Posts Tagged ‘death and dying’

Bluebird – Notable Wordless Picture Book Leaves Room for Discussion

Posted on January 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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We have a special affection for wordless picture books and books that explore bullying themes. Bluebird does both.

Check out our page about other Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Bluebird wordless picture book by Bob StaakeBluebird created by Bob Staake
Wordless picture book published by Random House Children’s Books



A small bluebird flies through a city, past an apartment building and toward a school. The bird perches in a tree and watches as a young boy approaches the school. Unlike the other students, he walks alone with his eyes turned downward. Whereas other children chatter happily with their friends, he is slow to walk into his new classroom and take his place. Once he is seated, two classmates laugh and point. For some reason, he is a lonely outcast and the object of ridicule.

The hours tick by and, when the boy leaves school, he is surprised when the friendly bluebird initiates a friendship. The bird chirps at him and follows him through an urban neighborhood. They play hide and seek, they share a cookie, they watch as a group of children play soccer and they arrive at a park where the boy floats a sailboat in a pond. There is time for happy daydreaming and exploring before their adventure takes an ominous turn. The boy and the bird approach a wooded area and are soon met by three miserable bullies. One wants his toy sailboat and, to add force to his threats, he throws a stick, hitting the swooping bluebird. As the violent bullies run from the scene, the bereft boy stands, holding the injured bird.

Highlighted by light blue, grey and white Adobe Photoshop-rendered illustrations, Bluebird is best suited to children aged five and up. With an ending that is open to interpretation, the author-illustrator leaves many questions unanswered. The boy is very much a solitary figure, we don’t know why he is on his own in a large city. We also don’t know why he is ridiculed by his classmates and bullied by the children in the park. This is not a story that satisfactorily resolves bullying rather it is a celebration of friendship. Young readers will have questions and opinions. They will engage in the narrative and, with encouragement, will think about the impact of bullying behavior.

Bluebird at Amazon.com

Bluebird at Amazon.ca

Check out our page about other Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Starred Reviews from
Booklist, April 15, 2013:
“Staake works out an impressive range of emotion… Without use of a single word, this book raises all kinds of simple profundities for kids to question, ponder, imagine, and discuss.”

Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2013:
“…believers and skeptics alike will find something deeply impressive and moving in this work of a singular, fully committed talent.”
Subsequently named a “Best Book 2013″ by Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2013:
“Like nothing you have seen before.”

Included in the Spring 2013 Great Reads from Indie Next List

Publisher’s Weekly interview with Bob Staake

Bluebird has been nominated for a 2013 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award

The Higher Power of Lucky and Talking Openly About the Science of Sex

Posted on September 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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The Higher Power of Lucky and Talking Openly About the Science of SexIn our household, it is not at all unusual for us to talk about sex at the dinner table. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I don’t share intimate details of our relationship, but we do talk about the science of sex with our two sons. We use anatomically correct vocabulary. We answer questions, we share facts and our values. We have always operated this way and can’t understand why more people don’t.

Talking openly about the science of sex is one way to protect children from abuse, disease and unwanted pregnancies. When we talk with our children, we pave the way for our children to talk openly with us.

The Higher Power of Lucky written by Susan Patron
Juvenile fiction / chapter book published by Simon & Schuster Richard Jackson





There has been an uproar over Newbery Medal award winning chapter book, The Higher Power of Lucky because of a reference to a dog’s scrotum. (New York Times Column: With One Word, Children’s Book Sets Off Uproar )
I have had the pleasure to read the entire book and would have no hesitation in sharing it with either of my children.

On the first page of the book, Lucky secretly overhears Sammy relate his “rock-bottom” story… “he saw a rattlesnake on the passenger sear biting his dog, Roy, on the scrotum…”

Ten-year-old Lucky has no idea what a scrotum is and, sadly, trusts no one enough to ask. The significance of this is made more poignent when we learn more about Lucky’s circumstances: her mother died in an accident and her father has abandoned her. Lucky fears that her guardian is about to leave her and force her into an orphanage many miles from where she now lives. She fervently hopes she can find her Higher Power before hitting her own personal “rock-bottom.”

For those who understand that giving children scientific names for body parts is not sexy or sexual – award winning chapter book, The Higher Power of Lucky presents no threat. Read it and enjoy the wonderful characters, the dangerous desert setting and Lucky’s joy in finding her Higher Power.

The Higher Power of Lucky won the 2007 Newbery Medal

- See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Higher-Power-of-Lucky/Susan-Patron/9781416901945#sthash.CWSHyn4Y.dpuf

Susan Patron’s Website


The Higher Power of Lucky at Amazon.com

The Higher Power of Lucky at Amazon.ca


Loving A Grand Old Tree by Mary Newell DePalma

Posted on February 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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A Grand Old Tree written and illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma

“Once there was a grand old tree. Her roots sank deep into the earth, her arms reached high into the sky. She was home to many creatures.”

Lovingly written and illustrated, A Grand Old Tree is a wonderful tribute to an aging fruit tree. We watch as squirrels scamper, birds chirp and bees buzz in the branches of the tree. Through the seasons, we witness her bloom and produce seeds to blow from her branches. We consider how many leaves she has produced.

One moonlit winter night, she falls. Snow covers her weary trunk and branches. When spring arrives, we can see her offspring growing nearby and we know her decaying trunk is still home to raccoons, insects and lichen. We appreciate her legacy and understand that her children and grandchildren are now growing, flowering, and sowing.

Both informative and quietly reassuring, this is a picture book children will enjoy again and again.

Note: there is a concrete poem (the text is printed to represent the trunk of a tree) in the book.

Teaching suggestions from the author’s website

A Grand Old Tree at Amazon.com

A Grand Old Tree at Amazon.ca

Be sure to visit our page highlighting
picture books about caring for our environment,
ecosystems, recycling,
reducing our environmental footprint and more
.
Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.


Storytime Standouts offers interlined paper for (almost) every occasion, check out the entire collection by visiting our Interlined Paper page.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Tree with bluebird

Tree theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Tree including roots

Tree theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth Offers So Many Beautiful Ways to Pray

Posted on February 7th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Grandad's Prayers of the Earth Offers So Many Beautiful Ways to Pray
Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth – written by Douglas Wood, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Picture Book published by Candlewick Press



This lovely, award-winning book is a tribute to the natural world, the special relationship between a boy and his grandfather and the comfort of prayer.

While on a forest walk together, a young boy asks his grandfather about prayer. His grandfather pauses and then encourages the boy to look at the natural beauty around him and observe carefully, “These are all ways to pray, ” said Grandad, “but there are more…The tall grass prays as it waves its arms beneath the sky,and flowers pray as they breathe their sweetness into the air.”

A moving tribute to the love between a child and his grandparent, Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels. Best suited to children five and up.


Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.com

Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth at Amazon.ca



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