Never Say a Mean Word Again

Never Say Mean Word9781937786205_p0_v2_s260x420Never Say A Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain

Jaqueline Jules, Author

Durga Yael Bernhard, Illustrator

Wisdom Tales, Fiction, May 7, 2014

Awards: 2015 Sydney Taylor Honor Books Award; 2014 National Jewish Books Award Finalist; 2014 Middle East Book Awards Honorable Mention

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Conflict Resolution, Justice, Fathers and sons, Friendship, Historical Spain

Opening: Samuel, the son of the grand vizier, walked into the castle courtyard wearing a flowing purple robe. His eyes were on the flowers and the fountains, not where he was walking. “OUCH!” Too late. 

Synopsis:  Samuel accidentally bumps into Hamza, the tax collector’s son. Samuel apologizes, but Hamza doesn’t believe him. Later that day, they are seated beside each other for lunch.  Samuel’s goblet slips out of his hand and stains Hamza’s shirt. Hamza is angry, calls Samuel mean names and won’t accept his apology. Samuel asks his father, the vizier, if he will punish Hamza. Instead the vizier tells his Samuel to “make sure Hamza never says a mean word to you again.”  How will Samuel deal with Hamza so he isn’t insulted again?

Why I like this book:

  • It is an inspiring multicultural tale of two lively boys, one Jewish and one Muslim, trying to solve their differences.
  • Jules’ story is inspired by a medieval legend about the Jewish poet Samuel Ha-Nagid, (993-1056) who was the vizier in Muslim Granada, a city in Spain. 
  • It explores the challenges of friendship across cultures and social status.
  • The ending is unexpected. Without realizing it, Samuel finds himself playing with Hamza daily. Samuel’s attempt to obey his father turns into an unexpected quest to make a friend out of his enemy.
  • The message of Samuel’s attempts to find a peaceful resolution to his differences with Hamza, is relevant today. Children will resonate with this timeless issue of making a bully into a friend.
  • Bernhard’s colorful and vivid illustrations capture the culture of this Medieval period. They are lively and show the tension and humor in the story.

Resources: There is a beautiful history about the Medieval legend and the history of Spain at the end of the book. This is a great book for teachers to use in the classroom to discuss peaceful ways to resolve conflict. Visit Jacqueline Jules’ website for information, a teacher’s guide and other materials to use with Never Say a Mean Word Again.

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

I Just Don’t Like the Sound of NO!

I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No! (How about MAYBE?)

Julia Cook, Author

Kelsey De Weerd, Illustrator

Boys Town Press, 2011, Fiction

Suitable for:  Ages 5 and up

Themes: Frustration, Obedience, Conflict Resolution, Interpersonal Communication, Life Skills

Opening/Synopsis “My name is RJ, and I just don’t like the sound of the word NO!  It seems like everybody always tells me NONO RJ this, NO RJ that…sometimes I think my real names is NO RJ!”   RJ goes shopping with his dad and sees a box of smelly markers he really wants.  He asks his dad if he will buy the markers for him.  His father says, “No.”  But RJ protests with “how about maybe or we’ll see?”  When RJ gets home his best friend Sam invites him to sleep over at his house.  RJ’s mother says “No, not on a school night.”  RJ argues with ” how about I’ll think about it?”  The same pattern continues at school and his teacher tells RJ that he needs to learn to accept “No” for an answer.  She invites hims to become a member of the “Say YES to NO Club.”  If RJ can learn to accept No for an answer from his parents and teacher, stay calm and learn how to disagree appropriately, he can add his name to the club’s Star Board.

What I like about this book:  Julia Cook is one of my very favorite children’s authors.  This book is the winner of the 2011 MOM’s Choice Award Honoring Excellence, and the National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval. Her books are all winners for me because they help children problem-solve, learn fundamental social skills of accepting “no” and disagreeing appropriately, or learning proper behavior for a range of situations.  Her books are such a treat for kids, parents and teachers!   Kids will laugh as they see and hear themselves in her stories.   There are so many teaching moments.

Activities:  The book itself, is an activity book with tips for parents and educators at the end.  But, there is also an Activity Guide for Teachers with a CD and posters than can be purchased separately.   Visit Julia Cook’s website for information and other resources.   I have previously reviewed three other Julia Cook books on my blog.  If you are interested in reading my reviews click on “My Mouth is a Volcano”  “The Worst Day of My Life EVER!”  and “A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue.”  I’ve included pictures of the covers below.   All of her books come with separate Activity Guides.

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.

 

Important Date: April is National Autism Awareness Month, which will be kicked off  Monday, April 2, with an International Autism Awareness Day.  Join  Autism Speaks in the third annual “Light It Up Blue” day to help shine a light on autism.  The entire world is going blue to increase awareness about autism.  My website will feature an article on Monday, and will be blue!