Too Small Tola by Atinuke

Too Small Tola

Atinuke, Author, Onyinye Iwu, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 2, 2021

Suitable for ages: 7-9

Themes: Nigeria, Poverty, Family relationships, Community

Tola lives in “a run-down block of apartments in the megacity of Lagos, in the country of Nigeria,” with her older sister, Moji, who is very smart; her brother, Dapo, who is very athletic; and Grandmommy, who is very bossy. Tola may be small, but she finds that she has other abilities. 

In the first story, Tola accompanies Grandmommy to the market and balances a basket full of yams, vegetables, chili peppers, fish, football glue and diapers — on her head. It’s a long tiring walk, but she also manages to climb steep  stairs to their apartment without dropping anything. She discovers that she is strong.  She is also very clever with counting their money and makes sure Grandmommy isn’t being cheated by vendors.

In the next story, Tola wakes up very early and discovers that the electricity is off again and the faucets in the apartment aren’t working. There is no water for bathing or cooking.  She wakes her sister, Moji, and they grab empty jerry cans and head to the outside water pumps before a long line forms. They return and wake Dapo to grab more cans to gather water, although this time she runs into trouble.

In the final story Tola helps their tailor neighbor, Mr. Abdul, who breaks his leg in accident. Easter and the end of Ramdan feast of Eid is approaching, and Mr. Abdul isn’t able to ride his bike to measure his customers for new holiday garments. Tola is clever with numbers and measurements, so she offers to help. Dapo uses the bike to pedal Tola around the city. 

Award-winning children’s writer, Atinuke, is a master storyteller. She started her career as an oral storyteller of tales from the African continent. Today her stories are contemporary stories about life in Nigeria. Her stories are perfect chapter books for children 7-9. Each chapter lends itself to a short story, which will appeal to this age group.  In Too Small Tola, she shows the poverty of Nigeria, but also the strength and love of family and community. 

Readers will enjoy Onyinye Iwu pen and ink drawings that appear on every page and they show both the love and humor of the community. They will help readers visualize the story and help break up the text. A delightful read for kids preparing to move into middle grade books.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

You Are Light by Aaron Becker

You Are Light

Aaron Becker, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick Studio, Fiction, Mar. 26, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Light, Color, Imagination, Board Book

Opening: This is the light that brings the dawn / to warm the sky and hug the land.

Publisher’s Synopsis:

With a wondrously simple die-cut book, the Caldecott Honor–winning creator of the Journey trilogy brings his talents further into the light.

This is the light that brings the day.

Open this beautiful book to find a graphic yellow sun surrounded by a halo of bright die-cut circles. Now hold the page up to the light and enjoy the transformation as the colors in those circles glow. In an elegant, sparely narrated ode to the phenomenon of light, Aaron Becker follows as light reflects off the earth to warm our faces, draws up the sea to make the rain, feeds all the things that grow, and helps to create all the brilliant wonders of the world, including ourselves.

Why I love this book:

Aaron Becker’s board book is a celebration of light. It is magical and creates a sense of wonder for young children, who will want to hold the book up to the light and read the story repeatedly. Becker stimulates children’s senses and imaginations with his flowing verse that allows for open discussion on each carefully crafted page. It is beautifully designed. The spare and beautiful text ends with, “This is the light that dwells inside all the brilliant wonders of the world, including YOU!”

Resources: Children can create some of their own light pages by cutting a shape and placing a piece of  colorful cellophane behind it. Cut out shapes of stars, butterflies, animals, flowers and attach them to a window pane. Hang prisms in near a sunny window, so children can see the light reflected on their walls.

Aaron Becker is the Caldecott Honor–winning author-illustrator of the Journey trilogy and of A Stone for Sascha. He lives in western Massachusetts with his family.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. 

*Reviewed from a copy provided by the publisher.

** I am in the processing of moving this month, so I won’t be releasing many reviews. I should be back on line in June. Thank you for following my reviews.

One Million Men and Me

Children's Books Heal

One Million Men and Me 

Kelly Starling Lyons, Author

Peter Ambush, Illustrator

Just Us Books, Inc., 2007, Historical fiction

Suitable for:  Kindergarten and up  (Ages 5 nd up)

OpeningMy cousin, Omari, said no girls were allowed.  But Daddy took me.  Our bus rumbled through ebony night.  My head snuggled into Daddy’s warm chest until pink rose around us and the driver called, “Washington, D.C.”   A father takes his daughter, Nia, on a long bus trip to take part in a march with one million men.  They walked peacefully, sang songs and “stood tall and proud as mighty oaks, the men, Daddy and me.”  They listened to speakers like Maya Angelou, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Minister Louis Farrakhan.  Everyone held hands in unity.  Nia notices that their faces were filled with pride and their hearts filled with hope.  Everyone seemed to know everyone as they all nodded, smiled and hugged each other.  At…

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The 6th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest

The 6th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest

witch-imagescaxqb6gwThe Contest: Write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words spider, ghost, and moon. Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!) Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people. Post your story on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog between 12:00 AM EDT Thursday October 27th and Monday October 31st by 11:59 PM EDT.

My entry is 97 words.

All Hallows Eve
By Patricia Tilton

A spider crawled across my forehead. I didn’t dare arch my brow.

SWAT! I got it!

A toad hopped onto my foot.

Stomp! I grabbed it!

A bat flew through my window and whirred past my ears.

Whoosh! I snatched it!

Outside the full moon revealed a black kettle. Fires licked its hungry sides.

I dropped my bounty into the bubbling green and orange brew.

“Hee, hee, hee,” I giggled.

“Matilda, you’ve brewed your first all Hallows stew,” cackled Mama.

Ghosts, goblins and witches hovered around the kettle.

“Let’s party,” I screeched. We all danced a jig.

Children’s Books Heal Has New Look

Before I start posting new items on my blog, I thought it best to let my readers know that I have changed the face of my blog.  I hope you will like it.  It’s still a work in progress, but it has a crisp look to it and feels more childlike.  I hope you like the change.

I will be posting two items this week, but I will cut back on my reviews until September so I may focus on other things.

Warmly,

Patricia

First Campaign Challenge

For the Rachel Writes first campaign challenge, we’ve been given the following instructions:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem.
Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: “the door swung shut.” (also included in the word count).  For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

Here is my entry, and it is exactly 200 words.      Entry #85

The door swung open beneath the belly of the Boeing 707.  Baggage handlers positioned a large box.  A group of young men and women in uniform stepped out of a van.  They slipped into formation as they walked with precision towards the aircraft.

Amidst the roar of passing aircraft, Bella heard quiet sobbing and felt the linking of arms to hers.  It was her extended family, there to support her and receive their loved one. The reality that Noah had made his final journey home sliced through her like the cold north wind.

“Mama is that Daddy?” asked Michael.  His arms tightly wrapped her neck.

“Yes, sweetheart, it is.”  She held him closely.  Tears streamed down her cheeks as she wondered how Michael would ever remember his father’s love.

In her grief, Bella looked up at the terminal windows.  Hundreds of people stood there holding their hands over their hearts.  In that moment she felt wrapped in their grace.  They didn’t know Noah, but in their quiet compassion they were honoring his service and her family’s grief.  It was a beautiful moment of sadness.

The Honor Guard carried the flag-draped casket across the tarmac to he hearse.  The door swung shut.

Writers’ Platform-Builder’s Campaign

Two writing friends told me about the Third Writers’ Platform-Builder’s Campaign, organized by Rachael of Rach Writes.   This is an outstanding opportunity for writers and bloggers to meet, blog, and support each other.

According to Rachael:  “The Campaign is a way to link those of us in the writing community together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms. The Campaigners are all bloggers in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community, and help build each others’ online platforms while at the same time building theirs.”

The campaign runs from Aug. 22 – Oct. 31.   This is a great opportunity to link with writers in your genre.  Go to the link highlighted above for information.  The deadline for registration is Aug. 31.

Although I had difficulty downloading my photo on the Platform site, you will see a W, which takes you to my About page instead — go figure.    You really don’t see my blog site unless you click on my last blog.  Must be a sign I need this group.  Looking forward to meeting everyone.   I am an unpublished author writing children’s picture books with an emphasis on special needs and healing.

Patricia  Tilton