A Boy and a Jaguar – Stuttering

A Boy and Jaguar9780547875071_p0_v1_s260x420A Boy and a Jaguar

Alan Rabinowitz, Author

Catia Chien, Illustrator

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Biography, May 6, 2014

Winner: 2015 Schneider Family Book Award

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Stuttering, Wildlife conservationist, Endangered animals

Opening: I’m standing in the great cat house at the Bronx Zoo.  Why is this jaguar kept in a bare room? I wonder. I lean toward my favorite animal and whisper to her. “What are you doing?” My father asks. I try to explain, but my mouth freezes, just as I knew it would. I am a stutterer…

Book Jacket Synopsis: Alan loves animals, but the great cat house at the Bronx Zoo makes him sad.  Why are they all alone in bare cages? More than anything, he wants to be their champion –their voice — but he stutters uncontrollably. Except when he talks to animals…Then he is fluent. Follow the life of the man Time magazine calls “The Indiana Jones of wildlife conservation” as he searches for his voice and fulfils a promise to speak for animals, and people who cannot speak for themselves.

Why I like this book: This is one of the  few books I’ve found for children who stutter. Alan Rabinowitz’ uplifting story focuses on courage, ability, healing, finding one’s voice and making a difference in the world. This is a very important message for children who stutter. The book is based on the true story of the author, who stuttered as a child. The narrative is in first person, which works very well as Alan deals with being put in a “disturbed class” and feels “broken.” He gets through school by using tricks that stutterers use. It is Alan’s remarkable relationship with animals who listen and understand him, that saves him. He talks to his animal friends at the zoo and his pets at home, without stuttering. He becomes passionate about the condition of zoo animals and makes a promise to be their voice one day. Rabinowitz finds his voice as he follows his passion to become a wildlife conservationist and saves big cats. It is important for children to see themselves in role models like Rabinowitz. Catia Chien’s breathtaking illustrations are lush and really evoke the emotion and loneliness felt by Alan. At the end of the book is a Q&A with the author about stuttering, bullying and his work with animals. Visit Rabinowitz’ website.

Resources: I encourage you to visit the Stuttering Foundation for information, free resources, support groups, summer camps and a section that is devoted to kids sharing their stories about how stuttering has affected them — fabulous website. There are 3 million Americans who stutter, 68 million people worldwide.  It affects males four times more than females.  You will be surprised at the long list of famous people and celebrities who stuttered as children and teens. National Stuttering Awareness Week is May 11-17, 2015.

Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand – Stuttering Awareness Week May 12-18

Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand

Artie Knapp, Author

Barbara L. Gibson, Illustrator

Mighty Book Inc., 2010, Fiction

Suitable for: Ages 4 and up

Themes: Stuttering, Bullying, Friendship, Courage

Opening:  “Remember, the early bird gets the worm, Stanley.  Bu…Bu…But, I am a squirrel, Mom.  Why should I care about what birds do?  This will be  your first winter on your own, so you need a head start to store as many nuts as you can.”  This is a book about a squirrel who stutters and how he is treated by his woodland friends who either tease and bully him, or support him.   Stanley is hurt and ambivalent.  Stanley half-heartedly goes about searching for nuts, because he’s already hidden a stash of chocolate bars that a truck dumped.   Raker, a raccoon, steals a few bars of candy.  Stanley hides the rest of the candy where no one can find it, and runs away from home.  He meets a cute girl squirrel, who doesn’t mind his stuttering.  Through her encouragement and friendship, Stanley returns home to face the bullies with a rather surprising result.

Why I like this book:  Artie Knapp has written an enchanting and funny story about self-respect, friendship, courage and forgiveness.  His story will help kids who stutter see themselves in Stan and learn some coping skills.  The book will also help kids  who don’t stutter have a better understanding about stuttering.   Barbara Gibson’s illustrations are colorful and engaging.  This a good book to use with a child who stutters, as well as a great book to used int the classroom.

Resources:  May 12-18 is National Stuttering Awareness Week.  It is chaired by actor Nicholas Brendon, who played  “Xander” in the TV series Buffy and the Vampire Slayer.   Acting helped him overcome his stuttering.  For resources, check out the Stuttering Foundation of America.  The foundation also provides a wealth of educational  information on stuttering, referrals to therapists nationwide, myths about stuttering, a page where kids and teens can share their stories and a book, Trouble at Recess, that can be downloaded to  your computer.  There are plenty of ideas on this website that parents and teachers can use at home and at school.

Interesting facts from the Stuttering Foundation:  More than 68 million people worldwide stutter;  3 million Americans stutter.  Stuttering affects four times as many males as females.   Approximately 5 percent of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more.  That is why early intervention is so important.  Three-quarters of those will recover by late childhood, leaving one percent with long-term problems.  Famous people who stuttered include King George VI, Winston Churchill, Nicole Kidman, James Earl Jones, Marilyn Monroe, Tiger Woods, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Carly Simon, Jane Seymour and many more.

Book Giveaway:  I have an extra copy of Stuttering Stan.  If you have a child, grandchild or know of a child with a stuttering problem, who would enjoy this book, let me know in your comment.

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

Wendi’s Magical Voice — Stuttering Awareness Week

Wendi’s Magical Voice, is written and illustrated by Brit Kohls.  It is available to all kids who stutter through the Stuttering Foundation of America.

This imaginative and  fun story is about a good little witch who stutters and does everything within her magical powers to disappear at school so that she won’t have to speak.  Wendi experiences fear, embarrassment,  anger, frustration and shame when she’s asked to introduce herself at school.    While the other children are practicing their tricks for the Magic Fair, Wendi hides under her desk, hoping to be  invisible.  It isn’t until she meets Peter the  Troll, who befriends her  and invites her to be his partner for the Magic Fair, that Wendi  finally finds a creative way to move beyond her fear.

Children will delight in this magical book, as Kohls has portrayed each child as a different storybook character, thus emphasizing the fact we are all unique in our own special way.

May 9-15 has been designated as National Stuttering Awareness Week, with Colin Firth as honorary chairman.   The Stuttering Foundation of America is the largest nonprofit charitable organization in the world working toward prevention and improved treatment of stuttering.  They reach over 1  million people annually.  According to Jane Fraser, president, “Since the King’s Speech was released last December, the movie has brought a lot of attention to the world of stutterers.”  The foundation also provides a wealth of educational  information on stuttering, referrals to therapists nationwide, myths about stuttering, a page where kids and teens can share their stories and a book, Trouble at Recess, that can be downloaded to  your computer.

Some interesting facts from the foundation:  More than 68 million people worldwide stutter;  3 million Americans stutter.  Stuttering affects four times as many males as females.   Approximately 5 percent of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more.  That is why early intervention is so important.  Three-quarters of those will recover by late childhood, leaving 1 percent with long-term problems.

Famous people who stuttered include King George VI, Winston Churchill, Nicole Kidman, James Earl Jones, Marilyn Monroe, Tiger Woods, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Jane Seymour.