Willow – Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Bennan

Willow is a terrific book!  It reminds the reader of the importance of creativity and kindness.  Willow is a sweet-spirited little girl with an amazing degree of creativity.  She finds herself in art class with Miss Hawthorn a teacher who demands that all trees look the same.  When Willow attempts to utilize her creativity in her assignments, the art teacher will have none of it and remarks that she is a “horrid little girl…”.

When Christmas arrives the only student who gives Miss Hawthorn a gift is Willow, and it is not just any gift.  Willow gives her beloved art book to her.  This act of kindness serves as the catalyst to Miss Hawthorn’s transformation.  She starts with doodling and then begins to paint.  When the students come back to school in January, their art room and teacher have truly changed.

There is power in kindness and creativity!

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! – Dr. Seuss

Based upon the notes of the late Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, this book was completed by Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith.  As a Dr. Seuss fan, I was pleased that the book really “feels” like a Dr. Seuss tale.  The reader is able to learn about Diffendoofer School from the point of view of one of the students.  He describes each teacher and what he/she teaches.  It is clear that this school is a special place where learning is fun.  Soon concern arises over a special test that all students must take.  If the students of the Diffendoofer School do not do well their school will be torn down and they will have to go to Flobbertown for school.

The response of one of the teachers (Miss Bonkers) about testing fears is truly the highlight of the book.  She quickly points out that there is no need to fear.  The students have been taught many things, but most importantly, they have been taught how to think.  As a result, of course they will do well on the test.

An enjoyable book for all ages!

Through the Cracks – Carolyn Sollman, Barbara Emmons, & Judith Paolini

Through the Cracks is perhaps one of the most visually haunting books I have ever read.

The reader is allowed the opportunity to travel through school with two lost children who have truly fallen through the cracks.  You clearly sense their frustration and their inherent interest in exploration and learning.  The text serves as a strong reminder of the need to meet learners where they are.  Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of integrated, experiential learning.

Through the Cracks should be required reading for all educators.

Grasper – Paul Owen Lewis

The idea of pushing outside one’s comfort zone and taking a risk in order to attain success is not a new idea yet it feels new when you read Grasper.  To start with, the pictures in this book are absolutely amazing.  The underwater world is captured in colorful detail.

The main character of this book is Grasper who is a young crab who is experiencing molting.  After breaking out of his shell, he explores beyond his small familiar world and is amazed by the possibilities that lay beyond his old tide pool.  He comes back to his old home to share what he has learned with the other crabs.

Inspiring and encouraging…

The Pebble – Susan Milord

Finding one’s place in the world is a daunting task.  The Pebble is a sweet book that takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery.  The main character is a pebble who is concerned and frustrated that he just doesn’t seem to be significant.  He is not big enough to be part of a great wall.  He is not small enough to be melted into glass for a stained glass window.  He is not beautiful enough to be used for a piece of jewelry.  Ultimately, he finds “his place” in the world is more wonderful than he ever could have imagined.