Linda Skeers, Author
Ard Hoyt, Illustrator
Penguin Young Readers Groups, Fiction, 2009
Suitable for Ages: 4-9
Themes: Patriotism, School, Military Families
Opening: Caleb slumped in his chair. Mrs. Perkins had just announced the class project for President’s Day. “Make something showing patriotism? he mumbled. That was way too hard.
Synopsis: Caleb is supposed to make create a project that represents patriotism for President’s Day. The teacher plans to display their work for an upcoming Parents Night. Caleb doesn’t know where to begin. All the other kids have come up with ideas for crafts, poems, maps and costumes. Why should be bother with the project. His dad can’t attend Parent’s Night because he is deployed overseas. He wishes his dad was home to help him. When Caleb begins to think about his dad and what he’s doing for his country, he has an idea for his project.
Why I like this book:
Linda Skeers’ moving story is a timeless message about the men and women who serve our country. It is can be shared with children on President’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day. Caleb’s idea for his project is very heartfelt and creative. The timing of Caleb’s delivery is perfect as he waits until after all the other children have made their presentations, leaving the readers in suspense. Hoyt’s illustrations are ink and colorful pastels. They capture Caleb’s struggle and his pride at the end.
I also like the story behind the book. The idea for Skeers’ book came to her after she saw a balcony-decorating contest at her nephew’s apartment building. Not able to afford decorations, her nephew, who had just returned from an overseas deployment, hung his service uniform from his balcony with a sign that said: “I served my country.” He won.
Resources: This would be a great activity for children on President’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day. Ask them to draw a picture, write a poem or write a story about what patriotism means to them.