Grandfather Gandhi

Grandfather Ghandi9781442423657_p0_v5_s260x420Grandfather Gandhi

Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, Authors

Evan Turk, Illustrator

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Biography, Mar. 11, 2014

Themes: Arun Gandhi’s memories of living with  his revered grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Opening: “We arrived at Sevagram, Grandfather’s service village, dusty and dirty. Father insisted we be taken straight to Grandfather’s hut. Bapuji sat serenely on the floor. I hung back, afraid to be in his presence, but Ela, took my hand and we rushed to him. We bent to touch his feet, a sign of respect.” 

Book Jacket Synopsis: Arun Gandhi lives with his family in Grandfather Gandhi’s village, where the days are thick and hot. Silence fills the air–but peace feels far away for young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, Arun’s anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud?

Why I like this book: It is a true story that Arun Gandhi worked on for 10 years with Bethany Hegedus about his own intimate  relationship with his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi. It is an endearing story about a boy’s memories of his grandfather and his mixed emotions about living up to the Gandhi name. The narrative is beautiful and told in first person. Living in Bapuji’s village is hard for Arun. The food is simple and bland. The day begins at 4 a.m. with prayer and is followed by chores and lessons. This is a demanding life for an energetic 12-year-old boy who misses John Wayne movies, electricity and real soccer games with friends.  Most of all he misses having access to his grandfather, who is surrounded by aides. He is teased by the other kids and erupts in anger. But there are touching moments when Gandhi  checks on his grandson, listens to his frustrations, wipes his tears and talks about how he handles his own anger. Gandhi tells Arun how he can use his anger to make change. “We can all work to use our anger, instead of letting it use us.” This is a picture-book biography that stands out because it is a glimpse of a grandson’s personal account of his relationship with his famous grandfather. Evan Turk’s illustrations are  stunning, bold and expressive. He uses water colors and mixed media collages with paper, cotton, cloth, yarn and tin foil. I highly recommend this unique story.

Resources:  Use this book to celebrate International Day of Peace on September 21.  Talk about what anger feels like. Draw pictures of your anger. List ways that you can channel or turn anger and negative feeling into positive action, as Gandhi suggests. Talk about non-violence and peace. Visit Arun Gandhi at his website where you will find a wealth of information.

Arun Gandhi, born in 1934, is the fifth grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. As a journalist for more than thirty years for the India Times, Arun now writes a blog for the Washington Post. He serves as president of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute and travels the world speaking to governmental leaders, as well as university and high school students about the practices of peace and non-violence.

Bethany Hegedus is the author of Between Us Baxters and Truth with a Capital TGrandfather Gandhi is her debut picture book. She heard Arun Gandhi in October 2001, a month after 9/11., after he spoke in New York City’s Town Hall about his relationship with his grandfather. A story he shared “hit her hard” and she contacted Arun and asked him to work with her on a children’s book. Visit Bethany Hegedus at her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

What’s Under Your Cape? – Book Giveaway

what's under cape untitledWhat’s Under Your Cape: Superheroes of the Character Kind

Barbara Gruener, Author

Ferne Press, Nonfiction, May 2014

Suitable for: Elementary Teachers, Counselors, Parents

Theme: Character Education, Elementary Students, Teachers, Character Traits

Winner: Mom’s Choice Gold Award for Adult Books

Cover Synopsis: What if students in your classroom could excel in academics and character education? What kind of impact would they make on the world? Through stories and activities, learn how Barbara Gruener uses the word SUPERHEROES to define positive character traits. This powerful handbook will change the way you look at character education. 

Why I like this book: Barbara Gruener’s work with character began when she was a girl active in 4-H. She learned a pledge which she took to heart. “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to great loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living.”  It molded her own character and became the core tools she used to help students find their own strengths and superpowers. She has written an inspiring and powerful book that will motivate educators, counselors and parents to want to teach character education to children. This practical and user-friendly guide is brimming with ideas, projects, hands-on activities, games, stories, and songs. Barbara says “SUPERHEROES are all about service.” Her material can be used with any age group. If character development is included in every school in America, just think how different our world would be. These superheroes will be our future leaders and bring change. Teaching character development from a young age could lead to a major paradigm shift in our schools, homes, communities and world. This is a must-have guide for educators and parents.

Barbara Gruener is a counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary, a National School of Character. With 30 years of teaching and counseling children K-12, she’s believes that we must begin implementing character development among children at a very early age.  Make sure you visit Barbara Gruener at her popular website Corner on Character.

Book Giveaway: I will be giving away one copy of What’s Under Your Cape. If you’d like a copy, please leave a comment by Sunday, September 21, and let me know that you’d like to be entered in the giveaway.  I will announce the lucky winner onWednesday, September 24.

Our Rights: How Kids are Changing the World

Our Rights9781926920955_p0_v1_s260x420Our Rights: How Kids are Changing the World

Janet Wilson, Author and Illustrator

Second Story Press, Nonfiction, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 7-10

Themes: Children, Social reformers, Human rights workers, Civil rights workers, Children’s rights

Opening: “The star thrower is one of a galaxy of bright stars — children who are part of a powerful and growing force daring to create a better world by standing up and speaking out for their right to be treated equally, to live in dignity, and to have their opinions respected.”

Synopsis:  Everyday children around the world are standing up for their rights and making a difference in their communities. Meet Emanuel Bagual from the Philippines who fought against the bullies in the slums and founded Mind Your Rights to help reduce the cycle of abuse and neglect of children by teaching parents, educators and children their basic rights.  Nujood Ali of Yemen escaped from an arranged marriage and went to a courthouse and asked the judge for a divorce, which was granted. Her book, I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, inspired other girls to come forward to sue for divorce. She wants to become a lawyer and help other girls.  Dylan Mahalingam from the USA started an online charity to raise money to fight child poverty. Anita Khushwaha of India became a beekeeper (male work) to pay for her for schooling and inspired other families to take up beekeeping. She became a role model for millions of girls in India. Zach Bonner of the USA collected water for the homeless following a hurricane — 27 truckloads.

Why I like this book: I will admit I am a fan of Janet Wilson’s books. Our Rights is packed with inspiring, true-life stories about children around the world who are standing up for their rights and daring to make a difference in their own lives, communities and world.  These children are working for the rights of children in a peaceful way.  Wilson captures their powerful stories in a double-page spread which features a warm and beautifully painted illustration of the featured child on the left and text and photographs about the child in action on the right.  This is an excellent book to use during International Day of Peace, September 21. This book belongs in every classroom.

Resources: The book closes with “Kids Take Action!” and “What YOUth Can Do” to become activists. It will spark many lively discussions and encourage kids to think about what they can do in their communities. These children are our superheroes who will change the world.  Janet Wilson is a well-known Canadian author and illustrator. Visit Janet Wilson’s website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Big Announcement: On Monday I will review PPB contributor Barbara Gruener’s new book on character development, What’s Under Your Cape: Superheroes of the Character Kind.  There will be a book giveaway.

 

 

 

International Dot Day Countdown – September 15

dot_day_2012_v01In seven days children around the world will be kicking off  International Dot Day. Over 1,787,018 million children from 81 countries  have signed up to celebrate in their classrooms and individually.  The goal this year is to have two million children celebrating, connecting and making their dots the week of September 15. It is usually a week-long event.

September 15 will be the 11th anniversary of Peter H. Reynold’s international bestselling book, The Dot, about a girl who doesn’t think she can draw.  In 2009, Iowa teacher, Terry (T.J.) Shay, held the very first Dot Day celebration and shared his student’s creations with Reynolds. Shaw is the motivational force behind the launching of this phenomenal day.

According to Reynolds “the theme for this year’s day is creativity, bravery and self-expression.” Singer song-writer Emily Dale collaborated with Reynolds to create the beautiful The Dot Song for educators can use in their classrooms.

In past years teachers and students took International Dot Day to an entirely new level, using  SKYPE and other means to connect and partner with teachers and students in all 50 states and globally — virtually connecting the dots with each other around the world. They collaborated on classroom projects and made their marks. This year will bring even greater collaboration.

If you are a teacher or parent who wants to participate, there is still time to enroll your students. There are many ways to celebrate Dot Day.  Visit the International Dot Day site for all the information and resources you will need to get started, inspired and connected. Many teachers have already posted requests to partner with other schools.  You can also follow International Dot Day on Facebook and Twitter, using #dotday and #makeyourmark and (twitter.com/DotClubConnect.)

Always By My Side

Always by my Side9781595723376_p0_v1_s260x420Always By My Side

Susan Kerner, Author

Ian P. Benfold Haywood, Illustrator

Star Bright Books, Fiction, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 5-8 years

Themes: Absence of a father, Loss, Love, Families

Opening: “If you ask me where my daddy is, this is what I’ll say: He’s in me and around me, never far away.”

Synopsis: This is a story that will help children understand that a dad’s love is forever. Even if they grow up without his presence in their lives. He’s in the trees, the waves, in the wind and in the sunshine’s rays. And when they sing or move their hands in a certain way, Mama is there to say, “You’re a lot like your daddy.”

What I like this book: This is a beautiful and heartwarming story for children experiencing the loss or absence of a father.  Susan Kerner gives no specific reason for a loss in her lovely rhyming text. Fathers may be absent for many reasons like work, military deployments, divorce, incarceration, and death.  Through comforting verse, Kerner’s shows that their fathers are still part of them, whether it’s in their mannerisms and likeness to him or in everyday activities and nature. This book can be read to any child experiencing a father’s absence and help them know they are still loved.  And Mama is there to remind them,“No matter the day, the month, the year, the weather, the tears, or smiles…Daddy is always by your side, guiding you all the while.” Haywood’s illustrations are lively, colorful and ethnically diverse. Families coping with loss will find Always By My Side a helpful grief book.

Susan Kerner: Shortly after marrying the love of her life, her husband died of cancer before their first child was born. Her book is inspired by her own experiences. According to Kerner, Always By My Side has become popular among military families.

Oh No, School!

Oh No, School!9781433813337_p0_v1_s260x420Oh No, School!

Hae-Kyung Chang, Author

Josee Bisaillon, Illustrator

Magination  Press, Fiction, 2014

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Kindergarten, Anxiety, School Problems

Opening:  One morning, Holly banged and stomped her feet, and her eyes fill up with tears. “I don’t want to go to school,” she wailed.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: Oh no! Holly does not want to go to school one morning. Her friends are taking her toys and her teacher speaks too loudly. Everything is just too new and too different for Holly!  Through gentle reassurances and coaching, her mother encourages her to think differently about the things that are bothering her at school.  Holly begins to feel better about her new routines, new classmates, and new expectations, and soon she is off to school!

Why I like this book: Hae-Kyung Chang addresses common childhood jitters about going to school in a creative, realistic and engaging manner. Children wonder if they will like their new teacher. Will other kids want to sit with them on the school bus? They worry about making friends and sharing toys. Will they make mistakes?  Reading the book with your child before they start school can be a fun way to encourage them to talk about their anxiety. I especially like the last double-page spread where children are invited to write or draw their reasons for not wanting to go to school and what they find fun and exciting about school.  I recommend Oh No, School! for parents preparing their children for the new school year. Josee Bisaillon’s colorful collages are made from rich textures that really set the mood for the story. This is a beautifully illustrated book.

Resources:  The book is a helpful resource for parents. At the end, psychologist Elizabeth McCallum, PhD, offers parents many tips and guidelines that may help children easily transition to school with more self-confidence.

 

Knock Knock

Knock Knock9780316209175_p0_v1_s260x420Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream For Me

Daniel Beaty, Author

Bryan Collier, Illustrator

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Dec. 17, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Fatherless sons, Separation, Loss, Hope

Opening: Every morning, I play a game with my father. He goes KNOCK KNOCK on my door, and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to the bed. Then I get up and jump into his arms. “Good morning, Papa!” And my papa, he tells me, “I love you.” We share a game…KNOCK KNOCK.

Synopsis: Every morning a boy plays a game with his father. Then one day the knock doesn’t come. The boy’s father is gone and is not there to help him get ready for school, cook his breakfast or help him with homework. One day he finds a letter from is father on the desk in his room. His father is sorry that he won’t be coming home and gives hims advice “for every lesson I will not be there to teach you.” He encourages his son to “KNOCK KNOCK down the doors that I could not.”

Why I like this book: Daniel Beaty’s powerful storyline is based on his own experience as a child when his father is incarcerated. In writing this heart-wrenching story, Beaty doesn’t indicate where the father in KNOCK KNOCK has gone. Many children who have an absent father due to incarceration, divorce, abandonment, military deployments and death, will identify with this story. Even though the story is sad, it is also about love, survival, and hope. Beaty’s text is simple and lyrical. The plot is engaging and moving.  The last few pages are filled with inspirational words from the father. Bryan Collier’s stunning illustrations are done in watercolor and collage and support the sentiment of the text.

Daniel Beaty is an award-winning writer, performer, educator and empowerment expert. KNOCK KNOCK  has won the Huffington Post Best Picture Book of the Year, the Boston Globe-Horn Books Award Honor and the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Award.  You can visit Beaty’s website here.

Bryan Collier has illustrated more than 25 picture books, including the award-winning Dave the Potter and Fifty Cents and a Dream.  He  has received three Caldecott Honors and five Coretta Scott King Award, including the 2014 Coretta Scott King Award for KNOCK KNOCK. You can visit Collier’s website here.