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.

Reach For the Stars: Bad News for Outlaws (The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009.

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. MarshalAuthor: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 CarolRhoda Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9780822567646

This true tale of swindlers, slayers, smarts and skill will lasso listeners of all stripes.

Other biographies on JOMB:

More of the wild west on JOMB:

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.

Worth A Thousand Words: It’s A Snap! George Eastman’s First Photograph

Friday, September 4, 2009.

Author: Monica Kulling (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Bill Slavin
Published: 2009 Tundra Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9780887768811

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the compact camera. This sprightly tale of curiosity and determination puts the spotlight on the inventive young man who made photographers of all of us, one improvement at a time.

On this date, September 4, in 1888, George Eastman registered the trademark Kodak. You can learn more here.

Other books mentioned:

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.

Wondering Why to Read: Amadi’s Snowman

Wednesday, September 2, 2009.

Amadi's SnowmanAuthor: Katia Novet Saint-Lot (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Dimitrea Tokunbo (on JOMB)
Published: 2008 Tilbury House (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9780884482987

Earth toned images of bustling Nigerian swelter contrast with the book-bound allure of a world of frost and snow in this tale of a young boy pondering the pros and cons of literacy.

More books and reading on JOMB:

HOTLINE VOICES: Author/Illustrator, Mark Mitchell, describes the beauty of the book Tsunami! (by Kimiko Kajikawa and Ed Young).

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.

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.

Back to the Future: Neo Leo (The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci)

Friday, August 7, 2009.

Author: Gene Barretta (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Gene Barretta
Published: 2009 Henry Holt and Co (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9780805087031

Playful, edge-to-edge illustrations and cheerily worded nuggets of history, mystery, physics, and biology paint a thrilling picture of a brilliantly curious and creative man that will tickle the scientist in all of us.

Right now, you can test out over 60 of Leonardo da Vinci’s prototypes at Leonardo da Vinci: Man Inventor Genius.

Mentioned in this chat:

More intriguing lives 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.

The Bliss of Forgiveness: New Year at the Pier (A Rosh Hashanah Story)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009.

New Year at the Pier (A Rosh Hashanah Story)Author: April Halprin Wayland (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Stéphane Jorisch (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Dial Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9780803732797

Crisp salt air and sunshine breeze from airy, upbeat illustrations in this chattily shared and poignant reminder of the bliss that is forgiveness.

Rosh Hashanah is September 19-20, 2009. Will you be tossing an “I’m Sorry” list?

More forgiveness 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.

True Love: Hunwick’s Egg

Wednesday, July 15, 2009.

Hunwick's EggAuthor: Mem Fox (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Pamela Lofts (on JOMB)
Published: 2005 Harcourt (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9780152163181

Amidst mauve and pink Australian sunsets, this lyrically told and beautifully illustrated tale reminds us of the underrated pleasures of simply loving.

Other books mentioned:

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.

Up From The Ashes: Fatima the Spinner and the Tent

Wednesday, June 24, 2009.

Fatima, the Spinner and the TentAuthor: Idries Shah (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Natasha Delmar (on JOMB)
Published: 2006 Hoopoe Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 1883536421

This delicately illustrated tale of travel and tragedy reminds us that today’s disaster just might be a necessary step towards the ultimate attainment of our heart’s desire.

Other books mentioned:

More middle eastern 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

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.

 
 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.