Thursday, June 9, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: One hundred and sixty

Many years ago, when I was teaching in a school program, I had a little student who was incredibly shy. During recess she played house behind a big tree, and in the classroom she found a little corner to hide herself in. When she wanted to talk to me she would tug on my shirt, and when I bent down to her level she would whisper in my ear. The character in today's picture book reminds me a lot of my little student. Both the little girls are shy and quiet, and both are longing to find a way to make their voices heard.

Willow's WhispersWillow’s Whispers
Lana Button
Illustrated by Tania Howells
Picture book
For ages 4 to 7
Kids Can Press, 2010, 978-1-55453-280-3
   Willow has a problem. She is has a very small voice that is so soft that everything she says comes out as a whisper. When children invite Willow to sit at their table with them, they cannot hear her tiny “I’d love to,” and assume that she wants to sit alone. When her teacher, Mrs. Post, asks her if she wants apple or orange juice, Willow tells her that she wants apple, but because Mrs. Post cannot hear what Willow is saying she gives her orange instead.
   The only person who is able to hear Willow and who understands that her “big, strong voice” is stuck somewhere inside her is her father. He does his best to comfort her, and tells her that one day her voice “will wiggle its way out.” The problem is that Willow needs that big voice now. How is she going to get it to come out?
   There are many children who have a small voice that refuses to speak out, and it is a very difficult problem to deal with. In this inspirational picture book, Lana Button’s story will help children to see that they can find a solution to their problem. All they have to do is to be creative and have faith in themselves. Throughout the book, the text is beautifully complimented by Tania Howell’s minimal art. 

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