Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Good To Go

As educators we see them in the hallways, cafeteria, playground, arriving and leaving school, at assemblies, on field trips and in our classrooms.  These gals and guys prefer to be moving nearly constantly.  At times their pizzazz level can be hard to channel in the right direction, but repeatedly, my admiration for their ability to keep going grows.  Their let's-go attitude is contagious. 

When your activity switch is up and on, you can go farther and faster.  Unstoppable Me (Farrar Straus Giroux, July 23, 2019) written by Susan Verde with pictures by Andrew Joyner is an ode to super-charged children.  It highlights the positive potential of every single one.

I am movement

This little guy continues to state his other attributes; heat and static electricity.  These characteristics maintain their optimum operation through food and play.  When he is among other children, all the great rewards of companionship give him extra exuberance.

As if he is the quintessential dynamo, he points out his benefits.  No part of the natural world is harmed to maintain his movements.  He goes without needing batteries or coal or oil.  Water is his preferred propellant.

You name a type of motion; this little guy can do it with gusto.  He's like a rubber ball, a top, a weed that rolls with the wind and a backhoe.  He makes, takes apart and makes something new.  Nothing in his path stops him.  He is the ultimate artist of avoiding obstacles.

When asked by his father to lower his speed, he does, but not for long.  A little bit of rest goes a long way with this fellow.  Does he start to slow down as he gets ready for bed?  He does not.  He even dreams with the same amazing sense of stamina.  His final words are a gift to all of us.

As the mother of a child bustling with get-up-and-go and needing to move, author Susan Verde speaks from experience.  Her choice of words exemplifies the most wondrous things about children like this boy.  You can feel the force of liveliness on every page.  To have a first-person narrative, warmly welcomes all readers into this child's everyday life.  (It's interesting to note there is not punctuation at the end of every sentence, phrase or word.  This seems to signify the constant action without pause.)  Here is a passage.

I'm a supersonic dreamer!

I can leap, soar, and
reach for the stars

It's clear from the front of the matching dust jacket and book case, this boy embraces life with endless energy. His running stance, open arms and the wide, happy grin on his face speak volumes.  The children and adults around him and his furry friend seem to mirror his emotions and engagement with life.  The boy and the title text are varnished.

To the left, on the back, a bright yellow canvas showcases the words:


in the same vibrant red as the title on the front.  Our protagonist is featured spinning, painting the exclamation point and racing away with his dog next to the respective words.  The opening and closing endpapers are a bold teal shade which continues on the first page, last page and the title page.  On the title page the boy is shown leaping up on the bed over his sleeping parents.  This begins the illustrator's, Andrew Joyner's, visual interpretation of the story.

Double-page pictures, full-page pictures and several images grouped on a single page place emphasis on pacing and the overall exhilaration of the narrative.  The expressions on all the characters' faces are of happiness with a heavy dose of an optimistic attitude.  The bold colors, lines and point of view in the illustrations are certain to lift readers into the boy's joy.  The heavier black font adds to the vigor depicted in the text.  The multitude of details will have readers pausing at page turns or re-reading the story.

One of my many favorite pictures is a double-page picture for the words:

Powered by PLAY!

In this scene the boy is running into a playground populated by more than thirty children all in motion and engaged in a variety of tasks.  They are from different racial and ethnic backgrounds as are the portrayed adults.  No matter what your age is, you'll want to jump into their midst.  You can play tag, blow bubbles, climb tires or crawl underneath them, have a pretend tea party, play a guitar and sing at the top of your voice, march, jump, or play in the sandbox. 

The importance of children seeing themselves in books cannot be stressed enough; not only for their sakes but for the sakes of others, too.  This book, Unstoppable Me written by Susan Verde with pictures by Andrew Joyner, in words and artwork, focuses on qualities as sources of pride.  This is a book to have in your personal and professional collections so all readers can receive and accept each individual as they are.  We need to raise each other higher with compassion.  This book does this with excellence.  Author Susan Verde talks about her own exuberant child in an author's note and her purpose for writing this book.

To learn more about Susan Verde and Andrew Joyner and their other work, please access their websites by following the links attached to their names.  Susan Verde has accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Dylan Teut, Director of the Plum Creek Children's Literature Festival, chats with Susan Verde on his blog, Mile High Reading, about this title and her writer's life.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images.

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