Reviewing the Year

Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

The Cardboard KingdomAs 2019 comes to an end, taking a second look at the books members of the WoW community recommended over the past year is a good way to see where we’ve been, and perhaps take a look at where we are going. WoW Recommends is a monthly book recommendation a member of the WoW community believes others should not only know about, but READ! Typically, the recommended books are published within the last two years, and are considered a must for global readers. Continue reading

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MTYT: I Just Ate My Friend

Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

HOLLY: We end our discussion this month on a lighter note with the picturebook, I Just Ate My Friend (2017) by Heidi McKinnon. Turning our theme, “connections across differences creates community,” on its head, this charming picturebook is about looking for a sense of belonging but such connection involves a huge risk. Noting that not only has the character eaten his friend, he admits that his friend was a good friend, but now is gone. The play on words just made me laugh! In search of another friend, he is dissuaded from becoming friendly with others who offer a variety of reasons for why they cannot be friends. Finally, he meets someone who says they will be his friend, ultimately in a way similar to how he was a friend. I mean, really, one can expect no less! I found myself thinking, “Yep, cannot eat your cake and have it, too!” What did you think of this, Jean?

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MTYT: Lubna and Pebble

Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

HOLLY: So, after Angel Thieves and The Season of Styx Malone, I can’t help but think about other relationships that might be considered strange on the surface, but on second glance create connection and hope. Another such narrative is the picturebook, Lubna and Pebble (2019) by Wendy Meddour and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus. Lubna, a young refugee, has a friendship with a pebble. She talks to it, carries it with her and finds comfort in its presence. There are profound concepts in this book that include a sense of human connection to the earth as well as the concept of the solidity of a rock, or in this case a pebble, which is appropriate for so young a child. The earth gives us our footing. We are, after all, earthlings! Lubna finds Pebble when she and her father arrive on the beach of a new country. I think of Syrian refugees crossing from Turkey to Greece and finding themselves in “a World of Tents.” Lubna is lost in thinking about her homeland, the war, and her brothers. Pebble becomes a connection and is Lubna’s best friend. Then one day, Amir, another young refugee, arrives at the camp. Amir and Lubna become friends until the day Lubna leaves because she and her father have found a new place to live. Suddenly, Pebble’s role in Lubna’s life shifts. I cannot help but think of how some relationships are strong but only temporary, yet in that limited time and space, connections and hope still form. What did you think of Lubna and Pebble, Jean?

MTYT Lubna and Pebble Continue reading

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MTYT: The Season of Styx Malone

Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

We all know of particular relationships that make others wonder how they work. This month we will explore four books that feature unusual relationships that make us scratch our heads and ask how on earth they work. But somehow they do, and when they do intriguing communities come into being giving us hope. Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson continue their discussion of these relationships through books that highlight them.

MTYT The Seasons of Styx Malone Continue reading

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MTYT: Angel Thieves

Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

MTYT November 2019

We all know of particular relationships that make others wonder how they work. The republican married to the democrat or the cat whose two best friends are ducks. This month we will explore four books that feature unusual relationships that make us scratch our heads and ask how on earth they work. But somehow they do, and when they do intriguing communities come into being giving us hope. Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss these relationships through books that highlight them.

MTYT Angel Thieves Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Bridge Home

The Bridge Home CoverWhat can you do once you decide that you can no longer watch your abusive father beat your mother and his rage extends to you and your sister? You can run away and try to make it on your own. That is what Viji does, taking her sister Rukku with her. Rukku is cognitively challenged, but this does not stop either sister from leaving their small village to find their way in the streets of Chennai, India. They are greeted with both kindness and challenges by those around them, eventually settling with two orphaned runaways under a decrepit bridge with tarp tents. This works until the monsoon season and its mosquitoes, chilling dampness and sickness. Viji has to make decisions about this new family, eventually leading them to hope, but not without tragedy first. A lovely narrative about the resilience of children in harsh conditions, the love and care needed to overcome, and the faith needed to face the future. Readers will hope with Viji, Rukku and their two new brothers as they learn to overcome in a world not often kind to children. -Recommended by Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Turnaway Girls

The Turnaway Girls CoverThe Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins follows Delphernia Undersea, a 12-year-old who has a serious problem: she is unable to create shimmer from the music played by the boys from outside the cloister. Yet, Delphernia lives in a cloister with other girls who can produce the shimmer, which will give them a chance to leave the cloister if chosen by one of the outside Masters. The other girls have another attribute Delphernia lacks: the ability to be silent. But with her singing come the birds, and with the birds come thoughts of escape. Delphernia receives an unexpected opportunity to leave the cloister after she is chosen by a most peculiar Master. She must instantly decide: leave with a Master who comes to the skydoor and to a new world in Blightsend or remain in the cloister and the safety of its rock walls and her beloved birds? The decision she makes has the potential to make or unmake her as well as all those in Blightsend. Continue reading

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MTYT: I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati and Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University

In the last April MTYT, Holly and Marilyn discuss the not-so-simple acts of kindness as seen in I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët.

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MTYT: The Day You Begin

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati and Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University

In the third MYTYT of April, Holly and Marilyn reflect on kindness through the lens of different picturebooks. This week, they read award-winning Jacqueline Woodson’s newest picturebook, The Day You Begin, which was illustrated by Rafael López. They also consider the order of this month’s text set and how to present these stories to a class.

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