Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book #333: My Name is Elizabeth by Annika Dunklee, Illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

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Elizabeth loves her name. It has nine letters, it sounds neat when she says it, and there’s even a queen named after her! Unfortunately, other people don’t seem to understand how Elizabeth feels about her name. Friends and family call her, “Lizzy,” “Liz,” Beth,” and the dreaded, “Betsy.” Finally, Elizabeth can’t take it anymore! “My name is ELIZABETH Alfreda Roxanne Carmelita Bluebell Jones!! But you may call me Elizabeth.”

The text of this child-empowering story is brief and presented completely in speech or thought bubbles. Dunklee has created a protagonist that stands up for herself, but never becomes bratty or disrespectful. The illustrations, a combination of pen and ink, gouache, and digital techniques, are rendered in just three colors—black, orange, and blue—against the white of the page. Although the book was published in 2011, there’s a retro feel to the stylistic illustrations. However, the settings and actions in the book are pertinent to modern children and so the book has a timeless quality to it.

Most kids love their names, so name themed storytimes are always popular. Pair this book with titles such as Chrysanthemum, A My Name is Alice, A Porcupine Named Fluffy, Matthew A. B. C. or Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Elizabeth mentions in the book that her name has nine letters. Write the names of other characters in the story or other stories you read and compare the number of letters. You can do the same with the kids in the group.

Follow up with your favorite name craft. Here are a few of my current favorites. If you don’t mind a glittery mess and sticky hands, make Fairy Dust Names with glitter and glue. Teach kids to finger spell their names in American Sign Language by making ASL name plates. Make photocopies of the ASL alphabet and then cut the letters into squares about 1 inch by 1 inch. Kids can glue their name onto a half sheet of paper and decorate it with stickers, markers, etc. I have found it’s helpful to have letters separated rather than all mixed together in a box. If you have train lovers, make Name Trains. You could combine this with the above craft by using the ASL alphabet for the train cars.

I have found that kindergarteners and preschoolers are usually just fine spelling their names, but if you are doing these crafts with kids under five years old, you will probably need parents or an extra person to help kids. It can also be helpful if kids are wearing name tags.


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