Publishing: Arthur A. Levine Books, New York, 2013.
Description: Yuriko doen’t like her name anymore when her art teacher calls her “Eureka” instead and the other students laugh at her. She decides she wants to take a new name: Michelle. She and her father travel to Golden Gate Park and visit the Japanese gardens to help her appreciate her name.
Programming: As a kid, my name was never very common and often mispronounced. Some students would very likely be able to relate to Yuriko’s problem, and so I might start with a discussion of where some names come from. Because Yuriko’s name reflects her heritage, discussions could even be had about family names and the fact that last names used to be related to the person’s family line (i.e.-Jacobson, Jacob’s son) or from professions such as baker, mason, tanner, etc. Students might do some sort of name tag craft.
This book could also segue into discussions about diversity, and how everyone has a right to be proud of where they came from.
Publishing: Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1993.
Awards: Caldecott Medal Winner
Description: Allen Say, in the process of telling his grandfather’s story, also tells his own. His grandfather loved to travel, but he also loved home, two loves which were passed on to the author. The feeling of wishing to be two places at once is eloquently expressed and accompanied by realistic pictures that almost appear more like sentimental photographs than illustrations.
Programming: For very young students, this is a good time to discuss what “home” means to them, and what their homes look like. They might draw a pictures or write a description. Older students might be asked to describe why the author says that he thinks he knows his grandfather now, and why he didn’t before. They might discuss trips that they have taken or a time when they were homesick.
Scholastic also has two connections to math classes and to a social studies or literature class.
Publishing: Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1996
Description: Instead of a blanket or a teddy bear, Emma’s most prized possession that she has had from birth is a rug. When she begins walking, she carries it with her and stares at it for hours, drawing inspiration for many prize-winning drawings. After her mother washes the special rug, however, Emma must learn to re-discover the inspiration inside herself. The illustrations in this book are beautifully realistic. The book has an elegant feel due to the use of white space, consistent borders around both text and illustration pages, and the fact that illustrations always appear on the recto and text on the accompanying verso.
Programming: I would start with asking what children like to draw and whether or not they see a picture in their heads or copy it from something else. In other words, “How do you know what to draw?” This would be a great chance for some kind of art activity: drawing, finger painting, etc.