Perfect Picture Book Friday: One of the Problems of Everett Anderson

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources every Friday.

But first,I want to announce the February PPP Reading Challenge picture book winner.  It was lovely to see what some of you were reading to your children.  I know how difficult it is to find the time to post your comments.  And the winner is….AngelaMarie…she is a very talented poet and artist as well as a mom.  Please take a minute and visit her beautiful blog: One-In-Creation.

And now, on to my Perfect Picture Book Friday selection.

When I first read this story several years ago, I decided to use it as one of the hundred picture books that are recommended in Show Me How! I followed the same procedure with One of the Problems of Everett Andreson as I had with all of the other books so that I could write to the author and illustrator and let them know how highly I regarded their book.  I searched the internet for contact information and found out that Lucille Clifton was a professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, in addition to being Maryland’s poet laureate.  Unfortunately, by the time my letter was routed through the proper channels, Ms. Clifton had passed away.  A copy of Show Me How sits on the shelves of the library at St. Mary’s College…a section of the dedication page reads: “Lucille Clifton (June 27, 1946 – February 13, 2010) American poet, writer, educator and author of One of the Problems of Everett Anderson.  She was a voice for children who had no one else to speak for them.”



One of the Problems of Everett Anderson

Written by Lucille Clifton

Illustrated by Ann Grifalconi

Publishers: Henry Holt and Company

Ages: 4 – 8


Child abuse, helping others, friendship, boys


“Everett Anderson sits at home wondering what he should say or do.”


Here is the summary from the Parents’ Choice Awards website:

        This is author Lucille Clifton’s eighth book featuring a thoughtful, small black hero facing the everyday problems of growing up in a complex world. Here, sotto voce, she confronts the problem of child abuse as Everett Anderson makes a new friend at school and worries because, daily, Greg arrives with a new scar or bruise mark on his leg. Everett could tell his teacher, but “I’m afraid in case he asks me what I mean and I don’t know exactly.” He also doesn’t want “to make it bad for Greg or for his mom and dad.” Everett’s mother counsels her son to listen to Greg “and hug and hold his friend.” And the listener to this affecting tale has the feeling that Everett’s mother may try to help Greg in other ways. This is a book that could prove invaluable in initiating classroom discussions of a widespread problem that deserves wider recognition and attention.


Why do I like this book:

The illustrations are soft and compelling.  The text breaks your heart and makes you want to go out and save every unfortunate child who has to deal with abuse.  This is a widespread problem in our society…here is a book that can open the door to discussion and honest revelations.  We can empower young children, not only to speak up for themselves, but also to reach out and help others.

Related Activities:

Children love making their own books.  An activity like this one builds reading readiness skills in very young children and develops stronger literacy skills in older ones. 

You will need: One piece of construction paper, two or more pieces of white copy paper, markers or crayons, stapler or hole puncher and ribbon.

1.      Fold the construction paper in half…this is the cover for the book.  Help your child write the title of his book on the cover.

2.      Fold the pieces of white copy paper in half…insert into the cover and staple along the folded edge or use the hole puncher to make two or three holes through all the papers and string a piece of ribbon through and tie to hold the pages together.

3.      Your child is now ready to make his own storybook of friends.  Encourage your child to draw pictures of his friends on each page.

4.      Ask your child to tell you his story.

Children really get a thrill out of making their own books.   You can use this bookmaking activity in many other ways…have your child cut out pictures from magazines of foods he or she likes, animals, etc.  Your child will have a collection of handmade books that he or she can read to you.

Other activities:

Puppets definitely lend themselves to role-playing and could be used for a follow-up discussion of the book.

Young children love flannel board stories…teachers or counselors can encourage children to discuss this issue using flannel board figures.


This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

43 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: One of the Problems of Everett Anderson

  1. What an important, moving, needed type of story, this is a great find. The author chose well to write it from Greg’s friend’s point of view. Thank you, Vivian, for highlighting this book.


    • Yes, I’m so glad this book will be part of the PPBF resource list…I know it is one that parents and teachers will find helpful. 🙂 And, even though it is a “scary and sad” book, as Erik pointed out, it will encourage children who are being abused to come forward and speak out…and realize they are not the only ones this happens to, that it is not their fault, and that what they are experiencing is not how it should be or must be. :).


  2. Oh, hooray!! I am so perfectly delighted by this! Thank you so much for the book and for your kind words. You so truly made my day.

    Today is “car-rider-Friday” day at my house, which means that my son does not have to go to After Care. I pick him and his best friend up each Friday right at the bell, and we have a play date. I hadn’t planned an activity for today yet — so I think now we will make our own books! I’ll let you know!

    Blessings of peace & joy to you,


  3. Reblogged this on A Child's HeART of Faith and commented:
    I am just so excited to win the Positive Parental Participation reading challenge for the month of February! (We will receive a picture book!) Check out this wonderful blog by Vivian Kirkfield, and if you have little ones- follow along! It’s a wonderful place of discovery!


  4. Vivian, this is an important book to add to our list. It sounds like it is for a little older kids, but even young children suffer abuse. Great discussion book for parents and children. Great activities for kids to express themselves.


    • Thank you, Pat. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the book choice and activities. 🙂
      The text and illustrations are definitely geared for the younger child…although I agree with you that it is a topic many might delay discussing with little ones. Sad to say, though, many little ones are the victims of such abuse…perhaps reading this story to them would encourage them to tell someone who could help. 🙂


  5. You always post the most thoughtful and detailed activities, Vivian. This is an important topic that doesn’t get much air time in children’s lit. Thank you for sharing this book!


    • Thank you, Amy! I love finding books that share important messages…there aren’t many books that address this issue, so I was glad to find this one. 🙂 Happy you like the activities as well!


  6. Once again, your activities are wonderful. This story sounds wonderful. I have already checked for it online at my library. They have it. Yea!


    • You are probably right, Stacy…but the illustrations are quite lovely. Maybe when Enzo gets a little older. It’s definitely an important topic to address…and we can empower our children by talking about it.


  7. I am so glad you shared this book today, Vivian. I can’t believe it, but I really can’t think of a single other PB title that addresses the issue of child abuse. I am glad to be adding it to our list for children out there who need this kind of book.


    • I’m always thrilled when I can add a book that expands the topics on your PPBF list. 🙂 And I think it is a wonderful book, not only for kids who are experiencing abuse, but for their classmates and friends who can step forward and speak up if they observe or suspect a problem.


  8. A good choice to add to the list. The range of topics covered by children’s books always amazes me and this is an important one for kids. I love your activity, as well.


  9. Excellent choice! I am so glad that someone found a picture book that addresses a topic that a lot of kids need to see. Every school library should add this. There are a bunch of kids who need this book. I hope they will be able to read it. Fantastic post. *waving*


    • I agree, Robyn. This is a wonderful book for school libraries…every classroom should have a reading of it…and then perhaps an activity. Each class could do a puppet show and/or individual books…the puppets would be great as they would encourage role playing.


    • You are right, Erik…this is a super sad book and if you ever had a scary situation, the best thing would always be to tell your parents so they could step in and figure it out. And that is what the little boy finally did, so we hope that his friend, Everett, will get the help that he needs.
      Thank you so much for coming by and commenting. 🙂 I promise to pick a happier book next week. 🙂


  10. Making books is one of the things my grandchildren love. My oldest grandson (10) is working on an actual story of his own to write. The boys watch me putting together my orples books and I think that helps encourage them to maybe write their own one day. In the meantime, I love what you’ve done in your example within this post. 🙂


  11. This is an extremely important book Vivien, with an even more important message. Loved your idea of making the books with kids. I always with our niece and nephews when they come to stay end up having them go home with a scrap book of all the things they did, while on holiday with us. Making the book is a cool idea, thanks for that.


    • Diane…what an excellent activity for your grandkids…making a scrapbook of their time with you is awesome! What a treaured memory for them (and you)!
      Glad you liked the book…it is so sad, because we know that this is an all-too-common situation for many children…in all different social, ethnic and economic groups. 😦 What is the solution?


  12. What a valuable book — thank you for sharing. I love your suggested activity too — will have to try this for my daughter, who is really in to giving me story ideas right now. It would be so cool if she could make her own book!


    • Thank you, Margaret.
      I lovI’e doing story books with kids…I used to make them when we had to sit in the car…waiting outside a store while my husband ran in for something…or at the doctor’s office, waiting for our appointment. All you need is some plain paper and a pencil or crayon….easy peasy! All of the activities I recommend in my book fall into that category. 🙂
      How old is your daugher? I’m sure she will love making her own books.


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