By Callie Metler, Shirin Rahman, and Melissa Stoller, illustrated by Kate Talbot. Clear Fork Publishing, 2021. 36 pages. $17.99/hardcover; $7.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 5–7.
This short picture book begins on a fall day as three girls start school, each a bit apprehensive about how she may be received by her classmates. Molly’s mother, Savera’s grandma, and Hannah’s dad (from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish homes respectively) each bolster their daughter/granddaughter’s spirit with a necklace. Molly’s is a cross; Hannah’s is a Star of David; and Savera’s is a prayer locket. At school, noticing the similarity in their necklaces helps start their friendship.
“Our class will grow together all year,” promises the aptly named teacher, Ms. Blume.
The class’s first project is to plant seeds for saplings they will eventually transplant to Peace Park. Despite their best efforts to follow directions, their plants don’t grow. Helping each other this time, they try again, as each girl recalls some bit of appropriate, grandmotherly wisdom from her culture. As the plants develop, so does their friendship. Spring arrives, and the class transplants their small trees at the park.
In a note at the end of the book, the authors hope their story will start conversations about “finding similarities and honoring differences leading to continued understanding and cooperation in the world.” Finally, there is a game: Spot the Seven Objects in the Girls’ Homes. Each object is listed and explained.
The timely theme is convincingly presented. The likelihood that religiously themed jewelry and objects are more often a feature of their friends’ homes than of their own may make this book especially interesting to Quaker children.
Ann Birch belongs to El Paso (Tex.) Meeting and is a community college librarian.