Friday, March 14, 2014

The Pirate of Kindergarten

The Pirate of Kindergarten 

By:  George Ella Lyon
Illustrated by :  Lynne Avril 
Published 2010
Schneider Award Book 

The Pirate of Kindergarten is about a young girl named Ginny.  Ginny loves reading and enjoys kindergarten but has many difficulties.  She sees two of everything, which makes kindergarten hard.  Ginny does not give up though and she tries many things to help herself.  She closes one eye, puts her face close in the book, and "ties her mind tight."  All of these things do not fix her problem of seeing double.  Vision screening day comes and a nurse checks Ginny's eyes.  He finally notices when she can not read the chart well that she has double vision.  Ginny visits the eye doctor and in turn learns that she has to wear a patch and glasses.  Ginny embraces her patch and declares herself the pirate of Kindergarten.  She can now read well, run fast, and complete all her kindergarten tasks well.  

This is a great story about never giving up and persevering even when things seem difficult. Ginny is a loving character that makes you pull for her and feel for her right until the very end.  But then you also feel so proud of her and how she deals with her situation that you can not feel sorry for her.  Children of all ages can relate to Ginny, even if they do not have a disability.  They have all seen something as hard at one time or another in their short lives.  Everything is new to a 5 year old and this book has a great message to keep trying to and to do your best no matter what.  Lyon, writes in short sentences but tells a powerful story.  She captures what it is like in a kindergarten classroom right down to Ginny getting "so mad, she stuck the scissors in the paste."  

The illustrations in the book are vivid and colorful.  They are what attracted me to the story to start with and I think add something extra to the story.  They really extend the story and show us exactly what it would be like to be in Ginny's shoes.  By doubling the chairs, words in books, and pictures to cut out we see just how hard Ginny has it.  Avril uses chalk pastels mixed with acrylic medium and color pencils to give us that young child feel and create pictures that draw the reader in.  She also uses diagonal lines and great movement to show Ginny's journey and to move the story along.  

This story is much more than about a girl Kindergarten pirate.  It sheds light on an issue that people do not think about often.  It creates a great conversation starter for children and helps them to empathize with those around them that may have difficulty in seeing or other abilities.  

Check out this great interview with the artist of this story!

George Ella Lyons webpage has some great information!

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