Thursday, June 17, 2010


"Hope is finding happiness in simple things." Lauren Thompson from Hope Is An Open Heart

Recently I was able to attend breakfast with several central Ohio bloggers at the Northstar Cafe. Mmm...the food was good and the company was delightful. Listening to Mary Lee and Franki of A Year in Reading, Bill and Karen of Literate Lives, Tony of Learn Me Sumthin', Julie of Raising Readers and Writers, and Lisa of Two Learning Journeys is always a learning (and laughing) experience. I was thrilled to finally meet Mandy of Enjoy and Embrace Learning as we have been keeping up with each other in the blogsphere and on Twitter. It is always fun to finally put a face with all of the wonderful writing I read online.

After nourishment, our group then went to Cover to Cover. Cover to Cover is a picture book lover's paradise. I carefully set my spending limit before even walking in the door. I knew being in this bookstore with so many other book lovers was going to be expensive. Katie from Creative Literacy joined us. She has already cost me so much money as I follow her blog, I knew she'd hook me into several books while we were there.

I'm pretty sure I'm the last person to discuss what was in my reading bag. I'm trying to keep it top secret! If you follow my blog (or know me), you know why I'm really the last one to write about what was in my bag.

The first book I fell in love with was Hope Is An Open Heart by Lauren Thompson. Published by Scholastic the cover shows it to be a "help for Haiti edition". Scholastic is donating $50,000 to Save the Children's Scholastic Recovery Fund through this title.

Each page of the book has a photograph of a child with a short line of what hope means. My favorite line is ""Hope is sad tears flowing, making room for joy." The image of the sadness being pushed away by the joy is powerful for me. Hope so often lets us push away difficulties to find something better to fill the space. Because of its repetitive text structure it is a book I think my students will be able to use as a mentor for their own writing.

The ending is powerful. "Hope is a heart that is open to the world around you. Hope is knowing that things change - and that we can help things to change for the better."
In the last pages the author discusses where she got the idea for her story. Interestingly it wasn't the devastation of Haiti, but the attacks of September 11, 2001, that originally impacted her life. On these pages she discusses several of the photographs. Some of the children photographed have experienced great hardships, but found their way through them with hope. This book celebrates the resiliency of life and the strength of children.

The next book I placed it my bag was called....Hope. I was starting to develop a theme in my shopping. Hope is by Isabell Monk and illustrated by Janice Lee Porter. This book was written in 1999, and I wonder how I have missed it all these years. I was grabbed immediately by the first page of the book. The line, "I think Aunt Poogee holds all the love in the world inside her and lets it out bit by bit through the twinkle in her eye," is enough to take your breath away. I could have closed the book right there and bought it.

I kept reading, however. Hope is the story of a small girl by that name. The book is written from Hope's point of view. There is something powerful about a story written in first person. I always feel like I'm right there with the character. Hope tells the story of visiting her Aunt Poogee each summer, and describes all the memorable pieces of the trip. She loves helping Aunt Poogee sell cosmetics and going to the fair with her, but most of all Hope loves the stories her aunt tells about the family.

The summer she is going into second grade, however, something happens to make Aunt Poogee tell Hope how she got her name. While at the fair a friend asks Aunt Poogee if Hope is "mixed" because of her lighter skin. Aunt Pogee is quite annoyed by the question asked without thought of Hope. That night instead of stories about the family, Aunt Poogee tells the story of how Hope got her name. I want to quote the words for you right here, but I feel I will be spoiling some of the beautify of this book. Hope is a book that rests in your heart for awhile.

My goal this summer is to add new books to my classroom library. It needs "freshened" a bit. These two books will be excellent additions. I promise to share more of the books hiding in my bag in the weeks to come. You won't want to miss it!


  1. Thanks for sharing your reflections on Hope, I too wrote about it today. Thanks again for pointing it out to me while we were shopping. I'm so glad you are back to blogging - it's a journey. One you can come and go from when time permits.

  2. My review comes later this week. Great many possibilities...