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.

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.

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.

Let Your Hair Down: Max Said “Yes!” (The Woodstock Story)

Friday, July 10, 2009.

Max Said Author: Abigail Yasgur & Joseph Lipner
Illustrator: Barbara Mendes (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Change The Universe Press
ISBN: 9780615211442

Exuberant, edge-to-edge illustrations and simple rhyme salute a generous dairy farmer who took a chance on four kids, their dream and the prospect of peace.

You can watch Max Yasgur addressing the crowd at Woodstock, 1969, here.

August 15-17 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. How will you celebrate?

Other books mentioned:

More peace and tolerance on JOMB:

Pop over to Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup 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, so we can include your audio in our show.

Of Compassion and Captivity: Itsy Bitsy & Teeny Weeny

Wednesday, July 1, 2009.

Author: Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen
Illustrator: Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
Published: 2009 Sleeping Bear Press
ISBN: 9781585364176

Doey eyes, gangly legs and silent, tangible devotion make this true tale of rescue, regret and release a thought provoking look at the value of life and freedom.

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

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

Noticing and Nurturing Each Other: How to Heal a Broken Wing

Thursday, May 21, 2009.

How to Heal a Broken WingAuthor: Bob Graham (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Bob Graham
Published: 2008 Candlewick Press (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0763639036

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Airy illustrations and sparse poetic prose paint a poignant picture of hope, help and healing in this unspoken invitation to dare to care.

Other books mentioned:

Dreams of flying on JOMB:

Six weeks ago yesterday, in Woodstock, Ontario, eight year old Victoria Stafford  finished her school day … then disappeared.  As the days turned to weeks, Canadians coast to coast came to know Victoria and her family as we watched mother Tara McDonald’s daily efforts to keep the search for her daughter fresh in our minds.  This despite mounting public criticism and suspicion of Tara herself.

Yesterday, we learned of Tori’s tragic fate … and of her mother’s innocence.

This episode of Just One More Book! is dedicated to little Tori Stafford, with heartfelt hopes for the healing of those she left behind.

Cultivating Hope: Mr. Hiroshi’s Garden

Wednesday, April 22, 2009.

 Mr. Hiroshi's GardenAuthor: Maxine Trottier (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Paul Morin (on JOMB)
Published: 1999 Fitzhenry and Whiteside (on JOMB)
ISBN: 1550051520

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Dazzling light glows against darkening shadow as this warmly told memory of friendship and fortitude peeks into a dim chapter in Canadian history.

Other books mentioned:

For more information about the Japanese Internment of 1942-1945, visit Vanishing British Columbia, Canada: A People’s History, and Canadian Nikkei.

You can read about more of our favourite Canadian, Asian-themed children’s books in this essay by Andrea at Paper Tigers.

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.

Inventions, Adventure & Conservation: The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau

Wednesday, April 15, 2009.

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques CousteauAuthor: Dan Yaccarino (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino
Published: 2009 Knopf Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0375855734

Chapters.ca

Colour drenched, stylized illustrations, carefully selected quotes and simple, informative text open our eyes and imaginations to the creativity, curiosity and commitment of this explorer, inventor, filmmaker extraordinaire.

More eye-opening biographies 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.

Love and Lucre: Hana in the Time of the Tulips

Wednesday, April 1, 2009.

Hana in the TIme of the TulipsAuthor: Deborah Noyes (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline (on JOMB)
Published: 2004 Candlewick Press (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0763641316

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Luxurious illustrations and enchanting text paint poignant images of a father consumed by an economic craze and the overlooked daughter who quietly cares for him.

Tulips hold a special place in the hearts of our neighbourhood. You can learn why here and here — a true story that’s just begging to become a children’s picture book.

Need a beautiful boost? Take a few minutes to indulge in this gorgeous feast of Ottawa Tulips.

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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