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Picture Book Review – Sallie Bee Writes a Thank-You Note

SALLIE BEE WRITES A THANK-YOU NOTE

Written by Courtney Sheinmel & Susan Verde

Illustrated by Heather Ross

(Abrams BYR; $17.99; Ages 4-8)

Sallie Bee Writes a Thank You Note cover Sallie on scooter mailing note

 

Certified yoga and mindfulness instructor, and NY Times bestselling author, Susan Verde has done it again! As a fan of Verde’s books, I Am Peace, and I Am Yoga, I wasn’t surprised that Sallie Bee Writes A Thank-You Note, co-written with Courtney Sheinmel, would leave a smile on my face.

Illustrator Heather Ross introduces readers to the big brown-eyed main character with bee-design ponytail holders, and her constant companion cat faithfully by her side. The two are eagerly standing on the steps of her porch greeting the mail carrier who has a surprise for Sallie. “It was not Sallie’s birthday. It was not a holiday. It was just an ordinary day.” Grandma Bee knitted a stripey scarf for Sallie, (note the same bee color scheme) and surprised her with this heartfelt gift. Included with the gift, Grandma has written a note telling Sallie that the scarf was made just for her.

Sallie knows she must thank her grandma for this kind gift, and being from the cell phone generation, she tells her mom she needs to borrow her smartphone to send a quick text. Well, Dr. Bee is busy sending and receiving texts of her own, and five minutes … “And ten minutes after that, she was still on the phone.” The relatable illustrations show Sallie and the cat desperately trying to pass the time rolling on the ground with the scarf. Eventually, the cat falls asleep on her lap. Ross’s spot art perfectly and humorously plays off the text that will resonate with kids and adults.

 

Sallie Bee Writes a Thank You Note int1 Sallie composing text
Interior art from Sallie Bee Writes a Thank-You Note written by Courtney Sheinmel and Susan Verde and illustrated by Heather Ross, Abrams BYR ©2022.

 

Still needing to stay busy while waiting for the phone, Sallie decides to write down what she will put in that text (if Mom ever gets off the phone). She starts with the basic “Thanks, Grandma” but realizes she needs to tell Grandma how happy the scarf made her feel. When Mom returns dressed in her blue scrubs (it was nice to see Mom wearing a Jewish star necklace), she notices Sallie has written quite a lot and tells her that she just needs to sign her name and put it in the mail. Sallie excitedly adds squiggles to her note and walks with her mom to drop her thank you in the mailbox (with a stamp, of course).

Sallie enjoyed writing that first thank-you note so much that she waits for another package to arrive the next day, but no package arrives. When Sallie safely crosses the busy street with the crossing guard in one scene, and after she’s given an umbrella by her bus buddy in another, she realizes these gestures are thank-you note worthy. She begins to pass out thank-you notes to express her appreciation, each one ending with Love, Sallie. The smile on recipients’ faces tells the reader everything they need to know. Sallie even leaves a thank-you note for her brother, Jack, for not letting his tarantula out of his cage and into her bedroom. It’s also sweet for readers to see Sallie receive a surprise envelope in the mail. This time it’s a letter thanking her for showing all the reasons to write a thank-you note, signed Love, Mom.

 

Sallie Bee Writes a Thank You Note int2 note for lunch lady
Interior spread from Sallie Bee Writes a Thank-You Note written by Courtney Sheinmel and Susan Verde and illustrated by Heather Ross, Abrams BYR ©2022.

 

This much-needed story about one child’s thoughtfulness in acknowledging others’ kindness shows kids how something as simple as offering gratitude via a handwritten note can change a person’s day. The back matter is a letter written to the reader explaining how they too can write a letter of thanks. The letter is signed by Courtney and Susan with suggestions such as writing what you are thankful for and how it makes you feel. My brain swirled with ideas of teachers working within their curriculum using this book to help kids compose thank-you notes, practicing communication skills and handwriting too. It’s also a fun project for a child to do with a grown-up at home. Sallie Bee Writes a Thank-You Note also serves as a great reminder to adults to put down their cell phones, engage with their kids, and even pick up a pen now and then.

  • Reviewed by Ronda Einbinder

 

 

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The Importance of Not Being Too Frank

I just finished having a conversation with my son about not needing to tell people everything that you are thinking when I happened to pick up Being Frank ($16.95. Flashlight Press, ages 4-8) written by Donna Earnhardt and illustrated by Andrea Castellani. With its quirky vintage looking artwork and its big sense of humor, this new picture book is absolutely perfect for helping school-aged children grasp the subtle nuances of truth telling.

After hurting his friends’ feelings one time too many because of his credo “Honesty is the best policy,” young Frank seeks out his grandpa for some advice. Fortunately for Frank, Grandpa Earnest has mastered the fine art of tactfulness and teaches his grandson exactly what it takes to share one’s opinion without hurting someone’s feelings. Not so easy, true. But it can be done. For example, when Mrs. Peacock walks by displaying her extravagantly plumaged new hat and asks Earnest if he likes it, he knows just what to say. “… there are an awful lot of flowers up there. But my favorite is the purple one in the middle.”

So when Mr. Wiggins, school principal and toupee wearer dances at the school carnival what does the formerly insultingly honest lad say? “I see you have two left feet, sir?” NO! Not the new and improved Frank. “Impressive spins, sir!” remarks Frank. There are smiles and laughter all around that afternoon when, rather than repeat to Dotty that her freckles remind him of the Big Dipper, Frank tells his friend, “I like dots better than squares.” Clearly Grandpa’s lesson that frankness is best served with more sugar and less pepper has left a lasting, and sweet impression. Kids will agree the book has just the right amount of all the best picture book ingredients to make this one a keeper: great art, funny character names, clear and concise language and an important message about honesty. To leave a great taste in the mouth, serve carefully measured amounts.

Find Being Frank related activities by clicking here.

Today’s reviewer is Ronna Mandel.

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THE ENEMY: A BOOK ABOUT PEACE

dsc_0024Guest Reviewer Debbie Glade is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com. Today she enlightens us about The Enemy: A Book About Peace by Davide Cali.

If I had met author Davide Cali on a plane flying to Italy (that’s where he lives) and he said to me, “I am writing a children’s picture book about war, enemies and killing,” I would have wished him luck and feigned sleep for the remainder of the trip.

the-enemy_low-resI would have thought, “That’s obviously not a good subject for a children’s picture book, is it? No one would want to read that to their kids!” To say the least, I would have been wrong. Dead wrong. The Enemy: A Book About Peace is so brilliantly done and offers such a powerful message about conflict and misunderstanding, that everyone – young and old – should read it. And yes, the point of this tale is all about peace.

The simple, adorable illustrations by Serge Bloch perfectly complement this sophisticated, yet simple story. The story is told in first person, in a most captivating manner, by one of two enemy soldiers. Each soldier sits in his foxhole waiting for a chance to shoot at the other soldier. The enemies never actually see each other, but know the other is there waiting to kill. They grow lonely, weary and hungry from waiting. The storytelling soldier even wonders if his enemy is looking up at the same stars every night. He wonders if that enemy thinks war is pointless too. And he really hates when it rains and soaks him as he waits for the enemy to attack. He wonders when this war will end. Out of desperation one day, he crawls out of his foxhole covered with leaves to disguise himself. This way, he can go over to the enemy’s hole and surprise him and shoot first.

enemy24What that soldier finds in the enemy’s foxhole changes his opinion about everything he had been told about war and the “enemy.” What happens after that, I cannot tell you. You’ll have to read this book yourself to see.

What I can tell you is that the message in this clever book is very poignant. The Enemy: A Book About Peace will really make you think deeply about everything from actual wars between countries, to enemy22conflicts between family members. In fact, if there is someone in your life you struggle to get along with, this book would be a perfect gift. While recommended for children ages 4 to 8, kids older than 6 will be better able to understand the concept of the story.

Buy it. And read it often. You don’t have to have a child or be a child to benefit from reading this book. It will be a worthwhile use of your time.

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