Making Friends Is an Art!

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Julia Cook, Author

Bridget A. Barnes, Illustrator

Boys Town Press, Fiction, 2012

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes:  Friendship, Interpersonal relations in children, Life Skills

Opening/Synopsis:  “My name is Brown.  I spend a lot of time in a pencil box with a bunch of other colors.  We are all different.  Some of us are sharper than others.  Some of us are long and others are short.”   Brown is the tallest pencil in the box.  This means he is the least used pencil in the box.  And he doesn’t feel like he fits in very well with the others.  “I don’t have much to smile about.  I am Brown, tall geeky and lonely…that’s me!”  Brown envies Red, BlueOrange, Yellow, Green, and Purple who color and play together.  Blue gives hugs.  Orange likes to have fun.  Green is honest. White keeps the peace.  Pink listens.  And everyone loves Red.  When Brown talks to Blue and Green, he learns that if wants good friends, he has to be a good friend.  So he asks all the other pencils why they don’t like him and learns a lot of surprising things about himself.  It is Black who points out that “when all the colors are mixed together they make Brown.”  He has all the colors inside him.  Will he be able to use all the other colors to like himself, recognize his own strengths and be a better friend?

Why I like this book:  Julia Cook has written a humorous fun and colorful book that all kids will identify with.   What better way to teach kids about differences than through art.  There are tall kids, short kids, popular kids,  shy kids, happy kids and sad kids in every classroom.  Differences add to the dynamics of the classroom.  This book really focuses on helping children building interpersonal relationships with other children.   Bridget Barnes’ illustrations are bright, lively and expressive.   This title is the first in a new series of Julia Cook’s books focusing on relationship-building  skills for children.  It is perfect for the classroom.

Resources:  There is a backpage at the back of the book with constructive tips for parents, teachers and counselors to work with kids in building the life skills they require to be a good friend.  In the classroom, ask each child to pick the color of a pencil he/she feels they could identify with most and why.   This will make for an interesting classroom discussion.  Visit Julia Cook’s website,  to view the many books she has written.

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

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Let’s Hear it for Almigal

Let’s Hear it for Almigal

Wendy Kupfer, author

Tammie Lyon, illustrator

Handfinger Press, Fiction, May 2012

Suitable for: 4 and up

Award:  Mom’s Choice Awards Honoring Excellence.

Themes:  Hearing Impairment, Cochlear implants, Differences, Self-confidence, Friendship, Responsibility

Opening“Hi, my name is Almigal.  (Actually, my real name is Ali, but I prefer Almigal because I don’t know anyone else with that name.)  And, I am absolutely, positively the luckiest girl in the world!   Do you know why?  Because I have so many friends and each one is different.”

Synopsis:  Ali is a little girl who is hearing impaired and wears pink hearing aids.  So is her best friend, Penelope, who wears purple hearing aids.  Ali wants to hear every single sound she can: a robin chirping, the Swan song Madam plays during ballet class, and a baby giggling.  But, most of all she wants to hear her parents say “We love you, Almigal.”  Her doctor suggests she may hear better if she has an operation so she can wear cochlear implants.   Almigal’s world changes overnight and she realizes how much more she can hear.  And that change comes with some big responsibilities for a little girl wearing cotton-candy pink cochlear implants.

Why I like this book:   Let’s Hear It For Almigal is based on a true story that celebrates diversity.  Author Wendy Kupfer’s daughter was diagnosed at age 10 months with a “profound hearing loss” and told that she would never speak.  But Wendy and her daughter never gave up.  Their story is a positive and inspirational one for parents who have children with hearing impairments.   Wendy beautifully shows how our differences can become our strengths.  Ali is feisty, strong and confident, and has a group of friends who support her.   As a parent of a hearing impaired daughter, I wished I had this book 20 yeas ago.  I had my daughter read the book and she said it would have helped her feel less isolated from her classmates.  This is an uplifting book for kids who wear hearing aids or have cochlear implants.  The book should be in every school library and available for teachers to use in the classroom at the beginning of the school year if they have a student with hearing aids or cochlear implants.  Tammie Lyon has illustrated a very colorful, lively and vibrant book.  Her illustrations capture this spunky little girl and her BIG personality.  Tammie is also known for her work on the Eloise series as well as her new series, Katie Woo.

Resources:  The book is an excellent resource because it will evoke a lot of discussion among students.   You can visit Wendy Kupfer and Ali at her website and find other resources, activities and coloring pages.  Wendy and Ali have become passionate advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing.   They recommend the following resources for parents:  Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Hands and Voices Cochlear Implants Center,  and the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention.

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

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review of the work.