Monthly Archives: May 2013

For Graduates, big and small: The World is Waiting for You

world

It’s graduation season, for students little and big. Barbara Kerley’s The World is Waiting for You would make a lovely read aloud for classes getting ready to make a big leap into Grade 1 (or even Grade 9).  It’ll make a nice companion to Oh the Places You’ll Go, which seems to be the tried and true book when it comes to celebrating graduations.

Barbara Kerley has written spare but beautiful text to accompany stunning, full-page photography from National Geographic. The images are amazing – even breathtaking – with many action shots and close-ups that grab your attention and invite you to really linger on each picture. Here’s how it starts:

“Right outside your window there’s a world to explore. Ready?

Follow that path around the next bend. Who knows where it might lead?

Make a splash. Get a little too wet. Dive in…”

The pictures really do take center stage here, with the words positioned unobtrusively in the corners or else laid out cleanly on plain white pages facing the giant photographs. There’s a clever pattern in the way the photos have been selected and arranged too. It alternates between a photo of a child doing something (exploring a river) with an adult doing a similar activity, often in his/her job (oceanographer diving with dolphins). I like how this invites kids to see their experiences of the world as being as important and authentic (and cool!) as the things adults choose to do in their day-to-day lives.

The World is Waiting for You should make readers want to race outside, away from screens and desks, towards all of the adventures to be found out there in the wide world.

The World is Waiting for You is published by National Geographic.

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Growing up sweet: Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine

rosie sprout

Naturally, my thoughts have shifted in a very Kindergarten direction since I found out that’s what I’ll be teaching next year. My list of Ideas / Things to Figure Out is getting longer by the minute, not to mention my list of picture books I love and want to “do cool things with” next year.

Pretty close to the top of that list is this lovely little treasure: Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine, by Allison Wortche. It is darling. It makes me smile and feel warm and fuzzy, and as a teacher, I can say that it’s a pretty fair representation of life in a typical classroom.

In Rosie’s class, it’s all about Violet. Violet is the fastest, the loudest, the fanciest, the Best. Everything Violet does seems to turn out perfectly, and Violet is not shy about soaking up the limelight. Sweet little Rosie is tired of hearing about it. So when Ms. Willis announces that they will each be growing their own plants in little pots, all of the kids (Rosie included) get ready to see VIolet be the best in the world at gardening. When the first pea sprouts appear, it would seem that Violet’s is off to a speedy start. But when Violet gets the chicken pox, Rosie has to make a choice. Will she sit by and let Violet’s plant wither, or will she do what’s hard but what is kind?

This one could’ve easily turned into a story that was unbelievably sweet and simplistic. I think Rosie’s reaction to Violet is really true to life. Violet drives her crazy, and Rosie quietly stews about it. When she sees Violet’s plant is growing faster than everyone else’s, Rosie dumps soil on top of it. Also, there’s a cute twist at the end that every teacher – and grown up – will smile about, because it’s not a happily ever after ending, it’s a true one. The only thing I wish was different is the fact that the teacher doesn’t really seem to do much in the way of guiding VIolet to become a little more tolerable and sensitive. The teacher comes off as quite passive in the situation. However, since the story is from Rosie’s perspective, perhaps it’s realistic that she wouldn’t necessarily observe her teacher’s response to Violet.

Patrice Barton’s illustrations are just wonderful. They are full of soft tones and have an expressive messiness to them that I just love. Each picture is packed with energy and emotion, just like a classroom full of kids this age really is.  

I am already thinking about how this book could have a place in a unit on plants, and growing things – not to mention growing good kids!

Maybe we could grow wheatgrass eggheads:

eggheads

(Here’s a post that shows you how – just add googly eyes and you’re done!)

I know this for sure. I plan to pack my class full of adorable, so Rosie Sprout should fit right in.

Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine is published by Knopf.