Don't just teach your children to read. Teach them to question what they read.
Rhyme or Reason
Winters, K. (2008). “Rhyme or Reason.” Illustrated by Scot Ritchie. In Stranaghan, C. (Ed.) A World of Stories. Vancouver: Gumboot Books, pp. 6-11. ISBN 9780978435110 0978435117. OCLC number 268835466.
Based on my own life, this is a story about a girl who struggles to rhyme.
Review by Ken Kilback, Canadian Children’s Book News 32:4 (Fall 2009), p. 26
See scan of magazine article (PDF).
This wonderful collection of stories and poems celebrate 18 internationally-recognized special days, from International Literacy Day to International Left-Handers Day. Though the authors and illustrators are from many different countries around the world, eight authors and seven illustrators are from Canada.
Kari-Lynn Winters’ “Rhyme or Reason” is a fun, rhythmic poem in which a teacher is trying to teach a child to rhyme. The child has trouble, always picking words that – though possible in the context – don’t actually rhyme. Scot Ritchie’s illustrations are also a lot of fun, using borders around each scene to give clues as to the right answer, which children will love calling out.
Dan Bar-el’s “Long John” is a personal favourite. Long John Silver (nee Silverman) appears on a live talk show to promote Talk Like a Pirate Day. Having been born with a birthmark that looks like an eye patch, Long John talks about his troubled childhood, always burying his mother’s jewelry in the sandbox, drawing Xs on all the maps in Geography, and having a love for tattoos in Art class. The story comes with a glossary of pirate terms and film strips at the edges of the pages showing scenes from video clips; and of course, the numbering of the pages here has to read, “Here be page 23”.
”The Labyrinth” is illustrator Izabela Bzymek’s wordless story about a boy’s response to bullying. Pushed into a land of fantasy, a young boy starts to imagine himself a knight. As he grows more confident, he vanquishes an evil monster and a dragon before climbing back up into the real world to stand up to a bully who is picking on another child. The illustrations are fabulous – bright and bold in some places and playing with shadows and darkness in others.
The stories range in complexity and so this book will interest children in different ways over several years as they discover new things that engage them about the entries here. In addition, there is a variety of ways in which the special days are approached. For Earth Day, Crystal J. Stranaghan explores what happens when road construction displaces a troll named “Tontii”; for the International Day of Families, Claire Wilson shows us how a really big family goes on “The First Picnic” of the year in winter; and for International Left-Handers Day, Melanie Jackson’s Ailie Mooney solves the mystery of “Napoleon is Winking” by determining what a portrait of the Emperor is holding in his right hand.
“Crystal Stranaghan’s World of Stories,” Beacon Magazine October 2008, interview and article by David Morrison:
|a reader in Uganda|
A year ago on International Literacy Day 2008, the Rotary Club of Parksville AM partnered with Gumboot Books of Vancouver to launch a children’s book entitled World of Stories. A collection of 18 original stories and poems by celebrated children’s authors and illustrators from around the world, World of Stories is a new and powerful tool in Rotary’s goal of helping to change lives through literacy. The World of Stories project was initiated by Gumboot Books and supported by District 5020 Rotary Clubs, with 50% of the revenue from the sales of these books donated back to Rotary for literacy initiatives.
Crystal Stranaghan, local author and publisher for Gumboot Books, has spent hundreds of hours producing and marketing this book. In her words, “What started off as a small seed of thought in one mind has evolved into something truly awe-inspiring”.
The photo with this article was received by Crystal from one of the authors in this book. It was accompanied by the following note:
I thought you might like to see the copy of your book all the way in Uganda! This girl, Veronica, walks 1 hour each way to come to the resource centre to read, do puzzles and colour. She loved your book! I also used it when I was teaching a reading program to the teachers there. That’s 2 of your books in Uganda now. I look forward to taking your third to Kampala in the summer of 2010.
Crystal goes on to comment: “The World of Stories Project is more than a book – it is a global community of thoughtful, committed citizens who are working together to change lives by contributing to worldwide literacy”.
The 18 stories in this collection are each themed around a non-denominational international holiday so that children and families from all walks of life may enjoy the stories and celebrate these days together. Included are days such as International Literacy Day, World Food Day, World Math Day, International Stand Up To Bullying Day, Talk Like A Pirate Day, International Left Handers Day, and many more.
Review by Brianne Grant
Gumboot Books and The Rotary District 5020 have shown that a book can be much more than a book. Their project, A World of Stories, is proof that children’s literature has the ability to make positive change in the world through the virtue of good stories and the initiative of good people. Fifty percent of the proceeds are put towards funding global community literacy projects. In order to make this book happen, authors and illustrators from around the world donated their time and energy to make this book a wonderful read and an important literacy initiative.
For teachers, educators, and parents, A World of Stories is an excellent resource. The concept of the book, which maps out nondenominational international holidays, provides a base for teaching about major holidays celebrated around the world; about issues affecting the world and, of course, about all of the fun days we often miss, like September 19th’s “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” Beside each piece is a succinct explanation of the holiday that the story addresses, revealing the significance and meaning of each day.
The stories, themselves, are rich with opportunities for working with an elementary school class. Kari-Lynn Winters’ “Rhyme or Reason,” Audrey Schumacher’s “No NO Day,” and M.W. Penn’s “The Number Tree” are just three of the stories that would make interactive and exciting read-alouds for young students. Further activities for all of the stories are being prepared on the world of stories project website.
Dan Bar-el’s play, “Long John,” is a hilarious and modern tale of John Silverman as he tries to gain some sympathy for the pirates of the world on a daytime talk show. The play incorporates pirate talk in the body of the play and definitions along the border so that children (or adults like me) can later impress their mateys like a true buccaneer and avoid being a squiffy when September 19th rolls around. Aye, t’is true.
In “Seashell Island,” Christophe Jeunot takes a magical approach to revealing the significance of World Ocean Day (June 8th) and of sharing the natural environment. While the Mine Monster seeks to steal all of the seashells from the seashores, a little boy named Alex manages to show him that we are all connected to the natural world and each other. This story is both fantastical and subtle in showing the importance of working as a community and preserving natural habitats.
David Michael Slater and illustrator Izabela Bzymek reveal the strength needed to STAND UP to bullies in the wordless story “The Labyrinth.” The images symbolically capture the internal journey of a young boy who struggles to challenge a bully. Without the use of words, Bzymek does a brilliant job of leading the reader through the narrative and depicting the boy gathering strength.
The illustrators in this compilation use a variety of techniques to produce complicated and interesting visuals for children to read. Jayleen Weaver illustrated “Calling the Fish,” a story to recognize Grandparents Day (second Sunday in September). Her use of digital media creates crisp illustrations that set a feeling of natural tranquility and capture the wonder and whimsy of learning from grandparents.
While I enjoyed reading all of the stories and lingering over every illustration, my personal favourite was “If War Were…” by Mrs. Perry’s grade one class with artwork by Julia Karlinsky. Karlinsky reflects the children’s perspective in the poetry, and the children use powerful metaphors to reveal the impact of war.
Although I have highlighted only a portion of what can be found in A World of Stories, each narrative had a unique approach to conveying a holiday story. As a compilation, this book is also unique as the international holidays come together to create a portrait of the world by reflecting the values and concerns of the global community. All of the illustrations and stories weave educational information into entertaining and thoughtful stories. A World of Stories never disappoints; it gives us a little slice of who we are as individuals in the bigger picture of humanity.
Brianne Grant is a student in the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia, and Executive Councillor-West for IBBY Canada.
(see original PDF)
A WORLD OF STORIES PROJECT
Gumboot Books and some key Canadian authors and a key Rotary sponsor have produced A WORLD OF STORIES (Gumboot Bks ‘08, 9780978435110). This book is a collection of stories chosen to celebrate a number of international holidays. My favourite piece is the one written by Kari-Lynn Winters for International Literacy Day. This book is being sold to raise funds to support literacy and the publisher is offering this book as a potential fund raiser for schools and groups. This collection does contain a weakness common in most collections. The quality of the contributions is uneven. The goal of the effort, however, is admirable. Contact Crystal J. Stranaghan at Gumbook books for more information about this title. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A World of Stories: Author Interview with Kari-Lynn Winters
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kari-Lynn Winters in February about her first picture book, Jeffrey and Sloth, (read the previous interview with Kari-Lynn). Since then, Kari-Lynn has been on a roll. I’m honored to have her return to discuss her upcoming story entitled, “Rhyme or Reason”– part of an anthology called A World of Stories that is available September 8th.
A WORLD OF STORIES IS MORE THAN JUST A BOOK. It is an international community of people coming together to celebrate literacy, and help bring awareness to important issues that affect people from all over the world. It was created in partnership with Rotary District 5020 to raise money for literacy projects and is a collection of stories celebrating a variety of international holidays that can be celebrated worldwide, regardless of religious or cultural background. They are intended to be enjoyed with children 12 and under, but are also suitable for anyone learning to read English. Each story has a theme or message that relates in some way to the corresponding holiday, and each story will be introduced with some information about the day being celebrated. Educational materials will be available on The Gumboot Books website to help teachers and parents facilitate discussion and lesson planning around the themes covered in the book.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR RHYME OR REASON?
As a child I thought poetry had to rhyme. Yet, sometimes the words that rhymed were not the words that made the most sense. This humorous story plays on this idea. What’s more important? Rhyme or Reason?
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO GET FROM IDEA TO PUBLISHED WITH THIS BOOK?
2 years. I had to get the rhythm as perfect as I could. Also, I played with the idea of eye rhymes for awhile, but couldn’t get it to work.
WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU OFFER WRITERS ON WRITING POETRY?
My advice about writing poetry is to not force it, especially when working with full and slant rhymes. The meaning of the story needs to shine through. Also, try different formats. Each type of poem (e.g. rhyming couplets, haiku, acrostic) offers its own structure, allowing for different meanings and expressions.
COMPARE THE DIFFERENCES OF WRITING A PICTURE BOOK AND A STORY FOR AN ANTHOLOGY.
For this anthology, I had to figure out how to make a 32 page picture book (its original form) fit into 6 pages. I ended up combining some of the phrases, and taking out others. I think it works. Typically for me, my short stories are longer than my picture books-more descriptive and less reliant on the illustrations.
Speaking of illustrations, I am so pleased with Scot Ritchie’s illustrations for this piece. I was wondering how he would reveal the joke (i.e. the kid not getting the rhymes) in a way that would still carry the piece, offer surprise, show the dialogue between the two characters, and still feel like a kid’s story. I think the blackboard idea is marvelous. Rhyme or Reason solidified Scot’s and my working relationship. Currently we are working together on another project entitled, aRHYTHMetic (Gumboot books) due out in Spring, 2009. I’ve already seen the rough art. It’ll be great!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING BOOKS.
Currently I have 7 other books under contract. After aRHYTHMetic, comes Runaway Alphabet (Simply Read Books, forthcoming Fall 2009), an alphabet story like no other. Then, next fall look for When Chickens Fly (Gumboot Books, forthcoming Fall 2009), a story about a chicken who wants to be in the Olympics.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I am passionate about literacy. When I saw the call for submissions for the A World of Stories Project, I knew that I needed to take part. This is a great project which supports community literacy. The project was created in partnership with Rotary District 5020 to raise money for literacy projects. “A World of Stories” is a collection of stories celebrating a variety of international holidays that can be celebrated worldwide, regardless of religious or cultural background. They are intended to be enjoyed with children 12 and under.
Thanks so much, Lori.
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