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MTYT: Picturebooks That Highlight Kindness

Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA, Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH and Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ

As we end this month, and 2020, there is more to say about kindness. There is still more to think about in respect to both small and large decisions and actions made. The decisions we have made as individuals, as communities, as societies, will be written about and scrutinized for many years to come. A lot of it will be negative, sad, and horrific. We must remember, however, in the hopes that we will learn to do better as we move forward.

It should also be remembered that throughout this year there have been countless acts of kindness, and those must also be allowed to shine. They, too, have much to teach us. While we focused on novels from areas around the world, we end this discussion with a list of picturebooks for considering kindness and the potential for it.


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MTYT: 28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto

Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA, Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH and Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ

This week, Marilyn, Holly, and Jean discuss the harrowing story of Mira in 28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto by David Safier and discuss how even in the darkest of times, the smallest act of kindness can change things.


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MTYT: The Blackbird Girls

Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA, Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH and Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ

This week Marilyn and Holly are joined by Jean Schroeder to discuss The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman, and how one act of kindness creates a ripple effect that deeply changes the lives of two young girls.


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MTYT: Story Boat

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

Picking up from our discussion of Other Words for Home last week, we will be discussing another book that questions the concept of home. This week’s read, Story Boat by Kyo Maclear and Rashin Kheiriyeh, is sure to take us on a memorable journey.

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MTYT: Other Words for Home

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

This month, we look at books that address the concept of home and how that concept might be different from the typical or stereotypical. This week, we give our takes on Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga.

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MTYT: Fred Stays with Me!

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

Last week, we discussed how The Bridge Home has a promise of hope in our thinking about the concept of home. Home as something other than a physical location, but rather something more elusive like hope, provides new possibilities and perspectives on home. This week, we take a look at Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt and Tricia Tusa to see what new understandings are possible.

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MTYT: The Bridge Home

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

When asked about the concept of home, many of us might conjure up visions of family together at a dinner-table or of vacation. We often think of a physical location, like a house, a street, a neighborhood or a city. But is that home? Or is home something more elusive, maybe harder to grasp or explain, especially if our idea of home is not of a house, or yard or neighborhood? This month, we look at books that address the concept of home and how that concept might be different from the typical or stereotypical. In The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman, we start with a group of orphans living under a bridge in Chennai, India, and then move to a young girl who understands home is where her dog is. We then discuss a longer migration that involves moving from Syria to the U.S. and end with the concept of home perhaps being an object of hope we can hold in our hands, keep in our hearts or imagine with our minds.

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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?

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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.

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