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, Blue, Orange, 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.