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Summary: J.J. has a new friend at school. Her name is Lily. J.J. finds it funny that she says words like "fishes." When Mom guesses that Lilly may be from China, she tells J.J. her story of learning English as a little girl. J.J. learns that there are ways to help Lily, but laughing is not one of them. This is a story about understanding language differences.
Type of Reading: playtime reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 6 to 9
Interest Level: 4 to 8
Reading Level: 3.2
Age of Child: Read with and by a 7-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter found this book intriguing. She spent hours looking at the pictures and really wanted to study what the book said. She related it to a new student in her class earlier this year, and wanted to practice talking with him. We have read this a lot in the past week.
Adult Reader Reaction: We were surprised by her reaction. The book has a wonderful lesson, though it takes a bit of a detour here and there (e.g., explaining plural v. singular words). Personally, we would have liked the book to have more meat and close with J.J. and Lily working together. Still, it clearly got the audience's attention. The collage-like illustrations offer a wonderful complement to the simple text.
Pros: Kids are likely to see their own community and classroom in this story about children learning a new language.
Cons: The story ends prematurely. It would be nice to bring the story full circle and show J.J. and Lily working together. It would be nice to have emphasized that Lily is trying her best (instead of focusing on her 'mistakes').
Borrow or Buy: Borrow or buy. This is an excellent book to share with your child, particularly in today's multi-cultural classroom. It is a must-have for a classroom library.
Educational Themes: This is an excellent book for the preschool/Kindergarten audience. There are opportunities to talk about feelings, compassion, helping others, and acceptance. The book assumes that the learner (Lily) would be happy to accept help. This won't likely be the case, so there are opportunities to talk about what to do if someone doesn't want your help.
Notes: Finalist in the 2009 Distinguished Achievement Awards Program, by the Association of Educational Publishers