#PPBF – John, Paul, George and Ben

 

Is it Friday already? I can’t believe it! Time is truly moving at warp-factor (any Star Trek fans out there?) speed.

 

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Photo courtesy: http://www.courrierinternational.com

 

Well, since today is Friday, I’ve picked out a special picture book to review. I know how overwhelming it can be to walk into the library and have to choose from the thousands that are available. So after you are finished here, please hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog where you will find a bunch more hand-picked picture book reviews with activities for you and your child. If you are a mom, teacher or librarian, please check out Susanna’s amazing Perfect Picture Book page with over 1000 categorized picture book reviews and activities.

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It’s definitely hard to find time to spend with your kids. Especially if you work outside the home. I watch my daughter’s struggle with this. She leaves early in the morning, as soon as her son’s school bus picks him up. And then her day is filled with work-related responsibilities. By 5:30pm, she is zooming to pick Jeremy up at his after school daycare. There is barely enough time to grab dinner, take a bath and brush teeth before it is time for him to go to sleep.

But, whether you work outside the home or at home or even if your ‘only’ job is being a homemaker and parent (please notice the quotes around the word only – being a homemaker and a parent is a full-time job…those who have other jobs must become masters of juggling), I’d like to offer a great parenting tip – if you only have 5 minutes, that is enough time to read a picture book. You will be building a bond with your child and helping increase his/her literacy skills, especially if you take a few minutes to talk with your child about the story after you read it. And here’s a great one to start with!

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JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN

Written and illustrated by Lane Smith

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (2006)

Ages: 3-7

Themes: American history, being true to yourself

 

Opening Lines:

John was a bold lad. At the start of every school year the students were asked to write their names on the chalkboard and every year it was the same story. “John,” his teacher would say, “you have lovely penmanship. Hoh, your confidence is refreshing. But, Joh, c’mon…we don’t need to read it from space!”

 

Synopsis:

A funny, punny look at five of our Founding Fathers: John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Why I like this book:

  • This book is hilarious! Especially for parents! But kids will enjoy the humor as well
  • The text and illustrations remind me of an old newspaper or almanac – with a stencil/woodblock feel
  • The content will get kids thinking about history in a whole new way

How a parent can use this book:

  • Great read-aloud
  • The text is very sparse and large – kids who are just learning to read will enjoy picking out the words they recognize
  • Talk about the traits of each of the boys – bold, independent, honest, clever, noisy – how did those traits help the boys when they grew older? How would you like to be remembered?

 

Related Activity:

STENCILING WITH KIDS

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Stenciling is lots of fun. You can buy stencil sets in your local department stores (they have shape stencils and letter and alphabet stencils or you can make them yourself from construction paper or by finding household items of the shapes you want. Cookie cutters make awesome stencils! And so do leaves – why not grab some of those beautiful autumn ones that are starting to cover the ground?

You will need: Stencils, construction paper, markers or crayons.

  1. Pick the stencils you want to use and place them on the paper.
  2. Use markers or crayons to draw the outlines and then fill in.
  3. Makes great wrapping paper for gifts.

Here’s a link for more stencil crafts: http://www.all-about-stencils.com/crafts-for-kids.html

Thank you so much for stopping by – your time is very valuable and I appreciate that you are spending some of it with me.

#PPBF – Interview with Tim McGarry on I AM JACK and Bullying

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday. I’m sharing an interview with veteran theater performer, Tim McGarry. Tim is one of the founders of Monkey Baa, Australia’s award-winning theater company dedicated to creating and producing exceptional quality theatre and programs for young people and their families, teachers and communities throughout Australia and internationally. Tim has just completed a successful US tour of Susanna Gervay’s I AM JACK. I was fortunate to connect with him and he graciously agreed to share some of his thoughts about the show, the tour and the important topic of bullying.

First, a bit about the book.

 

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I AM JACK

Written by Susanne Gervay

Illustrated by Cathy Wilcox

Published by Tricycle Press (2009)

Ages: 8-12

Themes: Bullying, friendship

Opening lines: “Mum is talking to Nanna. she said she’d only be a minute. That’s a lie. A minute means an hour in Mum time.”

Synopsis: From School Library Journal – “Despite his lame jokes and his attempts to keep things normal, 11-year-old Jack has a serious bully problem. At first his mother, preoccupied with her job and her boyfriend, seems too busy to have the heart-to-heart talk Jack needs (and too unimaginative to wonder if something’s wrong). Eventually, Jack is ostracized at school, where even “nice guys” can’t afford to be friends any more. When the school is alerted, they respond with an anti-bullying program and support for Jack as he gradually regains his place among the students.”

Why I like this book:

  • Written in short sentences, Jack’s first-person narrative makes it easy for kids to read and relate to the story
  • There is a clear lesson here about the role of schools in combating bullying, but it does not dominate the story
  • Cartoon-like drawings help keep the tone of the story relatively light
  • This book will empower kids to speak up about bullying and hopefully step forward if they see a bullying problem

How parents can use this book:

  • Great opportunity to talk about bullying – what can a kid do, what can a parent do, what can a teacher do
  • Show the book to your child’s teacher – it’s a great resource for schools

Bullying is a widespread problem…it follows each generation…it rears its head in playgrounds and schoolrooms, in bedrooms and in the workplace. It impacts young and old…but children are especially vulnerable. Susanne’s powerful book comes to life on the stage…those who see the show will walk away with a better understanding of what it means to be bullied and why it has to stop…now.

The theater production of I Am Jack is presented by Monkey Baa Theatre Company, directed by Sandra Eldridge and adapted for the stage by Eva Di Cesare, Tim McGarry and Sandra Eldridge. It just finished a successful US tour and I was thrilled to have a chance to ask Tim McGarry, the star of the one-man show, a couple of questions.

 

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Tim, thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate your willingness to share some thoughts with us.

 

Me: How did you come to be involved with I AM JACK? 

 

Tim: I’m one of the founding members of Monkey Baa Theatre Company and therefore very much involved in the process of selecting the works that we choose to adapt for the stage. We had come across Susanne’s book I AM JACK many times. An extraordinary story – but the challenge we felt as a small company, in adapting the work was that it required at least six actors to tell the story and for a small company that was never going to be financially or logistically possible for touring. 

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About 18 months later, we again considered the work and one of us, Eva Sandie or I, I can’t recall who, came up with the idea of adapting the work as a solo piece for one actor. This would allow the story to be told in multiple locations to a wide audience base – a kind of back to basics theatre, affordable, tour-able and compact. When we approached Susanne with the idea she was delighted – and we then set ourselves the task of developing Jack into a play – an 18 month process.

 

Me: Have you had personal experience with bullying?

 

Tim: I went to an all boys Catholic High School in a middle class area of Sydney. Bullying was pretty rife and very much ignored by the hierarchy. I recall one boy in my class being bullied mercilessly. It got to a dangerous situation – he’d arrive at school with dark rings under his friend of mine, Andrew, said to me one day “Can you see what’s happening to David?” I said yes, but there is nothing we can do. Andrew disagreed vigorously and said let’s just bring him into our group of a lunch time. So we did – and slowly but surely the bullying stopped. It was such a courageous act on Andrew’s behalf…  Continue reading

#PPBF: When I Was King – Sibling Rivalry

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Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday. Before I share not one, not two, but three wonderful books that address the topic of sibling rivalry…I want to encourage you to hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog where you will find many other awesome picture book reviews. AND, if you are an illustrator or an aspiring one, please check out her NEW Illustrator Contest.

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I also want to give a shout-out to Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo, a month-long challenge for those who want to/love to write rhyming picture books. Every day, Angie’s blog has a post that is a complete workshop in itself…with Golden Quill guests who share information and inspiration. I’ve always loved poetry…Angie’s posts are like a college course…deeply examining the subject and then relating it to writing picture books. The Facebook page interaction is amazing and so helpful. As of today, there are 200 participants registered! The critique groups that were formed at the beginning of the month are proving to be incredibly supportive. Even if you didn’t sign up before…or you don’t think you can participate fully, please check out the blog posts…each one is worth its weight in gold!

And now to our picture book review!

When I first started blogging, most of my posts were geared towards parents with young children. In past year or so, since I’ve been so actively involved in writing (and learning how to write) picture books, many of my posts have had a more ‘writerly’ emphasis. But the Building Self-Esteem Using Picture Books and Other Activities teleseminar I did on Wednesday, reminded me that parenting concerns are still number one with me. And, when you think about it, that’s one of the main reasons I want to write great picture books. With that in mind, here are three books that will bring a smile to any parent’s face…and will help older siblings deal with the difficult challenge of accepting and loving a younger brother or sister.

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When I Was King Continue reading