21 February 2020
Aurora’s Orchid by Vicky Weber is a sweet and simple story that conveys a deeper meaning and appreciation for family and the memories made together.
In this story, Aurora’s family is brought together through the simple exercise of caring for a deceptively plain orchid that takes time to bloom into its true glory.
From the surface, the book seems to be a simple and sweet story of a family that blends in lovely aspects of the Hispanic culture. In reality, it is so much more than that. Aurora’s Orchid is about memories and the love families have for one other. Aurora’s Orchid tells its’ story through the growth of a rather plain, and slow to bloom, orchid that a family still lovingly tends to throughout the story. As time goes on and life changes, the orchid remains something all the family members cherish and engage. After Aurora passes away, her family is brought together by the memories of tending that orchid, which has in its own time, and in its own way, chosen to honor Aurora’s passing by blooming into a beautiful flower. The warm and caring illustrations of Viktoria Skakandi add to this story’s sweet sense of family and belonging.
Aurora’s Orchid is a book that subtly hints at the sadness death brings, but more importantly illustrates the importance of finding and building memories to cherish and reflect upon after a loved one has passed on. This book is not designed, in my opinion, to directly aid the grieving process, but instead to start the discussion of life and its limitations. As families change and grow, loss will become something to be dealt with. This book very gently starts that coming conversation and should be in every home.
Train 4 Safety Press received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are our own.
Age Range: 8-11 years
Grade Level: 3-5
Paperback: 33 pages
Publisher: Trunk Up Books (Dec 23, 2019)
12 February 2020
The Elephant in The Room A Lockdown Story
The Elephant in the Room: A Lockdown Story by Alicia Stenard is a fantastic way to teach the lock-down concept without scaring children.
It’s National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day and a circus breaks down right outside the school. The children must go into lockdown to protect their sandwiches while the clowns round up the wayward circus animals.
The Elephant in the Room: A Lockdown Story by Alicia Stenard introduces the concept of a lockdown in a unique way. The news today is filled with misguided examples of lockdown trainings that are overly realistic. Kids don’t need smoke-bombs and “bad guys” to worry about. This book focuses simply on what is important for kids to take away in a lockdown drill: not panicking and following instructions. I love that the concept of a “bad guy” is absent. There is a reason for the lockdown, but the stress moves from the ‘scary’ reason for the lockdown, to focus instead on what to do, and how. Sadly, there is no one-size fit all for this topic, but this book does a great job keeping the topic age-appropriate. The illustrations by Greg Matusic are fun and fit the “frolicking theme” of a runaway circus.
If you’re looking to a great way to introduce the potentially scary, yet unfortunately necessary, topic of lockdowns, The Elephant in the Room: A Lockdown Story by Alicia Stenard will be a fantastic resource for you. Not only does it provide a no-fear way to learn about lockdowns, it also introduces a potentially new holiday to celebrate (National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day).
Age Range: 3-8 years
Grade Level: Pre-K – 2
Paperback: 30 pages
Publisher: St Cyr Press LLC (Nov 18, 2019)
Language: English (Spanish version available)
11 February 2020
A Terrible Thing Happened
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes is a must have for all childcare programs and for anyone helping a child affected by trauma.
Sherman has seen something awful, and his best efforts to forget about it are not working. He feels bad and starts acting out, which gets him in trouble. Then he meets Ms. Maple, who helps him talk about what happened. Talking about it is helping, and now he feels much better.
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes is designed for children who have witnessed some sort of violent or traumatic event. The sweet illustrations by Cary Pillo help us understand what Sherman is thinking and feeling. This book does an excellent job helping a child “reflect” themselves in a way that doesn’t re-traumatize them. We never learn what Sherman has seen, and that’s ok. We don’t need to know. The goal of this children’s book appears two-fold. First, this story helps Sherman (and readers like him) feel better. Second, it helps caregivers recognize and perhaps identify, signs that might indicate that a child had witnessed a traumatic event instead of mistakenly chalking the actions in question up to bad behavior.
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes is a needed resource in all preschool and early elementary school classrooms. The book also contains additional resources and suggestions for caregivers trying to help a child cope and recover from a traumatic event. If you don’t have a copy already, and you work with young children, get a copy soon.
Age Range: 4-8 years
Grade Level: Pre-K – 2
Paperback: 33 pages
Publisher: American Psychological Association/ Magination Press (Feb 1, 2000)
10 February 2020
The Ant Hill Disaster
The Ant Hill Disaster by Julia Cook is a heartfelt and encouraging book for children who have experienced a disaster and are afraid it could happen again.
Ant Hill School has been destroyed and a little boy ant is afraid to go back to school when it opens. His mother talks to him about the importance of continuing on, even (and especially) if things happen that we cannot control.
The Ant Hill Disaster by Julia Cook, with a foreword by the Michele Gay (Co-Founder of Safe and Sound: A Sandy Hook Initiative) is an attempt to find the words to talk to little ones about hope and continuing on, even when something terrible happens. The book stresses the importance of resiliency and coming together with family, friends, and even neighbors to find the courage to move on. The illustrations by Michelle Hazelwood are the right combination of sweet and funny, showing us the vulnerability of children, but not crossing into frailty. The events that led up to the need to release such a book are tragic, but as even adults cannot control everything in their environment, it’s comforting to know that there are ways to help our children cope and encourage them to understand that, together, we can get through even the worst disaster,
The Ant Hill Disaster by Julia Cook remains one of the best resources out there for talking to children after a disaster about how to move on, and at the same time it helps pre-disaster in teaching children that lack of control over the events around us is not terrible, but instead just something we have to accept. The biggest takeaway this book provides is the importance of community and family and how we can, and should, help each other. This book is one that should be in the bookshelf of everyone who works with children.
Age Range: 4-6 years
Grade Level: Pre-K – Kindergarten
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: National Center for Youth Issues (January 1, 2014)
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