Posts Tagged ‘social situations’

The Cost of Being “In” – Two of a Kind by Jacqui Robbins

Posted on November 19th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Two of a Kind written by Jacqui Robbins and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Anti bullying picture book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Kayla and Melanie love to work together on projects. They are very much alike and sometimes they dress the same way. At recess, they sit together on the jungle gym. They don’t want anyone else to join them.

Anna and Julisa also like to be partners at school. They both wear glasses and sometimes they laugh so hard that their glasses fall off. At recess, Anna and Julisa sit together. They are friendly and would be happy to have any of their classmates join them.

In class, Kayla and Melanie sometimes make fun of the other children and, one day, they make fun of Julisa and her glasses. When Anna is unexpectedly partnered with Melanie for a science project, she is able to share her knowledge.

Melanie says I am so smart. She says maybe I am cool after all…
“Hey,” she says, pulling my arm away from the mess. “Do you want to play with us?”

Like magic, Anna is invited to sit with Kayla and Melanie at recess. Anna’s two new companions laugh at Julisa and continue to exclude her.

Fortunately, Anna pauses to consider her relationship with Julisa and before long she realizes where true friendship and her loyalty lies.

Two of a Kind is a thought-provoking depiction of how easily children can be lured by the desire to be popular and how difficult it is to be outcast. Sure to prompt discussions about friendship, loyalty and standing up for what is right, it is best suited to readers aged five and up.

Readers will be interested to know that Matt Phelan also illustrated Susan Patron’s The Higher Power of Lucky and Betty G. Birney’s The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs – two of my favourite novels for middle grade readers.

Add this anti bullying picture book to your bookshelf –

Two of a Kind at Amazon.com

Two of a Kind at Amazon.ca


Wordless Picture Book The Boys by Jeff Newman

Posted on June 8th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Jeff Newman’s wordless picture book, The Boys



Storytime Standouts looks at The Boys by Jeff Newman, a wordless picture book about social situations, baseball and joining in.The Boys created by Jeff Newman
Almost Wordless Picture Book published by Simon and Schuster



When a young lad moves houses with his family, he is anxious to find a baseball game in his new neighbourhood. He unpacks his baseball glove, bat and spikes and ventures out into the neighbourhood.

Once he arrives at the park, he hesitates, watching some children from afar. Rather than joining the kids’ game, he is dejected. He slowly approaches a park bench and sits down. Four aging men are already seated, feeding the pigeons.

The following day, the disappointed boy stores his baseball gear away and joins the men sitting on the bench. He helps to feed the pigeons.

The men take note of his appearance when he joins them on the bench a third time. He looks old – probably much older than they feel! It is time for action.

The men give up sitting on the park bench, instead playing on the playground monkey bars and the slide. They are smiling and laughing. They have been transformed. When a bike awaits the boy the following day, it is clear the men think it is time to get moving – they climb onto bikes, a scooter and a wagon, annoying the pigeons and our boy. He just wants to sit.

Little does he know, a plan is afoot. On Sunday the men will play a baseball game. They supply a batting helmet and a bat, and watch as their hesitant young friend hits one “out of the park.”

Confidence regained, the youngster approaches the boys and girls playing at the park and joins their baseball game. The cronies cheer from the stands.

There is much to love about The Boys . Boldly illustrated, the almost wordless picturebook introduces themes of social isolation, self confidence, ageism and the value of play. Readers will find it both thought-provoking and reassuring.

Suitable for children kindergarten age and older.

One of Kirkus Reviews’ 2010 Best Children’s Books

The Boys at Amazon.com

The Boys at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books


Here Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman

Posted on April 18th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book about family life, emotions and social situations, Here Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-SussmanHere Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Georgia Graham
Picture book about jealousy, emotions and blended families, published by Tundra Books



When a six year old boy, his grandmother and her new husband go on vacation to a theme park, all is well until Hortense arrives. Hortense is Bob’s granddaughter and she is suddenly a threat. Nana shares her hotel room with Hortense, she sings “Lavender’s Blue” to her and she sits next to her for all the scary rides. To add insult to injury, Hortense even devises a special name for Nana!

Nana’s grandson is despondent. He can’t believe that Hortense has taken his special place with his grandmother.

It is not until Nana and Gramps take a ride in the Tunnel of Love that the two children are able to gain perspective and learn to like each other.

Note: Here Comes Hortense! is a follow up to Heather Hartt-Sussman and Georgia Graham’s picture book titled Nana’s Getting Married

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.com

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.ca


A Simple “Hello” Can Make a World of Difference – So Close by Natalia Colombo

Posted on November 11th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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So Close written and illustrated by Natalia Colombo
Picture book published by Tundra Books





With a message that will resonate with adults as well as children, So Close reminds us that the possibility of meeting a new friend is often not far away. Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit rush past each other every day, not realizing what they are missing in their haste. Beautifully illustrated with painterly artwork, So Close offers a gentle message that a smile and a friendly, “Hello” can make a world of difference.

I use this title at the beginning of my Celebrating Diversity workshops. I think we have all had the experience of missing an opportunity for a friendship or discovering a friendship under surprising circumstances. So Close is well-suited to classroom use. It could be used to encourage discussion of friendship, loneliness, social situations, hurrying and over-scheduling.

Well suited to children 4 years and up. Also available in a Spanish edition.

So Close at Amazon.com

So Close at Amazon.ca


You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.

Our Newest Contributor Introduces A Great Summer Read: The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

Posted on August 2nd, 2011 by Jody

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The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

It’s safe to say that reading a book that you can relate to provides a more enjoyable read. Add humour, sibling rivalry, sibling loyalty, and a little competition just makes it better. In The Lemonade War, Jacqueline Davies has created a book that not only encompasses all of these elements, but speaks to a variety of age groups. While her story details the ‘battle of the stands’ between brother and sister, Davies weaves in the topics of friendship, determination, ambition, and forgiveness. She does so through realistic characters, funny dialogue, and a number of interesting situations that the kids find themselves in as a result of their war.

The Lemonade War - Middle grade fiction that explores friendship, determination, ambition, forgiveness.Evan Treski loves and even likes his little sister…most of the time. Jessie Treski idolizes her big brother. While she is smart enough to skip a grade and go into grade four, the same grade her brother is going into, she knows that she’s not the best ‘people person’. That’s Evan’s gift; hers is math. When the two find out they will not only be in the same grade, but the same class, Jessie thinks this will just make things easier for them. She’ll help Evan with math and he’ll help her with friends. Evan feels differently. He’s mortified. How can he possibly go into the same class with his baby sister? How can he keep his friends if they find out how dumb he is compared to her? Rather than telling each other how they feel, they embark, in typical sibling fashion, on an entrepreneurial war. They will see what matters more; people skills and flexibility or strategic plans and organization. One of them will win The Lemonade War, but both of them are willing to do almost anything to come out ahead.

As a teacher, I thought this was a fun, light, close-to-summer read. Though it’s not new, I hadn’t heard of it and I didn’t expect to enjoy it nearly as much as I did. Once I read it to my grade five class, who enjoyed and connected with the sibling rivalry, I brought it home to read to my 8 year old daughter. Re-reading it, this time as a mom, I was able to connect to it on a new level. My 8 year old reminds me of Jessie with her thorough plans and detailed organization. My 5 year old daughter reminds me of Evan, with his charm and easy social skills. It was easy to imagine the two of them participating in a Lemonade War of their own. Jacqueline Davies realistically portrays the feelings of her main characters, making you connect with both Evan and Jessie. That connection has you turning the pages, unsure of who you want to come out the winner!

The Lemonade War website includes teachers’ guides, lesson plans, a wordsearch and more.

The Lemonade War book trailer

The Lemonade War at Amazon.com

Lemonade War at Amazon.ca


Noni Says No – picture book gem explores friendship and gaining the confidence to be assertive

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Noni Says No, a picture book about friendship and assertiveness.Noni Says No written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Genevieve Cote
Picture book about friendship published by Tundra Books



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Noni is a capable, confident young girl most of the time. She knows the alphabet forwards and back, she helps with her baby brother and she is fine when she walks to her friend’s house.

“But now, if her friend Susie asks to sleep over, Noni says yes, even though she sometimes wants to say no. If Susie asks to play with Noni’s special doll, Noni says yes. If Susie asks to borrow her favorite dress, Noni says yes. Noni absolutely, positively cannot say no.”

Noni Says No is a thoughtful examination of friendship and how, in some cases, one child’s desire to please another can come at too great a cost. Noni manages well in most situations but, for some reason, she has great difficulty saying “no” to Susie. Readers will infer that Noni is afraid to say “no” because to do so might jeopardize the friendship.

When Susie’s demands finally push Noni too far, Noni arms herself for an anticipated battle and manages to find her voice.

Genevieve Cote’s powerful illustrations depict Noni’s emotions beautifully. Without a doubt, Noni Says No readers will feel compelled to consider what it means to be a friend and how to assert one’s ideas and opinions respectfully in a friendship. The story will be enjoyed by all children four and up and will have a special resonance for those who lack confidence in social situations.

Noni Says No at Amazon.com

Noni Says No at Amazon.ca

Princess Marty McGuire Enchants

Posted on May 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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Marty McGuireMarty McGuire written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Brian Floca

Marty is not yet impressed with grade three. Her former best friend has a new friend who likes dancing. Marty would rather catch frogs than waltz. She misses her friend very much. “Veronice Grace Smithers has stolen my best friend and taken over recess. I’d call Veronica Grace Princess Bossy-Pants if I were allowed to call people names. But I’m not. So I won’t.”

When their teacher announces that the class will be performing The Frog Prince and Marty will be cast as the princess, our young heroine is reluctant to take the stage. Portraying a princess is not for her! Marty McGuire accurately depicts the social challenges experienced by a group of grade three girls as they adapt to change. As well, Marty and her friends manage to find middle ground in this fun, generously illustrated chapter book.

Will be enjoyed by boys and girls, grade two and up.

Marty McGuire at Amazon.com

Marty McGuire at Amazon.ca

You’re Mean, Lily Jean – Transforming a Bully Into a Friend

Posted on February 16th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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You’re Mean, Lily Jean written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Picture book about a social situations published by North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

I recently received an email from a mom. She was concerned about playground dynamics and she went on to explain that her daughter was having a tough time with another girl. Her daughter’s “friend” was dictating the play experience – deciding which children could be involved and each child’s “role.” I was absolutely delighted to have a book recommendation for her: You’re Mean, Lily Jean. Selected: First and Best by Toronto Public Libraries in 2009 and nominated for a Blue Spruce Award,

You’re Mean, Lily Jean tells the story of a new girl who moves into the neighbourhood. Lily Jean is the same age as Sandy and is domineering and a braggart. She joins Sandy and her younger sister Carly for a couple of playdates. Lily Jean does not want Carly to be a part of their imaginary games and each time the three girls play together, Lily Jean dictates what they will play and how they will play. She gives the younger sister, Carly, the less desirable “parts” in their imaginary world. Lily Jean and Sandy are the king and queen, Carly is told to be the dog. Lily and Sandy are cowgirls, Carly is told to be the cow. “She did not want to moo or eat grass, but Lily Jean said she had to if she wanted to play. So she did.”

Lily Jean’s smug appearance and Carly’s bitter disappointment are depicted beautifully by Ms. Denton. Readers will cheer for Carly when Sandy decides she would prefer to play with her younger sister than with an overbearing bully.

You’re Mean Lily Jean is best suited to children four and up. It offers many opportunities for children to consider each girl’s perspective and ways to resolve difficult social situations.

You’re Mean, Lily Jean at Amazon.com

You’re Mean, Lily Jean at Amazon.ca


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