Teaching kids to count is fine,
but teaching them what counts is best.
Susannah woke up in the morning. She knew it was early because the sky was a lovely ice blue with a line of pale yellow where the sun was slowly rising over the ridge of the mountaintops. She looked out her window and saw a beautiful star. It was a bright point in the sky, positioned above the highest hill. She held out her hand on the windowsill, measuring the distance of the star with her fingers. It was almost a whole hand span away from the horizon.
Susannah stretched and hopped out of bed. Her unfinished homework was on the floor. She looked at the ten math questions, shrugging. She had answered two of them before she had given up last night. She stared at the raspberry carpet peeking through the tear in the paper. She had erased the answer so hard on the third example that she had rubbed a hole right through the paper.
Third grade was proving to be a lot harder than she thought. She peered guiltily around, and then, using her toe, she pushed the homework under her book bag. Susannah gazed in the mirror. She flared her small nostril to make it look bigger. It made her skin turn pink, clashing with her orange freckles. Her blond hair curled too much to make her happy. She pulled it into a tight ponytail, taming the wild waves. Her mother called for her to hurry.
Mom was always rushing. Between her job and all the things she needed to do every day, her mother never seemed to have much time. Mom sold houses. She was always running to either see a house, take people to see a house or sit with them while they bought the house. Mom’s eyes were constantly on the clock in the kitchen. It was as if their whole life revolved around that big clock. Its ornate oversized hands dictated whether breakfast would be rushed or whether dinner would be meatloaf with a mountain of mashed potatoes or a quick pizza from Phil’s. Susannah could hear its loud ticking, every minute making her mother more frantic. That old clock could determine what kind of day Susannah was going to have, and from the sound of her mother’s voice, it was not going to be a good one. That clock decides a lot in my life, she grumbled to herself.
Susannah dressed, not caring if her shirt didn’t quite match her pants. Mom yelled again, this time sounding loud and impatient. Susannah picked up her backpack; the homework lay slightly crushed on the carpeted floor. “Susannah!” her mother hollered. “I don’t have time for this today! I expect you to be down here on time.” Susannah tucked the paper in her backpack between her folders.
She eyed the green folder, satisfied the paper was hidden. She was sure no one would see it. Maybe I should show it to my mom; she thought guiltily as she dragged her book bag from the room. Susannah paused, laying her backpack down on the floor, and reached in to pull out the uncompleted math homework. I should talk to Mom about it, she murmured to herself. “Susannah Maya Logan!” Mom sounded harried. “I don’t have time!”
Oh, the middle name, Susannah thought. She means business. Susannah shoved the paper back quickly. “I’m coming,” she called as she bounded down the steps.
Carole P. Roman is among the top leaders in teaching books for children. I have not only enjoyed each and every one of them, but have been enthusiastic in sharing my thoughts to others potential readers. But, with Oh Susannah, Roman has taken a major step forward in my opinion. First it's a new series for Early Readers in storybook form honing it on a young girl named Susannah... Readers will immediately become concerned about Susannah--Roman presents the story of her life from her, the child's point of view, and it certainly may be an eye-opener for many adults...
Intellectually I knew that children's basic life skills were formed mostly before four...and that they are based, almost entirely on what they learn within their home environment or from a caregiver... But to actually see a child "reacting" to that environment is an entirely different picture!
Susannah lived in a very busy home, both working parents had demanding jobs... Readers quickly see that she was trying as hard as possible to accept this environment, yet had not had the opportunity to actually learn basic skills that aren't taught in schools... Things like work organization, time management, and, more importantly getting additional help or support when they need it...
In fact, this little story of 34 pages, is not only for Early Readers (age 8-12) but is actually also for you, the parents, the caregivers, the family members that love their children, but have forgotten how hard it was to begin to know how to act in any given daily situation, including school... I remember as the youngest of four children in a one-parent home, I learned much by watching siblings and interacting with them, but if a single child has nobody except two busy adults... Well, you wind up in the same situation as Susannah.
The book has nine chapters with a few sketch-like pictures. The story itself is the tale that will allow young readers, who may be struggling to deal with everything--school, homework, friends--all those things that are new and constantly changing!
I especially was pleased with how Roman created the parents' response. That is, that once the problem was identified, they immediately acted both lovingly and with patience to help teach Susannah how to face each of those new challenges as they came.
While the humor lightens the story as Susannah uses her book bag to deal (actually to hide) with each challenge...this debut of a new series is a wonderful addition to Roman's teaching books and may, just may be the most important one of all... It's great to see Roman writing in this more informal but very relevant manner...and I'm excited to see how Susannah moves forward and upward!
A must-read recommendation on this one...
Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of over fifty children's books. Whether it's pirates, princesses, or discovering the world around us, her books have enchanted educators, parents, and her diverse audience of children. She hosts two blog radio programs and is one of the founders of a new magazine, Indie Author's Monthly. She's been interviewed twice by Forbes Magazine. Carole has co-authored a self-help book, Navigating Indieworld: A Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing. Oh Susannah is her first Early Reader Chapter book series. She lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children and grandchildren.