Module 2: Not in Room 204

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Riggs, S. (2007). Not in room 204. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.

Summary:
Mrs. Salvador has plenty of rules for her classroom: turn in quality work, no fighting, keep a tidy work space, be polite… Regina Lillian Hadwig, a quiet but excellent student, is very appreciative of Mrs. Salvador’s rules. Mrs. Salvador asks her about her quietness; Regina confirms that she is quiet at home and begins to think about a secret she keeps from her mother. In February, Mrs. Salvador discusses stranger danger and inappropriate touching by others with her class. She tells her students that if any of her students are ever touched where they shouldn’t be touched, they could tell her and she would know what to do. The next day, Regina comes in early to tell Mrs. Salvador that she has been touched somewhere she should not have been.

Impressions: I cannot say that I have read a picture book that handles, or even discusses, sexual abuse so carefully and in a manner that children will understand. I did not expect this topic from the title but I am certainly glad that I read it. As a mother I am happy to see to know it exists, happy to know that it can assist me in having these conversations with my children easier. In, general, I was impressed with the content over everything else. The illustrations did not particularly do much for me, though.

Review: “Gr. 1-3. It is regrettable that there is a need for books for young children dealing with the topic of sexual abuse, but this straightforward story effectively fits the bill. Young Regina likes her new teacher Mrs. Salvador very much, and as the school year progresses trust builds between them. When Mrs. Salvador says during a Stranger Danger unit that if someone is touching a student in an inappropriate way, she knows ‘exactly what to do to help,’ Regina finds the courage to tell Mrs. Salvador about things her father does that ‘not even her mother knew.’ Zollars’ bright, graphic illustrations help keep the story reassuring and upbeat without diminishing the importance of the topic. A note at the beginning stresses the need to broach the subject of sexual abuse with children and gives guidance for helping to prevent it.”

Tillotson, L. (2008, January). [Review of the book Not in Room 204, by S. Riggs]. Book Links17(3), p. 19.

Library Uses: Sexual abuse is a topic that is typically swept under the rug and as a result, I don’t expect many parents or children to be inquiring about it. However, I can see educational professionals, such as teachers, requesting books on the topic. Having this information handy for when professionals or teachers want to talk about stranger danger is ideal. Additionally, it is a great addition to library displays during child abuse prevention week that typically only feature non-fiction books. If I were a school librarian, or even planning to become one, I would certainly recommend teachers to read it for themselves.

Module 1: The Hundred Dresses

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Estes, E. (1944). The hundred dresses. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace, and Co.

Summary: Wanda Petronski is a poor Polish-American girl growing up in a small Connecticut town. When she tells her classmates, Peggy and Maddie, that she has one hundred dresses hanging in her closet but yet only wears the same blue dress every day they begin relentlessly teasing her.The endless cruelty Wanda experiences in school ultimately results in her father removing her from school. As a result, Maddie, who had already been feeling guilty for the teasing becomes increasingly upset over her actions. It isn’t until Wanda wins a drawing contest (after she has already moved), in which she drew her one hundred dresses, that Maddie and Peggy accept her and realize that Wanda has liked them all along.

Impressions: Childhood is incredibly simple – children hurt the feelings of others, learn their lesson, apologize and then all is right in the world. There are no grudges, no hard feelings. Or at least this is how Estes’ world appears to be in The Hundred Dresses. I am far removed from elementary school and this book was written in 1945 so childhood was certainly different then than when I grew up. What hasn’t changed though is bullying and racism. It may look the same (teasing because of stuttering or because someone is poor or not popular) or it may be different (cyber bullying). And racism is certainly alive today – Hispanics and people of Middle Eastern descent have been constant targets in America as have other minorities. For these reasons, The Hundred Dresses, though slightly dated, is still relevant for children today.

Review: “This long standing favorite tells the story of Wanda, a Polish immigrant, who is teased by her classmates for her differences and her claim that she owns a hundred dresses. Estes skill with languages shines in this ash she uses just the right word or phrase to vividly catch the emotion and the moment, but still keeps the text natural sounding and accessible. The story serves as a classic example of outstanding use of language in transitional literature.” Liang, L.A., Book Links, January 2006

Liang, L.A. (2006, January). [Review of the book The Hundred Dresses, by E. Estes]. Book Links, 15(3), p. 51.

Library Uses: Many of my colleagues and I are in agreement about the Caldecotts and Newberry award winners being somewhat dry. This is, of course, personal taste. The Hundred Dresses is a great Honor book with substance to keep on hand for patrons looking for award winners. I could also see myself using it for a tween time book talk since it is a fairly easy read and deals with a topic that would apply to that age group.