Yes I Can!: A Girl and Her Wheelchair

Yes I can!: A Girl and Her Wheelchair

Kendra J. Barrett, Jacqueline B. Toner and Claire A. B. Freeland, Authors

Violet Lemay, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Nov. 20, 1018

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Disabilities, Self-confidence, Abilities, School, Curiosity, Interaction, Kindness

Opening: This is Carolyn. Like many kids her age, Carolyn loves animals, castles, and building with blocks. She is helpful to her mom and dad and even to her baby brother.

Synopsis

Carolyn is a happy, energetic, caring first-grader who just happens to be in a wheelchair. She’s excited to start her new year of school and make new friends. The other students are curious about Carolyn because she uses a wheelchair. Some are accepting, while other kids are reluctant. Yes I Can! follows Carolyn on a typical day at home, at school, and even on a field trip! She can do almost everything the other kids can, even if sometimes she has to do it a little differently. The other kids become used to Carolyn and notice what she can do.

Why I like this book:

The authors have written a very uplifting story that focuses more on what Carolyn can do, than what she can’t do. Carolyn is very outgoing, social and wants to participate. And there are many things available to help children with disabilities adapt and participate.

I like how the teacher in the story handles Carolyn’s disability in her classroom. She makes sure Carolyn  feels included when she asks her to pass out papers, when she invites her to help with the morning song and when she makes sure she can accompany the class on a field trip.  This helps Carolyn feels less  isolated.

And the teacher has to deal with the other students’ curiosity.  Kids are naturally very curious about someone they may perceive as different. Some feel cautious and awkward. They don’t know what to say or how to act. And Carolyn’s teacher is very supportive, so that her school friends feel comfortable including her in school activities, recess, and lunch. The students hardly notice her disability.

The illustrations are expressive, warm and endearing. They show diversity which compliment the book’s theme.

Resources: The book includes a Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers with more information on discussing disabilities with children and helping them to build positive, empathic relationships. I especially like the lists of questions with suggested answers that teachers can use.

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 website.

*Review copy provided by the publisher.

Rain School

RainSchool9780547505008_p0_v1_s260x420Rain School

James Rumford, Author and Illustrator

Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Fiction, 2010

Suitable for Ages: 4-7

Themes:  Africa, Educating Children, Schools, Multicultural

Opening“In the country of Chad, it is the first day of school.  The dry dirt road is filling up with children.  Big brothers and big sisters are leading the way.”

Synopsis:  Thomas and the other children are excited about their first day at school and pester their older siblings with questions.  When they arrive at the schoolyard, there is no school.  But, there is a teacher who says, “We will build our school.  This is the first lesson.”  The children are so eager to go to school that they quickly learn to build a frame, make mud bricks and dry them in the sun, and build their school and mud desks.  After they spend a year filling their heads with knowledge, school is over.  Summer arrives, and torrential rains destroy the school.  But, the children leave knowing they will return to build their school again.

Why I love this book:  James Rumford, a former Peace Corps volunteer who taught school in Chad, drives home a very strong message in Rain School.   Learning and going to school is very important to children in third world countries.  They want an education!   Such a strong contrast to what many children in first world countries take for granted.  Rumford’s text is very simple and his bright and colorful ink and pastel illustrations tell a powerful story.  This book should be in every school library.  Visit James Rumford at his website.

On Monday, September 9, I will review A Girl Called Problem, by Katie Quirk.  It is an MG novel about a Tanzanian girl who wants to attend school even though the boys and men don’t want her to attend.   

Bully – Bully Prevention Month

Bully

Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Fiction, 2012

Suitable for:  Grades 3-5

Theme: Cyberbullying, Friendship, Popularity, Schools

Opening“It was my first day at my new school.  I lived right across the bay from the Golden Gate Bridge now, and it was beautiful to look at, but it wasn’t home yet, and I dreaded going to school.  I missed my old school — and all my friends.  My stomach was churning and my heart was pounding out of my chest.” 

Synopsis:  Lyla quickly makes friends with Jamie.  They eat lunch together and watch sci-fi movies on Fridays.  Jamie is also computer savvy and helps Lyla set up a Facebook page on her computer.  Lyla makes the cheerleading squad and wins some awards at school.  The popular girls take note of her and invite her into their group.  Lyla begins to pays less attention to Jamie.  But, when Lyla watches her new friend Gage surf the computer to leave nasty and hurtful remarks on the Facebook pages of targeted classmates, including Jamie.  Lyla drops out of their group and hangs out with Jamie.  This clique of girls is mean.  When Lyla musters the courage to stand up to Gage about her bullying behavior towards Jamie and other kids, the girls take revenge.  Lyla finds herself the target of an even bigger cyberbullying scheme.

Why I like this book:  This is the first picture book I’ve seen for older kids that  deals with cyberbullying.  Patricia Polacco has written a much-needed book on such an important topic.   It is an excellent book that escalates when the cheerleaders take revenge and steal achievement tests.  But, Polacco is crafty in her judgement to let the students solve the problem on their own, with Jamie’s superb computer skills.  Polacco talks about bullying in a note to her readers at the end.   “I myself was a victim of teasing because of my learning disabilities.  In my case, this involved only a few other children.  But if e-mail, text messaging, blogging, and tweeting had existed in my time, I would have felt the entire world scrutinizing and passing judgment on me.  I wrote this book on behalf of children everywhere.” 

Resources:  This is a great discussion book for the classroom.  Check out the National Bullying Prevention Center.  They have a special site for kids and teens to join against bullying.   Click here to visit Patricia Polacco’s 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.