To celebrate the release of One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman (3/14/17), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Ruth and 10 chances to win a copy of One Good Thing About America, as well as a chance to win a Skype visit with Ruth in the Grand Prize Giveaway!
by Ruth Freeman
I happen to believe it’s really important to discover what makes us happy. I’ve learned to pay attention and look for those things that make me smile on the inside. More on them in a minute, but first: Anaïs.
In my book, One Good Thing About America, Anaïs is upset and homesick when her grandmother Oma (back home in Congo) asks her to find one good thing about her new home in America every day. “This is a very hard job,” writes Anaïs, “or maybe impossible!”
But, slowly, Anaïs does start to discover things in America that make her happy. Like her new black backpack, her beautiful cursive writing and her new friend Jenna. As she moves through her first year in America she finds more and more good things (snow! ice cream! the library!) until, at the end, her teachers and friends tell her SHE is One Good Thing About America!
I will admit that many of Anaïs’ One-Good-Things are things I love, too. I’m a sucker for ice cream, potato chips and jelly doughnuts because I don’t eat them very often. Like her, I also love stars, libraries and the first snowflakes of the winter. I even love snowstorms because there is nothing better than a snow day!
Of course, there are my wonderful students who make me smile and laugh every single day. And I can’t forget my two sons. And how about dogs? I grew up with a basset hound we named Miranda. What a face!
A few more things I thought of: the first time in the fall when I put flannel sheets on my bed is, mmm, pure delight. The sound of waves and the smell of the ocean. And I love trees, I don’t know why exactly, but especially in the winter when their branches are black and tangled against the sky. And there’s something beautiful about the sound of a car going by on a rainy night.
I’m sure I could think of more things, but this is a start. You may love some of these things, too, or you may absolutely hate them and think I’m crazy. But I hope you’ll think of your One-Good-Things. I’ve really enjoyed making this list. It makes me happy just to sit here and read it over. And there are plenty more wonderful things out there….like BOOKS!
Stop by Chat with Vera tomorrow for the next stop on the tour!
ONE GOOD THING ABOUT AMERICA is a sweet, often funny middle-grade novel that explores differences and common ground across cultures.
It’s hard to start at a new school . . . especially if you’re in a new country. Back home, Anaïs was the best English student in her class. Here in Crazy America she feels like she doesn’t know English at all. Nothing makes sense (chicken FINGERS?), and the kids at school have some very strange ideas about Africa. Anaïs misses her family . . . so she writes lots of letters to Oma, her grandmother. She tells her she misses her and hopes the war is over soon. She tells her about Halloween, snow, mac ‘n’ cheese dinners, and princess sleepovers. She tells her about the weird things Crazy Americans do, and how she just might be turning into a Crazy American herself.
About the Author: Ruth Freeman grew up in rural Pennsylvania but now lives in Maine where she teaches students who are English language learners, including many newly arrived immigrants. She is the author of several acclaimed nonfiction picture books. One Good Thing About America is her first novel..
GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY
- One (1) winner across the whole blog tour will receive a signed copy of One Good Thing About America for their personal collection, as well as a 30 minute Skype visit with Ruth Freeman to the school of their choice and a signed copy for the school’s library.
- Enter via the rafflecopter link below
- US Only
- Ends 4/23 at midnight ET
ADDITIONAL BOOK GIVEAWAY
I am also able to offer one reader of my blog a copy of the book.
- Get an entry by commenting on my blog post.
- Get another entry by tweeting about the giveaway and put a link to your tweet in the comments.
- Get another entry by following me on Facebook and comment that you did that.
- US Only
- Ends 4/23 at midnight ET
This coming Monday I am part of a blog tour for the release of Ruth Freeman’s new book, One Good Thing About America. Blog tours are awesome because you get to learn a wide variety of information about the book straight from the author. In the case of this book, Ruth Freeman has written 10 outstanding posts about how she wrote the book and about immigrant life. Please come back on Monday to check out the blog tour and enter to win a chance to receive a free copy of the book!
One Good Thing About America is a wonderful book about Anaïs, a young girl who has just immigrated to the United States from the Congo. Her mother and younger brother are with her in Maine and trying to adjust to life in the United States. Unfortunately, her father is in hiding from the Congolese government and her brother has also stayed behind.
The book follows Anaïs as she navigates 4th grade in a new school where she struggles with the language, even though back home she had been top in English. The book is written as letters that Anaïs writes to her grandmother, Oma, back in the Congo. Her grandmother requires her to write her letters in English so that she can practice the language, and the fact that she has trouble with grammar and spelling make her situation more relatable and realistic. It also allows the reader to grow with her as she figures things out. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago, my family visited New York and took a trip out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It is such an awe inspiring place and I wanted my girls to understand the importance of the immigrant in American society. I’m not sure exactly when they really start getting in to the meat of American history in school, but there is such value in going to places and seeing it yourself and, of course, reading about history in wonderful books.
April is also National Poetry Month. While we don’t read a ton of poetry, there are some amazing books and one of the books below focuses on the history of Emma Lazarus’ famous poem that helped pay for the pedestal of Lady Liberty.
One day when J was reading books on We Give Books, she came across the book Big Red Lollipop, by Rukhsana Khan. This is a great story about sibling rivalry, immigrant culture and also about forgiveness.
As many kidlit bloggers have noted lately, there is not a wealth of multicultural books out there. That “despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content.”One blogger even started a group Pinterest page on Multicultural books for kids. We read this book before that became a trending topic and I knew that I liked the book for a wide variety of reasons, although one was definitely that it was nice to see a Pakistani family represented in such a charming manner, even if the mother is a bit clueless.
The story focuses on Rubina, a little girl who has been invited to her first American birthday party. Her mother, dressed in a shalwar kameez and hijab asks, “what is a birthday party?”
Rubina’s little sister, Sana, screams that she wants to go too. Rubina’s mother, not understanding that this is totally uncool, tells her that she can’t go unless she takes her little sister. Rubina is forced to ask her friend if her sister can come and then feels out of place for having her at the party. To make matters worse, after the party the girls are given goody bags with a big red lollipop. Sana eats hers right away and Rubina puts hers into the refrigerator to save for the next day. However, when Rubina opens the fridge the next morning to get it, she finds only a small triangle left since Sana managed to get to it first.
Fast forward to a few years later and Sana is invited to her first party, she is told that she has to bring their younger sister Maryam to the party, Rubina already asking to be left out of it. Rubina knows all that Sana is thinking in not wanting to bring Maryam – everything that she had thought when having to bring Sana. The remarkable thing is that Rubina decides to be the bigger person.
“I could just watch her have to take Maryam. I could just let her make a fool of herself at that party. I could just let her not be invited to any more parties, but something makes me tap Ami on the shoulder.”
“Don’t make Sana take Maryam to the party.”
It is hard to be the bigger person. It is especially hard for the older sister to make sure that their siblings don’t have to go through tough experiences that they already faced. Rubina learned a lot from her experience of bringing Sana to the birthday party and when she stood up for her sister, she got an even better prize – the friendship of her sister.
Like any kid that struggles being the older child, J understood this book from the sense of an outraged older sibling. The hard part for me as a parent was that the mother constantly sides with Sana, encouraging Rubina to just share with her little sister. While this is good in theory, there are times when the younger sibling simply can’t get their way.
This was a sweet book. We both enjoyed the sibling relationship. I enjoyed seeing a family not often represented. And the book showed that sharing, forgiveness and accepting come in many forms.