Peace: Mindset and Heartset in Action

Peace Mindset and Heartset in Action

Peace grows out of a considerate mindset, heartset in action steeped in respect. Even small gestures of kindness add up to build relationships and circumstances where everyone feels heard, accepted and valued. Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin shows readers how children and adults create peace, one action, thought and emotion at a time.

Peace is too important a subject to leave to chance or to dismiss as a purely adult concern. All of us, young and old, have an abiding interest in nurturing peace. We are each safer, happier and healthier when we live in peace. Whether at home, on the schoolyard or the international stage, peace is benefits all of us. It is the blessing we can share, the dream for which we can strive and the worthy goal which can truly achieve.

Delicate watercolor and pencil illustrations set a dreamy mood that reflect wistfulness as well as possibility. The characters include a diverse ethnicities. One two-page spread depicts the NYC skyline. The text says, “… even in the wake of tragedy …  in the rubble of a fallen tower … you might find her [peace] in the hat of a hero…” The story highlights ways in which we can create peace within our families, classrooms, neighborhoods and towns. While it targets children, adults who read this lovely book will be moved by its eloquent and abiding message: peace begins with each of us individually, one moment, one action, one thought at a time.

Adoption-attuned Lens magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300

On a daily basis news reports on terrorism, terrorists, immigrants, government policies, etc. Children overhear these conversations. with their limited knowledge and life experience, they struggle to make sense of the conversation. They struggle too, to determine their position and safety within families, communities and our country. Often they overhear the negative judgements about immigrants, people of different ethnicities. Many adoptees feel a deep sense of being “other” and will worry that they too will be seen as less-than. Less than welcome. Less than real. Less than American. This book offers a chance for parents to reassure them of their value and permanent place in families.

When families set commit to a mindset and heartset of peace, their actions and choices reflect that commitment and inspire and encourage others.

Peace is an Offering can open conversations about peace–or the absence of it. Parents can elicit children’s thoughts and concerns and then address them. They can also embark on a family project that identifies ways that they can grow peace within their family, schools, etc.

What Will You Do for PeacePeace Mindset and Heartset in Action Do for Peace? written and illustrated by New York City youth ages eleven to nineteen. The text of this book, told in their own words, reflect the actual experiences of young people on the tragic day when terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers.

It captures the confusion, worry, heartache which they experienced as they tried to understand the events of that dreadful day. One child wrote, “It will live like thorns in my heart.” Another wrote, “Was America ever going to be the same? This made me think about peace.” The first half focuses on telling the children’s stories.

The book then shifts to focus on ways they could work to create peace. Each of them understood they could personally make an impact. And, they also realized that this awareness and choice-in-action must extend beyond NYC and the families who lost loved ones. They wanted to challenge all of us to recognize our personal responsibility for growing peace. The logical extension of this idea became the book’s title: What Will You Do for Peace?

Award-winning author-illustrator Faith Ringgold wrote the introduction. The question posed in the title is one which each of us answers every day in the way we think, speak and interact with others. In today’s political climate nationally as well as internationally, we face an immensely important question: What ARE we willing to do for peace? How will each of us individually choose a mindset and heartset in action for for peace? How will we expand that stance when we step into  the wider world?

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens 

The AQ suggestions for the previous book can equally apply to this book. Families can also follow the lead  of What Will You Do for Peace and draw their own book depicting what they as individuals and as a family can/will do for peace. Listen to kids ideas. We can learn so much about what they think, feel and believe, especially when they are talking about something about which they feel strongly.

 

Peace Mindset and Heartset in ActionPeace written and illustrate by Wendy Anderson Halperin delights visually. The delicate and detailed illustrations convey a dreamy quality that suits the premise of the book: peace is an achievable dream. Each of us has a role to play in the creation of peace on a small scale–in families, homes, schools, neighborhoods, etc. These efforts then combine to generate a surge toward peace on a macro scale (state, country, continent, the world.)

Halperin uses text as a drawing element. Each page displays a prominent line of text asserting a peace-connected thought . The balance of the page includes vignettes that expand on the concept. It also includes more sophisticated quotes which further elaborate of the main point.

When reading to youngsters, adults can narrate the main point and skip the more sophisticated material. For more mature audiences narrators can read all the text aloud. The gorgeous illustrations invite discussion and will appeal to all ages. Peace is a lovely book that will plant seeds of thought which can be nurtured into action.

magnifying-lens-AQ.2-161x300Adoption-attuned Lens Some of the comment details mention ideas which adoptees and their families can interpret through an adoption perspective. For example, this quote from Paul Bennett:  “How do we put ourselves in other people’s shoes and really feel what they feel and then use that to fuel solutions?” Families can explore how they to help people to understand adoption better.

 

Boxes: Springboard Creativity and Connection

Boxes: Springboard to Creativity and connection

Play is an integral element in building family relationships and attachment. Through unstructured creative play, kids tap into inner resources and thoughts; often they unconsciously reveal concerns and beliefs. That’s why I love books that join creativity and play with reading.  I’m particularly fond of books featuring boxes as a theme. Boxes springboard creativity and connection.

A box invites imaginations to soar. We’ve all watched kids opt to play with the box in preference to a gift because kids have an instinctual drive to create and fantasize. Check out this collection of books about boxes. They just may help you have fun together. Or, equally important, they may reveal thoughts and feelings they find difficult to express and share. These books invite conversation and fun. 

In brief and jaunty rhyming text  Boxes: Springboard to Creativity and connectionWhat to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Chris Sheban declares, “A box is a wonder indeed. The only such magic that you’ll ever need.” The dreamy illustrations serve the theme well. Sheban draws the box with all the labels and markings still visible. Instead of limiting the fantasy element, this design choice reinforces the power of imagination to see beyond what is “real” and connect with what is possible.

Whether launching on a solo journey or sharing the box’s magical potential, an empty box dares us to dream and rocket into a flight of fantasy.

 

Adoption-attuned Lens Adoptees have intimate experience with imagining alternate worlds. Click To Tweet They wonder what life might have been like had they not been adopted, or if they’d been adopted by a different family. A book like this invites kids and parents to share a box–and the fantasy it triggers. While journeying together, parents may be amazed at the variety of topics kids will explore. Let them take the lead and remain alert for seeds that can open adoption-connected conversations.

Boxes: Springboard to Creativity and connection A Box Can Be Many Things by Dana Meachen Rau and Illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye is part of the Rookie Reader Series which means it uses simple language. (Includes a list or 51 words.) It captures the same exuberant imaginative spirit paired with bright illustrations.

Beginning readers will love the story line and the ability to read it themselves. Not only will this book spark their own flights of fancy, but it will also help build their reading skills. That’s a nice bonus!

 

 

Adoption-attuned Lens This book delivers a similar opportunity for adoptive families as the previous one.  Parents can also suggest that they imagine the box as a time-traveling machine. Imagine the places and people that children might fantasize about visiting. As always, allow children to take the lead on any conversation that touches on “big stuff.” As parents we must ensure that kids know their questions and thoughts are welcomed but we must not force them into having them on our timeline.

Boxes: Springboard to Creativity and connection

How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter inside a Tiny Blue Box by Linda Heller illustrated by Stacey Dressen McQueen takes a different spin on helping kids to realize the power of a box. This book comes from the PJ Library which “helps families explore the timeless values of Judaism.” 

The story describes the Jewish practice of creating tzedakah boxes. The name means “I’m happy when you’re happy.”  The actual translation is “fairness.”Children are encouraged to construct and decorate a box and then work to fill it with coins (or bills.). The money is then used to fund acts of charity and/or social justice.

Dalia tells her little brother that her tiny box holds a comforter, a butterfly bush and a cream pie. Brother  is little but can easily see the box is too small to hold all these things. He decides Dalia’s box is magic.

Everyone in Dalia’s class makes their own  tzedakah  and works to find ways to earn money to fill them. Once they’ve collected enough, they buy the yellow comforter fabric and then decorate it themselves. The story concludes with the children presenting the blanket to an elderly woman. She is overjoyed by their generosity and artistry and appreciates the flowers the children plant in her garden. Mostly she enjoys their companionship. The children discover the real magic of the box is how it elicits their generosity and empathy.

Adoption-attuned Lens Some kids have a strong natural inclination to kindness and generosity. This book is a great fit for them. And, some children especially those adopted from foster care, may have a profound awareness of the needs and struggles of others (their birth families, perhaps, or neighbors, etc.) These children may enjoy the idea of performing acts of kindness and generosity.

This activity may open some important and sensitive feelings. Stay alert for hints that kids wish… Click To Tweet

box metaphorIf this post intrigued you, please also read  Boxing Kids In  another book review blog post on boxes.

Cinderella Around the World

family readingFairy tales are a perennial favorite with children. They appear in all cultures. Infused with regional/national flavor and history, they hold common elements. They offer an easy and effective way of broadening your child’s involvement in the greater world. (This is important as technology shrinks our modern world and increasingly reinforces our connection as citizens of the world.)

 

The Cinderella tale, for example has been shared through the generations around the world. While young readers will recognize the fundamental similarities, they will also be fascinated–perhaps even surprised–to see the myriad ways in which the tale can be tweaked. In addition to cultural nuances,  some Cinderella tales spin a yarn with a male hero. This provides a fun and unexpected twist and demonstrates another way in which difference can be embraced instead of feared.

Cendrillon.Caribbean Cinderella.61BFZ1ecydL._SX463_BO1,204,203,200_

Reading several versions of a tale like Cinderella, can also jump start a child’s imagination and help him to understand there isn’t necessarily only one “right” way for things to be. Why not explore the world through Cinderella’s tale? You’ll find many chances to talk about your child’s beliefs about magical solutions, persistence, kindness, bullying etc. These are important topics that you will want to be intentional about nurturing and shaping.

 

Some versions of Cinderella infuse the tale with Cindy Ellen. American West Cinderella.61nQJOTv9IL._SY417_BO1,204,203,200_

regional flavor like, The Salmon Princess: An Alaskan Cinderella, or Cindy-Ellen: A Wild West Cinderella, or Smokey Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella

 

 

Appalachian Cinderella.518tfdZW0XL._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_Others recast the story the tale in a contemporary light, like Cinder-Elly which is a rap-type retelling with an urban setting. Check out the book cover array for additional suggestions. Invite your child to create his/her own version of the tale. Will the hero be male or female? Contemporary or from times past? Set locally or in a more exotic land? Have fun!

Perhaps your child will rewrite the story so that Cinderella creates her own solution instead of being rescued. Start the project and see where it leads you.

 

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AQ Lens. As I’ve consistently written, adoptive families live with the duality of being seen as both the same and different from biologically formed families. Reading versions on a Cinderella theme can easily segue into conversations about how one’s adoptive family is also a variation of a family–not better or less than–yet none-the-less different. Children may share some of their complex feelings about this “different-ness.” Such big feelings are a lot for a child to shoulder alone. A book that helps kids bring their thoughts into the open and get the support they need is well worth reading.

As you read stories that differ culturally, read with a sharp eye for any bias in the texts and/or illustrations. This too,is an important lesson: look at things with a judicious eye and do not accept something simply because it is in print, on-line, etc. Start early to teach your children to be savvy, critical thinkers.

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Golden sandal.61FQFW87XTL._SY473_BO1,204,203,200_

Egyptian Cinderella.61WHLPPrxWL._SX389_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

Adelita. Mexican Cinderella.51A6Y827nOL._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_Anklet for a Princess. India Cinderella.510X4AQ7B8L._SY390_BO1,204,203,200_

Domitila.Mexican Cinderella.513558DVPKL._SX354_BO1,204,203,200_

Abedaha.Philipine Cinderella.61D-X4LuYZL._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_

EVERYBODY’s Got Talent

jack's talentKids tend to view the world in all or nothing terms and often respond to struggles with discouragement and defeat. It is an all too easy slide to generalizing to “I am a failure.”  From small amounts of data, they form conclusions which often are inaccurate. It takes strong evidence to persuade them this is not true and to regard failure as the stepping stone to success and competency. School is one environment where kids makes such rapid–and inaccurate–conclusions about their abilities. They decide if they are smart or not, capable or not, interested or not.  Maryann Cocca-Leffler’s picture book, Jack’s Talent highlights one of these moments.

The story occurs on the first day of school and unfolds in vivid, cartoon-like illustrations which include a robust multicultural cast. Miss Lucinda, the teacher asks each pupil to introduce himself and tell about their best talent. One-by-one, each student proudly discusses their talent. As each one speaks, Jack becomes increasingly discouraged. He believes he has no talent! Jack’s turn arrives. Brokenhearted and embarrassed, he recounts each of his classmate’s talents with the refrain, “I am not good at … like….”

Reframing Jack’s words, the teacher deftly points out to him–and the rest of the class–how precisely Jack recalled his classmates words. “You are good at remembering.” She reassures Jack who beams with equal measures of relief and pride. The entire class agrees because they have experienced the truth of her assertion. Miss Lucinda transformed what could have been a spirit-crushing experience into an exercise in recognizing and valuing difference. What a valuable lesson!

courage beginnerAQ* Lens: Encouraging and nurturing competence is an essential part of parenting–especially adoptive parenting. Grief and loss issues chip away at self-esteem. It requires intentionality to build confidence, pride and capability on evidence that kids can believe and trust. One tiny step at a time, parents can help children build experiences of success onto success. It takes time to establish this resilient attitude.

Encouraging children’s efforts–instead of praising outcome–focuses children’s attention on striving. Persistence is an essential trait and far outstrips the value of easy success. Instead, parents can help them concentrate on the satisfaction that comes from trying. (You sure are a hard worker, ” versus “You are so smart.” And it is easy to feel the difference between : “You missed,” versus, “You almost succeeded. Next time you’ll come closer.” This dampens a child’s attachment to immediate success with minimal effort (which we know is unrealistic.) Reinforcing a willingness to try things through multiple unsuccessful attempts grows a pattern of resilience and paves the way to mastery.

Parents can allow kids to be privy to their own struggles to learn and master new things. Let them see how many times you have to attempt tasks before accomplishing goals. They can share a kid-friendly version of the inner dialog that adults play inside their own heads. By making this script audible, kids can note that not only do their parents struggle, they also require many attempts before they succeed. Otherwise, they tend to assume that your accomplishments occur without effort.

The Power of One …

One by Otoshi borderSo often, kids (and adults) think, “I’m only one person. What difference can I make?” The power of one is deceptive. One quiet voice, one brave stance, one impassioned believer can shift the moment, the life, the course of history. Perhaps the situation is reversed for them and they are the child who needs that one friend,  that dependable adult, that supportive teacher.

How can we as parents/teachers/adults encourage this belief in the individual’s power to take a stand and help grow children willing to be “The Difference.” make a difference?

One tool resides in the brilliant book, “One” by Katherine Otoshi. In fewer than 500 words, Otoshi captures her powerful message: “It just takes one to make everyone count.”

I enjoy the play on words. In addition to the obvious meaning, that a person can “count” (be a meaningful influence,) this book also operates as a simple counting exercise. When the colors join together, one plus one becomes two, etc. The reader feels the effect of teamwork, the isolation and loneliness of facing a larger, scarier individual.

Otoshi’s bright, spare illustrations enhance her message in a succinct and easy to absorb package. This book is the perfect anti-bullying book for young children. (In fact, anyone who reads “One” will resonate with its important theme.”

“One” has received many awards (all of them merited!):

  • E.B.White Read Aloud Honor Book
  • Teacher’s Choice Award
  • Young Voices Foundation Award
  • Moonbeam Children’s Book Medalist
  • Mo’s Choice Award
  • Nautilus Gold Winner
  • IPPY Book Award
  • Hicklembee’s Book of the Year\NCIBA Best Illustrated Award
  • Reader Views Best Children’s Book
  • Flicker Tale Award

AQ* Spin:Many adopted children experience a sense of being different, of feeling like the odd one out. (Author, adopted mom, Carrie M. Goldman calls this as feeling “othered,” a complex emotion that parents need to acknowledge and assist kids in processing. Parents enjoy highlighting the similarities between themselves and their adopted children.

It is equally important that parents acknowledge the ways in which our children are different from us as well. Work to help them see their differences as enriching the family. Do encourage them to express any feelings of “otherness” without trying to minimize these feelings. Their honesty leaves them vulnerable and it invites you in to their real perception of their life experiences. By listening to all of their children’s emotions about adoption, parents become a safe harbor when they can find safety and security.

“One” offers an easy segue into conversations about their being adopted and how their friends and classmates respond to that knowledge. This is another area where parents will want to be available to hear their child’s whole story–“the good, the bad and the ugly.” Avoid the temptation to minimize; this will invalidate their expereinces and feelings. That’s not the message you want to share. We don’t want to push them into expressing only the happy thoughts and feelings about being adopted. .

I rate “One” a  starstarstarstarstar

What Makes A Family?

In our mothers house.PolaccoAs an adoptive parent, an adoption coach and a writer on adoption issues, I found In Our Mother’s House by renowned author, illustrator Patricia Polacco exceptional. As is probably obvious from the title, the story focuses on a/n (adoptive) family with two mothers. Readers searching for stories that include LGBTQ families will appreciate this upbeat and poignant tale.

Written as a flashback from a now-adult adoptee who recalls some treasured and delightful memories of her childhood, In Our Mother’s House focuses on the positives, on how families can look different but still be about the love and care that connect them. Lesbian parenting is not the focus of the book; it is the backdrop. The story concentrates on the warm, supportive and “regular”  family that the children and their two mothers shared. Love, tolerance and joy thread throughout.

While most of the neighborhood characters welcome and embrace this unique family, one does not. Polacco makes the point subtly—the children wonder why Mrs. Lockner grumps at them whenever they meet her. The mothers concentrate on reaching out to neighbors (all of them) to create community.

The illustrations include a dazzling array of diversity. Many lend themselves to further exploration of cuisine, language and neighborliness, etc. Although the story is about a family formed through adoption, it doesn’t concentrate on adoption issues, makes no mention of the emotional struggles that adoptees often face nor does it mention birth parents, etc. In Our Mother’s House is a sweet, feel-good book about the wondrous blessing of a loving family. Great book!

Kids and Adults Face the Power to Choose–A conversation and a Book Review

I Choose.borderChildren enjoy being able to decide things for themselves. As parents we often make the bulk of the decisions in our children’s lives. Most of us understand that decision making is a skill. Like all skills, mastery only comes through practice.  Long before kids become proficient decision makers, they will plod through many errors in judgment. As parents, we face a learning curve too–when is it “safe” for kids to make a choice and when must the decision fall on our shoulders?

One time-tested strategy most  parents utilize: giving kids limited options. For example, “Do you want to wear the red shirt or the green one?” Or, “Would you like to brush your teeth with this toothpaste or the other flavor?” Gradually, we release control and they assume it. When a decision flops, we help them extract the learning and then encourage them to try again. Failure is the stepping stone to proficiency not the end of the world. We help them to notice how their decision-making skills are improving. We eliminate the expectation that they will bat a perfect game and open the space to try, and try again. Always, we  highlight the learning instead of the error. Throughout the process, we are there as a safety net to protect them from major missteps.I choose joy

This week, I want to introduce you to an award-winning book written by Suzin Helen Carr and illustrated by her then seven-year-old son. Aptly titled “I Choose,” the book visits various moments when a  child–or adult–is called upon to make a choice. For example, what to wear, how to feel, what to see, do, eat or play. The darling illustrations bring the ideas to life in a way that will appeal to kids. I think it will increase their ability to notice and appreciate the many “choosing” opportunities that occur in their day.

 

 

I Choose too.border

The message of “I Choose,” will certainly resonate with adults who share the book with their child. Suzin has also written a version of “I Choose too” an adult version of this  illuminating book . Readers can breeze through this short gem of a book very quickly. Better yet, pause and explore each page. There’s an endless possibility for talking  with your child. You just might be surprised by what you discover about one another.  From Suzin’s website:

“Chandler J. Carr was age 7 when he drew the artwork in this book.  He plays wonderful guitar, loves video games and drawing and wants to be a video game designer when he grows up.  He says that one of the most special things about him is his creative mind.

Suzin H. Carr is the author of I Choose, I Choose Too!, and Yo Elijo, the wife of James, and the mother of Chandler.  She lives in Lutz, Florida where she juggles the life she chooses and is grateful for countless blessings and immeasurable joy.

She is available to speak to your local school, club, or Scout Troop. Topics include the message of the book, the book printing process, its impact on a 7 year old, and following your dream as an artist or writer.”

 

10 Awesome Reasons for Reading As a Family

 

Afro-American family reading a book in the living-room

10. Children learn language from hearing it spoken. Seems rather obvious, but this doesn’t make it any less true. The more words children hear, the more they know and understand. Changes in pace, inflection and tone help to set words apart so children can hear and understand them more efficiently.

 

9. Reading often means reading repeatedly. Again, this helps to reinforce and accelerate learning and comprehension. This is an essential foundation for literacy, an important life skill.

 

8. When you spend time reading together, kids learn that you value reading. This sets a great model for them to follow and lays the groundwork for a lifetime reading habit.

 

7. Your reading selections will reveal and teach your values. Choose stories that enlarge your child’s understanding of his world and his importance in it.

 

6. Read stories that show children facing a variety of situations and reveal many different solutions. This will expand your children’s problem solving skills, will encourage a willingness to risk failure and learn his way to success and mastery.

 

5. Share stories that reveal the depth of his cultural heritage as well as that of other people. Find stories that depict images that allow him to see himself reflected in the pictures as well as the content. This will enhance his understanding of his roots, his family, and himself.

 

4. Expose your child to stories that explore many cultures from around the world. Help him to grow into an empathetic, caring global citizen.

 

3. Read for fun. Find books that entertain and tickle the funny bone. It is essential to spend time having fun as a family and good books is one great way to do that.

2. Your time and attention are an essential priority to your children. When you interrupt your “To Do” list to share a book with your child, they get a clear message that they are important to you.

 

Drum roll please. And the TOP reason for reading together as a family is …

 

1. A good book shared in a parent’s lap creates a sensory memory—of being close, connected, and shared experiences. Relationships and attachment are strengthened in these shared, pleasant moments. They are the building blocks of family life, of a family’s history together. Positive experiences build resilience and help to rset the negative hits of daily challenges. Read, laugh and love as a family.

 

 

 

 

 

Ooops–an Oops-ortunity to Embrace the Beauty of the Unexpected

  beautiful oops posterBeautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg is a charming picture book that will delight readers of all ages. Its message resonates on many levels: mistakes offer unexpected opportunities to look at things with a fresh perspective. On the surface, the story is about seeing the art within an “error.” A spill becomes a snuggle of puppies. A smudge morphs into fish, etc. A tear, a fold, a drip, a scrap—all hold hidden possibilities of beauty and joy.

This secret gift, though less obvious, is more powerful because of the surprise. By pausing to explore beyond first impressions, as if by magic is beauty, laughter and surprise are revealed.
As a coach who works with adoptive families, I see another layer of meaning, one that is deeper and more important. Our kids often feel like a “mistake.” In their young hearts, they hear that their birthparents could not make space for them. (Kids often don’t “hear” that adult problems and lack of skills and resources are the pivot points, even when they are told this repeatedly. Instead, kids focus on themselves as being the problem.
When I read Beautiful Oops, I saw it as a wonderful metaphor for reframing, for helping kids see that the unexpected, unplanned or different, may in fact, be quite beautiful. Families have a chance to embrace this way of thinking in daily living. Parents can look for opportunities to highlight the gap between what was expected and what actually resulted: an off-center, candid photo can capture more truth than a perfectly staged shot; a meal may not look like the picture in the cookbook but still tastes delicious.

Kids study parents’ responses to such circumstances. This is how children learn to face situations in their own lives. Parents show them how to embrace the unexpected, laugh at errors and learn from shortfalls. Life is about learning, not perfection. Life—and more importantly, love– is forgiving, understanding, imperfect, and unconditional.

A Very Special Chicken Learns to Shine

 

 

Henny 2

 

Today’s delightful picture book sweet story includes two vital messages:  the importance of self-acceptance and unconditional parental love. This is a vital and reassuring message for all kids, especially adoptees.

Henny written and illustrated by Elizabeth Rose Stanton is a charming book about a most unusual chicken. Henny was born with arms instead of wings. This causes her great consternation. She feels left out, wonders how to fit in and doubts her “chickeness.” Fortunately, although Henny’s arms shock her mother, she accepts her chick and loves Henny without reservation. Children will easily recognize this powerful act of mother love.

Henny comes to discover that arms can be quite useful.  They trail behind her gracefully, allow her to climb trees, plug her ears and brush her teeth. Being different in these ways allows Henny to stand out from other chickens. She delights in the limelight.

But Henny’s arms also cause difficulty, like requiring her to always go last. She tries to camouflage her differences and blend in. Still, the other animals make fun of her. Unlike other chickens, she must choose between gloves or mittens, between being right-handed or left-handed, getting hangnails or tennis elbow. What’s a chicken to do? Henny discovers her “difference” allows her to help farmer Brown in ways none of the other chickens can.

Stanton’s delicate watercolor and pencil illustrations fill the book with humor and charm. Henny comes to life with immense personality. Readers—young and adult— will connect with Henny’s gestures and facial expressions as she is a unique, well-rounded and talented chicken.

Young readers will identify with Henny’s struggle to face and accept her personal differences as well as the differences in others. Many will want to talk about how kids can be kind or mean to each other. This could include discussion of bullying as well—how it feels, what to do, etc.

HennyFive stars *****