Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick Press, 2000)
“You haven’t read Because of Winn-Dixie?” my school teacher friend asked me [she reads it to her class]. “Sydona [my 8 year-old daughter] would love it,” she continued.
“I’ve heard of it. I should try reading it to the girls, but Madilyn [just turned 4] might be a little young,” I replied.
Well, Because of Winn-Dixie was a hit with all three of us. A book featuring a neglected yet grinning dog named after a grocery store quickly hooks most readers. To this, add a colourful cast of characters, humour and raw emotion. I got teary a few times reading it, although the ‘Beth Cry Test’ is fairly predictable. There were some meaty topics in this book for my girls to digest: a runaway mother, a distracted father, loneliness and alcoholism were the biggies. But, as I’ve heard many times–kids can handle big topics. And they did. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of depth was lost on them, but that’s okay, because many age appropriate questions were shooting from their mouths and my eldest was showing concern and compassion for Opal, the main character (qualities I would often like to see more often!). The theme of friendship permeates throughout novel. Opal develops a number of unlikely friendships thanks to the four-legged companion that she brought home from the Winn-Dixie instead of a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice and two tomatoes. And I’ve been upset when a surprise bag of candy makes it way home from a shopping trip . . .
Because of Winn-Dixie is a heartwarming book with short chapters, which made it a perfect first novel to read aloud to my young children. It’s received some impressive accolades; a Parent’s Choice gold award in 2000 and a Newberry honour in 2001.
Owen (Kevin Henkes; Greenwillow Books, 1993)
Owen has a beloved yellow blanket that he takes everywhere. But he can’t take it to school, and school is starting soon!
The neighbour, Mrs. Tweezers, cannot keep her whiskers on her own side of the fence. Mrs. Tweezers must know that parents appreciate unsolicited advice about how to change their child’s undesirable behaviours – she certainly has some ideas about how to rid Owen of his baby blanket. “Haven’t you heard of the Blanket Fairy? The vinegar trick? Have you heard of saying ‘no’?” Owen’s parents hadn’t heard of any of these things.
This story reminds us that the best actions come from the heart. It’s Owen’s mom that comes up with a plan that maintains peace in the family … and even manages to silence Mrs. Tweezers.
Someday (Alison McGhee, author. Peter Reynolds, illustrator. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007)
My husband hid this book on me, but I’ve found it and have negotiated that I should be able to read it on Mother’s Day. My birthday was last weekend so I negotiated reading it then as well. It is definitely favoured by me more than my children, but the humour that they find in mommy crying, every time I read it (which is why my husband hid it!), makes the reading journey mildly amusing for them. Although the text and the concept of watching your child grow up and experience the wild and wonderful things that life has to offer is a bit mature for kids, mine love the illustrations and since I’ve told them that Peter Reynolds, who is the author-illustrator of some of our favourite picture books (Ish, the Dot) drew the pictures, my eldest has taken additional interest.
Mother’s Day, 2015
This beautiful picture book is a must for mothers raising daughters and is sure to be unwrapped at many a baby shower.
A read through Someday is heartwarming and an emotional ride – sort of like raising daughters, perhaps.