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Notes from a Children's Librarian

Point of View

Picture books to inspire writing from different perspectives for Grades 1 to 3.

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.


I know a teacher friend who asks her Grade 1 students to write as if they were inanimate objects. Point of view is part of the Language curriculum for every grade—not only in Writing, but also in Reading, Listening and Media Literacy strands. These picture books tackle point of view in different ways.


Book Cover C'Mere Boy

C'mere Boy, by Sharon Jennings, illustrated by Ashley Spires, is a switched point of view, with a dog who wants a boy. It begins with Dog’s week-long attempt to convince his mom to get a boy. On Monday, he writes “boy food” on his mom’s shopping list. “You don’t have a boy, yet,” she says and scratches it off the list. On Tuesday, he comes home with a leash, and so on, throughout the week, until Friday, he heads off determined to find a boy. At the mall he sees the sign, “No dogs allowed!” and at the park: “Dogs must be on a leash.” He’s whisked away to the pound where Dog finally meets a boy whom he can properly “train”—to take him for walks, play fetch, and stooping/scooping.


Book Cover We're All Friends Here

There are two sides to every story, which is particularly true in We’re All Friends Here, by Nancy Wilcox Richards, illustrated by Tom Goldsmith. The first half of the book is Sonny telling the story of life with Arthur in Grade 1. Arthur has some challenges—he’s disorganized and messy. When Sonny gets in trouble, the teacher overlooks Arthur’s bad behaviour. Arthur steals Sonny’s brownie at snack time and during a race in gym, Arthur takes off and leaves Sonny back at the start, hurt and bleeding. The grownups all seem to side with Arthur. The second half of the book—Arthur’s version of the exact same events—is a different story.


Book Cover Bad Dog

Beginning with the first page of Bad Dog, by Mike Boldt, we understand there is something askew in the way a little girl views her new cat: “Look what I got for my birthday! A pet dog!” She lists the ways in which Rocky, the cat, is a bad dog. The cat hates long walks, dislikes other dogs, climbs trees, and doesn’t respond to commands, such as “sit” and “stay.” After listing all the attributes of her pet, the protagonist proclaims, “I think Rocky would make a pretty good cat.”


Book Cover 48 Grasshopper Estates

48 Grasshopper Estates, by Sara de Waal, illustrated by Erika Medina, follows the main character, Sicily Bridges, as she makes all kinds of things, however, she still has yet to make a friend. As Sicily makes dolls for each of her neighbours, a secondary character appears in the background, attempting to make a cardboard spaceship with the help of his dad. When the boy gives up, Sicily finds his discarded materials and they end up making a spaceship together—and friends with each other.


Book Cover Where Oliver Fits

In Where Oliver Fits, by Cale Atkinson, student writers might relate to the frustrated and lonely puzzle piece yearning to belong. After being shunned by various puzzles, Oliver tries conforming but that leaves him feeling like he’s sacrificed too much. Finding the right fit takes time, eventually landing Oliver in an all-inclusive puzzle picture of pirates, astronauts and musicians. Students could write themselves into a variety of scenes/puzzles just like Oliver does.


Book Cover Drumheller Dinosaur Dance

The rhyming text in Drumheller Dinosaur Dance, by Robert Heidbreder, illustrated by Bill Slavin and Esperanca Melo, might inspire students to write as if they are ancient dinosaur bones coming out of the ground each night to dance. They might even come up with their own dino refrain, similar to Heidbreder’s: “Boomity-Boom, Rattely-Clack Thumpity-Thump, Whickety-Whack.”


Book Cover Rainy Day With Bear

The inanimate object-as-protagonist in Rainy Days with Bear, by Maureen Hull, illustrated by Leanne Franson, is a stuffed bear wanting to escape a rainy day. His owner, a writer working diligently on his book, encourages him to travel via imagination. Bear first ventures to Trinidad, for some steel drum fun (pots and pans banging), then to Spain for some flamenco dancing in the basement, to Switzerland for longhorn blowing (paper tower rolls stuck together), and to the Arctic for sledding (his dog pulling a chair). After a number of “trips,” they visit the real thing—a rainforest. What might happen if your student’s stuffy came to life?


On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of Up Up Up, a book of short stories published by House of Anansi Press.