Little People, Big Dreams

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My petites and I have been swooning over the series Little People, Big Dreams from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.  These books are absolute perfection, down to the gorgeous illustrations and the stories that they tell.

Discover the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists.  All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

These darlings entered the children’s book scene last year and have been making quite the impression on parents and petites alike.

Currently there are seven titles available in this series in the US.

What we love the most about this series is that the biographies are wonderfully written in a beautiful story, that captures just what makes these women so incredible, so special, they perfectly depict the life and accomplishments of these inspiring women.  Sometimes biographies for children can feel disjointed or not complete, but Little People, Big Dreams has accomplished is to create stories that flow and are a pleasure to read aloud.

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Another component that I think is so important is that these books are honest, they don’t gloss over the struggles of these women, they share them.  They do this in a way that brings about conversation with your petites, a way that allows you as a parent to have meaningful conversations with your child.  For example, when we were reading Maya Angelou, it discusses how Maya was treated unfairly because of the color of her skin.  My petites thought that this was outrageous and we continued to discuss this for days after reading the story.  Talking about how even now some people are cruel and what we can do to help and show love to all people and stand up when we see something that is unkind or cruel.

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What is so unique and special about this series is that they are done by different authors and illustrators, each book is vibrantly illustrated.  We love the seriously artistic flair to them including gorgeous endpapers, simplistic covers that showcase the outstanding people, even the spines of the book look amazing on a shelf.  These are gorgeous books through and through from the messages of hope and inspiration that they share to the gorgeous art covering the pages.   We can’t wait to see what biographies are coming out next and get them on our shelves.

Bloggers Note: I was given copies of Amelia Earhart and Maya Angelou in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.  Thank you to Quarto for permission to use the images within this post.

Books About Moving Away

Moving can be really stressful and upsetting for petites.  Recently I was asked about what books I would recommend for a petite who was struggling with the loss of their friend who moved far away.  Here are some recommendations of books that we think are not only fabulous stories, but stories that could really help a petite who is missing their friend.  These are the stories that are perfect for petites who are moving or staying behind.

Before I LeaveBefore I Leave by Jessixa Bagley (Roaring Brook Press, 2016) is a beautiful story about two friends Aaron and Zelda, who are going to be separated by a move. This story touches on all the feels and emotions that happen when a little one is going through the transition of moving. This book is filled with sweet illustrations that help petites to think about how they might feel. This book has less than 100 words and I believe that this is what makes this book so incredibly special.  I love that Jessixa talks about the worry of moving and not being able to see your friends as much as you like, but also helps to resolve that worry by showing Zelda reading letters from her dear friend and holding close the memories that they had together.

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A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle (Simon Spotlight, 2014) is a great story about a hermit crab who outgrows his shell, he finds new sea creatures to help him with this transition.   Eventually he will outgrow this shell and need to make new friends again.  What we love about this book, like all Carle books are the illustrations, they are gorgeous and vibrant.   One other aspect of this book is that it has opportunities to learn about new sea creatures as well as do some counting along the way.

 

 

Yard SaleYard Sale by Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo (Candlewick, 2015) is a gorgeously illustrated book about big changes for one petite.  Her family is moving from their home into an apartment and she needs to get rid of a lot of her things in order to fit everything into their new home.  I think that this book speaks to so many families who have had to downsize and move to new home, but why I am so excited about this book is the message that home is who you choose to live with not where you live.

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-8-33-05-pmJuna’s Jar
 by Jane Bahk and Felicia Hoshino (Lee & Low Books, 2015), is the perfect addition to your petites shelf. It is about a young girl named Juna, her family has a large jar of kimchi in their fridge and when the kimchi is all gone she sometimes get to keep the jar.  Juna is also a girl who loves adventures especially ones with her best friend Hector.  Sadly, one day Juna goes to get Hector and learns that he has moved from his grandmother’s house to a new house far away. Juna is devastated that she didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.  Her older brother, Minho, tries to cheer her up by buying her a fish to put into her special jar.  As Juna goes on these magical adventures inspired by whatever is in her special jar, she searches in her dreams for her dear friend Hector.  One night she is able to check in on Hector and realizes that he is happy and that he too has a special jar.  The story ends just as you hoped it would with Juna wishing of what to put into her jar when she unexpectedly meets a new friend and we can only assume the adventures continue.  We love how relatable this book is, many children live in apartments and many live with extended family of some sort, this book honors that.
screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-8-40-35-pmA Year With Marmalade by Alison Reynolds and Health McKenzie (Little Simon, 2013) is a story of two friends, Ella and Maddy.  They do everything together, but one day Maddy tells Ella that she is moving away and asks her to care for her cat Marmalade. What is so wonderful about this book is that it discusses how Ella tries to carry on and do things that were fun before and now they just aren’t as fun.  This is something that all petites who have had a friend move away will understand, that it just doesn’t feel the same, nor should it.  That missing a friend is okay.   It is a really sweet story, in the end Maddy returns and the friends are together again.
Half a World AwayHalf a World Away by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood. (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007)  Is a wonderful book for petites who have friends or family who live very far away.  Amy and Louie are the best of friends. They build towers as high as the sky, they look for magical creatures in clouds, and they always greet one another with their special call.  But then Amy’s family moves across the ocean and they have to find ways to be friends from such a far distance.  This book doesn’t have a “happy ending” of friends being united, but more so a realistic ending of what sometimes happens when friends move away.  This book discusses what might be the same in a long distance friendship and what can sometimes be a struggle.
A Kiss GoodbyeA Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn and Barbara L. Gibson (Tanglewood, 2007) which may look familiar because it is part of one of the most loved series for petites The Kissing Hand.  In this story you will read about Chester raccoon who is moving away from his friends because the trees in his forest are being cut down, so his family packs up in search of a new home.  This book is relatable because many children do not look forward to moving, to new friends or new adventures and that is the same for Chester.  What is fantastic is that there is always a bright side and the new tree Chester moves to isn’t so bad and he even makes a new friend.
screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-2-02-01-pmHerman’s Letter by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2014)  What do you do when your best friend in the whole wide world has to move far away?  Well, you write lots and lots of letters.   Sometimes it can be hard to write letters when your friend who moved away seems to be having a lot more fun than you are.  This is a fantastic story of Herman the bear and Henry the raccoon and how they navigate their long distance friendship.  This book has really fun lift the flaps and makes it all the more enjoyable to read with your petites.
If I’ve missed any books that you think would be a perfect addition to this list, please tell me about them in the comments below.

Miss Rumphius Makes the World More Beautiful

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Miss Rumphius by two time Caldecott winning author and illustrator Barbara Cooney (Viking Books for Young Readers, 1982).  Cooney won the National Book Award the year it was publsihed.  She was also the U.S. nominee in 1994 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition for creators of children’s books.  This book was first published in 1982 and continues to strike a chord readers of all ages.   This book is one that I remember checking out of the library as a child and just dreaming of what I would do to make the world more beautiful.

Fast forward thirty years and I find myself reading it with the same enthusiasm I had all those years ago, but this time to my petites.  This story is about Alice Rumphius, who dreamed of traveling the world, living her life in a house by the sea, and most importantly follow her grandfathers advice to make the world more beautiful.  This story, is absolutely timeless – what she does to make the world a more beautiful place.  The illustrations of this book are so stunning and so perfect, you will be transported alongside Alice on her mission to make the world more beautiful.  Miss. Rumphius over the course of many years drops lupine seeds all around her community filling it with beauty for years to come.
During the reading of this story we stop at many parts and discuss what is happening.  We discuss where we might like to travel, or what jobs we think would make us happy, where we might like to live; etc.  When the story ends, I asked my petites what think they would do to make the world more beautiful…and I waited my seven year old took only a few moments, she said that she would like to swim all over the oceans of the world and collect all of the garbage that people have left behind.  My three year old very thoughtfully told us that she would like to help the birds, by taking care of them and feeding them if they cannot find food on their own.
I was thrilled to have this amazing interaction with my petites, this book provides you with such a remarkable way to connect with your children, to understand what they are thinking, what they value and how they feel like they might be able to contribute to making the world a better or more beautiful place.
This book got me thinking of how much fun it would be to share this story with students, to read them this beautiful story and have them think of the three things that they would like to accomplish like Miss. Rumphius and then what they would like to do to make the world more beautiful.  There are so many possibilities of how you could you this book in your classroom.
Writing:
  • one or two sentences and a picture
  • free write about what they would do to make the world more beautiful
  • five paragraphs about who they would make the world more beautiful, why they would want to do it and how they could encourage others to make the world more beautiful
  • brainstorming with table group ways that they could make their community more beautiful and then share aloud
  • make a list of the things “Ways in Which My Life Would Be Different” and “Ways in Which My Life Would Be The Same” if I lived on a tropical island
  • Brainstorm several examples of beauty in the world. Sorting ideas into different lists, such as:
    • natural things
    • made by humans
    • things to do: actions

Art:

  • make drawings or collages to represent what they would do to make the world more beautiful
  • recreate their favorite part of the book
  • paint lupines using bubble wrap dipped in paint
  • finger painting lupines

Science:

  • tropical island study: learn the plants and animals that live there. (like the island Miss. Rumphius visited)
  • buy a packet of lupine seeds and plant them and do predictions about how the seeds will grow and then plant them around the community or the school
  • Watch The Magic School Bus “Goes to Seed” episode to learn more about seeds

When I worked in the elementary world, I had the most fun making  bulletin boards, with one of my very best teacher friends, and this one would be amazing to create a hillside with lupines filled with what the kids would do to make the world a better place/more beautiful.

What I love most about this book is that it is still so relevant, maybe now more than ever.  Barbara Cooney filled a void that was present at the time in children’s books, a void that I believe many authors and illustrators are still trying to navigate.  Here are her thoughts on receiving the Caldecott in 1959:

 “I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting…. It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand…. a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to—or draw down to—children.” 

We couldn’t agree more.  This is a timeless tale that petites of all ages will enjoy.

Cult Classics for Petites

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EDITED 1/26/2017: I have learned that KinderGuides authors Fredrik Colting and Melissa Medina are being sued for copyright infringement concerning all four of their books mentioned in this post.  To read more about this click, here.

We all have those favorite books, the ones that we keep on our shelves long after we finish the last page.  Those books that we hold dear, books that cause us to ponder something greater than ourselves.  As an English major I am thrilled for the day when I can share my absolute favorites with my petites, but that will be years from now…or will it?

Recently KinderGuides by Melissa Medina and Fredrik Colting (Moppet Books, 2016) came onto the kid lit scene and has adapted cult classics into petite sized reads of some of the most popular, commonly sought out, revered books around.

It’s not about growing up quickly, but rather about sowing that seed of appreciation for classic literature at an early age” Frederik Colting

Let’s spend a moment talking about the current trend of creating books that are classics, but in a package that is suitable for petites.  There are many books out there that re-envision the classics.  Some of our absolute favorites are BabyLit’s board books that use the classics as a conduit to teach petites about first skills, they are quite literally perfect primers.  What KinderGuides is doing is for slightly older petites, more in the age range of roughly 6-12 year olds.  These books are learning guides, that take classic stories and make them suitable for petites to digest and start to talk about.  Not to mention, KinderGuides is perfect for bibliophile parents – it is really fun to have an introduction into beloved classics minus the sex, drugs and violence.

The first four books that have been published and are currently in stores now are: The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway, On The Road by Jack Kerouac, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote.  Other titles that are currently in the works are: The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

“The goal of all of this is to get them really psyched about these books now, so that they’ll want to read the originals later,” Ms. Medina said.

New York Times Interview, 2016

On The Road by Jack Kerouac is one of the most iconic authors of the Beat Generation his book On the Road is a cult classic for sure.  In this KinderGuides book you will read a short bio about Kerouac then hope right into a summarized version of On the Road.  In this summary you will get a general idea of On the Road and the adventures that Sal and Dean have together along with some of the characters that they meet along the way.  During reading  there were a couple of times where my petite asked questions about the ambiguity of the summary.  This story reads more like a bulleted summary at places and doesn’t flow when read aloud like you might expect.  However, I do believe that readers who love On the Road will love sharing this book with their petites.

 

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway is one of my absolute favorite stories of all time.  Let’s first discuss the illustrations, they are stunningly vibrant, engaging and seem to capture the tone of the novel.  The summary for this book is spot on and gives you a real sense of what happened in the book.  I actually think that this might be a perfect addition to a classroom for a language learner so that they could use this guide to gain a more complete understanding of the original text.

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I love that through the reading of this book my petite was engaged and wanting to know more about what would happen to Santiago once he caught the fish and what it must have felt like to pull his boat ashore with a pretty much eaten carcass.  I believe that these conversations are the root of what Ms. Medina and Mr. Colting were aiming for when they created KinderGuides.

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Here is a link to the New York Times piece about KinderGuides.

Bloggers Note: I was given the books mentioned in this post for an honest review.  The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.  Thank you to KinderGuides for use of images from The Old Man and The Sea.

 

Illuminature – So unique…so special

Illuminature by Carnovksy and Rachel Williams (Wide Eyed Press, 2016) is by far one of the most unique books we’ve laid our eyes on in quite some time.  This will have you and your petites spending hours pouring over the images and discovering new animals in their natural habitats.

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This book covers:

  • The Congo Rain Forest
  • The Simpson Desert
  • Lock Lomond
  • The Andes Mountains
  • Weddell and Ross Seas
  • The Redwood Forest
  • East Siberian Taiga
  • The Serengeti Plains
  • The Ganges River Basin
  • The Apo Reef
  • East Siberian Taiga

Within each habitat you will learn about the destination, which continents, number of species and the size of the habitat.

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Page Without Viewing Lens

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Daytime Animals

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Habitat

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Nighttime and Twilight Animals

Once you have chosen your first destination you will learn all about what that particular part of the world has to show you, then you will go to the observation deck where you can use the special view finder to search out the flora and fauna.  Your petites will also enjoy checking out the species guide to learn more.

How this amazing book comes to life, is this magic viewing lens.  With the red lens you will see creatures that are out during the daytime – diurnal animals.  With the green lens the plants will come to life.  With the blue lens you will be able to view the nocturnal animals.

petite-stag-favoriteThis book is so much fun, I cannot express to you how fabulous and unique this book is.  I promise your petites will absolutely love spending time looking at this book.  It is beyond gorgeous and so much fun.  The only downside is deciding who will get to hold the magic view finder first.

Let me know what your petites think of this, I can’t wait to hear how much they love it.

Bloggers Note: I received this book for free from Wide Eyed Press for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.  Also thank you to Wide Eyed Press for use of the images in this post.

Let me introduce you to Warren the 13th

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Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye written by Tania Del Rio and Illustrated by Will Staehle (Quirk Books, 2015) is a perfectly mystifying middle grade read.  This book is about Warren who is the bell hop, valet, grounds-keeper and basically does everything around the ancient hotel kind of guy.  This isn’t your average hotel either, it is filled with spooky corridors and mysterious clues that Warren needs to sort out before his horrible Aunt Anaconda.

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What your kids will love is the clues that need to be solved throughout this story, the secret codes, the puzzles, ghosts, mysterious guests covered in bandages – this is the perfect introduction into mysteries.  What makes this book so special is the two color illustrations featured on every page, oversized hard cover format, two column format that gives this book an old timey feel and of course Warren – who is quite the sleuth.  Here is a link for the book trailer:

 

What is even more fun is that the lovely folks over at Quirk books sent me a book and some tattoos for one special reader!  The giveaway ends on Friday the 13th at Midnight, be sure to enter for a chance to win this fantastic middle grade read.

friday-the-13th-imageHow to enter, comment on who you would like to share this fabulous book with in the comments here on the blog, our Facebook page or on our Instagram page.  My petites will chose one lucky winner at Midnight.

Also, be sure to check out this awesome Activity Packet Free Download, here from our friends at Quirk books.

Bloggers Note: I was given this book for free from Quirk Books for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Thank You!

2016 was a busy year for us here at The Petite Stag, we read hundreds, okay more like thousands of books.  We fell hard for Mo Willems, like really hard, my 7 year old has a deep love for Elephant and Piggie and has read all 25 books multiple times.  So when Mr. Willems came to Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle a few months ago it was clear that we needed to go and meet the genius behind this series that has delighted petites, mine in particular, for years.

Mo Willems in hilarious.  His books are proof that his writing is funny and endearing, but his demeanor and presence had the entire audience in stitches.  We had the best time listening to him read The Thank You Book and we even got a preview of Nanette’s Baguette, made even more special by the animated reading that Mo enthusiastically did for us.

We wanted to say thank you to all of you, those of you who started out with us in January of 2014, when I still wasn’t sure exactly what this blogs direction would be, to those of you who have joined us along the way.  Thank you!  Since this blog is still growing, your following, sharing, likes and comments really do mean so much.

So we wanted to say thank you by doing a very special giveaway!!  When we went to see Mo Willems, we were sure to get our copies of The Thank You Book signed, but we also got one signed just for one of you!

Here is how you enter  The Thank You Book Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Enter & Rules

  1. Follow us on Facebook at The Petite Stag
  2. Follow us on Instagram at The Petite Stag
  3. Share the giveaway with your bookish friends, tag them in the post or share to your feeds.
  4. Be sure to click on the link above for the Rafflecoper link, so that your entries can be counted.

This giveaway is open to US Residents only.  One winner will be chosen on Sunday, January 8th at midnight to receive an autographed copy of Mo Willems’ The Thank you Book.

 

 

Family Traditions and Love – Rice and Rocks

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Rice and Rocks by Sandra L. Richards with illustrations by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan (Wise Ink Creative Publishing, 2016) is a story filled with so many lovely messages for petites about family, traditions, friendship and oh so much more.

In this story you will meet Giovanni, a little boy who loves to play his trumpet, read Godzilla comic books and hang out with his Congo African grey parrot, Jasper.  Giovanni has invited his three best friends over for dinner at his house, when he realizes it is Sunday and his grandmother will be making her traditional Sunday dinner he is a little bit worried.  He really wants to change the tradition for the day to be able to make a meal that he thinks his friends might like more.
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With the help of his auntie Giovanni begins to see that traditions are all around us, that every family has certain traditions and some of them are even similar.  His auntie employs a little bit of magic and turns Jasper into a very large parrot and they all fly off together to get a better understanding of the traditions his friends families might share.  Giovanni’ three friends who are coming over all have their own special traditions too, what is so important is the understanding that even though we are all different we share in the same love of our families and the traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.
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Through gorgeously illustrated peaks into the Japanese, Puerto Rican, and New Orleanian cultures we see that the tradition of service rice and beans is something all four friends share together.  Richards provided interesting bits of information about these different traditional foods coupled with Megan Kayleigh Sullivan’s illustrations you will be completely and utterly delighted.
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This story ends just as it should, with Giovanni having a new-found appreciation and pride in the traditional Rice and Rocks that his grandma makes.  The best part, his friends love this amazing dish!
This is the first picture book from Sandra L. Richards and it’s just wonderful.  It is so poignant and speaks to so many families.  There is so much to discuss and to learn about in this book.  Rice & Rocks, I believe, will start important conversations with petites and their families about traditions and why they are so important.  If traditions aren’t currently in place, I have a feeling that this book will make petites want to start having traditional meals together as a family.
This book is fabulous, the illustrations are gorgeous and perfectly capture the love that is a family.  This book should be in every single library and classroom.  Being proud of where we all come from, what we believe in and the traditions that make our family special and unique are so important and this book does a marvelous job of explaining that in a way petites will be able to relate.
This book is geared for petites around 4-10 years old.  Although the illustrations are so eye-catching that they hold the interest of even younger petites.
Bloggers Note: A huge thank you to Sandra L. Richards and Megan Kayleigh Sullivan for use of the images in this post and for a copy of this book; all thoughts and opinion expressed are my own.

Petite Builders, here is a book for you.

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Sam and the Construction Site by Tjibbe Veldkap & Alice Hoogstad (Lemniscaat, 2015) is a silly story about a little boy Sam who loves to watch the construction site in his neighborhood.  Like most petites he loves watching what is happening on the site and watching the big machines and what they can do.  He imagines what it might be like to drive all those big machines.

One day he is tasked with watching the site and making sure nothing bad happens during the workers lunch.  While he is watching two bigger kids come and dare him to enter the construction site.  They bully him for a bit until he enters the site, this is when the chaos ensues.  Sam gets into all sorts of trouble, and as you’re reading you’re thinking oh my goodness, Sam!  However, there is a surprise in store for you dear reader.  Sam is not mischievous as you might expect, in fact Sam is saving the day with his keen sense of how the machines work.

What we love about this book are the fun illustrations.  We also love how this book is over-sized, making it the perfect book to lay on the ground and read together.  You’re going to love all the details of the construction site.

This book would be perfect for petites who love to watch construction sites and observe how the big machines work.

Bloggers Note: A huge thank you to Lemniscaat for this amazing book, the review and opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

The Journey

I have taught for many years as an English as an Additional Language teacher.  I taught students from kindergarten to high school.  In working with so many children over almost ten years I was able to meet so many lovely families, who emigrated to the United States.  In many instances, it was my complete honor and privilege to know these students and their families.  I have heard so many stories about their journey’s, no two ever the same.  Some refugees, children of diplomats, university sabaticle and exchanges, some legal, some not so legal avenues, but all on a quest for a better life for their families.  The sacrifices, the hope and endurance all for the hope of something better.  The same reason my great-grandparents emigrated to the United States roughly 100 years ago.

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In The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye Books, 2016) you will find a compelling story told from the perspective of a young child, who much like most children spends the summer by the water…until the war comes to her city.  Like many of my students who were impacted by war our narrator looses her father.  From there, the journey begins.

This is a beautiful story that needs to be shared in every single household.  This is the type of book that makes a difference.  Reading this book even one time, can create a sense of empathy for this young girl and her family, create an understanding of what it truly means to leave everything…for the hope of something better.  This little girls family had an incredibly long and arduous journey.  This book is an honest look at the migrant crisis we see daily in the news.  This story discusses some very relevant topics, but in a way that help to build empathy, compassion and understanding.  This story also ends on a high note, with our narrator and her mother and brother – safe and filled with hope.

Here is a link for discussion questions from Walker Books that you may find helpful in discussing this book with students.