Category Archives: Read Aloud

The Book Whisperer Chooses 4 Picture Books for Crime Stoppers

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During the month of September, the Tulsa Press Club is collecting books for readers age 8 – 14. The Tulsa Press Club, https://www.facebook.com/pg/TulsaPressClub/posts/, will give the books to Tulsa Crime Stoppers for distribution through revamped Tulsa World dispensing boxes; the boxes will be in various places around Tulsa. Children are then encouraged to take a book from the box and read. Also, Tulsa Police officers will be reading to children in a variety of places around the city. People are invited to donate new and gently used books for readers age 8 – 14. These locations are accepting donations of books: Tulsa Press Club, Tulsa Crime Stoppers, and City Vet.

Since I have always enjoyed reading, I like to promote reading among all ages. When I learned of the book drive, I wanted to contribute. I purchased four picture books from the South Broken Arrow Library’s book sale to donate.

The middle picture is of Diana Cohn and the third picture is of Amy Cordova.

Namaste! by Diana Cohn and illustrated by Amy Cordova is a beautiful book about Nima Sherpa, a little girl who lives in Nepal where Mt Everest looks down on her village. Nima’s father is a tour guide for many foreign visitors who come to see Mt. Everest, called Chomolongma by the villagers.

Namaste! follows Nima on her journey through the village. As she meets people, she “brings her hands together with her fingers almost touching her chin, bows her head slightly, and says ‘Namaste!’”  Namaste means “the light in me meets the light in you.”

Through Nima’s journey, readers see other villagers and learn about life in Nima’s village. Amy Cordova’s illustrations are colorful and delight the eye.

At the end of the book, readers will find information about Nepal, the Himalayas, the Sherpa people, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, and preserving mountain cultures. Namaste! is truly a book to savor and from which to learn.

Diana Cohn has published seven books for children and has received awards for her work. She continues to have a strong interest in social justice and environmental issues.

Amy Cordova is an artist and art educator. She has won awards for her work as well.

John Stadler’s Catilda takes readers on a journey to find a lost toy, a stuffed bear. Father tucks Catilda into bed and leaves her singing “a song about Ollie,” her bear lost on a trip to the city. Stadler illustrates the book as well. The drawings are whimsical and inviting. The colors are muted shades on one page and darken on another.

Catilda misses Ollie and wants to find him. Unbeknownst to her mother and father, she goes on a night-time journey to find the lost bear. Through the story, we see Catilda being bandied about by a giant wave only to land on a flagpole. She finally reaches The Statute of Liberty and then we see her clutching Ollie to her heart and smiling as she floats on a cloud. See more about John Stadler at this link: http://www.johnstadler.com/.

Haircuts at Sleepy Sam’s by Michael R. Strickland and illustrated by Keaf Holliday portrays three brothers off to get a Saturday haircut. Mother gives them money and hands them written instructions for the barber: “Trim. Keep the hairline natural. Clean back of neck. And please – not too short on the top!” Mark and Randy beg for a different cut saying, “We’re tired of Afro cuts.” Mom is not budging, though.

Before the boys reach the barber shop, they look across the street at the candy store and debate the merits of going there first. They decide, however, they should get to the barber shop first.

Sam calls Mark to sit in the barber’s chair. Sam wants to give the boys a different cut, but they remind him of their mother’s instructions.  However, “Sam smiles to himself and goes to work.” When all three boys have had their haircuts, they return home.

Mom looks at her sons and “a slow smile appears. She laughingly says, “That Sam…. He gave you guys just what you wanted!” The boys have “a bald fade” hair cut and all of them are happy.

Keaf Holliday has created realistic pictures of the three boys and the people they meet on their way to the barber shop. The colors are soft. Each boy is distinctive, but share features as brothers would.

Do All Bugs Have Wings? And Other Questions Kids Have About Bugs by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Cary Pillo will thrill young readers with information about bugs. The format is simple. On each page, we see one or more questions posed by children whose first names and ages appear with the questions. This touch add realism to the questions.

The pages are full of facts, but not so overwhelming that readers will become bored. For example, in answer to the question “how many insects are on Earth today?” readers will discover this answer: “Too many to count! Scientists think there are about 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) insects in the world. There are about 6.8 billion people on Earth. This means there are 1.5 billion insects for each person!”

The book is one to be read and reread. Cary Pillo has illustrated the book with drawings of a wide variety of bugs. The drawings are fun and yet fit with the information on each page.

Suzanne Slade has written a number of children’s books—more than 100! Her background is in mechanical engineering; she wishes to share her passion for science with young readers. See more of her work at this link: https://www.suzanneslade.com/.

Cary Pillo is an award-winning illustrator.

The Book Whisperer Reads a New Take on an Old Favorite

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Troy Wilson, writer, and Ilaria Campana, illustrator, teamed up to create a new version of Little Red Riding Hood: Little Red Reading Hood and the MISREAD Wolf. I have always loved the story of Little Red Riding Hood and even played Little Red Riding Hood in an elementary end-of-school-year play once upon a time. I still have the red hood attached to a cape along with the green apron I wore with it to prove it!

With the word reading in Little Red’s name, one might guess that reading and books will play an important part in the story.  That assumption would be entirely correct. Part of the fun of reading any book involves anticipation.

How many of us look at a title and start to speculate on the book’s contents? The cover art also has a great deal to do with our anticipation of the story as well. Just today, I was reading about some novels and the cover of one, which shall remain unidentified, was so creepy that I knew I would never the read the book. And last week for our library book club, one of my friends put a sticky note over part of the cover because she did not like the picture even though she did read the book.

The cover of Little Red Reading Hood and the MISREAD Wolf gives readers many clues. Books anchor two corners, upper left and lower right. The wolf is in the upper right corner behind a vine and Little Red Reading Hood’s basket is in the lower left corner. In the middle, we see Little Red Reading Hood wearing her hood and sitting cross-legged doing what? Reading a book, of course!

The back cover is equally intriguing. We see Little Red Reading Hood holding her basket and walking up the path to grandmother’s cottage. The mailbox, stuffed with letters, reads Grandma. Campana has made the woods prominent by drawing tall, slender trunks towering over the house.

Regardless of age, readers do anticipate contents from looking at the cover and the title. That’s part of the fun of reading the book too. Then once we have completed the book, we can think about how closely we imagined the story from the title and the cover or how far off the mark we might have been.

Little Red Reading Hood and the MISREAD Wolf follows along with the original story including Little Red Reading Hood making a treat for her grandmother who is ill and encountering a wolf in the woods as she walks to grandmother’s house. The wolf is even in grandmother’s bed.

However, the story deviates from the original Little Red Riding Hood all the way through as well.  Readers must discover for themselves what those differences are between Little Red Riding Hood and Little Red Reading Hood and the MISREAD Wolf. That discovery will be a pleasure to experience over and over as one reads alone and to others.

Troy Wilson has written seven books. Many of the adjectives used to describe Wilson’s books include fun, ridiculously entertaining, sensational, playful, and imaginative. See his other books and more about Wilson at this link: http://www.troystory.ca/. The item below is from Wilson’s Web site and gives a hint into his sense of humor.

Be sure to look up Ilaria Campana’s Web site too: http://astound.us/artists/ilaria-campana. Her artwork is astounding.

The Book Whisperer Reviews a Touching Story of WWI

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I read about all sorts of books and I should try to keep track of where I read about a book when I request it from the library, but that would involve a system and discipline. Instead, I simply put in the request and wait for the book to arrive at my branch. Recently, I read an article about a variety of children’s books, picture books and juvenile titles. One of those books was Captain Rosalie by Timothee de Fombelle, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, and translated into English by Sam Gordon.

De Fombelle has written several novels for young adults as well as plays, even designing and building his own sets for the dramas.  Critics describe de Fombelle’s writing as “powerful, exciting, unusual, and beautiful.”

Margaret Kennelly, writing for School Library Journal, says, “Readers are quickly drawn into the world Rosalie describes through first-person perspective.” Kennelly goes on to praise Captain Rosalie as “a great hi-lo reader to introduce the destructive aftermath of WWI and to learn how to deal with loss.”

Isabelle Arsenault’s elegant drawings enhance de Fombelle’s text. She uses mostly shades of gray with splashes of color, especially for Rosalie’s red hair.

While Rosalie’s father is away fighting in WWI, Rosalie and her mother live simply in a two-room house. Rosalie’s mom works in a factory, so she takes Rosalie to the nearby school where Rosalie waits for the teacher to arrive. Rosalie’s mother has arranged with the teacher to allow Rosalie to sit in the back of the room while the older children have their classes.

Rosalie tells readers on page one that “I have a secret. The others think I’m drawing in my notebook when I’m sitting on the little bench underneath the coat hooks at the back of the classroom.” Then she explains her secret: “I am spying on the enemy. I am preparing my plan. I am Captain Rosalie.”

Though she is disguised as a five-year-old girl, Rosalie has a mission and knows she will receive a medal for her accomplishments. She keeps quiet and tells no one of her mission. She knows that she must work in secret.

Timothee de Fombelle has created a moving story of a little girl and her mother waiting for news from a soldier father and husband. The war creates surprising heroes and puts Rosalie on a mission of secrecy. Captain Rosalie is a touching story, not just for K-grade three readers, but for all readers. Isabelle Arsenault’s drawing add another depth to the story.

The Book Whisperer Reviews a Juvenile Book

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Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, an Being Yourself by Matthew Gray Gubler is a story for children and adults. Rumple Buttercup lives alone “hiding underground in a rain drain right by a garbage can in the middle of town.” It’s a story of belonging.

Why does Rumple Buttercup live in hiding? Well, the answer is simple. He is a monster with “5 crooked teeth, 3 strands of hair, green skin, and his left foot was slightly bigger than his right.”  Rumple fears that if anyone ever sees him, the person would “be scared, run away, or throw rocks at his head.”

To avoid any and all of these reactions, Rumple stays hidden, but he watches everything that goes on above ground from his rain drain. Rumple often pulls a banana peel from the garbage can and puts it on his head so he can lie partially exposed by the garbage can looking like more of the garbage.

Rumple looks forward to the 17th Saturday of summer because that is the Annual Pajama Jam Cotton Candy Pancake Parade. It’s the one day he can come onto the street because with all the activity of the parade, no one will notice him. Still, he wants his banana peel disguise.

When he reaches into the garbage can to find a banana peel, what does he discover? The can is EMPTY! Now, what will he do? He looks forward to this day each year and now he is reduced to remaining underground watching from his rain drain.

To avoid spoiling the story, I suggest that you read Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, an Being Yourself. Rumple may be weird, but aren’t we all a bit weird in our own ways?

Matthew Gray Gubler’s Web site offers viewers great fun: http://www.matthewgraygubler.com/. It opens to an animated page with “Greetings from Gubler Land.”

In the back of Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, an Being Yourself, readers can learn more about Gubler: “Matthew Gray Gubler writes, directs, paints, acts, and knows magic. He has a squeaky left knee, the posture of an earthworm, and he looks like a noodle when he dances.”

The Book Whisperer Took a Chance on a Dollar Tree Book

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Interested in a fable which promotes “the power of kindness, generosity, compassion, and community”? George Saunders, author, and Lane Smith, illustrator, have teamed up to give readers, old and young, a fable for our times: The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip.

Now, this Dollar Tree find fits the bill for those looking for a little encouragement in a world too often dark and full of grief and bad news. I must admit, too, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, 84 pages, is the first Saunders’ book I have read all the way through even though I own copies of his short stories, Tenth of December, and his novel, Lincoln at the Bardo.

Frip is a seaside village; only three families live there: the Romos, the Ronsens, and Capable, a little girl, and her father. Frip’s economy is totally reliant upon goats, their milk and cheese, for its survival. As we know, agricultural communities thrive and decline with the farmers’ success or failure.

The problem the Romos, the Ronsens, and Capable and her father face with their goat economy lies in the persistent gappers, nasty, round, little orange beasts which move by wriggling on their bellies—which, to me, sounds very snake-like except that gappers are round.

The gappers love goats and if left undeterred, the gappers will cause the goats to fall over and stop producing milk. Thus, the town would be left bereft. Every day, the children, Capable, Gilbert and Robert Romo and Beverly and Gloria Ronsen must snag the gappers by brushing them off the goats and into their gapper bags. Then the children empty the bags of gappers into the sea.

The children return to their homes, falling into bed exhausted, and the gappers sink to the bottom of the sea only to wriggle their way back to the shore where they infest the goats once more. Then one of the gappers who has a slightly larger brain than the others declares that they would have less distance to cover if they all converged at Capable’s home because it is closer to the shore than the other two houses.

Thus, all the gappers then infest Capable’s goats, much to her dismay. The Romos and the Ronsens, however, are delighted that they are now safe from gappers. In fact, Bea Romos hires strong men to move her home to the edge of her property closer to the Ronsens’ home and further from Capable’s home. Below, a goat is covered with gappers.

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Readers can quickly see where this story is headed. Capable is exhausted all of the time trying to protect her goats so that she and her father can survive. After trying all she can and without success, Capable writes letters to the Romos and the Ronsens asking for their help. Both families tell Capable that she must work harder so she can be safe the way they are. They do not acknowledge that the distance from their homes to the shore is the difference in their good luck and Capable’s bad luck.

In the picture on the left, Capable tries to protect her goats by covering them. On the right, readers see what happens when gappers overwhelm the goats: they fall down and stop giving milk.

In desperation, Capable devises a new plan. Her father is reluctant to go along with her plan because it involves CHANGE! He likes things to stay the same. Still, Capable persists and makes a big change in their lives. Her big change also results in the gappers re-infesting the goats which belong to the Romos and the Ronsens. Now, who is not working hard enough?

Read The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip in order to learn about Capable’s solution to her problem and how she treats the Romos and the Ronsens despite their unkindness to her and her father.

George Saunders graduated from college with a degree in exploration geophysics from the Colorado School of Mines. So how did he become a best-selling writer? While working in Sumatra, he filled his suitcase with books so he could read during his two weeks off work. He worked four weeks and then was off two weeks. After working for a year and a half in the oil fields, he returned home and worked at a number of menial jobs until he read an article in People Magazine which profiled writers Jay McInernry and Raymond Carver. In that article, Saunders learned about an MFA program, so he applied to Syracuse and began studying with Tobias Wolff and Douglas Unger. Saunders maintains a Web site at this link: http://www.georgesaundersbooks.com/home.

Smith

Illustrator Lane Smith received a Caldecott Honor award in 2012 for Grandpa Green. Two of my favorite books by Smith include Math Curse and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. See more of Smith’s art work and more about him at his Web site: http://www.lanesmithbooks.com/LaneSmithBooks/Lane_Smith_Books.html.

 

The Book Whisperer Praises a Treasure

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Emily Dickinson: Poetry for Kids is illustrated by Christine Davenier and edited by Susan Snively, Ph.D. While the title suggests the book is for kids, I would argue that it is for anyone! Davenier’s beautiful illustrations enhance Dickinson’s spare poems. Certainly, Dickinson’s poem stand on their own, requiring no illustrations, but Davenier has provided a world of color and animals to accompany the poems.

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Purchase Emily Dickinson: Poetry for Kids for yourself and another one to give to a child. It is a charming book that you can read over and over, always finding new pleasure in the poems themselves and the illustrations.

Smively

Snively has also included definitions for words children might not recognize. They are discreetly placed at the bottom of the page so they do not interfere with the words or the illustrations.

Susan Snively is a Dickinson scholar and has chosen the poems well. The poems she chose are ones children will remember as they continue to read Dickinson. Snively maintains a Web site at https://susansnively.com/.

Davenier

See more of Christine Davenier’s work on her site: https://www.christinedavenier.com/.

The Book Whisperer Recommends

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Today’s blog takes a little different turn in reminding readers about some recent recommendations.

According to Fernando Pessoa, “Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.” If you are looking for some ways to ignore the current life we are living, the Book Whisperer has some inviting suggestions for you.

Hillman

If you would like to escape to a small town in Australia in the 1960s, pick up The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman. Tom Hope, a farmer, feels blissfully happy with his wife Trudy and his farm. Unfortunately, Trudy has not taken well to being a farmer’s wife, and she leaves Tom. When she returns some months later, she tells Tom she is pregnant with another man’s child, but Tom, the bighearted man he is, tells her he will take care of her and will love the child as his own. Of course, readers know that Trudy has left once and so she is unlikely to be content on the farm. The story moves from Trudy’s second departure with her leaving Peter, her son, in Tom’s loving care and Tom’s meeting Hannah Babel. Hannah, a Hungarian Jew, is a survivor of Auschwitz seeking a new life in Australia. Hillman includes a love story, but The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted is not a romance. Life is not all moonlight and roses for Tom and Hannah, but they do find they can build a life together despite the blows they have taken.

Demirtas

Would you like a trip to Turkey, but without the dangers of current travel there? Selahattin Demirtaş, a Turkish lawyer and activist, has written Dawn, a book of short stories. Demirtaş is currently in prison as an enemy of the state of Turkey. The stories are raw and differ widely from one another. They depict people in terrible situations and yet also show their spirit to survive and overcome. Demirtaş wrote the stories from his jail cell and managed to get them out of the prison to be published. Dawn is a book worth reading.

Youngson

What about a trip to England and Denmark? Meet me at the Museum, Anne Youngson’s debut novel written in the form of letters between two strangers, will certainly engage readers. Tina Hapgood is a lonely British farmer’s wife. Her children are grown and her husband is distant. She and her long-time friend Bella always planned to go to Denmark to see the Tollund Man. In middle school, they learned of The Bog People, a book about the Tollund Man. As so often happens, they both married, had children, and first one thing and then another has kept them from fulfilling their promise to each other. Then Bella dies of cancer, leaving Tina thinking about what might have been. On impulse, Tina writes a letter to Professor Glob, who wrote The Bog People, and sends it to the museum which houses the Tollund Man. The professor has died, but Anders Larsen, the curator of the museum, responds to Tina’s letter. Thus, a correspondence begins between them. As the letters continue, Tina and Anders open up about themselves and their lives. Meet me at the Museum is a delightful book.

Jeffers

And now for something completely different, an imaginary journey: This Moose Belongs to ME by Oliver Jeffers takes readers on a picture-book journey. Jeffers is a talented artist who draws realistic landscapes with Wilfred, a young boy, and Marcel, a moose, drawn in child-like fashion against the realistic landscapes. The result is a delight for the eye. And the story is fun too. Wilfred learns a good lesson about owning a moose—or not owning a moose.

The Book Whisperer Enjoys a Picture Book

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Oliver Jeffers was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but he currently makes his home in Brooklyn, NY. His picture books have been translated into more than forty languages. For his children’s books, he has received a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award along with an Irish Book Award and a United Kingdom Literary Association Award. He exhibits his original art at the Brooklyn Museum in NY, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Discover more delightful information about Jeffers and his work at his Web site: https://www.oliverjeffers.com/.

Oliver Jeffers has written and illustrated a number of children’s books including the following: The Day the Crayons Quit, Here We Are, Once There Was a Boy, and Stuck.

In This Moose Belongs to ME, Jeffers explores the issue of ownership of something bigger than one’s self. Wilfred says he owns a moose and names the moose Marcel. Wilfred also develops a large number of rules for Marcel to follow.

Of course, being a moose, Marcel is not inclined to follow all the rules, at least not all the time or not always when Wilfred expects him to do so. This obstinate behavior on Marcel’s part annoys Wilfred, so he tries to cope with Marcel’s recalcitrance.

Then, as Wilfred and Marcel are out and about, they encounter a little, old lady who calls Marcel by the name Rodrigo! Wilfred is appalled. Marcel is the moose’s name, and Marcel belongs to Wilfred.

The difficulty stems from the fact that Marcel/Rodrigo does not belong to anyone. Thus Wilfred learns a valuable lesson about rigid rules and about sharing. Once Wilfred realizes that Marcel/Rodrigo is not a possession, the two reach a compromise of allowing each to go his own way and to remain friends.

This Moose Belongs to ME is a visual delight. Wilfred and Marcel/Rodrigo are drawn as if by a child’s hand. Then the background in each double-page spread forms a beautiful landscape of mountains, streams, and trees. The muted colors on some pages engage the senses as the readers take in each passage. Then vivid color will strike the readers’ eyes as Wilfred and Marcel/Rodrigo continue their adventures.

 

The Book Whisperer Likes One Crazy Summer

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Rita Williams-Garcia received the Tulsa Library Trust’s 2019 Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers’ of Literature. She came to Tulsa May 3 to receive the award and to present awards to the 2019 Young People’s Creative Writing Contest winners. Williams-Garcia has received many other awards over the writing career including the Newbery award for One Crazy Summer.

Garcia-Williams writes “bestselling novels for young adults that inspire imaginations, dreams and pride in all ages. Her books encourage cultural awareness and the importance of believing in yourself.”

One Crazy Summer gives readers the story of Delphine, 11, Vonetta, 9, and Fern, 7, three sisters, who visit their mother in Oakland, CA. The sisters live in Brooklyn with their dad, Pa, and his parents, Big Ma and Papa. Cecile, their mother has left them shortly after Fern’s birth, so the girls do not know her at all. Only Delphine has vague memories of their mother, and she is uncertain about those.

Pa feels his girls need to know their mother, so he puts them on an airplane from NYC to Oakland. Cecile is less than enthusiastic about having her daughters spend 28 days with her. The girls have visions of warm hugs from their mother and at least one visit to Disneyland. Their dreams are dashed almost as soon as they arrive.

Cecile is not a hugger, not even of her own young daughters whom she has not seen since Fern was an infant. She also demands that Delphine give her the money Pa has given Delphine for the trip, money the girls think will take them to Disneyland.

Cecile begins issuing orders. The girls may not go into the kitchen and they are to spend all weekdays at the nearby People’s Center, run by Black Panthers. That’s where the girls must go for breakfast if they wish to eat. They also spend the day there, out of Cecile’s way.

Cecile allows Delphine to keep $10 of the money Pa gave her before they left Brooklyn and directs the girls to Ming’s to get “four egg rolls, and a big bottle of Pepsi” along with a large shrimp lo mein. Delphine is astounded that Cecile expects the three girls to navigate the strange streets and to buy food for dinner. Cecile gives one more order: “And tell Ming to give you four plates, four forks, four napkins, and four paper cups. No sense dirtying dishes. And you’re not coming inside my kitchen!”

While they wait for the food, Delphine says “I made up my mind about Oakland. There was nothing and no one in all of Oakland to like. I would get on a plane and fly back to New York if Big Ma showed up wanting her grandbabies. I wouldn’t even tell Cecile ‘Thanks for the visit’.”

Once they have the food, Delphine has coins so she uses the pay phone to place a collect call back home. Big Ma answers the phone and berates Delphine for calling collect since it will certainly be a big charge.

As a result of Big Ma’s anger over the collect call, Delphine cannot tell her that Cecile is no mother and the girls are mostly on their own. Cecile has no telephone and no TV. The girls are to sleep on a bed with a trundle.

The next morning, instead of preparing breakfast for the girls, Cecile reminds them they can get free breakfast at the People’s Center. When the girls arrive at the Center, they see “a line of hungry kids” waiting for breakfast, “except they weren’t all black.” Inside, the girls eat breakfast and then meet Sister Mukumbu who directs the activities each day.

Delphine acts as a mother to her younger sisters, watching over them, keeping them from fighting, and making sure they are fed. Realizing they are stuck for twenty-eight days, Delphine figures out how to make the best of the situation. After eating the take-out food from Ming’s for many nights, Delphine saves the money and the girls go to the Safeway store on their way home from the Center one evening.

Delphine buys chicken pieces, potatoes, and onions. Back at Cecile’s, she persuades Cecile to allow her into the kitchen to “cook real food” and assures Cecile she will clean up the kitchen, leaving no mess at all.

The story told through Delphine’s eyes is funny, a big poignant, and ultimately uplifting. The girls do learn a bit about their mother. They have adventures on their own in Oakland with Delphine saving money from the grocery trips and then asking Cecile for more so the three girls can take a trip to Chinatown. Delphine has the whole adventure planned from what they will eat to riding a cable car.

Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern do learn about their mother and about their own heritage. One Crazy Summer is a story well worth reading for adults and children.

Learn more about Rita Williams-Garcia at her site: https://rita-williamsgarcia.squarespace.com/.

The Book Whisperer Examines Two Juvenile Books

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I enjoy reading books for readers of all ages. Recently, I read an article about books for young readers featuring immigrant children. Intrigued, I requested two of the books from the library: The Name Jar by Yansook Choi and One Green Apple by Eve Bunting a illustrated by Ted Lewin.

In The Name Jar, Unhei has just moved to the US from Korea. She is uncertain about her first day in a new country and a new school. How will the other children react to her and will they be able to pronounce her name?

Unhei decides she will take an American name, but she needs to decide. Her classmates put a jar on her desk and begin putting suggested names into the jar. Unhei tried saying some of the names as she stood before the mirror: Amanda, Laura, Suzy. They didn’t sound quite right.

Unhei and her mother are shopping at Kim’s Market when Mr. Kim asks her name. When she tells him Unhei, he replies, “Ahh, what a beautiful name. Doesn’t it mean grace?”

In class the next day, Joey, one of Unhei’s classmates, sees Unhei with a stamp. She explains her grandmother had the stamp made with Unhei’s name on it. Unhei pressed the stamp onto a piece of paper to show Joey. Unhei goes on to tell Joey that in Korea she can use the stamp “as a signature when I open a bank account or write a letter.”

Joey takes the time to learn how to pronounce Unhei’s name: Yoon-Hey. When Unhei returns to class, the name jar is missing and no one can find it. After school, Joey visits Unhei at her home. He confesses he hid the name jar because he wants Unhei to use her own Korean name, not choose an American name. Joey says, too, that he has visited Mr. Kim who helped him choose a Korean name. He pulls a “small silver felt pouch from his pocket.” It contains “a dark wooden stamp with beautiful Korean characters carved sharply in it. Joey stamps Chinku onto the paper, and Unhei smiles! Chinku means friend.

My favorite picture from the story appears below; it is Unhei and Joey, Chinku, together.

Choi

Yansook Choi grew up in Seoul and now lives in NYC. She earned an MFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in NYC.

She received an MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.  She divides her time between New York and Seoul. On her Web site, https://www.yangsookchoi.com/, readers can see examples of Choi’s artwork as well as watch a TED Talk about her early life in Seoul.

One Green Apple by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ted Lewin, tells Farah’s story of feeling alone in a new country where people speak a language she does not know—yet. Farah and her classmates are taking a field trip to an apple orchard Once the children leave the bus, they get on a wagon filled with hay bales which will take them to the orchard.

At first, Farah feels alone and apart from the other children. She explains, “I am different, too, in other ways. My jeans and T-shirt look like theirs, but my dupatta covers my head and shoulders. I have not seen anyone else wearing a dupatta, though all the girls and women in my home country do.”

Farah’s father has told Farah “it will be good for us here [in the US] in time.” Farah at first feels uncertain, but the trip to the apple orchard shows her that she is part of the class too and that she has friends. She will work on learning her new language. On the field trip, Farah finds things that sound the same in her new world as they did in her village: dogs crunching food and friendly laughter.

Eve Bunting was born in Maghera, Ireland. She said that “there used to be Shanachies in Ireland of long ago. The Shanache was a storyteller who went from house to house telling his tales of ghosts and faires, of old Irish heroes and battles still to be won.” She thinks she is part Shanachie herself. See more about Eve Bunting at this site: http://evebuntingstudy.weebly.com/eb-bio.html.

Lewin

Illustrator, Ted Lewin has received a number of awards, including a Caldecott Medal for Peppe The Lamplighter. On his Web site, https://www.tedlewin.com/, readers will find more about Lewin.