how Kailash's culture travels around the town?", and "On the last page, what do you notice about the pictures on their walls? Why do you think the two penpals decided their lives were more similar than they originally thought?".
  • After reading the story, the teacher will explain that these two students were pen pals, which means that they wrote letters and drew pictures to one another to learn about each other. The teacher will share that people's lives do not just seem different and similar around the world, but that we all have unique characteristics that make us similar and different to one another.
  • The teacher will explain that the students will have the opportunity to draw a picture of something that makes them different or similar to their classmates while keeping in mind what made Elliot and Kailash similar and different. The students will write one or two sentences about their picture. Then, the teacher will provide each of them with an envelope and they will send them to another first grade classroom at the school and hope to get a letter or drawing back to show how we all have similarities and differences.


Same, Same but Different by megangraham

Works Cited:

Kostecki-Shaw, J. S. (2011). Same, same, but different. (1st ed.). New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company.