Monday, July 16, 2012

Hello World

Never underestimate the power of a simple hello! Lately we've read a number of books about greetings, both those that cross cultures and those based on a common language. As Sprout gets older, he's beginning to understand how important friendships can be - and the way friendships start, after all, is when at least one person says hello.

To start things off, there's Rachel Isadora's Say Hello! This multicultural tale follows Carmelita, her mama and her puppy Manny as they make their way through the neighborhood, greeting friends and merchants as they go. With each person, Carmelita shares a hello in their native language - from "Bonjour!" at the French bakery to Konichiwa at the Japanese restaurant. Isadora's vibrant, lively collage style works exceptionally well here, and the details that populate each setting are truly delightful. A glossary at the end identifies all the languages spoken, making this a great introduction to cultural commonalities for young children.

So Close by Natalia Colombo demonstrates how important it is to reach out to others in order for friendships to form. Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Duck live parallel lives, but yet they don't know one another at all. No matter how many times they cross paths and regardless of the circumstances, neither attempts a greeting. But finally, one tentative hello is exchanged - and everything is immediately so, so different! Colombo's color palette matches the mood of the story perfectly, bursting into a deep red in the final spread, when the friendship begins to blossom. A sensitive and thoughtful look at the power of words to make relationships come together.

Award-winning illustrator Chris Raschka brings his talents to the topic in Yo! Yes?, a Caldecott Honor tale of two boys getting to know one another. The dialogue is spare but impactful - Raschka demonstrates effectively that you don't need a lot of words to tell a story. As one boy reaches out, he discovers that the other is lonely and wants a friend. "Me!" he suggests, and "You?" the other asks, then, "Well. Yes!" And so, with only a few words, new friends are made. Emerging readers will be thrilled to read this entire story on their own, and it's a good one to spark discussions about friendships as well.

Every relationship starts somewhere, with one person reaching out to another. Each of these titles examines a different aspect of that process, and emphasizes how important it is for someone to bridge the gap. Just say hello!

1 comment:

Liz said...

I love Rachel Isidora's books, but I didn't know about this one - I'll have to keep an eye out for it at the library!