Willow Finds a Way

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From School Library Journal

K-Gr 1-Being invited to someone’s birthday party is an honor, especially if it’s someone who’s popular like Kristabelle. Willow is thrilled to be on the initial guest list, but she becomes troubled as Kristabelle begins to remove names as children displease her. Willow knows Kristabelle’s behavior is cruel and controlling but she just can’t find the words or the nerve to tell her. Eventually, she finds the courage to remove her own name from the list, and the rest of her classmates follow suit. This leaves Kristabelle distressed since no one wants to come to her party. The students watch her struggle at the same time as learning the most important lesson. She then destroys the list and invites all of them to the party. They happily reconsider after recognizing that she has changed her ways. Button has recognized a common childhood dilemma, trying to care for a peer’s controlling personality. She has crafted a story to help children acknowledge and express their feelings at the same time as in uncomfortable situations. Howells’s artwork is simple and strongly emotional. The conclusion elicits a sigh of relief from readers as the tension in the class is eliminated and the party will go on. A good choice to prompt discussions about friendship, bullying, and self-confidence.-Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

About the Author

Lana Button works in early childhood education. Her writing has been published in Lady Bug magazine and Today’s Parent. Willow’s Whispers is Lana’s first book for Kids Can Press.

Tania Howells’s illustrations have appeared in Chirp and Today’s Parent, among other publications. She is the illustrator of Berkeley’s Barn Owl Dance and Willow’s Whispers. Tania lives in Toronto, Ontario.

In this simple but substantial picture book by Lana Button, shy, quiet Willow silently wishes she could find a way to say no to her bossy classmate Kristabelle’s demands, but the words never seem to come when she needs them. That is, until Kristabelle starts the use of the powerful threat of un-inviting children from her ?improbable? birthday party to keep them in line, and Willow decides she’s in any case had enough. Surprising everyone, even herself, Willow steps up and bravely does something shocking, and it changes all the dynamic of the classroom. This child-friendly and relatable story about bullying is elegantly told with honesty and heart. The simple artwork by Tania Howells beautifully captures the subtleties of the story; the children are the main focus of the spare illustrations, allowing their body language and facial expressions to leap off the page and showcase exactly how they’re feeling. This can be a book so one can have young children on the edge of their seats at storytime, deeply sympathetic to the dilemma faced by Willow and her classmates. What makes this book particularly helpful is that it presents a model for how any child, even a shy one like Willow, can find his or her own way to care for a bossy or bullying classmate. It offers a pitch-perfect lesson on how to get up for yourself, terrifically aligning with character education lessons on courage. The empowering message here also helps promote individual self-awareness, self-esteem and good decision making.