Soup du Jour: Unwavering Self-Worth Inside and Outside the Box

Friday, October 2, 2009.

Today we look at a clump of four books about independent thinkers who, without fanfare or animosity, disregard the judgements of others and are simply happy being who they are.

Ingredients (books discussed):

Jump into Today’s Soup (feedback):

Join the conversation by clicking the Comments link below or sending an email to justonemorebook@gmail.com.

Second Helpings (transcript of podcast):

In a society where the media, schools and, sadly, even parents often expect us to conform to prescribed,cookie-cutter ways of being, a common challenge for adults and children alike is to understand and appreciate out-of-the-box thinking or behavior in ourselves and others. With so much emphasis on conforming, being or even befriending a person who is viewed as different can be a scary and isolating experience.It’s not surprising, then, that we sometimes go to great lengths to reject or hide our unique selves — and to avoid those who don’t.

Many children’s books and, to a greater extent, movies attempt to reduce the social stigma against being different through boisterous victory-of-the-underdog themed stories in which the independent thinker saves the day and, to the rousing cheers of once-distant peers, instantly becomes the poster child of popularity. There is no denying that such victories feel great but I believe stories which present quiet appreciation, improved understanding or simply congenial co-existence go further to help children deal with different ways of being.

Before looking at the books, let me explain that I like to read to my two daughters in clumps. That is, I like to read in one sitting several books that are completely parallel in certain ways — offering similar characters, situations, or themes — but are different enough to make the clumped reading interesting. I clump by activity (riding a bike, say), by storyline (several variations on the Frog Prince story, for example) or, as in the case today, by explorations of a similar type of character (a girl that is viewed as being different). There are many books that deal with differences in, what I believe are, very constructive ways. Today we look at a clump of four books about independent thinkers who, without fanfare or animosity, disregard the judgements of others and are simply happy being who they are.

Odd VelvetOdd Velvet (Mary Whitcomb Illustrated by Tara Calahan King; 1998 Chronicle Books) tells the story of a happily independent school girl who has bypassed the consumer mentality of her peers and finds beauty and entertainment in the world around her. What I love about this story is that Violet’s unimposing enjoyment of life remains steadfast throughout… her self esteem easily withstands the taunts of her classmates and she remains true to her nature as she gradually gains the respect of her peers. Violet’s self worth is clearly not tied to her judgment by others.
The Recess Queen The Recess Queen (Alexis O’Neill Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith; 2002 Scholastic Press) relays, in snappy, what is it? Hip hop beat? the story of a school yard bully effortlessly felled by the teeny tiny independently minded Katie Sue, a kid you might scare with a jump and a boo!. Here again, the beauty of the story — for me — is in Katie Sue’s unwavering sense of self worth regardless of her noticeably different approach to life and in the fact that she takes in stride both the bullying and her offhanded deflation of the bully.
Suki's Kimono Suki’s Kimono (Chieri Uegaki Illustrated by Stephane Jorisch; 2003 Kids Can Press) is a refreshing celebration of individuality and joie de vivre. This first-day-of-school story contrasts the uninhibited and happily independent six year old Suki with her self-conscious, stiff and validation-seeking sisters — and their complete embarrassment that their little sister is wearing a kimono to school. Although I think Suki could do without the applause of her classmates, Suki’s sunny self-assurance remains constant throughout and she gains no satisfaction from the fact that her sisters’ preparation and preening brought them nothing but exasperation.
Annie Bizzanni Annie Bizzanni (Frances Halle Illustrated by Fil et Julie; 2006 Bayard Canada Books) introduces us to a creative, multi-tasking and impulsive free-spirit who lives life in large slices which she feels no pressure to complete. Although her friends are obviously amused, inconvenienced and, sometimes, scared by Annie’s quirky behavior what I love about this book is that Annie’s way of being is simply portrayed as being different — not better or worse — than that of her peers, that her friends love her for who she is and that she is very happy being herself.

Although society may expect it, we’re not cookie cutouts and we all fall inside and outside various different boxes. We might as well enjoy ourselves!

Thanks for listening. I’m Andrea Ross from the Just One More Book!! Podcast and we’ve been Swimming in Literary Soup.

Bridges to Obama: Let Freedom Sing

Wednesday, August 26, 2009.

Let Freedom SingAuthor: Vanessa Newton (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Vanessa Newton
Published: 2009 Blue Apple Books
ISBN: 9781934706909

Spot-on sixties-style illustrations, simple, springboard text and a soulful, sing along refrain shine a celebratory light on 18 individuals who stood tall and opened doors for generations.

More freedom reading on JOMB:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

Dimple-matic Immunity: I Always, Always Get My Way

Friday, August 21, 2009.

I Always, Always Get My WayAuthor: Thad Krasnesky (on JOMB)
Illustrator: David Parkins (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Flashlight Press (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9780979974649

Cute only gets you so far in the real world. Capturing the glee of victory and the sting of defeat, this hilariously illustrated rhyming book lets us laugh at our own (and our little sibling’s) attempts to prove otherwise.

Mentioned in this episode:

More little ones and learnings on JOMB:

Pop over to The Boy Reader for today’s full menu of poetry offerings. Poetry Fridays are brought to us by Kelly Herold of Big A, Little A.

HOTLINE VOICES: Cathy Miller, “The Literacy Ambassador”, alerts us about Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury).

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

Waves, Ruts and Resilience: Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus

Wednesday, August 12, 2009.

Camille McPhee Fell Under the BusAuthor: Kristen Tracy (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Random House (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9780385736879

A big thanks to guest host Lucy (10) for joining Andrea today to discuss this book.

Life can be challenging and fair’s got nothing to do with it. Parents are people. Friendship’s a worthwhile risk. There’s a lot to think about when you’re ten in the real world. Which is why I’m so glad Lucy (10) and I read this fun and fabulously thought provoking book.

Mentioned in this chat:

More books including less-than-perfect families on JOMB:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

Talent, Teamwork & Triumph: The Dunderheads

Friday, June 19, 2009.

The DunderheadsAuthor: Paul Fleischman (on JOMB)
Illustrator: David Roberts (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Candlewick Press (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0763624985

Clean lines, comical details and snappy, generous first person narration sweep us into this suspenseful tale of strategy, solidarity and overlooked superpowers.

Other books mentioned:

More independent thinkers on JOMB:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

Left Reeling: You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009.

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! Author: Jonah Winter (on JOMB)
Illustrator: André Carrilho (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Schwartz & Wade (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0375837388

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Gilded, stylized illustrations, scads of stats and lilting, laid back narration present an inspiring tale of persistence, power, poise and prevalent potential in this intimate look at the short but striking career of one of baseball’s greats.

More sports on JOMB:

HOTLINE VOICES: Radio Producer and Sound Artist Paolo Pietropaolo explains why he loves Fantastic Mr. Fox (by Roald Dahl).

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show

Rules, Rudeness & Rivalry: Little Sister and the Month Brothers

Wednesday, May 27, 2009.

Little Sister and the Month BrothersAuthor: Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Margot Tomes (on JOMB)
Published: 1976 Marshall Cavendish (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9780761455462

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

With its chatty narrative, droll dialogue and playfully illustrated play-by-play, this plucky retelling of the traditional Slavic tale is practically bound theatre.

Other books mentioned:

More shady step-families on JOMB:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show

Swamps, Chainsaws & Solipsism: Fiendish Deeds (The Joy of Spooking)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009.

Fiendish Deeds (The Joy of Spooking)Author: P.J. Bracegirdle (on JOMB)
Published: 2008 McElderry Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 1416934162

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Hard-core horror meets sumptuous simile in this gripping exploration of siblinghood, self-destruction and sanitized sameness.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

Remembering for Grandma: Mile-High Apple Pie

Wednesday, April 29, 2009.

Mile-High Apple PieAuthor: Laura Langston (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Lindsey Gardiner (on JOMB)
Published: 2004 Random House (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0099443880

Chapters.ca bn.com

Happily sloppy artwork and perfectly picked words and pace present the first-person ponderings of a young girl as her once spunky grandmother slips into forgetfulness in this sweet, sad tale of coping and compassion.

Update: Mark mentions the documentary film and supporting website, Forgetful not Forgotten.

More grandmothers on JOMB:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

Don’t Dis Diversity: Silly Tilly

Friday, April 24, 2009.

Silly TillyAuthor: Eileen Spinelli (on JOMB)
Illustrator: David Slonim (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Marshall Cavendish (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0761455256

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Rhyming triplets and edge-to-edge smile-inducing illustrations follow the carefree foolishness of an unconventional goose and remind us to savour the spice of life.

More independent thinkers on JOMB:

Pop over to Under The Covers for today’s full menu of poetry offerings. Poetry Fridays are brought to us by Kelly Herold of Big A, Little A.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

Flow and Freedom: Journey to the River Sea

Saturday, March 21, 2009.

Author: Eva Ibbotson (on JOMB)
Published: 2002 Penguin (on JOMB)
ISBN: 033039715X

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Today, our 9 year old daughter, Lucy, tells us why she absolutely adores this beautifully written and inspiring Amazon adventure.

Click here to listen to our chat with Eva Ibbotson on her 83rd birthday.

Other beloved books by Eva Ibbotson:

Click here for other Eva Ibbotson book reviews by Lucy and click here to see the postcard Eva sent to Lucy and Bayla earlier this year in response to their 84th birthday cards.

LISTENER HOTLINE: Chuck Stanley enjoys sharing his childhood love of Fox in Socks (by Dr. Seuss) with his own children.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

Traits, Stains & Self-Restraint: The Lime Green Secret

Wednesday, March 18, 2009.

The Lime Green SecretAuthor: Georgia Graham (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Georgia Graham
Published: 2009 Tundra Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0887768415

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Offbeat chalk pastel illustrations and delicious defiance are the stars of this giggle-inducing tale of wedding wear, willpower and sibling solidarity.

More wedding books on JOMB:

HOTLINE VOICES: Bill Rowland raves about Olive, the Other Reindeer (by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold) as a book that appeals to all ages.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

 
 

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