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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Review: Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

This is the story of a little girl named Chrysanthemum. Her parents picked her name because it was absolutely perfect, just like their daughter. Chrysanthemum also loved her name and knew it was absolutely perfect until she started school.

Her classmates at school made fun of Chrysanthemum's name because it was too long and she was named after a flower. Chrysanthemum came home from school every day upset. Her parents tried to cheer her up and reassure her that her name was absolutely perfect, just as she was. It wasn't until the class met the music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle, that Chrysanthemum accepted her name once again. All the students adored Mrs. Twinkle. Mrs. Twinkle's first name was also long and the name of a flower. Her name was Delphinium. She told her students that if her baby ended up being a girl, she was considering naming her Chrysanthemum. All the students who had once made fun of her decided they liked her name and gave themselves flower nicknames. Chrysanthemum was so happy and knew that her name was absolutely perfect.

I think this is a great book to read with young children going to school. It would help them understand that other people get made fun of, but what is really important is how you deal with it. This book is great for children, but it's also entertaining for adults reading it. The author named the books that Chrysanthemum's father is reading "The Inner Mouse Vol. 1: Childhood Anxiety" and "A Rose By Any Other Name... Understanding Identity" which are titles that children might not understand.

There is a lot of repetition in this book which I think would help students be able to predict what was going to happen next. The students make fun of Chrysanthemum in the morning, at nap time, Victoria says something mean, and then lining up to go home, Victoria says something mean again. When she gets home, her parents reassure her, they eat, hug, and play Parcheesi.

The illustrations in this book are very colorfully made with watercolor paints and a black pen. All the
illustrations are contained in boxes on each page. Many of the pages in the front have pictures that follow a succession. When she grows up, there are various pictures from her childhood. When it talks about how much she loves her name in all the ways that she loves it, there are pictures to represent each.

The author, Kevin Henkes, has written many many other children's books. He is the author of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and Owen, a Caldecott Honor Book. Many of his books are about little mouse characters growing up and dealing with problems that other young children may be facing.

I thought this book was really cute and I look forward to reading it to my student teaching class soon!

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