December 4, 2015

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Oskar And The Eight Blessings

Hey there!

Surprised to see me?

After last week's debacle...???

I still can't believe I forgot to post last Friday!  I'm so sorry!  There I was, all caught up in family and leftover pie, and I never even realized it was Friday until it was suddenly Saturday and I hadn't posted!  Any of you who had a Perfect Picture Book last week are welcome to add that link to today's link list in addition to your titles for today!

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that this will be the last official Perfect Picture Book post for 2015, as the next few Fridays will be taken up with the Holiday Contest and then the holidays themselves.  So I'll meet you back here for the next PPBF on Friday January 8, 2016!!!

Now then, I hope you will all enjoy the today's story.  I think it's beautifully done, and has much to offer young readers!

Title: Oskar And The Eight Blessings
Written By: Richard Simon and Tanya Simon
Illustrated By: Mark Siegel
Roaring Brook Press, September 2015, Fiction (with some fact)

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Hanukkah, kindness/compassion, looking for the good

Opening: This is an unusual picture book.  It has what could almost be called a prologue before the actual story starts - a set up to explain why Oskar happened to be traveling alone to New York City in December 1938 - with the text in italics and the illustrations on a black background.
Opening of the book: "Oskar's mother and father believed in the power of blessings.  So did Oskar...until the Night of Broken Glass."
Opening of the story: "Oskar arrived in New York on the seventh day of Hanukkah.  It was also Christmas Eve.  He knew his Aunt Esther would be lighting the menorah at sunset. To reach her before the sun went down Oskar would have to walk over a hundred blocks on the avenue called Broadway."

Brief Synopsis: Oskar is a refugee, seeking sanctuary from the horrors of Kristallnacht.  He arrives in New York City with nothing but a photograph and an address for an aunt he has never met. It is both the seventh day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, 1938. As Oskar walks the length of Manhattan, he views the city's many holiday sights, and encounters various people. Each offers Oskar a small act of kindness, welcoming him to the city and helping him on his way to a new life in the new world, and proving the truth of his father's last words to him: "Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings."

Links To Resources: The book is a resource unto itself.  An author's note details the origin of the story and the historical accuracies, including the presence of both Count Basie and Eleanor Roosevelt in New York City on Christmas Eve 1938.  There is also a map of Manhattan, showing Oskar's route from the ship to his Aunt's house with some of New York City's well-known landmarks.  Older children/students can discuss Kristallnacht and the holocaust.  All children/students can discuss the power of kindness and think about what small acts of kindness they might be able to perform during the holidays and all year round.

Why I Like This Book:  This story tackles a difficult subject in an accessible, child-friendly way, and it reminds us of the true meaning of the holidays with its emphasis on compassion and human kindness, looking for the blessings in life even when times are hard - lessons that should not be reserved for the holidays, but carried with us throughout the year.  The art has the feel of an old photograph album, like pictures your grandparents might have shown you.  The inclusion of historical fact makes the story feel believable even though it's mostly fiction.  Though on some levels a more serious holiday title, the story is uplifting, and the ending emotional.  A wonderful addition to any library!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Now then, before we all go off for our weekend of fun, I want to remind everyone that the Holiday Contest opens on Monday!!!  Whoopee!!!  Think of all the stories we have to look forward to!  Think how much fun it will be to read them ourselves and share them with our children and students!  I can't wait!

except for the teensy weensy difficulty of not having an inkling of what I will post for a sample...

Polish up those drafts!  Put the finishing touches on your masterpieces!  There are some pretty great prizes on offer!

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a great weekend, everyone!  See you Monday for the Holiday Contest extravaganza!!!

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