Same, Same but Different

Written and Illustrated by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw


This story, which is planned for 2nd graders, is about a young boy named Elliot who lives in America. Elliot exchanges letters with a pen pal who lives in Nepal. They write back and forth and realize that though their worlds are very different, they are actually quite similar.

2012 South Asia Book Award winner

Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award

About the author

By going to the link listed above, you can access Jenny's personal blog and biography.

Jenny, from a young age, has always been creative and has always loved to draw. She says she was inspired by many great teachers who challenged and encouraged her to respond to her assignments in her own creative ways. Jenny says that when she was younger her dad traveled all over the world, places including India, Africa, and Europe. She collected paper money from all these different places. At 19, Jenny went to art school in Kansas City and after that, got hired at Hallmark as a card designer. She decided to take a leave of absence after 7 years working there and moved to Nepal. She quickly made the 15 strangers she was living with, her family and her new 'little friends' from India and Nepal inspired her book Same, Same but Different. In this story, the reader is introduced to customs that are different in Nepal. The boy who lives in Nepal has 23 people in his family living together, has cattle and other farm animals that his family owns, the people there ride on top of animals for some transportation, the 'bus' he rides to school is a cart on a bike, and he shows how their alphabet is different and how they say 'hello' is different. This is just some of how Nepal culture is shown to Elliot, the boy writing to him from America. Through researching the customs and traditions of Nepal, I realize that it is very similar to that of India, seeing as how they are neighboring countries. Hindu is spread widely throughout India and Nepal. Yoga is very much practiced as it is shown in the book. Close families are a very important feature in Nepal, just like it is shown in the book with so many family members living together. There is so much color in Nepal in real life and I really like how that is reflected in the illustrations. The author did not talk about the caste system or arranged marriages, which is a good thing, but she does give kids a basic idea about where this boy comes from and how he compares and differs to Elliot.

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Same, Same, but Different

Read Aloud Presentation

Prior to reading:

"I'm going to sit on the floor with all of you because there is a lot to see in the illustrations. What is an illustration?"

"Yes, it is a drawing or picture."

"Can someone raise their hand and tell me by looking only at the front cover, what the book is going to be about?"

"Can someone raise their hand and tell me what they notice that looks the same or different between the two places on the front cover?"

"This book was written by a woman who is an artist. Her father has traveled all over the world, which made her want to do her own traveling. She went to another country and lived there for a year and was inspired by the young children she met there to write this book. Let's read the story and find out where she went to be inspired."

Reading Book

During reading:

"Can someone raise their hand and tell me what they notice is different between these two trees that the boys are climbing, and what is the same?"

"Do you think that the boys are becoming good friends even though they are far away from each other? Thumbs up? Thumbs down?"

Reading Book

"A great river flows through his village. We are going to take a closer look at this word. What do you think a village is? Look closely at this picture and talk to your shoulder partner about what you notice about Kailash's village."

(Hold up big green sign with the word 'village' on it. Place sticky notes that show words that relate to 'village' on the green sign and post on wall for kids to see.)

Reading Book

"Someone raise their hand and tell me something you notice about how Kailash's village looks different from Elliot's city."

Reading Book

"Kailash's favorite class is yoga. Does anyone know what yoga is?"

(Hold up big green sign with the word 'yoga' on it and post on wall.)

"Yoga comes from a Hindu practice. Hindu is the biggest religion in Nepal which is where Kailash lives. During yoga, people hold their bodies in certain positions and do this for relaxing and breathing control. This is even practiced here in the United States at work out gyms."

(Place sticky notes that relate to 'yoga' all over green sign for kids to see.)

Reading Book

After reading:

"Now that we have finished the story, thumbs up if you think Elliot and Kailash are more alike than different. More different than the same?"

"Do you think that you would like to write to a pen pal from another country?"

"Let us go back to our two vocabulary words, village and yoga, these are two words we learned about Kailash. We are going to make a word chain to help us understand these words better. I have started it for you, with the words 'yoga' and 'village' at the top and I would like you to fill in the two bubbles below the word with other words that you think describe 'yoga' or 'village'. Then, in the circle out to the side of the page, I want you to draw a picture to help you remember what the word means."

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Strengths of the Book

Same, Same but Different offers children a visual of how other children around the world might live. They realize that children in other countries do not have the same things we have here. This includes the amount of cars, the buildings look different, classrooms and buses are different, typical number of family members living together. This book can also introduce children to knowing what it could be like to have a friend on the other side of the world. The illustrations in the story are very detailed and colorful, there is also not too much text and this allows for the pictures to tell most of the story. Same, Same but Different is also written by an author who has been to the country and interacted with the native people while she lived there, and she even learned the phrase 'same, same but different' from the young children there. The side notes in the book also mention that the people where the author was living love to compare lifestyles to those that are different from them.
Skyping with Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw


This book was selected because most of the kids in my class are Caucasian. I wanted them to be able to see themselves, through Elliot, how they could learn about someone who is different from them, in this case, a pen pal and writing to someone from across the world. Many of the kids did not know what a village was. They are use to a city, so getting to talk about this word helped them to understand that some people in other countries live in much smaller communities and transportation and animals that one would see is very different than what they are use to. Most of them, however, knew what yoga was but they did not know where it came from.

I feel that the strengths of my presentation was being able to get on their level. What I mean by that is I sat on the floor with them so they could be up close to the pictures, and I wanted better to interact with them in their conversations. Lots of the kids enjoyed pointing at the pictures and being able to put their fingers on the page to show what they were noticing. Also, I thought that putting sticky notes on my signs helped them to understand what the vocabulary words meant and drawing a picture in the activity helped them to visualize what we were trying to describe as a class. The plan also fit perfectly within my time frame.

Next time, I will definitely go over CHAMPS better. The kids have so much energy, which I love, but they need to understand how to control their energy better. The teacher lets them get away with a lot of movement and talking out more than she should, so I will for sure set my expectations more clearly before I start another lesson. Also, I needed to hold the book up higher to make sure all kids could see pictures. My teacher even mentioned to me that when I introduce a new word, instead of asking what it is, I should give a short definition and act it out. I will do that for next time.

Implementing multicultural children's literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has helped me find ways that I can show the students other cultures and help them learn about how other people are different than them, but also how they can be very similar. Places, families, school, transportation, and animals may all be different than what my kids are use to, but through culturally diverse books, I can bring a new culture into the classroom and let the kids see for themselves the comparisons and differences between how they live and someone new.