Let’s Hear it for Almigal

Let’s Hear it for Almigal

Wendy Kupfer, author

Tammie Lyon, illustrator

Handfinger Press, Fiction, May 2012

Suitable for: 4 and up

Award:  Mom’s Choice Awards Honoring Excellence.

Themes:  Hearing Impairment, Cochlear implants, Differences, Self-confidence, Friendship, Responsibility

Opening“Hi, my name is Almigal.  (Actually, my real name is Ali, but I prefer Almigal because I don’t know anyone else with that name.)  And, I am absolutely, positively the luckiest girl in the world!   Do you know why?  Because I have so many friends and each one is different.”

Synopsis:  Ali is a little girl who is hearing impaired and wears pink hearing aids.  So is her best friend, Penelope, who wears purple hearing aids.  Ali wants to hear every single sound she can: a robin chirping, the Swan song Madam plays during ballet class, and a baby giggling.  But, most of all she wants to hear her parents say “We love you, Almigal.”  Her doctor suggests she may hear better if she has an operation so she can wear cochlear implants.   Almigal’s world changes overnight and she realizes how much more she can hear.  And that change comes with some big responsibilities for a little girl wearing cotton-candy pink cochlear implants.

Why I like this book:   Let’s Hear It For Almigal is based on a true story that celebrates diversity.  Author Wendy Kupfer’s daughter was diagnosed at age 10 months with a “profound hearing loss” and told that she would never speak.  But Wendy and her daughter never gave up.  Their story is a positive and inspirational one for parents who have children with hearing impairments.   Wendy beautifully shows how our differences can become our strengths.  Ali is feisty, strong and confident, and has a group of friends who support her.   As a parent of a hearing impaired daughter, I wished I had this book 20 yeas ago.  I had my daughter read the book and she said it would have helped her feel less isolated from her classmates.  This is an uplifting book for kids who wear hearing aids or have cochlear implants.  The book should be in every school library and available for teachers to use in the classroom at the beginning of the school year if they have a student with hearing aids or cochlear implants.  Tammie Lyon has illustrated a very colorful, lively and vibrant book.  Her illustrations capture this spunky little girl and her BIG personality.  Tammie is also known for her work on the Eloise series as well as her new series, Katie Woo.

Resources:  The book is an excellent resource because it will evoke a lot of discussion among students.   You can visit Wendy Kupfer and Ali at her website and find other resources, activities and coloring pages.  Wendy and Ali have become passionate advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing.   They recommend the following resources for parents:  Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Hands and Voices Cochlear Implants Center,  and the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention.

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.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review of the work. 

The Goodbye Cancer Garden

The Goodbye Cancer Garden

Janna Matthies, author

Kristi Valiant, illustrator

Albert Whitman & Company, Fiction, 2011

Suitable for:  Ages 4-10

Themes:  Parent with cancer, Family support,  Hope, Gardens

Opening/Synopsis  “In our backyard, where first base used to be, is a special garden.  We didn’t expect to plant it.  But Mom says things don’t always go as expected.  For example, Mom didn’t expect the doctor to say she had breast cancer.”   Mom and Dad tell Janie and Jeffrey that Mom has breast cancer.   Both kids are worried, but the parents involve them in discussions and have them meet the doctor.  When Jeffrey asks if his mom is better, the doctor responds, “Not yet, but we’re working very hard to make her better–probably by pumpkin time.”  This gives Janie an idea.  Mom prepares to go to the hospital for surgery on Valentine’s Day.  Janie points out the window and says, “Let’s plant a garden!  Watching it grow, and eating healthy veggies, will remind us Mom’s getting better.  Then before we know it…Hello, pumpkins, goodbye cancer!”  Her Mom thinks her idea is perfect.  The garden is planted with vegetables, flowers and pumpkins.  During the summer Mom goes through chemo and radiation and loses her hair.  The family lovingly tend to the garden and to Mom.   As fall arrives, pumpkins appear and Mom is well on her way towards recovery.

Why I like this book:   Janna Matthies’ book is realistic and optimistic.  The story is based on the author’s own experience with breast cancer, and she wrote the book while undergoing treatment.  Even through the difficult times, there is an abundance of support from family and friends.  Planting a garden does help the family focus on healing.  Kristi Valiant portrays Mom smiling and positive in a charming way.  Kristi’s  illustrations are warm, rich and full of life.   This is a beautiful story for moms and grandmothers with breast cancer to share with their children/grandchildren.  Visit Janna Matthies at her website.

The Goodbye Cancer Garden was selected as Best English Language Children’s Book at the Sharjah (U.A.E) International Book Fair in November of 2011.  With this honor the book may be published in Arabic and touch the lives of readers in the Middle East.

Resources:  This is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  For families undergoing a life changing event, planting a garden is a healing activity and helps them focus on living.  Janna travels around the country speaking to children and families about cancer and her book.  She’s discovered that many families in similar situations have planted gardens of hope in their backyards.   Other activities to help children cope can be found at Bear Essentials website.

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.