Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book #295: Forsythia & Me by Vincent X. Kirsch



Image from VincentXKirsch.com
Chester and Forsythia are best friends and Chester thinks Forsythia is amazing. She bakes Chester an elaborate many layered cake for his birthday. She performs every Saturday with the circus and every Sunday with the ballet. She has even tamed the ferocious animals at the city zoo and now they all arrive promptly at tea time. But one day Forsythia is sick. She stays in bed because she doesn’t feel like doing anything amazing. Good thing for her she has a best friend who will bake a special monographed cupcake, make up pirate dances for her, and who always shows up on time for tea.

Forsthia may have her name repeated thirteen times in the text (not counting the title), but this story is really about Chester learning that he is an amazing friend too. Written from Chester’s point of view, the text has a childlike matter-of-fact quality. The story is divided into two sections and moves along quickly with just a few sentences per page. The first part is devoted to Chester’s admiration of Forsythia and the second half shows how Chester amazes Forsythia, but in his own unique way. The intricate and detailed illustrations are dominated by (forsythia) yellow. Forsythia is never seen without her signature heart-shaped glasses and Chester always dresses in a dapper blue suit. Most of the adult world is rendered in grayscale behind the two best friends. The message that is delivered subtly with style and panache is that there are many ways to be amazing, but being a good friend is the most amazing of all.

For a storytime about appreciating the differences in friends and amazing qualities of friendship pair this book with Roasted Peanuts, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, or Tanya and Emily in a Dance for Two.

Use this book for a Valentine’s Day themed storytime and pair it with My Heart is Like a Zoo or How Do You Hug a Porcupine? Follow up by using this printable template to make heart-shaped glasses like Forsythia wears in the books.

Show the kids photos of forsythia flowers (or real ones if you happen to have a green thumb) and then have kids create tissue paper forsythias.

Bring in cupcakes (you can usually ask the bakery at your local grocery store for unfrosted ones) for the kids to decorate like Chester does in the book. Make sure to prepare for messes and to check with parents about food allergies and other dietary concerns.  

-Amy

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