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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: Beast Rider

Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

This week, Marilyn and Holly give their takes on Beast Rider by Tony Johnston and Marïa Elena Fontanot de Rhoads and the kindness that helps Manuel on his painful and difficult journey to his brother.

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MTYT: Small Mercies


Marilyn Carpenter, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

This month we present four stories from around the world that highlight events in which incidents of kindness shine within dire to horrendous circumstances. In many ways, the kindness shown in these narratives is both courageous and unexpected. We begin with Small Mercies (2020) by Bridget Krone, an author from South Africa and features an interracial family. We then move to Beast Rider (2019) by Tony Johnston and Marïa Elena Fontanot de Rhoads about a young boy making his way to Los Angeles from Mexico. In week three, Marilyn and Holly are joined by Jean to discuss The Blackbird Girls (2020) by Anne Blankman, who relays a story of Chernobyl, and then during week four, the three of us examine 28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto (2020) by David Safier. The four books stand as testaments that it takes people to enact kindness as the world negotiates a new normal as well as changes that have long been delayed. And finally, in week five, we talk about picturebooks that present acts of kindness that can be paired with one of these four books or used on their own.

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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Santiago’s Road Home

Cover of Santiago's Road Home, depicting a young boy, and little girl, and a young woman on a yellow road leading into the distance away from houses in the foreground.In Santiago’s Road Home, Alexandra Diaz tells how twelve-year-old Santiago makes it across the border between Mexico and the U.S. only to be captured by the Border Patrol and placed in a detention center. Santiago has a traumatic family history as an orphan who is passed between his grandmother who abuses him and an aunt who is unkind. When the aunt sends him back to live with his grandmother, Santiago decides to live on the street. Fortunately, he meets Maríe Delores who gives him food and offers to take him to the U.S. with her and her young daughter, Alegría, since Maríe Delores has a sister in the U.S. and plans on living with her. Santiago is able to help the two as they journey to the border. Their relationship develops and he comes to consider them his sisters. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Birrarung Wilam

Birrarung Wilam cover art depicts a lush scene of plants and animals in a waterway.The use of English and the Aboriginal Australian language of Woiwurrung, in the picturebook, Birrarung Wilam: A Story from Aboriginal Australia, has a lilting candence that will perk up the ears of young listeners. Before reading this book aloud, study the Glossary in the back for the pronunciation and meanings of the Aboriginal words. Birrarung Wilam means Yarra river home, and the story tells how the Yarra River is home to the Aboriginal culture and many unique animals only found in Australia. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month
Authors' Corner

Authors’ Corner: Tony Johnston

Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA

Tony Johnston is a gifted author for children and young adults. She is known for her 120 plus picturebooks; however, her poetry and novels also receive positive reviews. Recently, I enjoyed a conversation with Tony about her newest novel, Beast Rider, experiences that inform her writing and her writing process.

Marilyn Carpenter on left with Tony Johnston on the right smile for the camera at a conference. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Beast Rider

Beast Rider cover is yellow with an orange zigzagging train with a rider on top.The clear voice of Manuel narrates his powerful story of how, as a 12-year-old, he left his family in Oaxaca, Mexico to join his older brother, Toño. In Beast Rider by Tony Johnston and Maria Elena Fontanot de Rhoads, Toño has gone North to Los Angeles on the freight trains know as the Beast. “The Beast is a network of freight trains that move from southern Mexico to the U.S. border. La Bestia is a deadly way to travel. Getting on and staying on are hard in themselves. Sometimes a rider goes to sleep and falls from the train, to be maimed or killed. … Gangs swarm the tops of train cars looking for victims” (from the Authors’ Note). Continue reading