Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen

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Author/Illustrator: Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan

Publisher/Year: Mulberry Books 1991

Number of Pages: 29

Genre: Fiction



 A boy learns to understand how to help those who are in need while he helps out one day with Uncle Willie at the soup kitchen.

This story is very informative. It is a window that teaches children about the functions of soup kitchens and how they help feed many homeless people or those who can’t afford to eat.Many children have not ever seen a homeless person up close before and might have questions about them. This story, told through the eyes of the boy, shows children how to help those who might be in need. The soup kitchen is open to anyone who is hungry and the boy learns a little more about those who are homeless. He learns that some people do not have homes to go to after work, and some don’t even have jobs. He also learns that most people come to the soup kitchen because they cant afford to buy food to feed themselves or their families. This story could also be a mirror to kids who might know someone who is homeless, or even themselves be homeless. Or it could be a mirror to kids who have helped those who are homeless, whether it be working in a soup kitchen or helping those in need in different ways.

The pictures are not framed so the reader is engaged with the boy, being in on the action as he works in the soup kitchen and understands more about it and those who come in and eat. The text is very important, leaving many inspiring quotes for young readers to remember. “Sometimes people need help” is a great introduction quote to start a conversation with children who might not fully understand what a soup kitchen is for.

Fiona’s Lace

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Author/Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Publisher/Year: Simon and Schuster 2014

Number of Pages: 36

Genre: Historical Fiction



 Fiona, her sister Ailish, mother, and Da all live in Ireland. After the mill in the village closes, Fiona and her family set their sights for America. They decided to leave their beloved Ireland and immigrate to Chicago, Illinois. They all must find work to make money, so Fiona, having been taught by her mum, makes fine white lace for the richer folks to buy.

Green and white are important colors throughout the book. First of all, the colors green and white appear on the Irish flag. Green symbolizes nationalism and white symbolizes peace. Regarding the book, green can symbolize rebirth as the family leaves behind the only life they know to travel and move to another country, creating a new life for themselves. White is a universal symbol for purity. Fiona’s white lace that she creates symbolizes her innocence and that fact that she is still a child. But as a fire breaks out, she leaves her lace behind in pieces so her parents are able to find her and Ailish. After Fiona and Ailish are reunited with their parents, the lace is covered in black soot. The black soot covering the white lace could symbolize the end of Fiona’s innocence because the fire marks her lace as well as her understanding of her world.

The illustrations are not framed so the reader is involved with the story, unlike an outsider looking in. In the beginning of the story, there are more colors present, but as the book progresses, the author uses fewer and fewer colors. The text could stand alone without the pictures, but most children wouldn’t know what Ireland or Chicago looked like, so the pictures do help to give an idea of the setting.

This book can act as a window for children to learn about families who have immigrated from other countries to America. It shows the stereotypical flaming red Irish hair and freckles as well as popular Irish names.  In the end, children see a different culture from their own.


Masai and I

Title: Masai and I


Author: Virginia Kroll

Illustrator/Photographer: Nancy Carpenter

Publisher and Year: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992

Number of pages: 27 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Culture, Realistic Fiction, 2-3, Picture Book

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little girl named Linda who learns about East African culture at school. The culture she learns about are proud, tall people called the Masai. When she goes home, she then compared her life to that of a Masai and talks about how different her life would be if she were to be a part of their culture.

This text could function as a window for some students because it allows the readers to learn about a new culture. The book does an excellent job of showing the comparison of life here in the United States and the life of the Masaian people. It shows just how different the two cultures are and yet how they are the same. Throughout the book it talks about the different ways the Masaian culture may complete a task and then goes on to explain how Linda and her family may complete it as well. For example, Linda talks about how her little brother goes to the faucet to get water but if they were living in East Africa her brother would have to walk long distances to a water hole and bring back the water in a giant gourd. In doing this, the writer does a good job about representing the comparison of different cultures.

Through out this book the illustrations seem to have thin lines to represent speed and movement to show Linda moving through time. In one of the images in the book it shows Linda looking out the window as she thinks about how different life would be if she lived in East Africa. This shows progression or growth of the character. It shows that Linda is enhancing her knowledge about this culture and growing as she learns these new things. It also shows how they do things and how different it is compared to Linda’s culture in the United States.


Ruler of the Courtyard

Title: Ruler of the Courtyard


Author: Rukhsana Khan

Illustrator/Photographer: R. Gregory Christie

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2003

Number of pages: 32 pgs

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

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little girl who is very afraid of the chickens in her courtyard. He has to run to the bathhouse in order to not have the chickens notice. While in the bathhouse she noticed a snake and she must overcome her fears and capture the snake so it won’t bike her or her Nani (Grandmother). She then realizes it not a snake, it is a nala, which is a rope that is used to tie up her Nani’s pants. She realizes that there is nothing to be afraid of after all and is no longer afraid of the chickens.

This text can serve as a window to look into another culture. The culture that is represented in this book’s setting is in Pakistan and can show the readers how the culture there may differ from theirs. The words in the book also use some that are native to Pakistan. Students may also be able to relate to this book because some may share this culture as well or if they are familiar with it because they have visited there or they have family who are Pakistani. I would recommend this book because the author is a Pakistani Canadian writer who has experienced life in Pakistan because she was born and raised there allowing her to accurately depict the culture.

This book uses very bright and vivid colors to show the emotion throughout the book. Throughout the book it shows a horizon and then the horizon disappears at one point. This is used to signify the on coming danger the main character is about to face when she encounters the snake. The illustrator also uses think lines to show the intensity of the emotions the main character is feeling when she sees the chickens and when she tries to capture the snake.


The Hello, Goodbye Window

Title: The Hello, Goodbye Window


Author: Norton Juster

Illustrator/Photographer: Chris Raschka

Publisher and Year: Michael Di Capua Books, 2005

Number of pages: 29 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Award Winner, Realistic Fiction

Genre: Realistic Fiction


A little girl has a special window at her Nanna and Poppy’s house. At this window all the special things happen, like, making funny faces to have a T-Rex visit! This story is told from the little girl’s perspective. It is also a winner of the Caldecott Award.

This text can function as a mirror to some readers. They may be able to connect to the story because it could remind them of the time that they visited their grandparents or all the different things that they do when they go to a relative’s house. The illustrator depicts a multicultural family in this book, which I think can benefit the readers because some may come from a biracial family as well and it can help them connect on a deeper level. Since the text is from the littler girl’s point of view it is helpful to read this to a younger age group because it talks about how it is okay to feel different emotions at the same time. For example, she is happy to go home because she missed being with her parents, but she is sad too because she doesn’t want to leave her Nanna and Poppy. I think this is a good thing to share with younger children because they could be going through major life changes and may not understand how to cope with some of the emotions they may be feeling.

The illustrations have a lot of thick lines to show the intensity of the emotions the little girl has for her Nanna and Poppy. She is always saying wonderful things about them and the lines help support that. The little girl is usually placed at the bottom of the page compared to her grandparents, who are usually at the top of the page. This is showing that the grandparents have a higher power than she does and it also shows that the grandparents should be seen as an authoritative figure. Throughout this book it is mentioned about some of the things she can and can’t do. I think the ideology that is presented in this book is to make sure children follow their guardian’s rules.


Ballerino Nate

Title: Ballerino Nate


Author: Kimberly Brubaker

Illustrator/Photographer: R.W. Alley

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group,3006

Number of pages: 29 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Realistic Fiction

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little dog named Nate who wants to become a ballerina. However, his brother Ben is always there to remind Nate that only girls are ballerinas and boys can’t dance. In the end, Nate’s mom brings him to a dance and in the performance there are men dancing. This shows Nate that anyone can become a dancer. I think that this book could serve as a mirror even though its characters are animals.

I think the readers could relate it to a time they wanted to become something that was stereotypically seen to be something “girls” and “boys” only do. It is a good book to show students that they can do anything and be anything they want to be and don’t let anyone stand in the way of that. There really is no culture represented in this book but it does a good job of teaching students that things aren’t just for boys and things aren’t just for girls.

Throughout this book the ideology presented in the story is to show the readers not to judge others based on the social norm. As long as they are happy doing what they love, no one should look down on them. The books illustrations are all made up of bright colors to show the freedom that Nate has to become anyone he wants to. The illustrations also have a lot of jagged lines to show the troubled emotions that Nate is feeling. The troubled emotions come from Nate in thinking that he will have to wear pink and that he cannot become a ballerina because he is a boy.


All My Stripes


Author: Shawna Rudolph and Danielle Royer

Illustrator: Jennifer Zivon

Publishing Information: Magination Press, 2015

Number of Pages: 34

Genre: Realistic Fiction



            All my stripes tells the story of a zebra named Zane, and his experiences with autism in a classroom setting. Zane can tell he is different from his classmates, and begins worry as he feels that they only see his autism stripe (a red stripe on his forehead that indicates he has autism). It isn’t until his mother explains his many other wonderful stripes that Zane learns that his autism stripe is just one of many stripes, and does not define who he is.

This is quite possibly my favorite book of the ones I have analyzed, as it gives children a way to understand autism and the everyday differences and hardships of people who are effected by the condition. For example, it portrays Zane’s distress when the fire alarm sounds, whereas his classmates were able to remain calm and quiet. Also, the author creates a scene in which the classmates cannot understand why Zane wants to use a paintbrush instead of his hoof when doing a painting activity, because Zane does not like the feeling of paint. The back of the book provides an explanation of these scenes, and how they connect to the behaviors of real people with autism. Furthermore, it provides a guide for how caretakers can help to address and aid with these behaviors for their students/child. This provides an excellent door for both children and adults to respond to those with autism in a caring and understanding manner.

The illustrations are unframed, so readers are able to really put themselves in the scene with Zane. One is able to see the distressed look on his face as he shares his concerns with his mother, and is self-conscious around his classmates. I thought it was interesting as well that on the first page when Zane addresses his concerns to his mother, it is raining which can signify the sadness he feels.

Zane’s mother goes on to explain that the autism stripe is not his only stripe, and he has many other wonderful stripes; his “pilot stripe” that makes him good with directions, his “caring stripe” that reflects his concern for others, his “honesty stripe” which reflects his willingness to tell the truth, and his “curiosity stripe” that shows his eagerness to learn. This teaches children that no one aspect of their life defines them, and the value of self-acceptance. Furthermore, they are learning about autism and how to help in a way that they can better understand at a younger age.

Families, Families, Families


Author: Suzanne Lang

Illustrator: Max Lang

Publishing Information: Random House Children’s Books, 2015

Number of Pages: 24

Genre: Realistic Fiction



This Monarch Award-winning children’s book provides a glimpse at the various kinds of families that people may belong to, as an alternative to the nuclear family dynamic. With explanations such as “Some families have two moms,” “Some families have one dad,” and “Some families are children living with the aunt,” children are able to see that families come in a multitude of sizes and have can be made up in all different kinds of ways. Furthermore, it ends by explaining that no matter who or how many people make up one’s family, they are all bonded by love.

This gives children a mirror that allows them to see their own family demonstrated in the text. It is helpful because it can, therefore, make them feel included and have their family composition validated to themselves and other readers. It also provides a window to show them a multitude of different ways a family can be structured, all while stressing the importance that no one family structure is better or worse than any of the others. I especially appreciated the book’s inclusion of same-sex parents, as that is a structure that society is still working toward accepting today. By including these types of families, children who belong to a family with same-sex parents can feel more accepted and appreciate that their family is recognized by the book. Additionally, by including all different kinds of families throughout the book, it provides children with a door to practice inclusion and acceptance for all types of family structures, even if they do not mirror the one they see at home.

The illustrations in the book are unframed, with the exception of a frame that surrounds each family in a way that is designed to give it the appearance of a family portrait. Although the text could exist alone, the illustrations mirror the text and are able to provide a visual representation of each family composition that is being described by the text. Additionally, the illustrations are done in bright watercolors to mirror the happiness and freedom within the story. Facial expressions on the characters are all smiles to reflect this theme as well.

A Chair for my Mother

Author/ Illustrator: Vera B. Williams

Publisher and Year: Greenwillow Books 1982

Number of Pages: 29

Genre: Fiction




A little girl, her mother, and her grandmother save up to buy a big, comfy chair to put in their apartment. The mother has no place to rest from a long day’s work at the diner. All they have is the wooden chairs from the kitchen because a fire burned most of their furniture. All that is earned is put into a big jug to save up for the big chair.

Just as in the book as people came and helped the girl and her mother after the fire burned up most of their possessions, children can also learn to help others when they are in need. It can open the door to teaching about sharing or helping others. It can also teach about how working together can solve solutions. When all the neighbors came together, they helped the little girl and her mother. Or when the girl would work in the diner along with her mother, she helped earn a few extra coins to add to the jar that would eventually buy a new, comfy chair.

Perceptual- The little girl saves up all her money in a huge jar. She even helps out at the diner her mother works at so she can make a little extra to save up for the brand new chair.

Structural- All the of the text appears on the opposite side of the pictures. On each side with the text, a very small object that is already seen on the bigger picture (on the opposite page) is underneath the text. The only time the text is not on the opposite side of the picture is when the little girl tells how the community comes together and donates items to her family after the fire.

Ideology- Giving to those who are in need. The new neighborhood, that the little girl had to move to, all got together to donate items that they didn’t need.  Saving money is better than spending money.  The little girl, her mother and grandmother all save up their money and put it in the jar so that they can buy their new chair.

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Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad

Title: Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad

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Author: Pamela Duncan Edwards

Illustrator/Photographer: Henry Cole

Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers in 1997

Number of pages: 28 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Realistic Fiction, 2-3, 4-5, Culture, Picture Book

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about the path a runaway slave takes. It is from the perspective of the person’s foot and all the creatures it encounters along the way. The animals in the story help lead the foot to a safe house where the boy will stay.

This text functions as a window for its audience. The text is intended to let the reader in on what the barefoot has to go through in order to be safe. It helps the audience get a look into what it was like during an escape from a slave owner. With this book being aimed more towards younger readers, the audience has never experienced what it was like to escape and travel on the Underground Railroad. The only thing that I found interesting was that the writer and the illustrator are both Caucasian. I think they did a good job at creating the story however I feel that it may be more accurate if the writer was someone who experienced it or knew someone experienced it. However, the illustrator did an excellent job of making all the picture dark, mysterious, and having no frame giving the audience the feeling as if they were there with the main character. When looking more closely at the images, you can see whenever they show the slave owners walking through the woods looking for the boy, you can notice a horizon. The significance of this is to signify the on coming danger.