Tag Archives: can do

Possibilities in Books

TheSevenChineseSistersWhen you are just a little boy or a little girl, the world is full of possibilities. You may know that you can’t do some things yet, but you can imagine that will be able to some day. You have hope and ambition!

Foster that positive outlook in your children by reading books that give them ideas of what they could become or do. Spark their imagination so your children want to learn more and start dreaming!

“I Can Be Anything” by Jerry Spinelli, illustrated by Jimmy Liao. This is a great book for young children because it honors all those little skills that kids have to learn that adults take for granted. This is not about dreaming of being a lawyer, doctor, or accountant! These are jobs a child can relate to: “paper-plane folder, puppy-dog holder, deep-hole digger, and lemonade-swigger.” The book ends with: “They’re all such fun; I’m going to choose every one!” Illustrations are fun, bouncy, bright, and full of motion.  The short phrases rhyme.

“When I Grow Up” by Al Yankovic, illustrated by Wes Hargis. Some of you may know the author, “Weird Al,” as a comedian specializing in song parody. This is his first of two children’s books. His story is set in an elementary school classroom as a boy, Billy, gives the long, rhyming answer to his teacher’s question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of the text will twist your tongue it’s so full of adjectives, but it’s also quite humorous!

“The Seven Chinese Sisters” by Kathy Tucker, illustrated by Grace Lin. This is a story of girl power and teamwork. Each sister has a special skill that comes in handy when they have to rescue their baby sister, Seventh Sister, from a hungry dragon. Lin’s clean and colorful illustration style is a great match to the story.

“The Everything Machine” by Mat Novak.  No one in the whole town of Quirk has any ambition at all because there is a machine that does everything for everybody. It mows the lawns, cooks food, even colors in coloring books! One day the Everything Machine breaks and the people in the town have to learn how to do things on their own. Then something amazing happens–the townspeople learn that they like to work!

Louanne Pig in “Making the Team” by Nancy Carlson. This is one of many books by Carlson that promote positive self-esteem in children. Try, try again, and you will be rewarded, but not always in the way you expect! Carlson’s stories teach children to see the best in all situations.

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Carlson’s Books Give Kids a Positive Message

Nancy Carlson, a native of Minnesota, knew from the time she was in kindergarten that she wanted to be an artist. As an adult she was so determined to make that her career, she never considered any other goal. Now, some 50 years later, she has illustrated and written more than 50 children’s books.

Carlson clearly has an agenda when creating her books. She writes about issues children face, but from a positive point of view. Her stories are about being happy, telling the truth, trying your best, and being nice. The upbeat messages are mirrored in the bright colors and bold patterns of her illustrations.

A cast of animal or human characters play out the gamut of childhood emotions in her books. Many of them are based on friends or neighbors, starting with Harriet the golden retriever, whose personality is based on Nancy Carlson herself when she was young. In three different stories Harriet has to get over stage fright, share her Halloween candy, and be brave enough to ride a roller coaster.

Louanne the pig is a great role model for positive self-image. Sam and George are dogs that are bullies often encountered by other characters. Vinney the frog consistently has the outlook “Don’t worry; Be happy!”

Carlson’s stories may be overly optimistic for some children’s (and grown-up’s) sensibilities, but for others, these books will say just the right thing at the right time. She presents real life in the form of comical moral lessons. And for Carlson, the stories provide the perfect opportunity to do what she really loves–create art!

• “Smile a Lot” features Vinney the frog. After reading this book you realize how contagious a smile really is. “Smile a lot. It gets you through hard times. It gives you lots of courage. It helps you reach your goals” …and it’s much easier than complaining!


• “Henry’s Amazing Imagination!” features Henry the mouse. Henry used to lie about everything, until he learned how to tell stories for show and tell at school.

• “I Like Me!” features Louanne the pig and her “you can do it” attitude. When she makes a mistake, she tries again. When she falls down, she picks herself up.

• “Arnie and the Stolen Markers” features Arnie the cat. When Arnie doesn’t have the allowance money to buy some markers he wants, the temptation to take them is just too much. Find out what happens when his mother discovers what Arnie’s done.

For more information on Nancy Carlson, visit her website: www.nancycarlson.com.

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