This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration

This is Rope9780399239861_p0_v2_s260x420This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration

Jacqueline Woodson, Author

James Ransome, Illustrator

Nancy Paulsen Books, Fiction, Aug. 29, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Theme: Migration of African-Americans north, Jump rope, Family, Moving

Opening:  “This is the rope my grandmother found beneath an old tree a long time ago back home in South Carolina. This is the rope by grandmother skipped under the shade of a sweet-smelling pine.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: When a little girl in South Carolina finds a rope under a tree, she has no idea it will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.

Why I like this story: Jacqueline Woodson calls This is the Rope a fictive memoir. She writes a very lyrical and engaging story based on the dreams of the many African-Americans who journeyed from the south to northern cities from the 1900s to mid 1970s to find better jobs and lives for their families.  Woodson’s mother and father left South Carolina in 1968 and moved to Brooklyn. I like how she uses the image of the rope repeatedly as a symbol of family linking one generation to the next. Ransome’s rich and colorful oil paintings vividly highlight scenes of the south and north in an uplifting manner.  His double-page spreads  are filled with expression and details of each period of history. This is a beautiful collaborative book by Woodson and Ransome. Visit Jacqueline Woodson at her website.

Resources:  There is an author’s note in the beginning of the book that talks about the great migration of African-American families. Woodson has a teacher’s guide on her website about using her books in the classroom.

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.

Pictures from our Vacation

Pictures from our Vacation

Lynne Rae Perkins, author and illustrator

Greenwillow Books, 2007, Fiction

Suitable for:  Grade 2-5

Themes:  Vacation, Photography, Family Reunion, Memories, Souvenirs

Opening/Synopsis“Just before we got in the car to go on our vacation, our mother said, ‘Oh, I almost forgot!’  From her bag she pulled out a little camera for me, and one for my brother.  Our mom gave us notebooks to stick them in.  ‘They will be souvenirs of our vacation,’ she said.”  The family is traveling by car to visit the farm where their grandparents are spending the summer.  The brother and sister chronicle their trip.  The trip starts out rather boring, a long drive, snapshots of feet,  the back of Dad’s head, a hill and a lot of rain.  When they arrive, their grandparents are waiting to greet them.  They soon learn there will be a memorial service for their great-aunt.  Other cars arrive filled with family members.  There are a lot of cousins to play with, trees to climb, and games to play.

Why I like this book:  It is a great idea to let kids chronicle their trip with pictures.  The trip is a more realistic portrayal of real vacations, boredom, disappointment, fun and family love.   But the brother and sister discover the best memories are the ones they make with family and hold in their minds.  Lynne Rae Perkins has written and illustrated an engaging story for children with a unique message.   The illustrations are in bright water colors.  She won a Newbery Medal for her book Criss CrossResources:  Give your kids cameras, a notebook, pens and crayons and encourage them to make a vacation book, or a book about their summer.  Great exercise in taking pictures and writing a summer story.

Goyangi Means Cat – Perfect Picture Book

Goyangi Means Cat

Christine McDonnell, Author

Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, illustrators

Viking, 2011, Fiction

Suitable for:  Ages 3 and up

Themes:  Adoption, Families, Cats, Friendship, Language

Opening/Synopsis“When Soo Min came from Korea to her new home in America, she spoke no English.  Her new family knew just a few Korean words.  Mok-da – eat.  Chim-dae – bed.  Bahp – rice.  Jip – house.  In the first few days, Soo Min quickly taught them more words: Anyah – no! when she didn’t want to go to bed. Ah-po – hurt, when she scraped her knee.  Gom – teddy bear, which she carried in the hood of her jacket. Po-po – kiss, a gift she gave her parents.   Best of all was Goyangi — the cat.”   This is a very sweet story about Soo Min and the adjustments she has to make coming to live with her new parents.   Soo Min loved Goyangi right away and followed the cat everywhere.  Goyangi curls up on her bed at night and helps to lessen her anxiety.   Soo Min is not afraid when Goyangi is with her. It is through her relationship with Goyangi, that Soo Min finds her place with her new parents and in her new  home.

Why I like this book:  I am partial to books for kids who have been adopted from other countries.  We adopted our son from India in 1985.   It is such a learning curve for all involved.   Like Soo Min, our son attached himself to our dogs.  And, I remember how we learned more from him, as he pointed out things in his native tongue, Tamil.  Christine McDonnell has done a lovely job of incorporating Korean words into the entire book, so that children will learn a little Korean.   The lovely illustrations, by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher, are warm collages that highlight the colorful textiles that decorate the walls and furniture throughout the pages, lending an Eastern-western look.

Activities:  I found the most useful activities for parents adopting older children at the Administrations for Children and Families website for foster and adoptive families.  Creating a Life Book, is one good example.  There are also support organizations for families who have done international adoptions.

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.