Lana Button, Author
Tania Howells, Illustrator
Kids Can Press, Fiction, 2010
Suitable for Ages: 3-8
Themes: Soft-spoken, Shyness, Bravery, Courage, Compassion
Opening: “ Willow’s words came out in whispers. They were just too tiny to hear.”
Synopsis: Willow’s voice is very soft. She wishes her words would come out strong and loud so that everyone would notice her. She is tired of sitting by herself at lunch, not being called on in class, playing by herself and getting the wrong juice at snack time because her teacher, Mrs. Post, and other children can’t hear her whispers. Her father is reassuring and tells Willow “one day your voice will wiggle its way out.” One night she comes up with a plan and makes a magic microphone out of a cardboard tube and practices talking. When she uses her microphone at school the next day, everyone can hear her…until her magic microphone breaks. Is the magic gone? When it’s her turn to be a line leader will she find the courage to be heard?
Why I like this book: Lana Button has written a powerful and encouraging book for shy children. I like how the font in the text becomes very tiny every time Willow speaks to exaggerate Willows painfully shy voice. I love that Willow is so desperate to have friends and participate in school activities, that she tries to find a solution to help herself. She makes the magic microphone and practices so that she can project her voice. This is an excellent book to read in the classroom because many children will relate to Willow and it teaches them about compassion! Tania Howells simple digital characters are colorful, whimsical and show Willow’s longing to be heard. I especially love the cover where Willow is only half on the page emphasizing the book theme.
Resources: Click here to visit Lana Button’s website. Button suggests several resources to use with her book. Make magic microphones with children. All you need is a paper towel tube, markers, stickers, glitter, glue and construction paper. The author of The Crafty Crow shows how her students made microphones when they read Willow Whispers. Button says this opens the conversation to whether the microphone was truly magic. Talk with children about how much courage it took Willow to speak up the first time, and how the microphone gave her the courage to do it. As she practiced, it got easier. So in the end, she didn’t need it as she’d found her own voice.