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"We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today." Stacia Tauscher Here are four stories that celebrate children who are thoughtful and silly, resilient and joyful.
This brief book has been on a shelf for a long time, and when someone mentioned it, I knew I should read it now. The beautiful thread running through the story comes from Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope Is The Thing With Feathers.” A loving family has had their heartache with lost babies, and Frannie, the young eleven-year-old tells the story that includes her older brother Sean who’s deaf, a friend Samatha who brings up interesting religious questions, and a few classmates who are not always nice create the setting in which Frannie lives and in which she begins to look at things in a new way. Much seems normal, kids being kids, some play, scenes at school, family meals. A new boy who looks white arrives (this is a segregated community) and adds to the way Frannie looks at others. He claims he doesn’t belong across the bridge (where the white people live and go to school). And with his long hair, he takes on the name Jesus. Adding more pepper to the pot of a story is what Jacqueline Woodson does so well, and this boy certainly adds that spice. The book is divided into four parts in which each one reveals the feelings and hopes of Frannie and others in her life. As a read aloud, this will start some great conversations.
It’s joyful and a celebration of all those girls who just want to be girls, not just be sweet and playing with dolls, but that’s okay, too. She’s not supposed to be “sugar and spice” and declares she’s “sweet and sour, not a little flower.” When she races ahead in a race and one in the audience says “He’s going to win.” SHE says, “I’m a girl!” But both genders celebrate at the end. They’re glad “We’re us!” Both story and illustrations by Yasmeen Ismail fill with action and happiness as this young girl is happy to be just who she is.
In gorgeous mixed media with polymer clay figures pushing out from the page, Suzanne del Rizzo tells the sad story of Sami who must leave his home as so many from Syria have had to do. Not only are they leaving home, but Sami must also leave his beloved pet pigeons. He is devastated, can only think of them as they finally reach the camp and safety. When other children play, not Sami. His sadness has overwhelmed him. The illustrations caused me to pause and admire the detail. One of the first pages shows Sami and his family climbing a hill, but the line of those trailing behind appears so many that the path disappears in the distance. It's both beautiful and shocking to visualize the many, many who have to leave. The village burns in the distance. One day a canary, a dove, and a rose finch fly into camp and flutter around Sami. His joy is shown on one page: "Like feathered brushes they paint the sky with promise and the hope of peace." The next pages show that he is finding happiness again, with his birds and flying kites with friends, and the end shows Sami welcoming a new child. It's a beautiful story that focuses on one thing to represent all that children lose as they are forced to leave their homes. In an author's note, among other numbers, the author shares that when this book was published, 6.5 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, half of those are children.
It’s a fictional story but based on the truth of Mayan weavers in Guatemala who have begun weaving plastic bags cut into strips in order to have more products to sell. In the story, young Ixchel (ee-SHELL) begs her mother more than once to be allowed to help with the weaving. She is turned down because there is little yarn; she is too young. Finally she notices the colorful plastic bags that blow around the village and on the paths to and from home. She gets an idea, to cut strips and weave them. The weaving looks beautiful, a rainbow! I imagine many of you have seen these colorful mats and bags sold in some stores. The book’s proceeds will go to an organization called Mayan Hands, a Free Trade group from Guatemala. The book is written in both English and one of the Mayan languages.
Curently - The Seventh Most Important Thing - Shelley Pearsall & I just bought Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Textbook. I've read her Encylopedia and used it often as a mentor text for my middle school students.Now I can read and remember Amy.