I wish all of you time to do the shopping, baking, decorating and housecleaning you need for Christmas. I wish all of you time for yourself to read and relax and enjoy this season. Here is a book that stole my heart and has nothing to do with Christmas except that it has to do with Love. The real reason for the season.
Title: Visiting Day
Author/ Illustrator: Jacqueline Woodson/ James E. Ransome
Publishing info: Published by Scholastic Press, 2002, fiction,
Age appropriate for: Ages five through eleven: grades kindergarten through grades six
Themes: Father and daughter relationship, Grandmother and granddaughter relationship, prison, African American
Summary: A young girl and her grandmother visit the girl’s father in prison.
What the jacket says: Only on visiting day do I get to tell Daddy everything that has happened over the month, while I sit in his lap and he pulls on my braids, smiling his big me – and – grandmother – have – been – gone – forever – smile…
On Visiting Day, a little girl and her grandmother take the long bus ride upstate to visit her father. On the ride, they share food and hope and give comfort to others who make the trip with them. The waiting is hard, and it all takes time. But Grandma and the little girl count their blessings, and love each other up, and wait for the time when Daddy will come back home.
Woodson’s exquisite prose and her bold approach to difficult subjects have placed her as one of the most distinguished authors of our time. Award winning artist James E. Ransome’s poignant; rich hued paintings sensitively render the essence o f the story.
Love knows no boundaries. Here is a strong family that understands the meaning of unconditional love.
Resources: I did not find any teacher guides or resources but one can easily start a discussion with your child in the thought experiment category. Pretending his or her father is in prison and they go for a visit. How would that be?
The First Three Sentences: “Only on visiting Day is thee chicken frying in the kitchen at 6 A.M. and Grandma humming soft and low, smiling her secret just – for – Daddy – and –me –smile , and me lying in bed, smiling my just –for – Grandma –and- Daddy smile. And maybe Daddy is already up, brushing his teeth, combing his hair back, saying, “Yeah, that pretty girl of mine is coming today,” with all the men around him looking on jealous like ‘cause they wish they had a little girl of their own coming.”
Why I love it: One day I wanted to see what else my library had in the way of Jacqueline Woodson’s books and found this on the shelf. Knowing she was an award-winning author I brought this book home to read. The cover of a man hugging a little girl and their big smiles spoke to me before I ever opened the book. The love was pouring out of the book. Woodson is uncanny in her approach to difficult subjects and this one is so special that I had to read it over several times. I love that it is in first person and is immediately relatable. It takes the ugly out of prison.
I have experienced some special kind of Love from my family these past few days. My sister and her husband drove all across America from their home in Texas to mine in Virginia to help clear trees that were in danger of falling across the driveway this winter in a wind or from snow. Her husband, Bill, also used his chain saw to clean up along the pond paths were trees had fallen across the path and made walking difficult. I stand in awe of their love that they had done this for us. Thank you sweet sister. Thank you brother-in-law. This act of love will not be forgotten soon.
And here are some gifts for you dear reader.
Do you diet? Do you hate your body or wish somehow it were different? Take a look at this love letter to a wounded body. http://thegiftofwriting.com/2013/10/love-letter-to-my-body/
And if, at the end of this piece offered to you, reader, if you and I are united in astonishment, that shared thrill of a surprised connection across worlds and cultures and time and distance, my job is done.
So those are my offerings for you; A PPBF that will leave you wanting to read more from Jacqueline Woodson, a life story of mine and two web sites to read if there is time left. And that is what I so wish I could give you more of, TIME.
See you next Tuesday for Susanna Hill’s holiday writing contest.
/////Please join other bloggers in Perfect Picture Book Friday over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site to see other fun books. http://susannahill.blogspot.com/p/perfect-picture-books.html