Other Stuff Exists

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Posts Tagged ‘self-confidence’


Posted by Tracy Poff on March 20, 2014

When Chrysanthemum was born, her parents thought she was perfect, and wanted to give her the perfect name. Chrysanthemum loved her name. She loved everything about her name. Until the first day of school, that is. The others don’t love her name–it hardly even fits on her name tag! What will poor Chrysanthemum do?


Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes is about dealing with bullying when you don’t quite fit in.


Chrysanthemum loved her name.

She loved the way it sounded when her mother woke her up.

She loved the way it sounded when her father called her for dinner.

And she loved the way it sounded when she whispered it to herself in the bathroom mirror.

Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum.

Unfortunately, when Chrysanthemum went to her first day of school, she finds that the other children don’t share her high opinion of her name. “It’s so long“, says Jo. “You’re named after a flower!”, exclaims Victoria. Chrysanthemum is discouraged.


Chrysanthemum’s parents reassure her that her name is beautiful–“and precious and priceless and fascinating and winsome”–just like she is. And the other children are simply jealous–“and envious and begrudging and discontented and jaundiced”. And who wouldn’t be jealous of a name like Chrysanthemum?

When the children tease Chrysanthemum during music class, Mrs. Twinkle, who they especially like, reveals that she, too is named after a flower–Delphinium Twinkle is her name. And she’s thinking of naming her child (if it’s a girl) Chrysanthemum as well.

Chrysanthemum could scarcely believe her ears.

She blushed.

She beamed.

She bloomed.

Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum.

Chrysanthemum has a fine story and a good lesson, supported by absolutely charming watercolor illustrations. It’s recommended for ages 4-8.

Henkes has also written a number of other picture books featuring mice, including Owen, a Caldecott Honor book.

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Say Hello, Vanessa

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 14, 2012

Vanessa Mouse is terribly shy. She can’t even bring herself to say “hello” to her classmates. Making friends, she thinks, must be the scariest thing in the world! Will Vanessa ever have a friend?

Say Hello, Vanessa, written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Lillian Hoban, is a children’s picture book, with charming pencil illustrations.

This is a fun one. Poor Vanessa is far too shy to speak to her classmates, worrying that they’ll look at her funny teeth and furry face, and reasoning that, after all, everybody already has enough friends. Her mother convinces her to give it a try, but at first she speaks much too quietly, and afterward much too loudly, to make a friend. Eventually, though, she speaks up in class, spelling a word–tooth–and one thing leads to another, and she makes her first friend, Quincy Moose.

The illustrations are nice–plain and simple pencils with just a bit of pink coloring. The writing is simple and smooth and fun to read, and Vanessa’s very quiet or very loud “hello” is set in a smaller or larger typeface, which is cute.

Say Hello, Vanessa is a fun and worthwhile children’s picture book–certainly worth a look.

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