Sold by Patricia McCormick

                                            Awards: Quill Award for Young adult/teen


This is a fiction book based on real events that are taking place to half a million of girls in Nepal.


According to http://www.patriciamccormick.com, Patricia McCormick has been recognized in New York Times and Publishers Weekly on the best book lists.  She was brought up in Pennsylvania wanting to be a journalist, while her parents strongly discouraged it.  She was working for a newspaper in her early career writing reviews on children’s books and movies.  She grew a desire to write her own stories.  She believes that for 1-2 hours a day we must unplug from all forms of technology to feed our imagination. Technology feeds us thoughts that are not ours.  When McCormick writes, she writes about aspects in her own life looking for people who ask the same questions as her.  She also wants to bring attention to really important issues that people may overlook.



Sold starts off describing the lifestyle of a thirteen-year-old girl named Lakshmi living in the country in the Himalayas.  She lives poorly with her selfish step-father and endures hardships with her siblings. It is clear that the role of woman is vastly different than the men.  Women are not treated respectfully or in high regard in her town, but it is her home and she is comfortable there.  Lakshmi has been desiring to work in the city to help her family with money.

One day her step-father brings her to a store.  On page 53, there is a conversation between Bajai Sita and her step-father.  Baja Sita is asking how much Lakshmi is worth to go to the city to work.  The whole time, Baja Sita is saying she has no hips and possibly not worth as much as step father is asking.  Lakshmi is confused because she knows she is strong and can handle any work.  Eventually her step-father sells her for 800-rupee and Lakshmi thinks she is going to the city to work as a maid to pay back her family.

Lakshmi is shocked at what a city looks like.  She is amazed.  She follows the woman she calls Auntie who gives her off to a man who she calls Uncle Husband to disguise her as they cross the borders.  Uncle husband drops her off at her destination.  “As my eyes adjust, I see a dozen sleeping girls, some in corners, some on rope cots,” (pg. 90).  Lakshmi is still not sure what this place is.  Soon Lakshmi is told her work and it is to be a prostitute to any kind of man who comes to her.

She is punished greatly for not wanting to do it for awhile, but eventually gives in in hopes of raising money to go back to her home.  Later in the story, she finds out that the money is not going to her family and she has been giving her body for nothing.  She meets a young boy who works for the brothel bringing food and doing chores.  He knows English and shares how to speak some phrases.

The girls in the brothel are told Americans are evil and if they ask them to come to a place safe, not to believe them.  They are told that Americans will strip them naked and make them run in the streets like this.  They are told to fear Americans.

Lakshmi is in the brothel for awhile and comes to terms that this is her life.  She learns how to seduce and get paid well.  One day an American comes and shows her pictures of a safe place he wants to take her.   She believes him from all the pictures he shows.  He says he will come back for her.  Her comes back with police and at the end of the story we can assume she is brought to safety.


I believe that Patricia McCormick uses understatement in Sold (pg. 29 Children’s Literature Briefly).  “When facts and feelings are presented clearly in writing, readers draw their own conclusions without being told precisely what to think,” (pg. 29).  I remember the first moment I knew Lakshmi was being sold to be a sex slave.  The story never told me that was happening, but I gathered it from the “showing.”  It was as soon as she entered the house with girls laying all over that I knew what was ahead. It was a very impactful moment to experience such dread for what was to come.


This book would be very impactful in literacy diving into women oppression, cultural differences, injustice, character development, men roles vs. women roles and also could provide students with a desire to want to help those in the sex slave industry.


This book would be an amazing book for seniors in high school.  Seniors are becoming adults and would be able to learn about injustice issues that are happening currently.  This book could focus on world events and what is happening in Nepal.  Instead of reading a history book about sex slavery, this book gives you a face-to-face experience living through this nightmare as a teenage girl in a brothel. In author’s note in Sold, “the U.S. Department estimates that nearly half a million children are trafficked into the sex trade annually.” Many parents in Nepal willingly sell their child just like Lakshmi’s step father.  I believe this book could also create a passion for those who want to be a part of the solution to the sex trade industry, not only in Nepal, but all over the world.


Sold would expand and bring to life the sex slave industry to an emerging adult.  A senior in high school may know about the sex slave industry, but they are still young enough to not fully understand the extent of it.  I believe this book could change their life and their perspectives forever.  It would hit them hard with reality away from their teenage lives. They would learn gratitude for their upbringing in hopes of gaining anger for cruelty.  This book could also encourage children to find careers in social work, politics and missions to be a part of stopping cruelty faced.  It could lead to help in many other injustices in the world like homeless, immigration, war, gun violence, suicide, etc.


I would be cautious sharing this book with any grade less than 12th grade.  Sexual perversity is a very complex topic and they must be mature enough to handle the reality of it.

What information does the author assume the reader already knows? The author assumes the reader has somewhat of a knowledge of the sex slave industry.  Some teenagers may not have any prior knowledge of this, so it would be good to discuss and talk about it prior to the book (without giving away the climax!).

Are sex roles incidental or critical to characterization or plot?  Could this story be told if the sex roles were reversed?  Sold starts off showing that women are not treated equal as men.  Men treat women almost as animals and someone to be doing work for them.  They are to work and take care of the men and children.  Sex roles are critical to the plot of the story.  Young girls are sold, sometimes even by their family, into the sex trade industry for very cheaply.  Girls are forced without their consent to give sex to any type of man that comes to them.  They cannot leave and will be punished if they don’t give men pleasure. This shows a deep oppression of women in Nepal.  It is currently happening and not stopping because there are no leaders in place to stop this.  Women are not valued or respected enough to have a voice and if they do speak up, they are shamed and beat. This story could not be told if sex roles were reversed.  There has never been such thing as women forcing men for sex in terms of a brothel.

How can we be aware of children being sold into the sex trade industry in our country?  What can we do to be a part of the change?  What are the statistics of children being sold in the US?


Written by Kelsey Leu               June 19, 2018


Where The Mountain Meets The Moon

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon written and illustrated by Grace Lin

Awards: John Newbery Medal, Mythopoeic Fantasy Award 2010


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is fantasy fiction/fairytale.


http://www.youtube.com published by Reading Rockets

According to readingrockets.org, Grace Lin grew up in New York.  She attended the Rhode Island School of Design and shortly after, she began working on children’s books.  Her very first book called The Ugly Vegetables won many awards in 1999.  Most of her books “are about the Asian-American experience” and believes it helps close the boundary between races.  She currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband.


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon introduces a young girl named Minli who lives on the bottom of Fruitless Mountain with her family.  The land around this mountain was barren and those living around it were in poverty.  “The villagers called it Fruitless Mountain because nothing grew on it and birds and animals did not rest there,” (pg.1).  Every night Ba (Minli’s father) would tell her stories of why things became the way they are.  Minli loved hearing how Fruitless Mountain became fruitless.


The story was about Jade Dragon who believed the villagers dishonored her so she stopped it from raining creating famine and drought over the land.  Jade Dragon’s children wanted to help the villagers so they became the four rivers of the land stopping the drought.  Jade Dragon becomes so upset she is separated from her family that she turns herself into Jade River.  “Nothing grows or lives on the mountain; the land around it is hard and the water of the river is dark because Jade Dragon’s sad spirit is still there,” (pg. 8).


Mini wants her family to flourish and not suffer any longer, so she runs away.  On her journey, the Goldfish Man tells her that she can change the fortune of her family if she goes and finds the Old Man at the moon.  She finds a dragon who cannot fly and they travel to Never Ending Mountain. The book continues to tell legends and stories of things relating to what Minli finds along the way.


When Minli finally arrives, she can only ask the man one question. Instead of asking for her fortune, she wanted to know how to help her dear dragon friend fly.  “‘When it was time for me to choose, I suddenly saw I didn’t have to ask for it,'” (pg.259).  She was content with the way her life became after a journey with the dragon.  The old man told her to remove a stone from the dragon’s head, then the dragon would fly.  The dragon flew Minli back to her family.  Ba told her that the stone is very special and it is a dragon’s pearl that is worth the Emperor’s entire fortune (pg. 268).

Fruitless Mountain became a place of abundance and no longer was there town suffering, but it was bursting with fruit.  Even though Minli didn’t ask the old man the questions about fortune, all of her desires and dreams came to past.



Where the Mountain Meets the Moon uses figurative language.  In Children’s Literature Briefly, figurative language “adds specificity, clarity, power, and layers of meaning,” (pg.27).  This fantasy book is loaded with complexities and layers of meanings.  Each story told by Ba displays a lesson to be learned using fantasy.  The story never tells us what the message is exactly, but we can gather it from reading through the whole book.  Minli only found fortune when she gave up looking for it.  She started caring for the needs of others and surrendered her need for being wealthy.  It was in when her focus changed that she gained wealth.  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon also displays unexpected insights (pg. 30 Children’s Literature…).  There are little surprises that show human experience that comes from our struggles (pg. 30).


This is a great book to use in literacy.  This book can have multiple focuses of study.  We could study the author’s message, theme, human conditions, cultural differences in relation to types of writing, fantasy study and much more.


This book would best be used to study in High School where teenagers can see and recognize hidden metaphors. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon would be an excellent book to study Minli and how she develops through her experiences.  The end result of her desire is vastly different from the beginning.  We can study what impacted her to change so much.


Children would learn about the Asian culture and the importance of legends in relation to the Asian people.  They would get a glimpse into their types of stories and become familiar with different styles of writing. Children would learn that fortune should never be what we strive after, but it can come when our minds are focused on loving people.

How are family relationships depicted? They are depicted as very important.  Since Minli’s family lives in such a rough environment in the beginning, we can tell that Minli, Ma and Ba are very close.  They work and do everything together.  They are very close and share very strong bonds.

Do depictions of all cultures offer genuine insights? Where the Mountain Meets the Moon portrays the Asian culture beautifully.  There are so many legends that impact their culture such as the dragon, the goldfish and the theme of fortunes.  This story allows us to see the importance of these symbols and how it is infiltrated in their legends/culture.

How is fantasy portrayed in Asian cultures different in relation to American culture?

Written by Kelsey Leu               June 18, 2018



A Long Walk To Water


A Long Walk To Water by Linda Sue Park (based on a true story)

This book is historical fiction because it is based on the true story of Salva, but Nya’s character is fiction.



Reading Linda Sue Park’s biography on https://www.lspark.com/bio/biography.html, helped me to see a glimpse of her fun spunky personality.  She grew up outside of Chicago, IL, a daughter of Korean immigrants.  She loved to read and write as early as 4 years old.  The first thing she ever published was when she was 9 in Trailblazer magazine.  She continued to have her poems published throughout elementary to high school.  Her early career included her writing for an oil company.  She worked there two years before moving to Dublin.  She met her husband in Ireland and they eventually moved back to the US.  It was back in the US where she really grew passionate about writing children’s literature.  She currently lives in NYC with her Irish husband (https://www.lspark.com/bio/biography.html).


A Long Walk To Water is based on a true story.  There are two stories taking place in the book separated by year.  One story is taking place in Sudan in 1985 and the other story is taking place in 2008 in Sudan.  The modern story is fiction, but it really emphasizes the impact that the real story has.

In Sudan in 2008, we get to know a character named Nya whose primary job is to walk miles each day to fetch water for her family.  The route is dangerous with the heat; thorns and the weight of carrying the water back home on her head.  The pond is where she goes and gets the water half of the year.  The other half of the year while the pond is dried up, Nya and her family move to a camp near the big lake.  They do not live here year long because the tribe that is their enemy would fight them for the land.  “There was only heat, the sun already baking the air, even though it was long before noon.  It would take her half the morning if she didn’t stop on the way,” (pg. 1).

In Sudan in 1985, there is a young boy named Salva (true story).  The story starts pretty intensely when young Salva is at school.  Salva and the other students hear gunshots and his teacher yells and tells them to quickly head into the bush and not back home.  They will kill them if they go home and only chance for survival is to run to the bush. ” ‘Into the bush.  Do you hear me? Not home. Don’t run home.  They will be going into the villages.  Stay away from villages- run into the bush,'” (pg. 6).  The war started two years earlier where the government wanted all of Sudan to practice Islam.  The southern part where he lived practiced many different religions.

Salva spends a good amount of time in the story walking with tribes and people he does not know.  There is barely any food and water.  The goal is to get to Ethiopia where there is a refugee camp.  His uncle is fighting against the rebels in the war and Salva is kept safe for a while with his Uncle until his Uncle is shot.  Once Salva gets to the camp they are told they have to leave.  This is where the story gets even crazier as he leads a group of boys across a river with crocodiles.  “It was the rainy season.  Swollen by the rains, the Gilo’s current would be merciless. The Gilo was well known for something else, too. Crocodiles,” (pg. 75).

As time goes on Salva lives in refugee camps in northern Kenya.  He gets an opportunity to New York and this is I believe the most touching part of the story.  “There it was.  Salva Dut- Rochester, New York. Salva was going to New York. He was going to America!” (Pg. 89).  This boy who has lived in refugee camps suffering and struggling to live now has an opportunity to live in the US where he will never again struggle.

The story ends with Nya meeting people from the US who have come to build a well of water for her town.  Now Nya can go to school and not ever have to worry about water.  They now have a fresh water well that is clean and will change her life in Sudan. Salva is one of the men who start this project and they shake hands.  Salva went back and brought fresh water wells all over Sudan.  Nya was in the tribe that Salva was in war with.   ” ‘Thank you,’ she said, and looked up at him bravely. ‘Thank you for bringing me water,'” (pg.115).  This is the beautiful story about how redemption doesn’t just bring liberation to that person being redeemed, but many other people around them.



In Children’s Literature Briefly (2016), unexpected insights are explained as a story with unexpected surprises that give great insight and meaning to a larger picture.  “We live with characters as they work their way through problems but may be delighted suddenly by an eye-opening insight about the human experience that comes from their struggles,” (pg. 30).  There were many surprises in A Long Walk to Water, but the largest of all was at the end when Nyu and Salva meet.  When two stories come together to show the redemption of someone who struggled their whole life, it impacts your life and shows you the depth of human compassion.  This book was about courage in the face of adversary.  The outcome when Salva goes to America is surprising and definitely brings up immigration as a focal point.


A Long Walk To Water is a book that can be studied over a length of time in reading.  It is a powerful book that can impact students with the current issue of immigration. It provides a perspective of someone who once lived in a different country and the safety and redemption that the US can provide.  It can be used in social studies to talk about immigration and democracy.  This book can focus on character study focusing on the affects that an environment such as war can have on a person.  Also, it is a great book to show how unfortunate circumstances can bring change to others around you.


This book would be a great book for high school students studying world events.  Since immigration has been such a large controversy, this book can be a book to spark debates and discussion regarding that issue.


A Long Walk To Water allows a student to experience what it is like being from another country coming into the United States.  It opens up their mind to what is actually taking place in countries like Sudan and the complexities that come with living there.  It helps a teenager see that others countries do not live like those in America.  It can spark a desire for students to want to help change immigration laws.  Someone reading this might even want to go to other countries to provide help.  If there are immigrants in their life, they can be more educated and be able to relate to them, instead of being ignorant.


This book may spark different viewpoints on immigration.  As a teacher it is best not to have a specific slant towards one viewpoint, but allow the students to explore and come up with their own ideas about immigration in the United States.  It is important to ask questions to lead conversations in both directions while still respecting others from another country.

What attitudes are shown toward people, animals, and even the land? People must unite to overcome adversary.  Even though they were from different tribes, when it comes to survival, sticking together is so important.  The compassion and courage that Salva shows throughout the book gives the reader hope in humanity.  He helped lead a group of young boys to freedom.  He went back to Sudan to bring fresh water wells where there were none.  Animals are also a huge part of this story.  Animals become obstacles such as the lion that killed his friend and the crocodiles that are infested in the rivers.  Animals also become food for them to hunt when food is scarce.  The land also plays an important role in this story.  The heat of the desert brings death to many.  The river also becomes a huge obstacle to cross.  They must make boats out of the land to cross.  The natural water is huge to Nya and her family.  They surround their life around the land that has water.  Salva’s father also almost dies from drinking dirty water and walks miles to get to a hospital.

Are minorities shown exclusively in poverty situations? Yes, the people of Sudan are shown to be living in extreme poverty and struggle.  This book shows the struggle minorities were born into and how hard it is for them to come and succeed in America.  They have to overcome a lot of mental challenges if they move to America because when someone is living to survive, the mindset would be hard to change once coming to America.  It is good to be open and aware of those mental struggles as well.  It is helpful to become part of the solution to those moving from places like Sudan.

Get to know an immigrant in your life.  What differences and struggles did they face in their home country?  What do they like and dislike about living in America?  What are ways to help bring about change?


written by Kelsey Leu               June 14, 2018


Trombone Shorty


  • Trombone Shorty written by Troy Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier
  • Awards: Audie Award for Young Listeners and Coretta Scott King Book Awards



This book is a historical fiction.  It shows the life of real Trombone Shorty, but uses dialogue and cartoon drawings to show fiction.  It is also an autobiography because the author is writing a story about himself.


“Troy Andrews was born in New Orleans in 1986.  Everyone in Andrews family was musically talented. Andrews was so talented, that at the age of 5, he was playing the trumpet professionally.  Troy Andrews went to a music school in high school.  He was chosen to travel all over the world to play trombone. He has released many albums of his own music.  Troy Andrews even got to play for President Obama and Michelle Obama at the White House in 2012” (Jurek, Thom ALLMUSIC).



Trombone Shorty was born in New Orleans.  New Orleans was his greatest inspiration because music was heard of all over his neighborhood.  His older brother also inspired him to play music.  Mardi Gras was a large celebration that encouraged his love for music in New Orleans.  He would watch and listen to the bands all day long and desire to also play like them.

Trombone Shorty wanted his music to stand out and be different from the rest.  When he was a child, he made his own instruments to play with his friends.  One day he found a broken trombone and desired to learn to play. He played in the street and his brother called him “Trombone Shorty” since he was short and played trombone wherever he went.

Image result for trombone shorty book pictures

Trombone taught himself songs day and night and even fell asleep with the trombone in his hands.  One day his mom got him tickets to see one of the most amazing musicians.  He called him to play with him and he got the courage to get just as good with practice.

Image result for trombone shorty book pictures

Now as Trombone Shorty goes home to New Orleans as an adult, he keeps his eyes open for young children like him who love music.  He travels all over performing and never lets his trombone go.  He wants to be an inspiration to all those who have a love for music.


Troy Andrew uses “Precise Vocabulary” to create a sense of feeling like you are in the narrator’s shoes.  The way he describes the sounds, the sights and his passion for music allows the reader to fully grasp what is happening in the story.  This book creates “vivid word pictures” to portray exactly what it was like to be raised in New Orleans in a music town (pg.26 Children’s Literature Briefly).


This would be a wonderful book to teach personal narrative writing.  Since the author was talking about himself like an autobiography, students would learn how to make their stories come alive using descriptive and exciting words.  It is also a great character study for reading time.  We can use it in our history unit: notable people.


This would be a great book to study character development in relation to writing a personal narrative story.


This book can be used to show children that they can accomplish any of their dreams if they start practicing something a lot right now while they are young.  Trombone Shorty practiced so much as a little child and we can see the effect from his hard work now in his adult years. Practice makes perfect and perseverance is something to strive for.  This book would encourage children to focus on one thing they are really good at to master.

Q & A

How are family relationships depicted? This book really shows the relationship between Trombone Shorty to his friends and family.  His older brother was an inspiration to him with his music and eventually asked him to travel in his band with him.  The people in his neighborhood are also depicted as important too.  They all shared a common love for music and revolved their life around it.  There is a close link between Trombone Shorty and his love of his community that helped him thrive.  People in New Orleans would all go see him play.

What information does the author assume the reader knows? The author assumes that the reader already knows who Trombone Shorty is.  I did not have a  clue who he was so I am guessing others might not as well.

What is one thing you are passionate about that you can practice night and day to become very good at?

written by Kelsey Leu         6/12/18


El Deafo

El Deafo

Written and illustrated: Cece Bell

Awards: John Newbery Medal


  • El Deafo is a contemporary fiction novel.  Even though the book is made up of cartoon rabbit characters, the plot intensively focuses on a scenario that could take place with a real child.  This book is also a memoir of the Cece Bell’s childhood as she struggled with hearing loss.


  • According to Danielson, J, Cece Bell has been writing and illustrating picture books for 10 years (para. 1 2014).  Senn, Jan writes that Bell was a “graduate of the Master of Arts program at Kent State University’s school of Visual Communication Design.  Bell lost her hearing as a young child after getting meningitis.  She learned how to lip read at a young age.  Bell is married to a children’s book author who also majored in art.  They live in Virginia and have two sons.  Her most impactful book to children and families is the famous El Deafo, a detailed experience of her own life written as a graphic novel,” (Senn, J 2015).



  • Cece bell struggled with being deaf growing up. She faced  a lot of challenges in her life surrounding school.  She had to face embarrassment and navigate challenges that most children do not even think about.
  • Cece Bell wrote a graphic novel about her life being deaf.  Many children and families have been impacted around the world with this book.
  • The characters in the book are rabbits.  According to Senn, J, “she made her characters rabbits because they have giant ears and are good at hearing.  ‘It was sort of a visual metaphor to show how I was feeling… like the one rabbit whose big ears didn’t work,” (12 facts… paragraph 7).


  • As the novel starts off, we see that Cece was once a normal kid.  She was not born deaf, but went through a tragic hearing loss at a young age.  “I can’t even walk!  I can crawl, though.  And after a few days of practice, I regain my balance.  I’m feeling so much better!” (pg. 8).  Kids get a glimpse as they read into someone experiencing meningitis. The outcome of that is hearing loss.
  • The very first thing that the Doctor did to help Cece hear was give her a hearing aid.  While Cece was growing up in the 1970’s, they looked a different than today. The hearing aid was large with cords hang from her ears with a large box hanging by her chest.  The box allows Cece to hear, but everything sounds muffled so she cannot hear words correctly.  She goes to a school called “Fisher School” to help her learn with other kids who struggle with being deaf.


  • Cece eventually moves to a new house and must go back to a public school where she will not be surrounded by children like her anymore.  As she goes to her new school, everything is very muffled.  Her mother takes her to the doctor and Cece gets a new device to help her hearing. It is called the Phonic Ear.



  • The phonic ear allows her to hear everything and she feels like superhero.  She hears someone call someone deaf “Deafo” on the television and she finds it hilarious.  That she says is going to be her superhero name.
  • As the years go on and she gets older a device is given to her teacher and those speaking around her to enable her to hear what they are saying.  She even hears her teacher going to the bathroom which she again thinks is funny and makes her a superhero.
  • El Deaf goes through the struggle of making friends, shows the struggle in each grade of elementary/middle school, such as liking a boy, and allows children to relate to the feelings of someone deaf.  It is very powerful and opens the mind to others not like us.


  • According to Children’s Literature Briefly, Bell uses precise vocabulary allowing the reader to actually feel like they are experiencing the same things as Cece.  There is a lot of dialogue and word usage to show what actually happened.  Bell uses dialogue to show “truth emerging about personality, motives, desires, prejudices, and feelings,” (pg. 27 2016).  Bell also uses unexpected insights to surprise the reader of the experiences of a child who is deaf.


  • This book would be an amazing guided reading book.  Comprehension strategies would include inferences and diving into a character’s point of view.  There would be a lot of dialogue about someone being deaf and the challenges they face.  I would do writing and reading lessons on how we would get through our school day with Cece’s challenges.  Children can write, “If I was deaf…” stories to relate to Cece.  This would also be a great time to address any differences in the class and allow children to view life in someone else’s perspective.
  • A culminating activity could to be make our own graphic novels of our own challenges and triumphs.



  • This book would be great for grades 5-8, but not limited to those grades. El Deaf would be a wonderful book to spend time on author’s purpose since Cece Bell wrote this book about her own experiences.  We would really get to know the author by studying the character development in the story.
  • We can compare her life as a child to her life as an adult with deafness.
  • What were challenges that she faced as a child in relation to challenges faced as an adult?
  • How is it easier being deaf in 2018 than it was in the 1970’s?



  • Children mostly live and focus on their own experiences or their own challenges.  El Deaf would get the focus off of themselves and be able to experience challenges someone would face being deaf.  This would expand their thinking to be cautious of differences around them.  It could encourage gratefulness for what they have.
  • This book can also impact children who are deaf.  They are not alone and would feel like someone can relate to them.  It would allow them to have hope like how one day they can help others and also succeed greatly like the author Cece Bell.


  • Who or what was included and who or what was left out of the scope of the book? This book included a child being deaf in elementary years and early middle school years.  What was left out of this book was her life as a young child and her life as a high school/college student.  The reason why Cece Bell focused on a certain age is to really attract readers of those ages.
  • What attitudes are shown toward people?  El Deaf creates a deep appreciation for people.  No matter how big someone’s differences are, they are to be loved and understood as much as possible.
  • Who are people in my life that I can be more understanding to?  What practical steps can I do to make sure they feel 100% loved and understood?


Written by Kelsey Leu         June 11, 2018

Danielson, J. (2014, September). Cece Bell – Interview. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from https://bookpage.com/interviews/17078-cece-bell#.Wx65xa2ZO8U

Senn, J. (2015, June 25). 12 Fast Facts About Cece Bell. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from https://www.kent.edu/magazine/CeceBell


The Family book

written and illustrated by Todd Parr

According to https://sites.google.com/site/samcam1023/pricelist, Todd Parr received the 2004 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award on The Family Book.

This book is contemporary realistic fiction.  It deals with real family scenarios and how families can be different.  It is a bit multicultural showing how all families can be vastly different from the other.

Todd Parr is now known for his amazing artistic talent in his books, but as a “student he failed art class.  He never gave up and in his early career moved to California to go forward in his art career.  He had his painting submitted in a restaurant, he created merchandise for Macy’s and eventually he had his own clothing line for children.  As he began to write children books, Parr wanted his books to be very direct encouraging children that diversity is good and it is accepted.  He wanted children to feel better about themselves because as a child, he never felt completely accepted,” (https://sites.google.com/site/samcam1023/pricelist).  Even though racism and sexism are complex issues children might not understand, Parr writes matter of fact so children do understand that is completely okay to be who you are.

     The Family Book by Todd Parr immediately starts off with two different pages that show opposite family dynamics.  “Some families are big, Some families are small.”  His words are not just showing opposite families, but his illustrations use fiction to show a large family of bunnies in contrast with a drawing of one parent with a child.  Image result for some families are big from todd parr                                        www. youtube.com

He goes on to discuss families having the same color in contrast with families with different colors.  These are straight forward words that may not be politically correct, but do address children possibly feeling different or unaccepted by their other classmates.

“Some families live near each other, some families live far from each other.  Some families have a stepmom or stepdad and stepsisters or stepbrothers,” (The Family Book).  Parr addresses ALL family scenarios and paints a picture of this being amazing.

Throughout the book he places the similarities of families too. “All families are sad when they lose someone they love.  All families like to celebrate special days together.  All families can help each other be strong!”  Parr honors the love families have, but making the differences really clear for a child.


There are many key elements to a beautifully written book according to Children’s Literature Briefly.  The author’s use of “music in language” in The Family Book really allows the opposite qualities of families to stand out.  “The sounds of words increase the appeal and strength of a story by providing emphasis, repeat tones and establish patterns,” (pg. 28).  Each page starts with “some families” and each page next to each other displays the complete opposite to emphasize differences being okay.  In The Family Book two of the pages next to each other say, “Some families eat the same things, some families eat different things.”  Without the contrast the book would not provide the same impact.  Another theme displayed in the book is “understatement,” (pg. 29 Children’s Literature…).  The book does not come right out and say differences are to be celebrated, but the reader definitely takes that away from the book.

As an elementary school teacher, I would use this book in my history lesson on the unit that deals with cultural diversity.  Before I share cultures all over the world, I can share how even each family has very different characteristics.  To access their knowledge on family diversity, I can ask them the differences they already know about families.  After we dialogue about what they do know, I can read The Family Book and we can once again dialogue about any differences we may not have thought about.  Activities to follow can be about their unique family.  We can do a project to display their families uniqueness and then share it to the class.  This will create acceptance for others and will open up children’s minds to the vast differences a family can have.

This book can be used as a mentor text to focus on author’s purpose. Why did Todd Parr write this book?  This could be a question that can be carried over into guided reading groups discussing the message and impact the author wanted to create.

The Family Book would definitely provide hope to a young child primarily grades P-2nd grade.  Just like how Todd Parr was raised in a family where he did not always feel like his life was accepted or “normal,” a child may be feeling those same emotions.  This book if taught properly can allow a child to relax and celebrate where they come from.  Not only can this book help celebrate family differences, but it could lead into many discussions such as acceptance of sex, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, ones work, etc.  Children can be taught at a young age that differences and diversity can be celebrated.  “True unity cannot happen without diversity,” Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church, Redding California.

I have read that there have been certain districts banning this book.  The reason being would be same-sex marriage and families not wanting their child to agree that same sex marriage is right.  I would make sure families in the classroom were aware of the contents in the book before reading it.  Making sure if there are any conservative beliefs among parents is key and asking if they wanted their child to be involved in the reading would be important. If that is an issue, skipping that page in the story might be the best route unless there is a child in the classroom with two moms or dads, I believe the best thing would be to read it and discuss it.

Family relationships are depicted as all carrying vastly different characteristics.  Some families have a very loud family, some have a quiet family, some live with grandparents, some have divorced parents and so on.  Todd Parr depicts all families loving each other  and that is the characteristic that holds everyone together the same.

Attitudes towards people are acceptance of differences, celebrating of different lifestyles, awareness of others which is fostering a loving and kind heart in relation to others that do not look like you.

What are some projects teachers have done involving The Family Book by Todd Parr?

Written by Kelsey Leu      June 6, 2018


The Farmer and the Clown

by: Marla Frazee (written and illustrated)

According to http://marlafrazee.com/about, The Farmer and the Clown has won the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for excellence in children’s literature.  The focus of this book is fiction with a focus on the illustration.  There are only three words in the entire book.

Adam Goodwin did a documentary on Marla Frazee (https://vimeo.com/150690463).  As I was watching this documentary, what really stuck out to me was Frazee’s love of art.  Her true gift is making her illustrations create an emotional impact on the read


er.  Frazee was impacted greatly by two books as a child. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and Blueberries for Sal by Robert Mccluskey.  She was very impacted as a child by the depth and details of the pictures in Where The Wild Things Are.  The illustrations drew her in and she wanted to become part of the adventure.  In Blueberries for Sal what struck her was how everything in the book was blue.  She was used to seeing black and the blue stuck out to her as something new.  At the end of this documentary, Frazee discusses how she spent a lot of time drawing these stars not relating to the story.  Someone told her she could just do it a lot faster on the computer, but Frazee said the impact of illustrations will only occur as authentic as the paintings/drawings.  The stars from a computer would not give the same effect.  Marla Frazee is an amazing artist with a drive to impact children through visuals that tie with a deep lesson.Unknown-2.jpeg

The Farmer and the Clown like I said previous, is known for the impact of the illustrations, not the words.  This book starts off with a picture of a farmer who looks unhappy working in his field.  He sees a train pass through and out jumps a little clown with a smile on his face.  The boy runs up to the farmer.  At first the farmer seems skeptical and confused not knowing what to do with the clown.  The clown hugs him and holds his hand.

The illustrations in the book begin to show the farmer desiring to help the clown.  He shows him how to take a bath and feeds him.  He tucks him into bed and helps him fall asleep.  The farmer gets in a role that he may have never been in before.  He starts to treat the clown as a nephew or a son.  He likes to make the clown laugh and the pictures tell that he starts to enjoy the company of the clown.

The farmer and clown start to do life together.  The clown lives with the farmer and they become a family.  Then, Marla Frazee decides to place three words in the book to create a big impact: “Toot! Toot! Toot!”  It makes your heart stop for a second thinking that the clown might be leaving to go back where he came from.  There is a sudden sadness knowing that the farmer will be left without the clown.

The illustrations at the end of the story show the clown going back to his clown family on the train.  The farmer is saying his goodbyes and it looks like he will maybe see the clown again one day.  The book ends with the farmer walking away.  It is impactful because the farmer starts off kind of grumpy and at the end feeling fulfilled.  He had a purpose in relation to a person. The relationship between the two is powerful for the both of them.

In Children’s Literature Briefly, Chapter 3, figurative language in a book is a way to recognize a well-written book.  Frazee’s book “adds specificity, clarity, power, and layers of meaning.  It conveys meaning quickly and with emotional intensity,” (pg. 27).  There are no words spelling out the relationship that is forming between the farmer and the clown.  There are layers of meaning behind the illustrations.  Understatement is another language the author uses.  “Presents minimal but carefully chosen facts and details without any explanatory comment,” (pg.29).  Marla Frazee does not tell the reader what to think.  She uses her pictures as a mystery for us to figure out what the deeper meaning is.

I would use The Farmer and the Clown in literacy and writing lessons.  This is a great book for early elementary.  I could use this book to teach a number of comprehension strategies such as main idea, characters, setting, problem and solution and the lesson of the story.  In writing, this would be the perfect book to have children write a narrative story about. Since the author doesn’t use a lot of words, the students can use their creativity to write a story about what they believe to be happening.

This book can be used as a mentor text in grades K-3rd grade.  I would use this book to teach character development.  How did the farmer change from the beginning to end and who caused him to change?  Why did the clown have such an effect on him?  This book would also be great teaching personal narrative.  Children can use their own ideas about what is happening to write a narrative story.

The Farmer and the Clown would enrich a child’s life because it shows the children what impact they can have on others around them.  The farmer was changed dramatically by having the clown be a part of his life.  Just because the clown looks so different from the farmer, doesn’t mean they can’t connect.  Their differences created no walls.  They liked each others differences and that made their relationship unique.

For a teacher using this book for their class, the only caution I would say is to make sure there is a deep understanding of what is happening between the farmer and the clown.  If this book is just shared without dialogue and meaning, it will not impact the student.

Unknown-1.jpeg     This book is unique in that it could be interpreted as a use of tokenism.  A clown is usually depicted as funny and not really impactful.  The outer appearance and what we know of clowns is not someone who can transform a grumpy old man.  This book destroys the stereotype and shows that a clown can have an impact on an old farmer.

The little clown had the power in this story.  He had the power because of his innocence and purity.  The clown was a child therefore the clown loved the old farmer unconditionally.  That power and love towards the farmer allowed the farmer to love in return.

This books makes me ask the question.  What was the farmer’s life like before and after the clown came into his life?  What actions did he change naturally once the clown left?

    Written by Kelsey Leu                       June 5, 2018


Social Media News Release

There are a few different types of news releases. Social Media News Release is one of them!

What is a social media news release and why is it important to know as a PR professional?  A SMNR is a press release format designed simply for the online media world according to realwire.  I also found that a SMNR is used to help make releases more reader-friendly to the social media users (social media training).  Traditional news releases will work, but SMNR focuses primarily on online networking.  This website describes 3 different people who appeal to SMNR: traditional journalists, bloggers/podcasters/consumers/readers.

The advantages of a SMNR according to realwire, are that SMNR’s receive double the editorial coverage and up to four times as much on blogs because SMNR’s are more creative in storytelling.  They also are online user friendly.  According to Brian Solis,  SMNR’s have the ability to open up dialog in a way that is not possible with traditional releases.  They help link to multi-media content in social networks.  According to Shelley Martin, one disadvantage of a SMNR is that those who have trouble using computers would not find them helpful.  She mentioned that she really could not locate any other disadvantages.

When should a PR practitioner consider using SMNR?

According to my friend Jon Cissel, PR practitioners should use them when they are trying to reach many people at once.  SMNR are included in many categories and very easy to locate on the web. SMNR’s provide great graphics and information that draw readers in.  SMNR’s link many things together through links and information.  A PR practitioner would be crazy not to use this because SMNR’s are great exposure.

Some Tips on creating a Social Media News Release:  (found on Biz Buzz Weekly)

1. Persuasive and Clear Content: Make sure the reader understands exactly what you are addressing. Try to focus on one topic and expand on it to make your point clear.

2. Optimum Release Length: 400-600 words keeps the reader digesting the information smoothly.  Also, it contains enough information with detail.

3. Anchor Text: These are the links that connect words and phrases to relevant web pages. A good rule to keep in mind is 500-600 words in order to focus search engines.

4. Language: Plain, accurate, and descriptive language.  Audiences need clear understandable language to be interested in the product.

5. Headline & Subhead: Let your headline be the most important keyword in your press release.  Keep the headline 60 to 80 words.  Subhead should be longer, but it is best to keep to two lines or less.  Make sure you repeat in the body of the press release what was mentioned in the headline and subhead.

6. Publish Shareable Information: Needs to be of reader’s interest!  Make sure it is good enough to share in social media. Provide a sharing button.

7. Add Picture Gallery: Go graphic crazy. This enhances your release and draws people in.

Real Wire Posted a few examples of SMNR’s.  Here is one they posted:

Powerpoint by Royal Appointment

Here is a news release on healthcare in social media: Cleveland Clinic SMNR


social media sites don’t just include twitter & facebook

With such an emphasis on Twitter and Facebook, our society is forgetting about other social media websites that are just as exciting! According to PR Daily, there are 3 other social media sites that may be well worth your time as an organization.

1. Linkedin has been a focus to professional communities and has even yielded even stronger results than twitter.

2. YouTube has only been accelerating since popular in 2006. 89 million Americans watch youtube videos each day. This is the largest video social network. This site has more users than twitter also.

3. StumbleUpon has also become popular. This is the ultimate “surfing” network which provides easy access to anything all across the web.

Keep these in mind, Twitter and Facebook are not the only social media sites out there!


Tips for PR Students!

Being in a writing for Public relations class, I have learned many things to be a successful journalist. Here are some tips I have come up with to be successful:

1. When it comes to writing blogs, make sure to “spice” it up by adding graphics and pictures to accommodate your writings.  When reading blogs, most people look for picture first before reading.  Appearance is important.

2. Be very familiar with every social networking website and be familiar with social media that is new.  As a PR professional, it would be embarrassing to be not be familiar with new media streams of communication.

3. Be efficient in grammar and writing styles.

4. Listen to PR podcasts to become familiar with PR news.

5. Make sure you network with other PR professionals to become familiar in the PR world.  Blogging can help do this.  It is good to comment on PR professional blogs.

6. Read PR daily and other PR websites.  It is good to read the newspaper or any news on the web to become familiar with what is going on in the world.

7. Be tough.  Editors will reject you so it is good to not become discouraged, but continue to take rejection to improve your writing.

8. Be very truthful and when taking information from someone else, make sure to not plagiarize.   It is good to be ethical, especially when it comes to professional writing.

9. Take risks.  It is good to pitch a story that is unique and risky.  The ones who do the risky stories usually are successful!

10. Know your audience.  Be specific about the type of audience you want to be involved with.  Knowing the audience well can help bring efficiency.

Here are some tips that I hope you can take and use if you are planning on becoming a PR professional!! Hope they helped 🙂