Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Sometimes A Wall…

A group of children play with walls, both figurative and literal, at the neighborhood playground in this rhyming picture book that explores the feelings that come up when walls enter the conversation. Walls have been a big topic of discussion in our adult lives over the last few years, and a book like Sometimes a Wall… helps put things into perspective for children AND adults.

Sometimes A Wall, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Barroux,
(Oct. 2020, OwlKids), $19.95, ISBN: 9781771473736
Ages 3-7

 

There are so many walls at the playground! A sprinkler can make a spill wall; kids can climb a rock wall. These are walls that invite people to work together, to play together. But some walls come between people, as one child finds out when friends make a wall to hide behind, taunting and being cruel to those left out. Being behind a wall gives children a different point of view, as we see one child adopt a crown and refuse to play with others entirely, and then we discover that walls can separate and bring feelings of isolation and regret. But these kids can look at a wall as a new opportunity, and decide to make it a structure that welcomes everyone in the end. Some paint and a feeling of community is all it takes to mend walls and hearts.

The story is touching, using few words, but they are words that wield power, especially when paired with Barroux’s colorful artwork. When the children work together, there’s color and happy faces; when the wall initially goes up, the landscape is dominated by the giant gray wall, giving the children’s cruel facial expressions even more menace; putting a gray cloud around the child left brings a sadness to their posture and to the reader. The artwork and text work beautifully together, never overwhelming the page or the reader, to tell a moving story as eloquently and simply as possible.

A wonderful book to have ready to read to younger children, and a good choice to have available for school-age children, to start important discussions.

A conversation with a friend got author Dianne White thinking about different kinds of walls, both physical and metaphorical. Sometimes a Wall… is an exploration of these, and, with it, an invitation to take down barriers and find common ground. Dianne’s other books include Green on Green and Who Eats Orange? A long-time elementary school teacher, she lives with her family in Gilbert, Arizona. To learn more, and to download discussion guides and more, visit Dianne’s website at DianneWrites.com. You can follow her on Twitter @diannewrites or on Facebook.

Barroux lives in Paris, France, and has studied photography, art, sculpture, and architecture. His work has been published in The New York Times and The Washington Post. He believes that the world needs fewer walls and more trees. You can follow him on Instagram @barrouxillustrations.

“Rhyme, rhythm, and simple art – all including references to walls – show children expressing different emotions and behaviors… Mending walls for the nursery crowd.” – Kirkus Reviews

Author Dianne White has put together a fantastic packet of information for readers, parents, and educators:

The “Why” Behind the Book

A Letter to Parents and Educators

A Letter to Young Readers

Discussion Guide

Sometimes a Wall… Discussion Guide

 
A lesson in 3 Movements…
Intro to the Unit (PLEASE READ FIRST!)
1st Movement: TOGETHER (I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët)
2nd Movement: APART (Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi)
3rd Movement: REGRET. NEW START? (Sometimes a Wall… by Dianne White, illustrated by Barroux)
 
Coloring Pages for Younger Students
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Book Birthday: Who Eats Orange?

Who Eats Orange?, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Robin Page, (Aug. 2018, Simon & Schuster Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 9781534404083

Ages 3-6

Need a fun, new concept book on your shelves? Who Eats Orange looks at the eating habits of animals from bunnies to bears. Four animals eat one color, and the fifth doesn’t – but eats a different color, which brings us into the next group of animals. There’s quite a bit of information, broken down into simple, easily understandable bites, to be found here: colors, animals and what they eat, and their habitats: “Who eats orange? Bunnies in their hutches do. / Chickens in the henhouse too. / Who else eats orange? Goats. / Pigs. Gorillas too. Gorillas? NO! The repetitive text pattern gets kids ready; they’ll learn quickly who doesn’t eat a chosen color, and join in with a hearty “NO!” when the time comes. The text brings things right back to kids, encouraging them to eat the rainbow, with a colorful spread of fruits and vegetables. The back matter organizes the animals, and their foods, by habitat (farm, Africa, ocean, forest, rainforest, tundra) and provides more information on animals and their culinary tastes.

The digital art is wonderful; reminiscent of one of my favorite realistic animal artists, Steve Jenkins. (Robin Page also dedicates the book to Steve Jenkins, which was pretty great to see.) The vivid artwork stand out against stark white backgrounds, inviting readers to imagine the roughness of a hippo or the bushy fur of a fox and marmot. The faces are gentle, with expressive eyes that will draw storytime fans right in. It’s such an interactive book, with opportunities to get the kids talking about animals, food, and color. There’s an activity kit available for download that comes with animals masks to cut out, a rainbow recipe, and writing activities.

I read Who Eats Orange, along with one of my old favorites, Who Hops?, to my 6-year-old. Who Hops? works in a similar manner, introducing different animals who hop, swim, crawl… and then one animal that obviously cannot! Anyway, we had big laughs, he pronounced Who Eats Orange “so much fun”, and laughed at me when I suggested he start eating the rainbow with me. Hey, I tried.

Who Eats Orange is way too much fun for toddlers and preschoolers! A fun add to concepts and animal collections, and a good gift book for rising preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Goodbye Brings Hello gets kids ready for life’s big moments!

Goodbye Brings Hello, by Dianne White/Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman, (June 2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), $17.99, ISBN: 9780544798755

Recommended for readers 3-5

Goodbye Brings Hello is all about those little goodbyes we experience as kids: the favorite shirt that fit just fine over the summer is just a little snug in the winter; moving from crayons to pencils; going from Velcro to shoelaces; and the big one: going from a small pre-k to elementary school. The book comforts to kids who may be a little nervous, or stressed, about these new milestones by illustrating a valuable point: for every goodbye, there’s a new hello. For every snug shirt, there’s a new jacket waiting to grow into. Leaving crayons to the realm of coloring books means that you’re learning to write with a pencil. Those Velcro-covered toes are now rocking in a new pair of cool sneakers! And as you move from preschool or kindergarten to elementary school, you’re getting ready to meet new friends, have new experiences, and share many, many hellos.

Simple, colorful art shows children going through their “goodbyes” and “hellos”, with rhyming text leading the reader through each scenario. There are diverse faces, smiling faces, and pensive expressions, all mirroring kids’ emotions at growing up and out of the familiar. The text is encouraging and upbeat, and the digital artwork is joyful, light, almost childlike in its presentation, opening the door to invite kids to draw their own hello/goodbye. This is a great end-of-year read for graduating pre-k and kinders, and a wonderful way to welcome new students in September: a nice, new Hello.

I’m adding this to my school year collection, and will make sure to booktalk this one to the teachers when they look for books to read to their new classes in September. This would be cute, paired with Adam Rex and and Christian Robinson’s School’s First Day of School.

 

When she was five, Dianne White said goodbye to her house and her teacher, Mrs. Dunlap, and hello to a new school, and her newest favorite teacher, Mr. Loop. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the award-winning author of Blue on Blue. She lives in Arizona, where she writes full-time. For more information, and to download a free activity kit, visit diannewrites.com.
Twitter @diannewrites

 

Daniel Wiseman remembers saying goodbye to the training wheels on his bike, and saying a great big hello to skinned knees and elbows. But the freedom of rolling on two wheels was well worth the bumps and bruises. He still rides his (slightly larger) bike almost every day. Daniel loves to draw, and has illustrated several books for children. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Visit him at danieldraws.com.
Instagram @d_wiseman
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