Guest Review: The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Chris Chatterton

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Guest Reviewer: Darlene, UCF Elementary Education Student

The Worrysaurus
Author: Rachel Bright
Illustrator: Chris Chatterton
Published October 6th, 2020 by Orchard Books

Summary: A modern Wemberly Worried-featuring dinosaurs!-for today’s young readers, with reassuring, lighthearted text and charming illustrations sure to calm the anxious butterflies in any child’s tummy.

It’s a beautiful day and Worrysaurus has planned a special picnic. But it isn’t long before a small butterfly of worry starts fluttering in his tummy…

What if he hasn’t brought enough to eat?

What if he gets lost in the jungle?

What if it rains?!

With a little help from his mom, Worrysaurus finds a way to soothe the anxious butterflies, chase his fears away, and find peace and happiness in the moment at hand.

Discover the perfect book to help every little anxious Worrysaurus let go of their fears, and feel happy in the moment at hand! The Worrysaurus strikes just the right balance of positive, lighthearted, and kid-friendly, with reassuring, rhyming text from Rachel Bright, the bestselling author of The Lion Inside and Love Monster, and charming illustrations from Chris Chatterton. Perfect for any reader who might feel the flutter of an anxious butterfly in their tummy, The Worrysaurus is sure to become a storytime favorite.

About the Creators: 

Rachel Bright is rained in Graphics at Kingston University, followed by a Masters Degree in Printmaking at UWE. Her striking illustrative and typographic style, coupled with her witty storytelling have resulted in an award winning and ever-growing collection of acclaimed picture books.

Here is her website: The Brightside » Welcome to the Wonderful World of The Brightside (lookonthebrightside.co.uk)

Chris Chatterton began his career in graphic design and animation, working on a variety of projects including Dr Who and CBBC’s The Dumping Ground. Chris’ passion for illustration then led him to pursue a career as a freelance artist working on a number of children’s books.

Now writing the stories as well, Chris considers his debut author/illustrator Gus picture book story to be semi-autobiographical as he claims his loveable grumpy dog character is based on his own grumpy moods!

Originally from County Durham in the UK, Chris now lives and works in Barcelona, Spain.

Chris Chatterton – Illustrator & Author

Review: This book has received nothing but positive reviews from me. Anxiety and worry is real. We have all experienced it at some point in our lives and so have children. It is a struggle that if not targeted quickly can affect everyone negatively. I love how this book targets anxiety and worry in a delicate yet powerful way to teach young readers to manage worries and anxiety and to know that they are stronger than their worries and smarter than their doubts.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to reading this picture book, I would create a short writing prompt activity for students to write about their anxiety, fear and worries. After this, I  would place students in small groups to engage in conversations in which they can talk it over instead of being silent about it.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why was Worrysaurus worried during his picnic?
  • Do you think Worrysaurus worried unnecessarily?
  • What do you think Worrysaurus’s mom meant when she said the phrase; “ Oh, my little Worrysaurus, Chase that butterfly away?”
  • Based on  this sentence from the book, “This Worrysaurus often was a one to overthink.” What do you think the author meant by “overthink” and in what ways have you overthought?
  • What did Worrysaurus do to chase away his worries?
  • List 2 things not listed in the story that can help Worrysaurus chase those worries away.

Flagged Passages: 

“Oh, my little Worrysaurus, Chase that butterfly away.”

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Encouragement and Hope

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Darlene, for your review!

Guest Review: Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

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Guest Reviewer: Briana, UCF Elementary Education Student

Thank You, Omu!
Author & Illustrator: Oge Mora
Published October 2, 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary: A generous woman is rewarded by her community in this remarkable author-illustrator debut that’s perfect for the Thanksgiving season, perfect for fans of Last Stop on Market Street.

Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?

About the Author: Oge Mora is a collage artist and storyteller. Her picture book, Thank You, Omu!, was a Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner, and Ezra Jack Keats Book Award recipient.  Her second book, Saturday, won the 2020 Boston Globe—Horn Book Picture Book Award. Oge’s artwork has been applauded by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe. She also recently made the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 list in Arts & Style.

Oge grew up in Columbus, Ohio but resides in Providence, RI. She is a fan of all things colorful, patterned, or collaged, and enjoys creating warm stories that celebrate people coming together.

Review: This is a beautiful and joyous book celebrating community, generosity, and reciprocity. What I like about this book is that everything is freely given: Omu shares her stew out of the kindness of her heart and all of the neighbors return that kindness without being asked or cajoled. I also like this book because it demonstrates how we can and should rely on each other in times of need. Everyone in the book receives and gives help at different points. And this shows how connected, strong communities make everyone’s life better. I think this book is important because there isn’t really any conflict or character growth in the story, instead everyone acts as they should, and this serves as a model for students about how to act and how the world should be.

The cut-paper illustrations, also done by Oge Mora, are colorful and vibrant. This makes the book and the town it depicts feel warm, inviting, and idyllic which draws the reader in and supports the text’s message about the value of community. This book is set within an urban setting, which is a refreshing change of place from the suburbs, and idealized rural and wilderness settings of so many children’s books. And it is important for children to see urban communities as beautiful and valuable.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I think this book is a valuable addition to your classroom library and it is an excellent book for whole class read aloud. This book can be used with the guided questions to prompt discussions about sharing and about the students’ own communities. It is also useful to build a healthy classroom community. Students are going to be asked to share and work together throughout the year. Students can also explore the illustration style while exploring the central theme. For example, students could be tasked to depict a scene of a time when they shared or someone shared with them using cut construction paper. After reading the story students should be able to understand and reflect on their own communities, the members that make it up  and how everyone works towards a happy community. You can also discuss the elements of Nigerian American culture that are prevalent in this book, such as the one pot stew and Omu’s name herself.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What does Omu make that has everyone starving?
  • Why do you think Omu shares with everyone?
  • How do you think all the characters know each other?
  • How did the community thank Omu for sharing?
  • Omu helped her community by sharing! What are things you could share that would help your community? Remember that you can share things that are not physical.
  •  What makes a good neighbor?
  • Why is sharing important? Can sharing be hard? Why or why not?

Flagged Passages: 

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris, Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Briana, for your review!

Guest Review: Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

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Guest Reviewer: Brian, UCF Elementary Education Student

Sulwe
Author: Lupita Nyong’o
Illustrator: Vashti Harrison
Published October 15, 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Summary: From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.

About the Creators: 

Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan actress and producer. Her first feature film role was in the film 12 Years a Slave, for which she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as multiple accolades, including the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Critics’ Choice Award, the Independent Spirit Award, and the NAACP Award. She has since starred in Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ryan Coogler’s record-breaking box office hit Black Panther, and most recently in Jordan’s Peele’s critically acclaimed horror film Us. Nyong’o earned a Tony nomination for her Broadway debut in Danai Gurira’s play Eclipsed. She lives in Brooklyn.

Vashti Harrison, author and illustrator of the bestselling Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, is an artist, author, and filmmaker with a passion for storytelling. She earned her MFA in film and video from California Institute of the Arts, where she snuck into animation and illustration classes to learn from Disney and DreamWorks legends. There she rekindled a love for drawing and painting. Now she uses her love for both film and illustration to craft beautiful stories for children.

Review: This book was just amazing! The story, the art, the lesson–everything was perfect. The message that is written in this story is not just for kids, even though the intended audience is children. The book talks about colorism and how one should love themselves just the way they are. We are all unique and special, and we should not try to change ourselves for nobody. In the world we live in today, there is so much negativity, but with this book for children, they can learn to be the light in the midst of darkness, no matter what the color of your skin is. Sulwe’s skin is the color of Midnight, but to me she shines the brightest in her family. Without midnight, everyone else’s shine would be pointless. I hope that when children read this book, they will appreciate who they are and be confident in themselves. This is a story I would definitely keep in my classroom. My favorite quote from the story, “When you are darkest is when you are most beautiful. It is when you are most you.” This left me very emotional and I’m a grown adult now. I should not be tearing up like this!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Sulwe has many topics that can be discussed and is a great read aloud to teach social emotional learning; it can also be used to teach a variety of literacy skills. Here are some ideas that can be used to incorporate Sulwe into the lesson plan:

The first thing the students can do would be to practice their compare and contrast skills by discussing how the character changes and feels throughout the story. Another activity the students can do would be to practice descriptive writing by having them describe their own appearance. The last activity that can be done is having the students practice writing book reviews after they have read the story. If none of these activities work for you or aren’t that interesting, asking questions about the story to the students is always an option. Here, the teacher can discuss important topics like bullying, appreciating others, respect, and loving oneself.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What does the name Sulwe mean?
  • How are the pet names for “day” and “night” different?
  • What types of food did Sulwe eat to try and change her color?
  • What appeared through Sulwe’s window?
  • Why did Sulwe want to change the way she looked?
  • Have you ever been teased because of the way you look? How did that make you feel?

Flagged Passages: 

When you are darkest is when you are most beautiful. It is when you are most you.”

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry or Eyes that Kiss in the Corner by Joanna Ho

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Brian, for your review!

Rosa’s Song by Helena Ku Rhee, Illustrated by Pascal Campion

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Rosa’s Song
Author: Helena Ku Rhee; Illustrator: Pascal Campion
Published June 14, 2022 by Random House Studio

Summary: A young immigrant from South Korea finds community and friendship in an apartment house filled with other newly arrived kids.

When Jae looks out the window of his new home, he wishes he could still see his old village, his old house, and his old friends. But his new apartment feels empty and nothing outside is familiar. Jae just arrived from South Korea and doesn’t even speak the new language.

Yet, making friends is the same wherever you go and he soon meets a girl with a colorful bird perched on her shoulder. Rosa knows just how Jae feels and the two become fast friends. Not only does Rosa show Jae his new neighborhood but she shows him how his imagination can bring back memories of his old home. Then Rosa leaves unexpectedly one night but leaves her parrot for Jae. He thinks about the song that Rosa would sing: “When I fly away, my heart stays here.” And when Jae meets two other newly arrived kids, he teaches them Rosa’s song and becomes their guide to this new world.

From the creators of the highly acclaimed The Paper Kingdom, comes a new book about the importance of community and demonstrates how a simple act of kindness can be passed along to others.

★ “Striking and raw…. Readers will share the sadness of Jae’s loss, but only after seeing Rosa and Jae’s joyful playing—a happiness that’s distinct to childhood.” —Booklist, starred review

About the Author and Illustrator:

Helena Ku Rhee grew up in Los Angeles, but has also lived in various parts of the U.S., Asia and Europe. She has a soft spot for small, stout animals and loves to travel far and wide across this beautiful planet, counting among her favorite journeys a camping trip in the Sahara Desert, a swim with elephants in Thailand and a horseback-riding tour of Easter Island. She is also the author of The Paper Kingdom, which was included on many year-end Best Books lists, including NPR, BookPage, Kirkus, Parents Magazine, the Los Angeles Public Library, and Amazon, among others. Helena works at a movie studio by day, and dreams up story ideas in her spare time. She currently lives in Los Angeles. Visit her at helenakrhee.com.

Instagram: @helenakurhee

Twitter: @HelenaRhee

Pascal Campion is a prolific French-American illustrator and visual development artist whose clients include: DreamWorks Animation, Paramount Pictures, Disney Feature, Disney Toons, Cartoon Network, Hulu, and PBS. Working in the animation industry for over 15 years, he has steadily posted over 3,000 images of personal work to his “Sketches of the Day” project since 2005. He lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on Instagram @pascalcampionart or Twitter @pascalcampion.

Ricki’s Review: There is so much for kids (and adults) to connect with in this book: Feelings of loneliness, worries about making friends, sadness from missing a place or time, magic from developing a new friendship, and loss of something or someone important. This book simultaneously offers readers windows and mirrors. The book offers a steady calmness amidst a swirling storm. It reveals human emotions in ways that are magnificent—despite the magnificent sadness that Jae experiences in the story. I love this book, and it belongs in every classroom, library, and home. It exists within a circle of knowledge—Jae takes Rosa’s song and shares it with others, and they will, the reader can assume, share it with others, as well.

Kellee’s Review: I love this beautiful book about discovery: Discovery of friendship, discovery of other cultures, discovery of exploration, discovery of loss, and discovery of purpose. Jae and Rosa represent so many students in our classrooms and all of the emotions that come with being new somewhere. Also, with the loss at the end of the book, it touches on a subject that many kids are affected by but books normally stay away from–it is important to talk about tough subjects with kids, and books are the best way to introduce them. I think my favorite part of the book is the ending though when Jae takes what he has learned and passes it on.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: We would love to use this book in literature circles. Specifically, we could see it in a literature circles with a theme of new beginnings, immigration, kindness, and/or friendship. Below, we list some books in the “Read This if You Loved” section that we believe would pair well with this text.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How is Rosa’s song given life in the story?
  • What does Jae miss from his old home? What does he find in his new home?
  • When have you experienced something that reminds you of what Jae experiences in this story? Select a page that allowed you to make this connection.

Flagged Spread: 

Read This If You Love: Bright Star by Yuyi Morales; Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, The Refuge by Sandra Le Guen, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, Refugee by Alan Gratz, The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you, Barbara at Blue Slip Media, for providing copies for review!**

I Want to Be a Vase by Julio Torres, Illustrated by Julian Glander

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I Want to Be a Vase
Author: Julio Torres
Illustrator: Julian Glander
Published June 7, 2022 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

Summary: Former SNL writer and comedic rising star Julio Torres takes readers on a journey through the lives and intimate dramas of some of the unsung shapes of our time in this picture book inspired by his HBO special My Favorite Shapes.

Shapes. You’ve heard of them. You might have even interacted with a few. But do you really know them? From plucky Plunger, who wishes to defy his shape and become a beautiful vase, to other household objects with dreams of a life beyond their predestined roles, I Want to Be a Vase takes readers on an essential and visually stunning journey through the lives and intimate dramas of often-overlooked household appliances.

Press Release: Julio Torres is a comedic genius that pairs a dry, absurd humor with earnestness. I WANT TO BE A VASE is out there, wacky, bonkers, but ultimately grounded in the honesty of sense of self and the dream of defying expectations. The book explores the intricate, complicated emotions of childhood (belonging, jealousy, fear of change, excitement) through humor and metaphor, appealing to a crossover audience while being primarily directed towards a young readership. Kids will see their emotions reflected in plucky Plunger, nervous Vacuum, sassy Sink, and helpful Hair Dryer. It’s perfect for fans of the irreverent playfulness of B.J. Novak’s The Book with No Pictures or Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers’s The Day the Crayons Quit, which take seemingly basic childhood concepts and subvert tropes with wit, insight, and parallels to the human condition.

While this picture book is a hilarious, quirky tale first and foremost, it’s also a story about being your truest self no matter your publicly-ascribed role—in that sense, there’s a gentle pro-trans message to be found here. Julio is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and many of his works have been heralded as subtly queer and progressive. This book is no exception to that standard!

Julio’s voice is unique and authentic, and, despite the absurdist spark to his work, he connects with his audience on a deeply human level. As a self-proclaimed Aquarius with synesthesia, Julio is also quite the aesthete, and his involvement with the visual component of his book guarantees that it will be like anything you’ve ever seen (while maintaining his dazzlingly fun, bright style which is certain to appeal to young eyes!). 3D artist Julian Glander is the perfect, offbeat other half of this whimsical picture book pairing. A darling of the design world, Julian is a welcome new voice in children’s publishing, though he has experience working in children’s animation. His bright color palette and toylike models perfectly complement Julio’s surreal style.

Julio told The Hollywood Reporter: “Had I followed convention, I would probably have a reasonable job and be married with kids in El Salvador, where I’m from. That sounds nice, except I wanted to be an experimental comedian, prolific writer, and so-so actor in New York. At first, I was on a path to be one sort of person, when I really wanted to be another. I wanted to pursue things I wasn’t supposed to, and had the courage to do it, thanks to my parents never saying, ‘That can’t be,’ but instead asking, ‘Well, why not?’ So this book is about a plunger who wants to be a vase. Because, well, why not?”

Praise: 

★“A toilet plunger yearns to be a vase in Torres’s moving object lesson of identity and purpose … A thoughtful and broadly applicable fable with saturated, 3-D-style art by Glander.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review“

The premise is odd but comical and certainly original; children will giggle contemplating different uses for everyday gadgets. Kids are great at pretending and playing imaginative games, so they won’t have trouble buying into the whimsy on offer. They’ll appreciate the reassuring, empowering message to be who you are if that makes you happy, and the collaboration and acceptance themes will resonate. The colorful digital illustrations, featuring dollhouse like miniatures representing common household goods, are very appealing… Hilarious … Great for stimulating creative thinking and art activities: What else can ordinary objects be?” –Kirkus Reviews

About the Creators: 

JULIO TORRES (he/him) is a comedian, a former writer on Saturday Night Live, and one of the masterminds behind Los Espookys, HBO’s Spanish-language comedy about a group of horror enthusiasts, produced by Fred Armisen. Julio is also the creator of the HBO special My Favorite Shapes. Released In 2019, this Lorne Michaels-produced special immediately garnered a cult following. In it, Torres conducts an elaborate show-and-tell that offers a backstory to a wide array of “shapes.” With its unusual, absurdist humor and decidedly human narratives explored within the framework of a universal concept, Torres’ performance is the perfect inspiration for a picture book that completely upends expectations about the everyday shapes and objects in our own lives. While I WANT TO BE A VASE is not a direct interpretation of that special, the connection between that piece of work and this story of household objects will be evident to his many fans. Visit him on Instagram @SpacePrinceJulio.

JULIAN GLANDER(he/him) is a 3D animator, designer, and illustrator. Mostly self-taught, he has created work for Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Adult Swim, and The New York Times. He is also the creator of the video game Art Sqooland the squishy comics collection3D Sweeties. Visit him at Glander.co.

Review: There is so much to figuring out who you are, what your identity is, what you enjoy, etc. Plunger is all for trying new things and being a bit different than what is expected of them. However, vacuum cannot handle the lack of order, questioning of ideals, and change. So what will take vacuum to see that it doesn’t matter who everyone is as long as everyone is happy?

I do think Torres was trying to have an extending metaphor about identity specifically, but there is a moment where the characters also mention jobs and liking what they do, so I think that this book will comfort anyone that feels like they don’t fit exactly where everyone expects them to be, either in their identity, how they act, how they dress, what they like to do, etc. And it is pretty silly and fun in so many ways!

And I loved the illustrations by Glander! The 3D art that is clay animantion-esque just brings the characters and setting to life! A perfect combination.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: Like the Kirkus reviewer mentioned above, I’d love to see what creative thinking this will bring out with students. The discussions and writing that could come from these questions would be fantastic!

  • Pick an every day object–what else could it be?
  • If you were an every day object, what would you pick?
  • Other than what that every day object does, what else could you do if you were that every day object?
  • What is something about you that doesn’t fit your “definition”?
  • Is there ever a time where you feel like you are a different shape than others expect you to be?

I think conversations about author’s purpose, comparison/contrast, and symbolism could also be started based on this book.

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: My Shadow is Purple by Scott Stuart, I’d Like to be a Window for a Wise Old Dog by Philip C. Stead, Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima, Picture books by The Fan Brothers

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Alex at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division for providing a copy for review!**

Guest Review: The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca, Illustrated by Daniel Rieley

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Guest Reviewer: Bree, UCF Elementary Education Student

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
Author: Julia Finley Mosca
Illustrator: Daniel Rieley
Published March 5th, 2017 by The Innovation Press

Summary: Meet Dr. Temple Grandin—one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes!

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is the first book in a brand new educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Temple herself!

About the Author: Julia Finley Mosca is a copywriter and former journalist who spent more than a decade in Hollywood crafting messages for money. After working with such recognizable brands as Entertainment Tonight, Yahoo!, American Greetings, and JibJab, she landed her most rewarding job yet―mom to one ferociously curious and spunky little girl. The Amazing Scientists series marks Mosca’s debut into the magical world of children’s books.

Review: A picture-book biography in verse introduces Dr. Temple Grandin, a major spokesperson for autism spectrum disorder.

The author employs easy, accessible language and simple rhyme to describe Grandin’s life, including her original misdiagnosis, the doctors’ advice to “send her away,” her mother’s advocacy, her learning to speak, the “new” diagnosis of autism, frustration with her classmates, her first visit to her aunt’s farm that led to her career as an animal specialist, her understanding of her talents, and the importance of her visual memory. The narrative goes on to describe her high school teacher’s support of her interest in science, her first invention (the “squeeze machine,” a self-calming device based on close-quartered enclosures for livestock), her work in treating cattle humanely, her efforts within the autism community, and the public recognition of her unique talents. The author speaks directly and inclusively: “Being DIFFERENT might just / be what makes you so NEAT!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The Girl Who Thought in Pictures  is a great mentor text for teaching students important reading comprehension strategies, writing skills, and grammar concepts. All of our book companions come with activities that relate to these subject areas. Check out just some of the skills included in our book companion!

  • Practice identifying character traits that describe Temple.
  • Practice making personal connections to the book.
  • Integrate expository writing by asking students to write explanations for events that happened in the book.
  • Allow students to get creative by writing their own version of the book.
  • Use examples from the book to teach a lesson on action verbs and adjectives.
  • Teach a lesson on contractions.
  • Have a class discussion about diversity.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How will you use your talents and uniqueness to make the world better?
  • What do you think it was like to be the victim of teasing for being herself in school?
  • What skills would you like to develop that you are already interested in or good at?
  • What did you learn from The Girl Who Thought in Pictures or how did she inspire you?

Flagged Passages: 

“So here is the lesson: Feeling odd or off beat? Being DIFFERENT might just be what makes you so NEAT! Don’t let doubt hold you back, not one minute more. Stand tall, and like Temple… March right through that door!”

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Inclusion, Diversity, and above all autism and neurodiversity!

Recommended For: 

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Thank you, Bree, for your review!

All the Places We Call Home by Patrice Gopo, Illustrated by Jenin Mohammed

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All the Places We Call Home
Author: Patrice Gopo
Illustrator: Jenin Mohammed
Published June 14th, 2022 by Worthy Kids

Summary: Fall in love with this lyrically written and lushly illustrated exploration of identity and home that celebrates all the places and people who make us who we are.

“And where shall we go?” Mama asks as she tucks me in.

“South Africa. Where I was born.”

My answer summons Mama’s stories, stories that send us soaring back in time to when I was a baby. Out my window. Down my street. Across water. Across continents.

Where do you come from? Where does your family come from? For many children, the answers to these questions can transform a conversation into a journey around the globe.

In her first picture book, author Patrice Gopo illuminates how family stories help shape children, help form their identity, and help connect them with the broader world. Her lyrical language, paired with Jenin Mohammed’s richly textured artwork, creates a beautiful, stirring portrait of a child’s deep ties to cultures and communities beyond where she lays her head to sleep.

Ultimately, this story speaks a truth that all children need to hear: The places we come from are part of us, even if we can’t always be near them. All the Places We Call Home is a quiet triumph that encourages an awakening to our own stories and to the stories of those around us.

About the Creators: 

Patrice Gopo is the child of Jamaican immigrants and was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She is an award-winning essayist and the author of All the Colors We Will See: Reflections on Barriers, Brokenness, and Finding Our Way (a Fall 2018 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection). Her ties to Jamaica and other parts of the world sparked her early desire to travel to the cities and countries she traced on a globe. In time, as she began writing about her experiences, Patrice became interested in how places contribute to the people we become. Ultimately, she hopes her stories celebrate the beauty of living a multifaceted life. Patrice lives with her family in North Carolina—a place she considers another home. All the Places We Call Home is her first picture book.

Winner of the SCBWI 2020 Summer Showcase Award, artist Jenin Mohammed moved into children’s illustration after working to gain entry into storyboarding for television. Just as her dream studio job appeared on the horizon, Jenin realized that her true love for story lay in children’s illustration. Her work uses dynamic shapes and perspective with a layering technique to create a tissue-paper-collage-meets-painterly look. Born and raised in Florida, Jenin grew up in an African American/Caribbean household, providing a personal connection to Patrice’s story.

Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is a beautiful look at family history and culture. It celebrates oral tradition through story and memories, a sense of belonging through place, and a look at one family’s story. The prose is lyrical and calming and the illustrations are vibrant and expressive–it will make a great read aloud for all and a deep dive book for classrooms!

This book would be a great mentor text for writing a family history or visiting the world through memories in another way. Students can connect with their families and friend through the places they call home and create their own pathway around the globe.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Where are your homes?
  • Why does learning about where someone is from help tell their story?
  • Even if not through family, how else could you “travel” the globe through memories?
  • Where would you like to visit if you could?
  • What tradition do you have at bedtime?
  • What do you think the author’s purpose of the story was?
  • Why does the young girl view America, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Jamaica all as her homes?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Bedtime stories, Multigenerational stories, Stories about family history

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Nicole Banholzer PR for providing copies for review!**