Emma just moved to a new school and was sure no one would like her. Her hair was too plain, her dress was too plain, even her lunch was too plain. Several kids opened conversations, but Emma assumed they were better than her and didn’t respond. The class learned to make peace cranes and when Emma returned to her desk, she found a desk full of cranes with personal notes. She began to think that, “maybe, just maybe, me is enough!” A wonderful story that gives voice to all the ways kids think no one will like them. Included in the book are a pack of origami sheets and instructions on how to make a peace crane to share with others.
Before the words begin, the story begins with illustrations showing young Wilson finding a phone number for a neighborhood fix-it program for the elderly. Knowing this, he goes home and tells Gigi he will paint her house “orange and yellow like the sun.” She replies, “I will like that. But today, you are all the sunshine I need.” He tells his neighbors one day he will fix Gigi’s windows, put up a fence and repair her balcony, and they all agree that will be wonderful. Then, ‘one day’ is here, and all the neighbors show up to do the things Wilson said would happen. A story of love and earnestness, sprinkled with a quiet repetition building up to the ‘one day’. An inspiring family story, as well as a story about programs made to help the elderly, people with disabilities and those unable to afford to repair their house.
I am Gandhi
By Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017
Brad Meltzer knows how to write biographies that bring young readers right into the heart of the person featured.
In I am Gandhi, we learn Gandhi was afraid of snakes, not good at sports and ran home so people wouldn’t make fun of him. Even though he read lots of books, he wasn’t good at school. The book goes on to tell about all the social injustices he experienced as an Indian in South Africa. One day he decided to do something about it. He made his first speech and formed the Natal Indian Congress. Most importantly, he came up with Satyagraha, outlining peaceful methods to changing the social injustices. Written so young minds can understand how and why his simple methods resulted in change, this is an inspiring story about how an ordinary person made a change in the world.
Meltzer has sold more than a million non-fiction books for young readers. Look for his other inspiring, ‘hero’ stories.
This is the most fun, most genuine story about a bilingual girl dealing with her quirky likes I’ve ever read.
She has brown skin, like her cousin Tato, but she has hair ‘the color of fire’. She doesn’t match. Her peanut butter and jelly burritos don’t match. Even her drawings don’t match. One day she decides to match, but wearing only one color results in the most boring day ever. Fortunately, her teacher writes her a note affirming Marisol is simply marvelous. Loving her mis-matched self again, she searches the dog pound for a puppy perfect for her—mis-matched! Lovely story and moving illustrations.
Chee-Kee is fresh, clear and true. In simple words and drawings, we follow the Loo family of Pandas who arrive at Bearland, looking and living very differently from the bears of Bearland. Chee-Kee, the young son, notices the differences and feels uncomfortable. He tries to change to be less noticeable, but that doesn’t work. He stays alone, until one day a soccer ball gets stuck in a tree. Immediately Chee-Kee begins fashioning a bamboo pole, vaulting up to knock down the ball. Everyone cheers and from then on, the Loo family members fit in just fine and the bears take on new activities brought over by the Loo family.
While this story could be ‘cheesy’, it isn’t. The drawings and story support each other to make it work. The pole vaulting gives a nod to the author’s father who played in the 1960 and 1964 Olympics. There is a richness to the story that seems to come from living through this kind of experience. Cheers to author/illustrator Sujean Rim for crafting this wonderful story.
An intriguing story asking if you were to immigrate to a new country and could only take what would fit in a suitcase, what would you take.
A teacher shared with her class that her great-grandmother came on a boat with just a suitcase. She shared what her great-grandmother brought, then she asked the students what they would bring if they left. We visit the rooms of eight children to see what they would take, what they would leave, and why.
Written in rhyme, the author Jamie Lee Curtis gets philosophical saying, who you are it isn’t just what you’ve got, but part what you learn and part what you’re taught. A thinker of a book. Something both child and parent can discuss.
An endearing story, masterfully told. A good read for a cold day snuggle under the blankets
Sophia and Mrs. Goldman make knitted hats. Sophia, who tried to learn how to knit last year, makes pom-poms for the hats Mrs. Goldman knits. Ever generous, Mrs. Goldman gives away the hats off her own head to keep others warm. Sophia worries Mrs. Goldman will get sick. At last she decides to knit her a hat. She works on it night and day and when it is done it is bumpy and lumpy and holey! She can’t give it to Mrs. Goldman, it looks like a monster and will scare Mrs. Goldman’s dog. She thinks and thinks until at last her heart grows bigger and lighter, like a balloon. She knows exactly what to do to complete the hat for Mrs. Goldman.
Illustrator G. Brian Karas captures the struggles Sophia experiences and how she works though them to show her love to Mrs. Goldman.
A poignant story about Pablo and his sister Sofia who survive by going to the garbage dump every day to salvage recyclable waste. A glimpse into a life most of us do now know, but plenty of children across the world do.
Bickering, like most brother and sisters do, Pablo and Sofia scurry off to treasure mountain. The truck is coming! Sofia rushes to the front. Sofia finds a blue boot. When Pablo says it’s too big, she says, “That’s good. You can wear it longer.” They cull through the garbage looking for scraps of paper and plastic their mother can sell for recycling. If they get enough, maybe their mama can buy half a chicken for dinner. Pablo finds a book and yearns to read, but practical Sofia scoffs, “Reading won’t fill your stomach!”
Pablo finds a gold chain. Maybe he can get a book. Soon Filthy-Face arrives and all the children flee like wild rabbits. Sofia gets away, but Filthy-Face snatches Pablo’s things. Sofia is angry he did not give the chain to her and now it is gone, but is it?
A refreshing look into the lives of the very poor and how they find their own joy and happiness. Ideal for discussions.
In a classroom setting, a teacher asks students what they thought made their family special. One girl turned red and worried that her family was not like the others. Then one by one, each child shares what their family is like and, of course, some are giant, some are gay, some are deep, some are multi-racial, some have disabilities, etc. She was finally able to share that she has a foster mom. A gentle, safe exploration of how so many families are different. Charming, educational, sweet, without the slightest hint that the reader is ‘learning’. Lovely book.
Written in poems, readers learn how Ezra Jack Keats bravely pioneered books in 1962 about African-American kids’ experience in the city. Born of poor Jewish immigrant parents, Ezra faced prejudice early. Drawn to be an artist, his father supported Ezra’s interests as much as he could with leftover paints. Just when Ezra managed to get a scholarship for college, his dad died, and he had to earn a living to support his family. Enlisting in the Air Force for World War II, he made posters, booklets, charts, maps and art. After the war, he returned to the same prejudices and decided to rearrange his name. After he successfully illustrated a couple children’s books, the editors invited him to write and illustrate his own story. He created a story of Peter, a ‘brown-sugar boy’. In 1962, his book, The Snowy Day, led to six others.
The book takes you down a delightful lane sharing how Ezra came to do his books and how much kids enjoyed them. Illustrations used are similar to Ezra Jack Keats style. A great reminiscent look down memory lane for parents, a great introduction to a writer/artist for children.