Hope for the Best
Getting mired in emotional muck makes our wings and spirits droop, giving rise to nasty negativity. When this happens to Clover, she knows she needs an attitude adjustment and reminds herself to “Hope for the Best.” This month your perky bee chum shares three books guaranteed to help you march into March with renewed vigor and positivity.
The Community Literacy Foundation, with support from it's sponsors, provides these books to 37 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at CommunityLiteracyFoundation.org.
In varying degrees, we’ve all suffered because of COVID-19. “Outside, Inside,” a heartfelt picture book by LeUyen Pham, brings our sacrifices to light in words and emotionally wrought illustrations portraying people the world over affected by an illness that forced us to isolate from friends and family.
“Something strange happened on an unremarkable day just before the season changed,” the book begins, as it launches into spreads depicting individuals and families and their reactions to this unforeseen situation. “Everyone who was outside…went inside.”
Using spare language, Pham contrasts the two settings highlighting their differences—outside things appeared to be the same, but inside families gathered, gradually made the most of it, and learned to bond as never before.
Looking back, we may wonder how we made it through such a tough year. “Outside, Inside” highlights humankind’s resilience, driving home how much each of us changed and adapted inside ourselves too.
Peter Sis engages readers with the heroics of “Nicky & Vera,” relating the incredible tale of Englishman Nicolas Winton. Because of Winton’s courage, intuitiveness, and determination, 669 children were evacuated from Czechoslovakia during World War II, secreted out of the country on trains bound for England.
Nicolas, born in 1901, was exceptionally clever in his school subjects and athletic interests. After finishing his education, he traveled. In 1938, by chance, he ended up in Prague, shortly before Hitler invaded the country.
Vera is a 10-year-old in 1938 living near Prague with her family—their lives and freedoms threatened by the Nazis. Vera’s mother learns of an effort to provide a haven for Jewish children. If they have an English family to sponsor them, the children will be taken to England by train. The man behind this effort was Winton. “He saw that war was near, and something had to be done.”
Nicolas and Vera’s stories are creatively rendered in Sis’s amazing artwork a wonder that ranges from full-page spreads to thumbnail illustrations, each intricate detail further enhancing the text.
When Suli’s mother is forced to return to Turkey because of an immigration issue, the girl is bereft. But Suli takes heart because Oya won’t be gone long—hope that fades as her mother’s absence stretches on. Suli must deal with the unthinkable in “The Elephant in the Room” by Holly Goldberg Sloan, a novel set in Oregon.
Suli and her dad have each other to lean on when Oya is away. One day, her dad, an auto mechanic, asks Suli to accompany him to fix an old truck in a rural area. It’s not something Suli wants to do but the journey provides gifts she couldn’t have imagined.
The truck belongs to Gio, a 70-year-old widower. He has money to spare because he was part of a group that won a lottery. Gio invests in a huge, gated farm—perfect for Verde, a retired circus elephant.
The elephant provides a connection between Gio and Suli, both of whom are dealing with loss. Elephants are Suli’s favorite animals and her relationship with Verde leads to a friendship with a classmate—a boy who works alongside her on the farm in a business that becomes environmentally advantageous.
There’s plenty to like about Suli’s story, one filled with coincidence and happenstance. Young readers who are animal lovers are particularly sure to enjoy this engrossing, hopeful tale.
Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2021, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.