Hooway for Wodney Wat (Helen Lester)
I love this book! I had a good friend named Rod when I was a teenager. I remember driving home from church one day. He was in our van as was our little cousin Ryan. Ryan was poking Rod and saying, "Wod! Wod! Wod!" when suddenly Rod turned to him and said, "What Wyan??" We laughed and laughed. Never forgot it! The other reason I love this book is one of the characters is a capybara. When Jill was little she had a thing for capybaras. I have no idea where it came from, and at the time, I don't think I even knew what a capybara was....but when I read this book it reminds me of when she was little.
Wodney Wat is a wodent who can't say his Rs. He is embarrassed about this and so tries to stay out of everyone's view as much as possible. A mean old capybara moves in and torments everyone, and somehow Wodney Wat saves the day. Hooway Rodney!!
Courage (Bernard Waber)
Often times we label ourselves or refuse to believe that we are smart, or beautiful, or brave, or some other adjective. This book is a great reminder that there are many ways to show courage. It will be a great book to read for a character discussion at school! When a child needs to work up the courage to do something new it would be a great way to remind them that they are courageous in many different ways!
One (Kathryn Otashi)
Another story that adds personification to colors, just like Yesterday I Had the Blues. Only this time some numbers come along and kick red in the butt. :)
My Heart Will Not Sit Down (Mara Rockliff)
What a beautiful story! This is a true story about a girl in an African village who hears of the suffering people in New York are going through during the depression. She cannot rest until she does something to help them. Her village gathers up $3.77 and sends it to those suffering. $3.77 was a very generous offering from her village, and would have done very little to help anyone struggling during the depression. The sacrifice was much greater than what it could do to help. I loved it! The book I got from the library has the last page torn out. It starts another story of a little town in Guatemala that doesn't have enough to eat and wants to help children in Malawi....never got to read the end of the story though. I think I have to go buy this book! It will be a wonderful book for teaching compassion when we do that character virtue in school!
One curious thing: The author writes under four different names. I've always wondered why people do that! Hmmmmm.....It might satisfy my schizophrenic tendancies to be able to do something like that!! (er, or perhaps it is my tendancy towards multi-talking) :)
Weslandia (Paul Fleischman)
I love love love this book. It's about a boy who doesn't really worry about fitting in with the crowd. Summer is a great time for him because he can really get into something that interests him - so he creates his own civilization called Weslandia. He has a staple food crop, food, clothing, shelter and even recreation. Pretty soon all the other kids want to come check out what he is doing.
I like this book because I think almost everyone at one time or another feels like they don't fit in. And who couldn't be inspired by a kid who just goes about doing something great, rather than worrying about "having" or "being" or "doing" just like everyone else. If you ask me, when you quite worrying about everyone else that's what you can really find your own real happiness.
One funny little quirk....inside this book a child had left some sticky notes. Whoever that kid is, I love him/her!
I have really been looking for some great picture books to kick off the school year. This one might be one - but even more, I think it would be a great one to read at the end of the school year as kids are embarking on summer vacation. Although, because this book is so good, and the illustrations are great, it might be a great one to kick off our year's book club discussions!
Ish (Peter H Raynolds)
Another great self-esteem book. I think there are some great teachable truths from this book! I found a great blog with some ideas for that too! Check it out here.
You can't always do it all perfectly, so do it -ishly....draw pictures that are peace-ish, silly-ish, etc. Writing poem-ish poetry
Love the ending: ...and Ramon lived ishfully ever after.
The Junkyard Wonders (Patricia Polacco)
I wasn't totally comfortable with this book...but then again, sometimes great books DO make you uncomfortable and make you think about things like how people treat each other. I couldn't quite get over the idea that a bunch of kids were put into one class because they were odd or didn't learn very well. I guess I'm a fan of inclusive education, deep down inside! I also couldn't stand the label - the Junkyard, that was given to the class. So hurtful!! The teacher has a positive spin on it, but I wonder how many kids really bought it, or bought it soon enough to not be damaged by the label.
The story is about a girl who is excited that she will be going to a new school where no one knows about her issues, only to find out she is in the class with all the kids with issues, and everyone knows it. They have a great experience together though that binds them and that they never forget (and the author writes a book about it). It's kind of heart warming, especially as an adult, but I'm not sure it'd be a great one for kids. Then again, it might bring about some great discussions about inclusion and friendship!