For the next few weeks, Mondays will be dedicated to the 2011 nominees for the Colorado Children’s Book Award. This is an award that is given to children’s books written by Colorado authors. The books are nominated by and voted on by students, only – similar to the Colorado Blue Spruce Award, but it’s geared toward elementary students. The criteria for a school participating in the vote is that the entire school must have a minimum of three of the books nominated. The vote takes place in March.
This week’s book is Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson. Summary: Miss Hawthorn's room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that's how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary.
Into Miss Hawthorn's classroom comes young Willow. She doesn't color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think?
Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what art is and what is possible is forever changed.
There are a number of things about this book that bother me. The art teacher is unimaginative and rather unkind. I know that not all educators are as good as they should be. People are not perfect. However, I’m not a fan of books that portray teachers as either dumb or mean. Having said that, there are a number of things about this book that I do like. The cranky, unimaginative teacher, Miss Hawthorn learns what it truly means to be an artist from her student Willow. I do believe we can learn from our students and this book, though written for children, has a message for adults. It’s ok to think outside the box. Creativity does not follow rules. The illustrations are colorful and whimsical. The transformation of Miss Hawthorn will warm the reader’s heart.
Recommended for Kindergarten to Grade Three
Mrs. Archer’s Rating: 4 of 5