[I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. No other compensation was received.]
That Day in September gives you 20 rhymes and illustrations to broach talking with children and young adults about some of the issues happening in our world. The rhymes discuss a wide variety of issues from recycling to September 11th to Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights to drowning to obesity to immigration to bear sightings and beyond. (Whew! This book packs a punch!)
Each rhyme is illustrated by a different artist and sets a distinct tone for each rhyme and topic. The illustrations range from classic and sweet to modern and hip and compliment the rhymes beautifully. It is impressive how the illustrations skillfully add depth to the meaning of the rhymes’ surface while gently hinting at its larger reference. On their own, the rhymes are well-written, entertaining, and witty. You can read this book with the same enjoyment as you read Mother Goose. Many of the rhymes have such a timeless feel that you could slip them into a classic Mother Goose book and I would easily believe that they had been around for centuries.
Sometimes the underlying topic being addressed is abundantly clear and sometimes it had me wondering what this rhyme could be about. It is evident that several of the rhymes are intentionally written in general and vague terms adroitly using the power of subtly — just like in the classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Fortunately, there is a reference section in the back that gives a brief explanation about what topic each rhyme is referring to as well as links to news articles. It’s fun! You can write down what you think the rhymes are about and then compare and see what the author wrote them about.
It is also an empowering book in that its design and layout allowed me to pick and choose what to talk about with my four-year-old son. I’m ready to talk with him about the dark side of our throw-away and disposable culture, drowning being a leading cause of death under 12-year olds, the importance of recycling, and problems with over-consumption — but not quite ready to breach the topic about September 11th or bulimia. With this book I can read all of the rhymes to him, answer his questions about the rhymes, and then start slowly talking with him about larger issues (that I am ready to discuss with him) without it coming from out of nowhere.
There’s one rhyme called, “Little Girls” that spurred quite the conversation with me and my son. The rhyme talks about how little girls love shoes and “need more than one pair.” The reference is about Imelda Marcos (fascinating Wikipedia article), about whom I knew only about her collection of shoes before reading the Wikipedia article. My son was baffled by this rhyme and asked me incredulously, “REALLY, all girls love shoes?” Which then led us to a long conversation about what a generality is and some of the traps and problems of generalities — but that this generality is a tool used to talk about something else. It was an amazing conversation to have with him. While he is now sure all girls do not necessarily love shoes, he insists that all boys do love construction. (Ummm, well…) It will be so interesting to see what he thinks of these rhymes in a few months or years.
I look forward to reading this book with him again and again as he gets older. I look forward to having deeper debates with him and listening to him as he learns more about the world and I’m grateful that I have this book now and for when he is older.
Roughly ages 4 – 8. Words in the Works. September 2014. 38 pages. ISBN: 978-0991036479. Poetry/Social Issues.
Where to Get it:
- [Affiliate Link] Amazon.com
- [Independent Bookstore] Indiebound.org — Ask your local bookseller for it
- [Library] Woldcat.org — Ask your library to order it
You Should Read That Day in September and Other Rhymes for the Times because:
- It’s a great book to instigate lively and interesting discussions about the world we live in.
- The book is wonderfully organized — you can read the rhyme, talk about what the rhyme may be about, reveal what the author says the rhyme is about, go back and read the rhyme again and decide if you agree or disagree and have to defend this point, talk about how the illustrations play into the rhyme’s meaning, and then ask them to think of an issue that is important to them and write their own rhyme.
- The illustrations are wonderful! I’m especially impressed with Dawn Beacon’s and Jeffrey Ebbeler’s illustrations. (You can see Jeffrey Ebbeler’s below.)
- Oh! Before I forget! This book inspired me to look up the meanings to the classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes — I came across this article: “The Dark Origins of 11 Classic Nursery Rhymes” at Mental Floss — An eye-opening and, at times, disturbing read.
- Kids ask so many hard questions about our world and while this book doesn’t answer them for them — it gives them a way to contextualize important issues in terms that are very familiar.
- It also asks them questions like in “What Would You Do if the Power Went Out?” that lead to some great answers!
- You can talk with them now about these topics, record their ideas about it and then in a few more months read it to them again and see what ideas have or haven’t changed.
- Clearly this book inspires a lot of different ideas and activities — it’s a great book to see what and how they think about issues now and later.
Author and Illustrator Websites:
More Reviews of this Book:
- Kirkus Reviews
- Tween Book Blog
- 4 Covert 2 Overt — Excellent interview with the author
- Carole Finds Her Wings
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the author. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit. It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”