I saw this book in the Peabody Library and was immediately drawn to it. The illustrations in this book, created by Christopher Denise, are intricate, colorful, and heartwarming. They go along beautifully with the text, advancing the story by demonstrating so much emotion through facial expressions and colors.
Published in 2013, Me with You by Kristy Dempsey centers on the theme of friendship, specifically between a grandfather and his granddaughter. Each page depicts a different event, demonstrating the different roles that the daughter and her father have within their friendship. No matter what the event may be, positive or negative, the pair is always working together and looking out for each other. From cheering each other on during a baseball game, to keeping each other company when they’re feeling sick, this grandpa is always by his granddaughter’s side; even when she has trouble sharing her toys or simply feels discouraged. Without a central plot or complex character development, this simple book is perfect for very young students, specifically ones who are learning to regulate their emotions.
In addition, the book does a great job of demonstrating the importance of being an individual, in that it is great to have interests and hobbies that are different than those of the people around you. Both characters make time to participate in separate activities, due to some of their dissimilar hobbies. While the young bear is off with friends at a summer camp, her grandfather enjoys caring for his garden.
For students who might be unable to relate to having a strong relationship with grandparents, this story can easily be narrated as a father and daughter instead.
I absolutely adored this book, and believe that it will be extremely relatable for grandparents, parents, and children alike.
In Freedom Summer, Deborah Wiles tells the story of two young boys in the summer of 1964, right after the Civil Rights Act is passed. This book received the Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe new talent award for Jerome Lagarrigue and the Simon Wiesenthal “Once Upon A World Award.”
The story is told from the perspective of Young Joe who is best friends with John Henry. Young Joe does everything with John Henry–except swimming in the public swimming pool, visiting the movie theater or buying ice pops at the supermarket. Instead they help John Henry’s mother–Young John’s family’s maid–with chores around the house and swim in a local creek. Young Joe accepts that this is the way things are in the segregated South yet doesn’t see John Henry as much different from himself.
When people in Mississippi organize to enforce the Civil Rights Act and register to vote, the boys don’t realize the magnitude of their mission. The boys understand, however, how the new laws will effect them and are ecstatic to be able to do new things together–like finally swim in the glistening town pool. They run to the pool early in the morning to be the first swimmers in the newly desegregated pool. When they arrive, they watch in horror as tar fills the empty pool and workmen stomp it flat. Almost defeated, they sit up on the diving board. When Young Joe tries to comfort his friend, John Henry cries hot, angry tears and insists he wanted to swim.
Something clicks. They both have quarters. They have each other. The boys walk into the convenience store, arm in arm, to buy ice pops.
The beautiful oil paint illustrations by Jerome Lagarrigue portray the bliss, excitement and disappointment of these two children who decide not to let their society mold them. The art adds movement to the children’s laughter, pain to the city’s betrayal, and strength in the moment when Young Joe and John Henry realize they can make their own dream come true.
Deborah Wiles is also known for her 1960’s trilogy for upper elementary and middle school students, which includes another work about the Freedom Summer entitled Revolution.