Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: When You Are Brave by Pat Zietlow Miller

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Title: When You Are Brave

Author: Pat Zietlow Miller | Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler

Publisher: Little Brown Books | Published: March 5, 2019

Theme: Bravery

Character Origin: Human 

Book Type: Picture Book  | Pages: 40

Ages: 5-7 | Book Level: — | Lexile Measure:

Book Synopsis…

An inspiring picture book affirmation about having courage even in difficult times, because some days, when everything around you seems scary, you have to be brave.

Saying goodbye to neighbors. Worrying about new friends. Passing through a big city. Seeing a dark road ahead. In these moments, a young girl feels small and quiet and alone. But when she breathes deeply and looks inside herself, a hidden spark of courage appears, one she can nurture and grow until she glows inside and out.

My overall thoughts…

I’ve waited for what seems like forever to get my hands on this book. It has been on my “must-read” list even before it hit shelves in March. I have to say that it exceeded my expectations. Pat Zietlow Miller has done it again! Her innate ability to translate feelings into intelligible words that children can decipher is sheer magic. The simplicity of the text is a testament to the effectiveness of the perfect word choice, especially in children’s books.

The illustrations and text…

Wheeler’s illustrations were done with watercolor, colored pencils, and acrylic paint. I was able to appreciate her use of blue to convey the young girl’s fear and worry while using yellow when she finds her bravery. I love the subliminal messaging in that. This is a perfect display of when words and imagery collide–creating a masterpiece. The passages are short but concise. The font size and type are great for young readers. Sometimes it’s the most straightforward approach that makes the most significant impact. Zietlow Miller proves this here.

I’ll give it…

Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson


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Title: Harbor Me

Author: Jaqueline Woodson

Published: August 28, 2018

Theme:  Adversity and Bravery

Character Origin: Human

Book Type: Middle School | Pages: 192

Ages: 10-14 | Book Level: 4.1 | Lexile Measure: 630L

Synopsis: It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

My thoughts…

This story couldn’t be more timely and appropriate as it reflects the current national climate. I can’t imagine it not being on a middle school AR list (as required reading). There is much more that connects us than separates us and Woodson makes these connections in this poignant narrative. Sadly, the life experiences of the characters are not uncommon and can be disruptive in the classroom.

My son and I read this book aloud and had interesting conversations every day. The text was presented in a way that made my son think about a variety of topics currently being discussed on the national stage. Woodson delivers a masterful and distinct voice in Harbor Me. The story shines a light on how a perceptive teacher can change the trajectory of a student’s life. We need more stories like these that reflect the culture, diversity, and adversity that are in our schools today.  

My rating…