They welcome us back — first-year teachers with spanking new ideas and experienced instructors with tried and true lesson plans. Around the hive we bee-lieve “the best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book,” an anonymous quote especially fitting for September’s Book Buzz Picks.
‘Rocket Writes a Story’
By Todd Hill
Remember Todd Hill’s doggie debut, “Rocket Learns to Read,” a former Book Buzz Pick? The pert pup is back in “Rocket Writes a Story,” the charming tale of how little yellow bird helps Rocket become a budding author.
No birdbrain, yellow bird knows that readers become writers, and Rocket loves books. “When he opened a new book, it smelled like a place he’d never been to, like a friend he’d never met.”
His birdie educator encourages him to explore the world and collect words, which they display on a tree. The wondrous word collection gives Rocket an idea. He’ll write a story — but we know that can be a process. The pooch pouts when he can’t come up with an idea, and growls trying to put words on paper.
Little yellow bird is with him all the way, optimistic and wise, offering words of encouragement that help Rocket soar with you know WHOOO…
‘Annie and Helen’
By Deborah Hopkinson
One of the most admired teachers ever performed miraculous tasks with her clever student Helen Keller. “Annie and Helen” is an engaging new book about Keller and her dedicated teacher Annie Sullivan.
This marvelous read is one of more than 40 books written by Deborah Hopkinson, the author of five past Book Buzz Picks. Soft, pastel illustrations by Raul Colón were inspired by the work of American artist Mary Cassatt.
Sullivan had special challenges as a new teacher. Keller was not quite 7 when they met and was affected by an illness at 19 months that left her blind and deaf. Keller also couldn’t speak so Sullivan had to develop ingenious ways to communicate with her.
Initially, Sullivan was in the dark. The child was like a darting, wild animal, didn’t understand anything. But in a matter of months, Keller began to learn words by touch, could make sense the shapes and objects Sullivan made and held in her hands, and translate them into words.
Learning by trial and error, student and teacher formed bonds that lasted almost 50 years. Their story has been told in text and film, but this glorious new addition is a tribute to caring teachers from a master of historical fiction and nonfiction.
‘Kizzy Ann Stamps’
By Jeri Watts
Author Jeri Watts sets her new novel “Kizzy Ann Stamps” in the 1960s, offering readers the chance to experience desegregation through the eyes of Kizzy, a 9-year-old African American girl set to go to a white school for the first time, leaving the safe sanctuary of her one-room schoolhouse.
To prepare for the experience, her previous teacher, a hard-talking, switch-wielding disciplinarian of color, demands that her students write letters to the white teacher they will have in the coming year. Kizzy, an independent, bright child, isn’t wild about the idea, but she knows she’d better listen.
As the summer unfolds, Kizzy writes letters to Miss Anderson. The letters reveal Kizzy’s character, as do entries she makes in a journal Miss Anderson gives each of her students once school starts.
Kizzy not only has to fit in with students mired in prejudice, she also must deal with her very obvious facial scars. Fortunately, she has a faithful sidekick — a border collie that saves her life and earns the respect of a boy who previously made Kizzy’s days a real nightmare.
Readers will be amazed at Kizzy’s courage and intelligence, and long remember the goodness of Miss Anderson, a teacher with abundant heart and can-do attitude.