Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting PPBF Review

The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting PPBF Review
Title: The Wednesday Surprise
Written by: Eve Bunting
Illustrated by: Donald Carrick
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: adult literacy, overcoming challenges, compassion
Brief Synopsis: Anna and her Grandmother plan a special surprise for her father. She is teaching her Grandmother to read.
Opening pages: “I like surprises. But the one Grandma and I are planning for Dan’s birthday is the best surprise of all.
      We work on it Wednesday nights. On Wednesdays Mom has to stay late at the office and my brother Sam, goes to basketball practice at the Y. That’s when Grandma rides the bus across town to stay with me.”
Why I like this book: I adore the idea that Anna taught her grandmother to read and that her son was so proud of her. A must read for all ages and genders because it introduces the reader to adult illiteracy. Illiteracy may result from having a language barrier or disability or from being born into a culture or country that does not value girls’ education. As women’s history month come to an end, and I reflect upon the lives of women who overcame challenges like Anna’s grandmother and were role models for future generations. This book reminds us that even though hurdles exist, and for girls and women in particular, change is possible. To quote the title of the song sung by Loretta Lynn, “We’ve come a long way baby’’. Don’t stop now!

Whitney Plantation: Louisiana’s Bitter Legacy

Whitney Plantation: Louisiana’s Bitter Legacy

In the fall of 2014, Whitney Plantation will be opened as a Louisiana history museum. A brief history behind the plantation shows it’s importance in the history of Louisiana itself.

A man named ”Ambroise Heidel” immigrated to Louisiana from Germany in 1721 with his wife and children. By 1752 Ambroise bought the land tract located 35 miles north of New Orleans in St. John the Baptist Parish and it became “Habitation Haydel”. It started as an indigo plantation. Later it became one of the largest sugar plantations in the territory. By 1790 Heidel’s son, Jean Jacques Haydel Sr., commissioned the building of the Creole style plantation house. The name was changed to Whitney after the plantation was sold in 1867 after the Civil War. The site is now dedicated to educating the public about slavery along the River Road.

The current owner, John Cummings, a trial lawyer turned preservationist, has spent more than $6 million of his own money on the restoration and supplies to tell the story about those slaves brought to the plantation from the coast of Africa and their descendants who toiled and lived there. When Mitch Landrieu visited as Lt governor, he compared Whitney Plantation compared the experience to visiting the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. “The whole state of Louisiana really is a museum,” he said.

Suki’s Kimono

Suki’s Kimono
Title: Suki’s Kimono
Written by:  Chieri Uegaki
Illustrated by: Stéphanie Jorisch
Kids Can Press,  2003, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 3-8
Themes/Topics: celebrating individuality, determination, cultural awareness, tolerance, acceptance
Brief Synopsis:  Suki’s decided to wear her kimono, a gift from her grandmother, on the first day of school. Although her sisters did not want her to, Suki wears it anyway. On her way to school the kids laughed at her, but Suki’s kimono helps her relive those happy summer memories of her Japanese grandmother’s visit and all the things they did together. Her classmates also laugh and tease her but when it’s her turn to share what she did over summer break, Suki’s enthusiasm and joy is mesmerizing.
Opening pages:  “On the first day of school, suki wanted to wear her kimono. Her sisters did not approve. “You can’t wear that,” said Mari. “People will think you’re weird.”
“You can’t wear that,” said Yumi. “Everyone will laugh, and no one will play with you,’’ said Yumi.
‘’You need something new, Suki.” You need something cool.’’
Why I like this book: Suki demonstrates her individuality by choosing to wear a kimomo to school even when her sisters disapprove and warn her it may be an unpopular choice. The dialog between Suki and a girl on the playground who asks her about her “funny’’ clothing and Suki ‘s explanation shows that it’s okay to question as long as you are open to understanding another’s opinion. Suki is delighted to both show and tell her classmates about the summer spent with her Japanese grandmother. Suki’s teacher and the classmates realize wearing the kimono helps her recreate those happy summer memories.  And from Suki we learn that despite being laughed at or teased for doing something  different, sometimes it just doesn’t matter.

KIDLIT411, A Writer’s Hub

KIDLIT411, A Writer’s Hub

KIDLIT411 is a writer’s hub that provides the connections you need to get to your dream destination, finding a place for your words. The founder, Elaine Kiely Kearns created a one stop information shop for all things related to writing for children. The site launched in January 2014. Elaine’s co-pilot is Sylvia Liu. Sylvia recently won the 2013 Lee and Low New Voices Award and her picture book, A MORNING WITH GONG, is scheduled for publication in Fall 2015.

If you are thinking about writing a children’s book, learning about the industry, and looking to meet others that share your passion for children’s literature, stop by .  You will be very happy you did.

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”Grab Your Hat and Read with a Cat” on Read Across America Day, March 3rd

”Grab Your Hat and Read with a Cat” on Read Across America Day, March 3rd

Reading to a child to celebrate the birth of Dr. Suess is absolutely how I think he would have wanted to be remembered and honored. He had such a love of children and learning. And Dr. Suess knew the importance of learning to read and making it fun too. His use of rhyme sparked a love of words and language in many of his young readers as well as adults. So remember…

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”