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.

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.

Celebrating our 500th Episode: Chapter Book Chatter

Wednesday, December 31, 2008.

To celebrate the 500th episode of our JustOneMoreBook! Children’s Book Podcast, our daughters, Lucy (9) and Bayla (7), share their thoughts on a few of their favourite chapter books.

Books mentioned:

We hope you’ll help us celebrate by sharing some of your favourite chapter book titles in our comments section.

Thank you for making our 500 episodes possible. Looking forward to show #1000.

Andrea & Mark

Readie Jeebies: When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat

Friday, December 5, 2008.

When Louis Armstrong Taught Me ScatAuthor: Muriel Harris-Weinstein (on JOMB)
Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie (on JOMB)
Published: 2008 Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0811851311

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Blithe bobbling, babbling and blowing of bubbles in cheery sherbet pinks and lime get our lips slipping and our tongues tripping and leave us finger-snapping, toe-tapping and scatting every time.

Other books mentioned:

More music on JOMB:

Pop over to Mommy’s Favorite Children’s Books for today’s full menu of poetry offerings. Poetry Fridays are brought to us by Kelly Herold of Big A, Little A.

HOTLINE VOICES: Amber Santos shares her love of Charlotte’s Web (by E. B. Lewis).

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

Excerpt of Louis Armstrong from a recording of Ain’t Mishavin’ found on The Internet Archive.

Makes No Difference Who You Are: Wish (Wishing Traditions Around the World)

Friday, November 14, 2008.

Wish: Wishing Traditions Around the WorldAuthor: Roseanne Thong (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Elisa Kleven (on JOMB)
Published: 2008 Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0811857166

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Splashing, soaring, leaping and dreaming, gorgeously detailed watercolour and collage illustrations whisk us into the midst of vivid wishing traditions across the globe in this beautiful reminder of our universal desires.

Other books mentioned:

Pop over to Yat-Yee Chong for today’s full menu of poetry offerings. Poetry Fridays are brought to us by Kelly Herold of Big A, Little A.

HOTLINE VOICES: Thanks to Illustrator Chris Forrest for sharing two of her favourites, Make Way for Ducklings (by Robert McCloskey), The Sky is Falling on Henny Penny (by Marie Schubert).

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

Soundalike Silliness: Dear Deer

Wednesday, October 15, 2008.

 Dear Deer: A Book of HomophonesAuthor: Gene Barretta (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Gene Barretta
Published: 2007 Henry Holt and Co. (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0805081046

Chapters.ca Amazon

Fabulously friendly, humorous illustrations and silly tongue twisting text aside, who would have guessed that a book highlighting use, meanings and spellings of identically sounding words could be so fascinating to a seven year old reader? We didn’t, but it is.

Other books mentioned:

HOTLINE VOICES: PJ Rooks tells us about The Day they Parachuted Cats Into Borneo: A Drama of Ecology (play by Charlotte Pomerantz scenery by Jose Aruego) which is, sadly, out of print.

Welcome Ramadan: Night of the Moon (A Muslim Holiday Story)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008.

The Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday StoryAuthor: Hena Khan
Illustrator: Julie Paschkis
Published: 2008 Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0811860620

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Luminous geometric patterning, spacious blue views of the changing moon and warm orange spreads of bustling celebration give us a gorgeous glimpse of the treats and traditions of Ramadan.

More of Islam and the Arab World on JOMB:

Of Lack and Levity: Up

Friday, February 15, 2008.

UpAuthor: Jim LaMarche (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Jim LaMarche
Published: 2006 Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0811844455

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Dreamy, maritime seascapes and homespun charm are brushed lightly with a glimmer of the extraordinary in this magical story of sibling belittling and the delight of possibilities.

Other books mentioned:

  • Matilda

Earned Learning: Ruby’s Wish

Wednesday, January 23, 2008.

Ruby's WishAuthor: Shirin Yim Bridges
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall (on JOMB)
Published: 2002 Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0811834905

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

The hush of dependable peaches and greens gently gives way to a crescendo of red in this thoughtfully unfolding, true story of a young girl with a dream — and the patient, respectful cracking of cultural constraints that made her dream come true.

You can help make a dream come true today by joining the effort to provide schooling and stability for autistic children in China. To learn more click here.

Cheerful Independence: Odd Velvet

Saturday, November 17, 2007.

Odd VelvetAuthor: Mary Whitcomb
Illustrator: Tara Calahan King (on JOMB)
Published: 1998 Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0811820041

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Wide-eyed grins and peppy, skewed perspectives bring to life an upbeat school yard story that provides a reassuring example of independent thought, acceptance and unwavering self-worth.

You can find more great children’s books about independent thinkers here.

A Recipe for Resolution: Enemy Pie

Friday, August 24, 2007.

Enemy PieAuthor: Derek Munson
Illustrator: Tara Calahan King (on JOMB)
Published: Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 081182778X

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

What takes more courage than agreeing to spend an entire day with your number one enemy? Not much. This peppy parable proposes a plucky new approach to sticky social situations.

Other books mentioned:

Beautiful Beginnings: An Egg is Quiet

Wednesday, August 8, 2007.

An Egg is QuietAuthor: Dianna Aston
Illustrator: Sylvia Long
Published: Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0811844285

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Stunning in its sensational simplicity and resplendent with scientific details, this gorgeously illustrated and warmly worded masterpiece is a stirring introduction to the modest magnificence that is life.

Other books mentioned:

 
 

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