Willow’s Whispers

Willow27606548Willow’s Whispers

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.

Button says another effective teacher resource is creating a character map for Willow. It’s a terrific way to open discussion on how Willow feels, and what her struggles are. The children draw a picture of Willow and then add her character traits and her feelings in a web around her. Not only is this an effective language arts activity it’s a great activity for encouraging positive social relations with children and developing empathy. Here is an example of a teacher using a character map in class.
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Lana Button is also the author of a 2013 book, Willow Finds a Way, about bullying.
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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.

Phileas’s Fortune: A Story About Self-Expression

Phileas’s Fortune,  is written by French author, Agnes de Lestrade, illustrated by Valeria Docampo and published in 2010 by Magination Press, American Psychological Association.  The text is very lyrical, and holds a very simple but powerful message for children 4-8 years of age about what is important in life.  This is another book I would add to my book shelf, because no matter the age of the child, it’s meaning will grow in value and in significance.  Children will enjoy Docampo’s illustrations, which are bold and in shades of brown and red, which add tremendously to the book’s appeal and message.

Phileas lives in a very unusual land, where words are made in a large word factory.   There are beautiful, silly and ugly words, expressions,  baby words, and words that people need to speak to one another.   The words must be bought from shops, so people can swallow the words they need to speak.  However, many words cost more than others, and some people can’t afford to buy specific words.   Old words are thrown away in trash cans, where people might find and use them.  Other words can be found floating in the air and caught with nets.  That’s how Phileas caught three words one day to speak to his friend, Cybele, on her birthday.   Phileas really wants to wish Cybele  Happy Birthday and I Love You,  but he can’t afford to buy those words.   A rich bully tries to ruin Phileas’s surprise when he speaks his feelings for Cybele.   But, the love that Phileas holds in his heart for Cybele is more precious than anything money can buy.  He speaks his three words to Cybele and they settle deep within her heart.  Cybele doesn’t have any words to use, but gently kisses Phileas’s cheek.  And, Phileas responds with a word he has saved for a long time.