Giveaway open to Canadians.
I’m really excited this month to tell you about an award-winning, Toronto-based children’s author: Frieda Wishinsky. I have several of her Canadian Flyer chapter books in my classroom (they’re terrific historical fiction for kids, and “Beware, Pirates!” was on our School Board’s Battle of the Books reading list last year), but I hadn’t seen her picture books until I received two titles for review: The Queen’s Secret and You’re Mean, Lily Jean.
In The Queen’s Secret (illustrated by Loufane), a little girl wonders about what secret treasure is hidden in the queen’s purse. By the end of the book, she finds out! I absolutely love the illustrations in this one, and the rhyming pattern makes the story flow along (it was even fast-paced enough to keep Maggie’s attention.) I am already excited to use this in my class when we work on prediction, and I’m percolating some ideas for having kids put their own secret items in bags and allowing the other students to guess at the contents. Frannie fell asleep with this book in her hands the first night I read it to her.
You’re Mean, Lily Jean (illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton) is a little bit heavier. It covers the topic of bullying, but not in an obvious “here’s the moral of the story” kind of way. Instead, the situation just unfolds as it is: sisters Carly and Sandy deal with the unfair behaviour of their new neighbour, Lily Jean, yet manage to find a happy ending. What I like about this book is that it depicts the type of bullying I see most often: not the big, scary kid beating up a small child for his lunch money, but the ‘mean girls’ type of behaviour that often goes unnoticed by adults. I honestly got tears in my eyes when first reading how Lily Jean allows Carly to play, but only if she’ll be the most demeaning character in the game (e.g. the dog. “Say bow-bow!” she tells her.)
The press release says “Parents will be eternally grateful for this wonderful new picture book”, but I would have to revise that to include teachers as well. Unfortunately, school is often the scene of the crime for bullying, if not in the classroom than in less-supervised areas (halls, bathrooms, playground) so it’s a good place to spark discussion with kids. I will read it to my students, especially because it empowers children by modelling some of the language they can use, as the victim or the bystander, to attempt to improve their situation. This title is (very deservedly) nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (winner to be announced in November). Good luck, Frieda!
Fans of Frieda, take note: she will be at the Telling Tales Festival in Rockton, ON on Sunday, September 19th, and also at Word on The Street (Children’s Reading Tent) at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 26th. This literacy festival is a great place for booklovers of all ages. We’ve never been, but it’s on the calendar for this year.
You can also visit her website, http://www.friedawishinsky.com/.
As always, I have books for you to win! Scholastic is giving away a copy of both The Queen’s Secret and You’re Mean, Lily Jean. To enter, simply leave a comment below! Be sure to include your email address, if it’s not available on your profile.
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Good luck! Contest will end on Saturday, September 25th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. A winner will be chosen through random number generation.
Another note for booklovers: Scholastic is currently running a Pick-A-Munsch promotion, allowing readers to vote for their favourite story idea, which will become Robert Munsch’s 30th book!
Disclaimer: I received the above-named titles for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.