#FridayFive: October 12th, 2018
Hi there! I hope you enjoyed last week’s #fridayfive picks – those of you I heard from said that Dazzle Ships was especially good, and I’m so glad that you liked it! But time marches ever forward, and I’ve found five new books to share with you for this week, some of which can hopefully function as an antidote to the scary and upsetting events we’ve been experiencing in recent days. Here they are:
Dr. Jillian Roberts and Jaime Casap, Ill. Jane Heinrichs
The latest installment in the The World Around Us series, this candid, compassionate introduction to a difficult and complex subject is an excellent way to open up a real life conversation between parents and kids. Definitions of terms are easy to understand, but nuanced enough to avoid oversimplification. Photographs and watercolor and ink illustration are combined with common questions that might occur to children about poverty, such as “What is it like to live on the streets?” and important, but too little-known factoids that help to debunk common myths, such as the increased likelihood of victimization for homeless people and that many are mentally ill or “born into families where they are hurt and neglected.” Best of all, the book provides ample, pragmatic resources for those interested in helping children who are living in poverty.
Sarah Lynne Reul
With Hurricanes Florence and Michael fresh in kids’ minds, and so many school shootings in the past year, this book seems relevant and even necessary to me. The titular “bad news” is never identified explicitly, but that makes it easier for children hearing the story to relate it to their own lives. The little girl at its center sees that her parents are distracted, tearful, and upset, but her teacher gives her class the excellent advice to “look for the helpers” – those who are “trying to make things better in big and small ways.” Gradually, she learns the value of the latter, taking care of her family however she can and noting the incremental, modest improvements that take place with gratitude and gratification.
I can’t exactly be impartial when it comes to a book about a robot learning to understand humans’ emotions, because obviously that is PERFECT for me. I couldn’t love the premise more. All the same, this book makes a strong case for itself even without my enthusiastic endorsement: it comes from Magination Press, the American Psychological Association’s publisher of such excellent emotion-centered titles as Visiting Feelings and Jacqueline and the Beanstalk: A Tale of Facing Giant Fears, both written by psychologists, and this one is perhaps even better than its predecessors. In this charming, simple story, a little girl tries to explain to her hapless robot pal what love is, then moves on to succinct, poetic explanations of anger, worry, and more and the circumstances in which they might come into play for her. Naming our feelings is the first step to coping with them, and so I think this makes an excellent companion to The Breaking News. The book ends with a Note to Parents & Caregivers about discussing feelings with kids, helping them to regulate their emotions, and how to promote empathy.
While we’re on the subject of great new robot-centric picture books, Steve Anthony’s Unplugged struck a cord with me every bit as much as A Box of Butterflies. Kids who beg their parents for more “tech time” will relate to the ‘bot at the center of this story, who, finding itself disconnected from its computer, discovers just how much it has missed out on experiencing. It goes outdoors, connects with nature, and has an all around wonderful time – yet none of this messaging feels pedantic or forced. As the Washington Post reported in May, “screen time” has replaced “green time” overwhelmingly – to the overall detriment of kids. I’ll be the first to say I love tech (I couldn’t exist without a screen, after all!), but I agree with Anthony that a balance is necessary. If your child always begs for just one more minute with their tablet or playing on your phone, this is the book to hand them.
Matt Doeden, ill. Sabrina Miramon
A lot of the books this week talk about events beyond our control and how we respond to them, particularly the non-fiction reads. This book, and the whole You Choose: Fractured Fairy Tales series it’s part of, can help to restore readers’ sense of being in charge and empower them as they navigate through familiar stories in new and dynamic ways. It’s told from three perspectives, takes place in outer space, and makes some welcome and wacky changes to the original tale (for instance, a planet made of chocolate in place of a candy house). These books are addictive, encourage perspective-taking in a lighthearted way, and are just plain fun.
Thanks for reading up on my #fridayfive – if you missed last week’s installment and want to catch up, click here. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of my picks. Until next time, read on!