Another Children’s Book

At the library recently K picked out a book we really like:  The Art of Miss Chew.


This book is about a girl, Patricia, who is really talented with art.  She discovers a love for it while staying with her grandmother one summer.  Her school doesn’t have much of an art program, but she is so talented her teacher recommends her for a special art program in her school system, taught by Miss Chew.

Although Patricia is incredibly talented in art, she struggles with taking tests because of a learning disability.   Her regular teacher realizes this issue and gives her extra time to take tests, allowing her to succeed.  Patricia is loving life; she’s learning about art and doing well in her regular class.  However, her teacher’s dad dies and Patricia has to have a substitute teacher for a while.  The substitute thinks Patricia should spend her time studying rather than doing art and refuses to give her extra time on tests.  Patricia starts failing her tests again and she is very upset she’s going to be taken out of Miss Chew’s art class.  Miss Chew learns what is going on and starts advocating for her.  She arranges for Patricia to see a reading specialist and a meeting at school occurs and all is happily resolved in the end.  (I’m trying to not include too many spoilers!)

One thing I love about this book is the words ‘learning disability’ are never used.  Patricia has had problems reading in the past and she still reads too slowly to finish a test, but it’s never called a disability.  Her art teacher and a reading specialist explain the way she reads in art terms rather than calling it a disability; it’s just another way Patricia sees the world.

Another great aspect of the book is the art.  It has beautiful pictures.  A few art concepts are described in the story, such as negative space and seeing the world through artists’ eyes.  It reminded me to ‘see’ some of the details of the world and help my kids do the same.

Plus, a side story in the book is Patricia’s relationship with her regular teacher, Mr. Donovan.  Patricia paints a beautiful picture of Mr. Donovan’s father and I can hardly read the last page of the book without crying.

I asked K what she likes about the book and she said ‘everything.’  She went through the book and showed me what she liked about every picture.  She clearly loved the story line, especially the relationships between Patricia and her teachers (with the exception of the substitute teacher of course!)

We’d recommend this book!  My 11-year-old liked it.  Even my 2-year-old sat through an entire reading of it (though he mostly liked to point to Miss Chew and help turn the pages.)

K pointing to her favorite part of this picture (Miss Chew’s smock.)


Children’s books

I’m finally making it a regular habit to get to the library, which I haven’t done since moving to Bama.  I was ridiculously spoiled with the KDL system at home and didn’t know it!  Don’t get me wrong, the library system here is pretty good, but since moving I’ve learned that I grew up with the cream of the crop library system and my standards are pretty darn high!  Anyways, there is a story time at a nearby library that is fabulous and I’m finally taking the younger two just about every week.  A side benefit of going to the story time is once again we’ve got a fresh crop of books going through our house on a regular basis.  K and J have a simple method for choosing books to take home.  Go to the shelf and grab one.  Don’t bother with any searching, just grab.  If it is on the top of a shelf or basket, it is clearly the best one.  We’ve come home with some good books, some pretty odd ones, and we’ve even had some intense negotiations to leave a few at the library.

Recently K stumbled upon an awesome find and I thought it might be a good idea to occasionally write about a book we’re reading.


Have you read it?  I hadn’t even heard of it till a few weeks ago but it is a new favorite of mine.  (Hint: Christmas present.)

Extra Yarn is about a girl who finds a box of colorful yarn during the gray days of winter.  She uses the yarn to knit a sweater for herself and her dog.  Then for a friend.  She still has yarn left so she knits sweaters for classmates and other people in the town.  And the yarn still doesn’t run out.  So she starts knitting sweaters for things that “don’t normally wear sweaters.”  Through her generosity and this amazing box of yarn she transforms a dreary town into a beautiful, colorful place.  Someone comes to buy the box from her, but she refuses to sell it, even when he offers her a huge amount of money. Since she won’t sell, the man steals the box.  Just when the outlook for the girl and the town look the bleakest the book resolves with a happy, beautiful, and simple ending.

K and I both love this book.  K loves the pictures and the magical quality of the story.  I love the generosity of the girl, the beauty she creates for those around her, and the failure of evil to triumph.

If you get a chance, visit your local library and check out this book.  Or you could visit Amazon and purchase a copy of Extra Yarn for yourself and me a friend.  (It’s worth a shot, right? 🙂 )

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