by Ann Malaspina, illustrated by Doug Ghayka
Yasmin and her family live in Bangladesh, and each day she and her little sister go to work breaking bricks to be used in concrete. They used to live in the countryside, but flooding took everything they owned and forced the family to the city to make a living. The girls can’t go to school because their income is needed, but Yasmin longs to be able to read. Working especially hard with her hammer, she is able to put away a few coins to purchase one book — and this one book inspires the whole family to put their greatest effort towards sending the girls to school. Yasmin’s rural life is described with a peaceful tranquility, but the city is also seen with a positive light as bustling and lively. There is harshness, certainly, in their boss and the slum houses. But there is also kindness in the shopkeeper who accepts too little money for a precious book and in the sacrifice of the parents. While conveying the deep poverty of the characters, the story keeps the focus on aspiration, industry, and family. The bright colors of the engaging illustrations reinforce this not as a tale of bleakness, but of hope. While the text and length would be fine for a preschool audience, the topic is little serious for storytimes, but it is perfect for elementary school classroom or library reading times to share a greater world view.
First Come the Zebra
by Lynne Barasch
As a Maasai boy follows the herd to a new home, he meets the boy of a local farmer. Traditional conflicts between the nomadic Maasai and the farming Kikuyu cause the boys to take an immediate dislike to each other. But in an emergency, the boys work together to save a young child, and in doing so find a path to friendship. The story of conflict and resolution is universal, even if the Kenyan setting is unfamiliar to readers, and makes this a wonderful book to share with children. The message seems a bit strong, but the uniqueness of the situation in the story supersedes that minor flaw. The illustrations are delicate watercolors that find the most beauty in the scenes of wildlife. (Honestly, I could just cut out and frame the spread of the zebras crossing the grasslands.) The book would be a fine choice for preschool or elementary storytimes, classroom or individual reading. Oh, by the way, this was a nominee for last year’s Cybils, but it was too perfect a choice not to include it today.
Consider giving one or both of these books along with a donation to Global Movement for Children or look for more Ways to Give a Picture Book or over a hundred other Ways to Give a Book this holiday season.
The Letters X, Y and Z
Song: “The Alphabet Song”
Book: Appaloosa Zebra, by Jessie Haas
Song: “The X Song”
(to the tune of “Where is Thumbkin?”)Book: The Yellow Tutu, by Kirsten Bramsen
Where is X?
Where is X?
Here I am.
Here I am.
How are you today X?
Very well, I thank you.
X away, X away.
(The first time you sing the song, cross your fingers to form the letter X. The second time, cross your arms.)
Song: “Let’s Give a Yell for Y”
(to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)Book: Zee, by Michel Gay
Let’s give a yell for Y,
Let’s give a yell for Y.
Y is for you and for yellow too,
Let’s give a yell for Y
Yarn begins with Y...
Yawn begins with Y...
Fingerplay: “Zebras in the Zoo”
(counting on fingers)Book: One Night in the Zoo, by Judith Kerr
Five zebras in a zoo
The first one said, I need new shoes
The second said, I do too
The third one said, My name is Sue
The fourth one said, It’s nice to meet you
The fifth one said, How do you do?
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