With spring on the doorstep, you’d think the mood at the hive would be joyous, but some of the drones are dismal, even though nature is shifting from black and white to technicolor. We all have “Big Feelings” that aren’t always pleasant—fear, sadness, worry and the like. In Clover’s March Picks, the characters process through a wide range of emotions and learn from their experiences. They help us remember that feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are. Page On!
The Community Literacy Foundation, in partnership with Neighborhood Reads and with support from its sponsors, provides these books to 40 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at CommunityLiteracyFoundation.org.
Finn is in a snit, his mood sour. The last thing the little boy wants is to take a walk with his Grandpa, who thinks it might make the child feel better. In “Beneath,” by Cori Doerrfeld, Finn prefers being alone, left to sulk in his room, a quilt over his head.
His wise Grandpa refuses to take no for an answer. The two set off on a nature hike, Grandpa patient and understanding, but Finn brooding, his quilt still on his head. As they stroll along, Grandpa points out trees, a boat sitting on a lake, and a bird on a nest, things obvious to the eye, but beneath them mysteries and activity are happening—tree roots reach deep into the earth; the lake teems with fish under the surface; and the bird has eggs she’s warming under her fluffy feathers.
As the hike continues Finn’s bad mood improves, the quilt slipping from his head to his shoulders, until it’s completely removed—the walk brightens Finn’s outlook, helped along by his Grandpa’s empathy. In this heartfelt book, with expressive illustrations by Doerrfeld, we learn that sometimes feelings lie deep inside, hidden beneath quilts or our inability to share what’s bothering us.
At age 8, Scottish lass Evelyn Glennie was able to play the piano by ear. Music meant a great deal to the young girl, who also mastered the clarinet when she was 10. But despondency hit like a lightning strike, when Evelyn suddenly couldn’t hear. Imagine the loss Evelyn and her family must have felt when an audiologist told them Evelyn would need hearing aids and would have to attend a school for the deaf.
The story of this courageous girl’s determination to face obstacles and excel is brilliantly told in “Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion,” by Shannon Stocker.
Outfitted with hearing aids, Evelyn didn’t attend a special school. Instead, she went to a traditional school where the percussionists in the orchestra drew her interest. Her background in piano had taught her to read music and soon she was taking lessons on a snare drum, a caring teacher encouraging her to listen for the vibrations in the drum as she played, and in the world around her.
So began Evelyn’s amazing life journey, one that started by her forging ahead and listening with her whole body. Evelyn’s hope-filled story is enhanced with flowing, golden-hued illustrations by Devon Holzwarth.
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“The Lost Year,” by Katherine Marsh, is inspired by Marsh’s Ukrainian family. It focuses on “The Holodomor,” in the early 1930s Ukraine, when the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin blamed the deaths of millions on a lack of food. The genocide was actually a “forced famine,” in which kulaks, peasant landowners, were viewed as enemies of the government because they failed to relinquish their property in Stalin’s “equalization plan.” Distrust and fear ran rampant, with neighbors and family turning against one another to remain loyal to the state and avoid trouble.
During the pandemic of 2020, Matthew, a New Jersey middle-schooler, is struggling with the pandemic and the absence of his father, who’s in Paris covering the news. To complicate Matthew’s troubles, his mother puts him in charge of helping his Ukrainian great grandmother, GG, who’s moved in with the family.
Matthew’s mother encourages him to spend time with GG and go through old boxes she’s brought from the nursing home. Matthew and GG grow close, GG eventually sharing a secret she’s kept to herself since she was a girl growing up in Ukraine.
The action alternates between Matthew in current times, and Mila, Helen and Nadiya, in the 1930s, the girls’ lives affected by the famine and the boy’s by a virus that’s out of control. The connection between Matthew’s great-grandmother and the thread from the past that binds the cousins is shockingly revealed as this heartrending, powerful story plays out.
A touching afterword by Marsh fills us in on the real GG and family stories that inspired this rich, affecting novel.
Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2023, Community Literacy Foundation.