New Beginnings and Coming-of-Age Stories

Dear Readeo Friends,

As April rolls on, Colorado has recently enjoyed the blossoming of spring. I woke up to the cheery ruckus of twittery birds one morning last week, and the uncommonly warm weather had me removing my jacket while my two-year old inspected the tender shoots of hyacinths and daffodils, the bold leaves of tulips. As a Utah native, I grew up in the snow, and have a great affection for the particular beauty of winter. But there is nothing that compares with the beauty of a world shaking itself from winter sleep and becoming renewed in budding, green Spring glory. Nature’s new beginnings often parallel with our own, I thought, and we look forward to our own renewing and the changes that each new season brings.

This month, I’d like to introduce three new additions from Clavis, each a unique kind of coming-of-age story. Our youngest readers will enjoy Ian’s New Potty, by Pauline Oud, the story of a young boy who is learning all about being a big boy. He builds a tall “big boys’ tower,” enjoys a “big boys’ sandwich” for lunch (with his big boy appetite), and spends his afternoon playing in a “big boys’ tent,” with his stuffed bunny, Flap. With all of these new abilities comes another important step in being a big boy: wearing big boy underpants and learning to use the potty. With simple, bright illustrations and clear language, this story is a helpful and encouraging introduction to toilet training and the joys of becoming a little more independent.

For readers aged 4 and older is the beautifully written story of Nina, a little girl struggling with the aftermath of her parents’ divorce in I Have Two Homes, by Marian De Smet and illustrated by Nynke Talsma. Told from Nina’s perspective, this book brilliantly and sensitively explores the feelings a child might have as they face an extremely difficult transition: from living together as a happy family in one home, to the confusion of separation, and finally the realities of living in two different homes. Nina remembers standing in her parents’ happy embrace, like a “hotdog in a bun,” and then recalls days of fighting. She remembers Mom spending long hours talking to Grandma, so intent in their conversation, that they don’t notice Nina misbehaving. But Nina also talks about the bright parts of her new life, like having two different birthday parties, or both parents coming to watch as she takes her first dive into the deep pool at school. Most importantly, Nina–and we as readers–are emphatically reassured that while Mom and Dad are no longer happy with one another, their love for Nina will never change.

Our final new addition, Amy, by Ritva Lukkarinen and Pirkko Vainio, is a coming-of-age story for older readers. While exploring her snow-covered backyard, Amy discovers a sick duck taking shelter under a woodpile. Amy fixes up a bed of warm straw for her new friend, whom she names “Lucky,” and provides him with food and water. During the ensuing holiday season, Amy and Lucky spend all of their time together, eating and even napping together. But as Lucky recovers, Amy’s mom gently reminds her that ducks belong outside. Share this important coming-of-age story about responsibility and doing what’s best for those we love, and read about Amy’s final decision as she seeks to do the right thing for her friend, Lucky.

Please let us know what you think of our newest additions on our Facebook page, and share your reader’s reactions, comments, or questions about these characters and their new beginnings.

Happy reading,

Kristen Johnson

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