Last year, in my old library, we fell in love with Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and so did our kiddos, many of whom could make connections with the cultural heritage of the characters. This beautiful companion book will be equally well-received I believe.
When a young boy is made to notice his eyes as being different in shape to those of his friends, he feels sad and an outsider. The love and wisdom of his father and grandfather, and the recognition that his eyes are like theirs, as are his little brother’s, lift his spirits to the skies – just as his eyes tilt to the skies. The endless possibilities of light and destiny revealed by the night skies with their constellations and comets are all his, as his eyes speak to the stars.
Once again it is not just the lyrical text with its resonant message of inclusivity and the beauty of cultural heritage, but the superb illustrations that make this such a stunner of a book. The iconic visual references to the family’s heritage: dragons, pagodas, rice paddies, night markets, lanterns and more are a virtual feast for the eyes.
With Harmony Day just around the corner, this will make a fabulous focus for your celebrations in the library or classroom, particularly when paired with its companion. And so much rich discussion and activities, particularly art, could ensue!!
This is an older title which I have only just read and if you loved ‘Wonder’ (R. J. Palacio) you will also love this book.
Melody is an extremely intelligent 11 year old girl with a photographic memory. The problem is that nobody knows this – not even her parents who are her strongest supporters. Melody has cerebral palsy and cannot walk, talk, feed herself or accomplish any physical actions except using her thumbs. Her schooling has been a torturous confinement to a ‘special education’ room where teachers come and go with scant disregard to their students’ abilities.
But Melody’s life is changing. A move to integrate the disabled students into mainstream classrooms is one positive, especially when accompanied by an intuitive young woman named Catherine who becomes Melody’s helper in class. Suddenly Melody has teachers who are keen to empower her and in particular Catherine’s brainwave about a device called a Medi-Talker allows Melody to find her voice. Her neighbour, retired teacher Rose, is another adult instrumental in fostering Melody’s emergence from her long silence.
Despite obstacles of bullying classmates and insensitive adults (teachers and doctors) Melody begins to shine as her extraordinary mental ability begins to emerge triumphantly. With her hero being Stephen Hawking Melody knows that she too can conquer the world – even if it does take twice the effort of anyone else.
This is a marvellous novel and there is much to support it is a class study or simply as a recommendation to our students as we encourage them to become more empathic.
See more here at Sharon Draper’s website, watch a book trailer here or find some teaching notes here.
Highly recommended for astute readers of around 9 years and up.