Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Chrysanthemum By Any Other Name

Usually I post my book reviews on Fridays. In fact, I have a new and fabulous review all set to be posted on Friday morning. (Chalk it up to Tiki Hut Writing Hideaway mojo. But that's a story for another day.)

Aaaanyway, today I have for you a fantastic literary bonus. Though at first glance it may seem to have absolutely no literary connection whatsoever, please bear with me, because it actually really and truly does. Trust me.

See, today is Chrysanthemum Day, and though the chrysanthemum is a lovely flower:

this flower is not not not the chrysanthemum I intend to celebrate.

Instead, the Chrysanthemum I choose to celebrate is small.

And very unique.

And a mouse.

She is the star of Kevin Henkes' most fabulous picture book, Chrysanthemum. I found it when I first started teaching, and it has been one of my absolute favorite books ever since. And so, in honor of Chrysanthemum Day, I give you a bonus book review of this very special story:

The day she was born was the happiest day in her parents' lives.
"She's perfect," said her mother.
"Absolutely," said her father.
And she was.
She was absolutely perfect.

On the day she is born, the tiny mouse's parents think she's absolutely perfect, which is why they give her an absolutely perfect name: Chrysanthemum. Once Chrysanthemum grows "old enough to appreciate it," she loves her name: how it looks and how it sounds. It's absolutely perfect - just like her. But when her very first day of school has come and gone, Chrysanthemum comes home with a very different perception. Will she ever again think her name is absolutely perfect?

For Teachers and Librarians:
Chrysanthemum is the perfect book for the early days of a new school year. Kevin Henkes' words practically sing as you read them aloud - each word beautifully woven into a touching story sure to please your small charges. It shows a positive way to for kids to handle teasing and find their own perfect way to "fit in." It celebrates the uniqueness of each and every student in the class, and helps calm those first few days of New School Year Jitters. It portrays teachers (for the kids) in a trusting and caring light, and highlights (for you) the powerful impact an intuitive teacher can have on the sometimes fragile self-esteem of those little guys and gals just starting their school careers. But most of all, it is a lovely story, full of caring, and love, and a little bit of nervousness, and just the right amount of giggles. It's just the right kind of book to start off just the right kind of school year.

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
If you have little ones just starting school, Chrysanthemum is just the book you need. Be sure to read it aloud - the sound of the words and the way they fit together when read out loud give a whole new and wonderful dimension to the story. This book will captivate your littlest kiddos who may be worried about whether they will "fit in," and reassure them that they are absolutely perfect just as they are. It portrays teachers as kind and caring people who really do notice what goes on, and it portrays parents as being able to help their kids smooth over even the toughest of days when they get back home. And just as Chrysanthemum shines as her true self and makes a few friends in the bargain, so will your little ones as they bounce off to another (or their first) school year.

For the Kids:
Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect - just like her. When her very first day of school finally comes, she is excited to go. But other kids tease her about her name, and she comes home feeling maybe her name isn't absolutely perfect. At home, her parents cheer her up with her favorite things, and it helps...until she has to go back to school. Then one day, the class meets Mrs. Twinkle, the music teacher - and something happens that makes Chrysanthemum's days get a whole lot better! What did Mrs. Twinkle do? Ask your parents or teacher or someone you care about to read you the book, so you can find out!

Wrapping Up:
Chrysanthemum is a sweet story that is just perfect not only for a kiddo's first days in school, but also for anyone who just needs a bit of a lift.

Title: Chrysanthemum
Author and Illustrator: Kevin Henkes
Pages: 32
Reading Level: Ages 4 and up, Grades Preschool - 3
Publisher and Date: Atlas Editions, Inc., Reprinted by arrangement with Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2000
Edition: Reprint
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $16.00 (Original publisher's price)
ISBN: 0688096999
ISBN (library binding): 0688097006

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