chrys chryspage

Title: Chrysanthemum

Author: Kevin Henkes

Illustrator: Kevin Henkes

Publishers and Year: Greenwillow Books, 1991

Number of pages: 30

Genre: Fiction

Chrysanthemum is a story of a young mouse girl who loves her name. Upon arriving to school, however, all of the children in her class repeatedly make fun of her name, causing Chrysanthemum to dread her own name. Only after being affirmed by her music teacher does Chrysanthemum learn to truly appreciate the name she was given.

This book serves as a mirror for its audience. Children, and sometimes adults, struggle with not only finding their true identity but also clinging to it in times of trial. In this book Chrysanthemum decided that she hates her name at the first sign of trouble. Children are very similar in that they, too, question their identity when it is picked apart by their peers. Watching Chrysanthemum realize the beauty in her own name, despite the fact that it is very different from that of her peers, teaches readers a valuable lesson: a person’s identity is not rooted in what other people say or do, and the true beauty of who someone is actually lies in their differences rather than their similarities.

The text in this book is very strong and could easily stand alone. However, the illustrations help to amplify the emotional turmoil that Chrysanthemum is experiencing. For example, all of the images are framed; revealing the confinement Chrysanthemum feels as she battles the confusion of her own identity. The illustrations also add to the text in other ways. For example, one page has a picture of each student in a yearbook style layout with their names written across the top. Each student’s name fits nicely across the top of the box, except Chrysanthemum. Her name extends outside the box in a dramatic fashion. In addition to this, each student has a cheerful expression, except for Chrysanthemum. The combination of these two helps exemplify the embarrassment and shame being felt by Chrysanthemum at the current situation. Overall, this book shares a very important theme with its readers: the best parts of a person’s identity are formed through their differences. Therefore, it challenges its readers to embrace their differences proudly and walk fully in their identity without fear of ridicule from others.

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat

llama llamapage

Title: Llama Llama and the Bully Goat

Author: Anna Dewdney

Illustrator: Anna Dewdney

Publishers and Year: First Scholastic Printing, 2013

Number of pages: 29

Genre: Fiction

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat is a book about bullying for young children. It tells the story of a billy goat that bullies his peers at school one day. The book continues to show the consequence and resolutions until it ends with them getting along as friends.

This book can serve as a mirror, window, or door for its readers. As we know, bullying continues to be more of a problem with each passing year in schools around the country. This book sheds light not only on bullying but also on responses to bullying. Therefore it acts as a mirror because it causes children to think about bullying as a whole and examine examples of bullying they may have experienced or participated in themselves. If they haven’t been victim or bully in a scenario before, it serves as a window to see those situations from another’s viewpoint. The most important thing, however, is that it acts as a door. Once the readers have looked in the mirror or through the window, they are now presented with options of how to respond. This book does a great job of showing children how to stand up for themselves in a healthy way. For example, one character tells the bully goat, “Gilroy, this is not Ok. Stop it, or we’ll go away.” In addition to this, readers are presented with a solution that says, “Being bullied is no fun! Walk away and tell someone!” Given that this book is for a younger audience, it provides practical, age-appropriate responses to bullying that can be helpful to a child in that situation. Along those same lines, it can help a bully to see (window) how their bullying affects others so that they can modify their behavior (door).

The text in this book is lively and rhymes on each page. It provided a light-hearted feel to a hard but important topic. I believe that helps introduce a concept to the children in a way that they can easily understand. Although the text is vital, the illustrations are not. They provide the reader with a nice visual of what is happening, but they don’t add much more than what the text has already given. Therefore, I think the text could easily stand alone in this story. Overall, this book is overflowing with lessons on bullying and responses to bullying. It introduces the topic in a way that is easily accessible to readers of a young age.


Author and Illustrator: Leo Lionni

Publisher and Year: Dragonfly Books, 1967 (Caldecott honor)

Number of Pages: 27 Pages

Genre: Fantasy

Frederick is a tale about a family of five field mice preparing for the winter season. Frederick’s family gathers nuts and berries while Frederick mediates on a rock. The family becomes frustrated with Frederick’s “helping” strategies, but discover that it is the one person that carries them through the winter.

This story serves as a mirror to the reader to reflect on how different persons bring different aspects and “help” to multiple situations. As a window, the reader can reflect on how it is the simple things that help individuals through difficult times. The story begins by explaining Frederick and his family’s need to stock up on food to prepare for the chilling winter. Opposed to doing physical labor, Frederick “gathers the ray of the suns” and “gathers colors and words.” This frustrates the rest of the mice because Frederick is not helping with completing the complicated duties of collecting food. Winter finally comes and Frederick’s family is surviving the beginning portion of the winter because of all the food they gathered. Then, food runs out and the family is left to rely on all the things Frederick “gathered.” Through this story, the reader learns that as complicated and stressful as life is, it is the simple things that get people through. Obstacles come across all people but if one remembers to prioritize the simple things in life, the group will be able to survive. In addition, this book highlights the importance of individuality and diversity among a group. When the group has unique individuals, positive effects will arise along with many collaborative ideas. Thirdly, Frederick focuses of the importance of all members of the family. Every person in a family has a unique trait that unites that family in times of hardship. With many complications in life, family will help one through any obstacle.

This book is a Caldecott honor, meaning that artwork was very important to the story. In addition, the images are large which allow young readers to visualize the story. Structurally, words on left side of page until Frederick serenades his family with his poem. This is a symbol for a younger reader to be able to focus on both the text and images by separating them. No frames are used in this story, which engage the reader to be part of the story. There is interplay of text and images to show that the text and images are needed to gain the full experience of the story. In addition, Frederick has calm facial expressions until he is depended on to carry his family through showing that he was content with his role in the group. In terms of an ideological aspect, the book teaches that it is important to take care of both the mind and body, everyone takes on a unique and important role in a group, and the family bond can overcome any obstacle.



Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Author: Simms Taback

Illustrator: Simms Taback

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 1999

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Fiction


            Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is about Joseph who had a very worn over coat so he turned it into a jacket. Once the jacket was worn he turned it into a vest and so on and so forth. At the very end he has nothing so he writes a book about his overcoat. The moral of this story is that “you can always make something out of nothing.”(Taback, page 30)

This text would function as a door for readers. Joseph never gave up on his overcoat and made the best out of it as he could. He never complained about not having a nice overcoat and just made it into something else he could use like a jacket or vest and even a button. This shows that you can do a lot with a nothing, which is something a reader can apply to his or her own life. This book can also function as a mirror. Not having a lot is something that a lot of people experience in their life. Whether it is with food, money or clothes people have to work with what they have. A reader who has experienced something like this would be able to relate to Joseph and his story. On the other hand for a reader who has never experienced not having enough, this text would function as a window. These readers get the chance to see how difficult it can be to live off of so little. For readers who view this story as a window still have the opportunity to learn from the moral, that you can always make something out of nothing. At first glance this story lacks cultural diversity. But when the reader looks closer into the background it is seen that there is actual pictures of people who come from different cultures. Although different cultures are in the story I wish it was more prominent and that the reader didn’t have to search to see some diversity.

The images are very different than a lot of other children’s books. Some of the images look like they have been painted while there are also actual pictures of real people and food within most of the pages. There are very few words on the page, which allows the pictures to tell most of the story. There are so many small things in each image that draws the reader to look closer. The images may be a little strange but it works for the story. I really enjoyed this book and the images in it a lot. It had a good moral and the pictures keep the reader’s attention with all the detail.IMG_3565

One Fine Day

Author: Nonny Hogrogian

Illustrator: Nonny Hogrogian

Publisher and Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 1971

Number of Pages: 25

Genre: Fiction


IMG_3562            One Fine Day is a Caldecott Medal winner. It is a story about a little fox that gets is tail cut off by an old woman for drinking her milk. The only way he is able to get his tail back is if he brings the old woman more milk.
The fox goes to a cow and asks for milk, the cow will only give him milk if he brings it grass. The story goes on like this until an old miller man feels sorry and gives the fox what he wants and doesn’t ask for anything in return. Since the miller man gave the fox what he asked for the fox was able to give everyone what they wanted in return for something of theirs so he was able to get his tail back.

This text could function as a mirror for readers. It would be considered a mirror for most reader because it shows the fox that did something wrong and he had to do many things to fix his mistake. This is something that a lot of people can relate to. Often times people make mistakes and it can be hard work to fix the mistakes someone has made. The text also shows that everything comes with a price. People aren’t usually willing to freely give up something that belongs to them without something in return. But sometimes in life we come across people like the old miller man who selflessly gives so others can be happy. Throughout the book there is a lack of racial diversity since all the characters are White or an animal. But there is a diversity in the economically sense. There is an old woman who doesn’t seem to have much, a maiden who also has little, but then there is a peddler who seems to have a little more than the rest of the characters. Each character in the text is different and brings a different feeling to the text.

The images in One Fine Day seem to have been painted with watercolor. They are light colors and the images are beautiful. The images are unframed which makes the reader feel like they are part of the images. On every page the fox is facing right and all the other characters are facing left. This means that when each character turns down the fox, he is still moving forward and not looking back. The images make the reader feel sad for the fox when he gets turned down because it is seen that every time he get more and more sad. In the very end the fox is happy with his tail and he is able to play with his friends. I thought that this text was a very cute story, it was sad at first but when the old man gave the fox what he needed it made it a happier story.IMG_3563

Miss Sally Ann and The Panther

Retold: Bobbi Miller

Illustrator: Megan Lloyd

Publisher and Year: Holiday House, 2012

Number of Pages: 29

Genre: Fiction


            Miss Sally Ann and The PantIMG_3542her is a story about a woman named Miss Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind and her adventure with Fireeyes the panther. The story starts off talking about all the things she does which is spin yarn, make clothes, and milk cows. On day she goes into the forest and runs into the panther, they fight for days then they become good friends. The panther ends up living with Miss Sally Ann in her house and they cook, clean, play and sing together.

This text could function as both a window and a mirror for the readers. It would function as a window since it is story that will probably never actually happen in real life. So readers are on the outside, looking in at all the crazy things that are happening to the panther and Miss Sally Ann. On the other hand it could also function as a mirror for a reader if they have personally experienced getting into an argument with a friend then realizing that the fight is not worth losing the friendship. The only two characters that are in this text is Miss Sally Ann who is a White female and Fireeyes the panther, no cultural diversity is seen. I noticed that in the beginning of the story the author listed off all the chores that Miss Sally Ann does. All the chores that were listed were stereotypical female jobs. In the middle of the story Miss Sally Ann breaks the stereotypical gender roles when she fights off the panther. But at the end of the story when the panther and Miss Sally Ann are friends she goes back to doing stereotypical females chores like gardening. Besides the stereotypical gender roles throughout the text I really enjoyed this book, it was entertaining and funny.

I love the pictures that are in this book. On every page the images are all framed but unique. In the beginning when Miss Sally Ann is doing her chores the pictures are relaxed and bright. When she goes into the forest the color scheme starts to get darker. Once the panther is introduced the images are coming out of the frame making it feel more hectic. For example on page 12 Miss Sally Ann has Fireeyes by the tail and he is digging his way out of the frame and there is splatted mud all over the page. This allows the reader to feel like they are a part of the action. When the fight is over and Miss Sally Ann and Fireeyes are friends the images become more controlled and the colors again become brighter. I really enjoyed how the illustrator did this because the colors help the reader feel scared when they are fighting or happy and warm when they become friends and are sitting by the fire. Overall I enjoyed this book, I think it would be better without the gender stereotypes but it was entertaining and the images were beautiful.IMG_3541

Hey, Al

Author: Arthur Yorinks

Illustrator: Richard Egielski

Publisher and Year: Collin Publishers, 1986

Number of Pages: 27

Genre: Fiction


            Hey, Al is a winner of the Caldecott Medal. It is a story about a janitor named Al and his dog Eddie. Al and Eddie live in a small one-room apartment and Eddie is fed up with living in a “dump” (Yorinks, page 4). One morning a giant bird comes and tells Al of a beautiful island paradise and that he will return in the morning to take Eddie and
Al to this paradise. The paradise is amazing at first but then Eddie and Al start to become birds so they flee the island and return home.

This text could function as a window, mirror and door. Since a big bird flying to someone’s door and taking a person to an island paradise is not realistic it would be considered a window for all readers. On the other hand the story talks about a person who does not have a lot of money who wishes for a better life. So this book could function as mirror for a reader who might be going through tough times. The end of this story has a message, which is “Paradise lost is sometimes Heaven found” (Yorinks, page 27). This important message is what makes this book also function as door for the readers who want to apply it to their lives. The lesson to be learned is that sometimes you will want more in life but having more might not make you happy. You must find a way to be happy with what you have. I think that this is an important lesson to be learned and the book does it in a good kid friendly manor. In the text only one race is represented which is White. This is also the only race shown since the rest of the characters are animals. Both the human and the dog seem to share equal power throughout the text, both of their ideas are taken into consideration equally. I found this important because it shows that just being we are humans doesn’t mean we have the right to treat animals poorly.

All the images within this text are beautiful. They are all framed but in every image there are things that are outside the frame. For example on the first page there is an image of Al’s apartment, which is framed. But Al is physically walking into the door of his apartment into the frame. This style makes the reader feel like they are watching the story unfold and feel a part of it since not everything is in the frame. In the beginning of the story when Al and Eddie are unhappy with their life the colors are very dull. Once they are at the paradise island the colors become brighter. At the very end when Al and Eddie find out that they actually prefer the life they had before, the last image is of Al and Eddie repainting their apartment a bright, uplifting color. I really enjoyed this story, it was fun and in the end there is a lesson to be learned from Al and Eddie’s adventure.IMG_3539

Buffalo Dreams

Author(s): Kim DonerIMG_4387

Illustrator/Photographer: Kim Doner

Publisher and Year: WestWinds Press in 1999

Number of Pages: 38

Genre: Fiction


This story is about the Bearpaw family and how they decide to make a trip to visit the only white buffalo on earth which is a symbol in the Native American culture for a spirit named White Buffalo Calf Woman, and the children believe that touching the calf will bring them magic. The oldest child, Sarah, is given an eagle feather from her grandfather’s headdress which is supposed to represent strength to her dreams, and she decides she wants to give this feather to the calf so that “her dreams can grow, too” (Doner p.11). In the end, the two children accidently end up in the buffalos’ pen and have a close encounter with the white buffalo calf’s mother, but before they end up escaping from the mother buffalo, the calf comes over and puts her head into Sarah’s palm.

The illustrations are large and usually take up the whole two-page spread. The images are also unframed which makes the reader feel like they are also experiencing everything with the characters. The images are also very detailed and realistic which again add to the reader feeling like they, too, are a part of the scene. I also noticed that at the bottom of each two-page spread was a dreamcatcher, but it showed the progression of making a dreamcatcher from its beginning stages in the beginning of the story to the completed dreamcatcher at the end. The characters in this story are both described and illustrated as Native Americans which are accurately represented in relation to their culture, not just the stereotypical idea of how Native Americans look, act, or dress.

When first reading this story, I thought that it was just a story about a Native American family visiting a rare white buffalo because they thought it was magical. However, after reading the author’s note and the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman in the back of the book, I realized that this story was inspired by a Native American legend about a White Buffalo Calf Woman who helps answer the dreams of believers, and an actual white buffalo calf that was born in 1994 named Miracle. I believe this story is a great window for children to learn about the Native American culture because it includes Native American legends and traditions. I also think that this story works as a mirror for modern day Native American children because there are not many stories which talk about Native Americans in a modern day setting. Overall, this story is a great way to introduce Native American culture into children’s literature.


Adios Oscar! A Butterfly Fable

Author(s): Peter ElwellIMG_4382

Illustrator/Photographer: Peter Elwell

Publisher and Year: The Blue Sky Press in 2009

Number of Pages: 28

Genre: Fiction


This is a story about a caterpillar named Oscar who meets a butterfly named Bob who tells him he is going to Mexico and that he should visit him when he grows his wings. Oscar becomes really excited about becoming a butterfly, and so he learns Spanish to use while in Mexico, even though the other caterpillars think he is crazy and won’t grow wings. Instead of becoming a butterfly he turns into a moth and at first this discourages him from going to Mexico like the butterflies do, but in the end he realizes that he does not have to limit himself to only doing things that moths usually do. So he ends up flying to Mexico and meeting up with Bob and the other butterflies.

The book is illustrated using very bright colors which symbolizes Oscar’s initial excitement about becoming a butterfly and eventually his freedom from the stereotypical moth activities. I noticed that most of the images were small or framed but a few of the pages were unframed and took up the whole two-page spread. These large images were usually representing a point in the story where Oscar feels excited or happy and it helped the reader relate to Oscar’s joyous emotions. Most of the characters in this story are male and the characters who are portrayed as successful are all male as well, which can make the reader feel that men are more powerful and successful than women.

I had originally chosen this book because I figured that it would have a lot of Spanish words or culture in it, based on the title and first few pages; however, I soon learned that there were only a few words and phrases in Spanish and the Spanish culture was not discussed at all. I do think that this book could be used as a mirror for children who feel pressured to be a certain way, because Oscar also felt pressured to be a moth and do only activities that moths normally do. However, I believe that this book can be a door to teach children that it is okay to be different, and that nobody should not let society put pressure on them to be someone they do not want to be. Overall, I believe that this story has a great message about not letting others tell you who to be, but I think that there could have been more diversity in the story as well.

The 3 Little Dassies

Title: The 3 Little Dassies


Author: Jan Brett

Illustrator/Photographer: Jan Brett

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2010

Number of pages: 30 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Fiction, Animals, 2-3

Genre: Fiction


This story is a spin off from the three little pigs. Instead, the main characters are three dassies who live in Namibia. A dassie is a Southern African badger. The three dassies are named, Mimbi, Pimpi, and Timbi set out to find a new home and have to build their own houses to protect them from the eagles who prey on them. This story can serve as a door because it was written for readers to take away the message of “hard work pays off.” The reason the readers would take away this message is because the first two dassies took a short time to build their houses so they could nap. The last dassie worked all day in the hot sun to make her house. Children can relate to this and apply it to taking time in completing their work or drawing a picture. The author depicted the culture of Namibia in Africa through the borders of the story. She includes beautiful African prints in them. The use of her borders helps the audience to look into the story and get a glimpse of the characters world. The book is also set in Africa, where her and her husband camped out at and that is what inspired her to write this book. The book also shows the different animals that inhabit there. I think Jan Brett illustrates Namibia very well and uses colors, setting and boarders to support that. Jan always includes panels on the right and the left of the page to help foreshadow for the oncoming events. Finally, her use of bright colors is showing the dassies new found freedom as they set out to look for a new home.