Monday, October 28, 2013



Are you a ONE?

Beginning in early November, a very special project for toddlers to tweens will be announced on this blog. This blog post coincides perfectly with the season that is almost upon us. So, please return to Rainbows to Snowflakes and learn how anyone can be a ONE!
In the meantime, as a teaser for this upcoming project, I am posting a review of an excellent children’s read-aloud that demonstrates the power of ONE.
One of my favorite children’s book authors, Patricia Polacco definitely understands connections between people, places, and things. Her experiences in life have shaped her and thus shaped her many MANY stories that she both writes and illustrates. Through her wonderful books, children are reminded to laugh, to learn, to explore, and to never forget that all of us, in one way or another, are connected.

WELCOME COMFORT by Patricia Polacco

The image is timeless. In fact, at some point in our lives, we have all been a character in this portrait of recess time at school.
Imagine a group of smiling children gathered in the schoolyard with the sound of laughter filling the air. Initially, the sight of such a happy scene brings fond memories of games of hopscotch, basketball, and high water-low water.
However, upon a closer look, the source of the laughter becomes more evident. The warm fuzzies created by the sight of the beaming faces are washed away. They are replaced by a sadness brought on by the tears streaming down the face of the forlorn child trapped in the center of the cluster of children. That child is the victim of bullying.
In Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco, this heartbreaking scene is played out in a school in Union City, Michigan. However, the setting could by any where or any time.

Welcome Comfort (yes, his name really is Welcome Comfort) is the new kid in school. And, as often happens in situations like this, little time passes before Welcome is teased about his name, teased about his weight, and teased about his family.
This story could have easily taken any turn by the end of the book. Welcome could have turned bitter at being teased. He could have lashed out at others, turning from the bullied to a bullier. He could have withdrawn from society and never allowed his own light to shine. However, Polacco chose a brighter path for Welcome.

When Mr. Hamp, the humble school custodian, witnesses the bullying, he takes Welcome under his wing. Together with his librarian wife, Mr. Hamp shows Welcome that there are caring people in this world. Mr. Hamp becomes a mentor and a friend, forming a lifelong bond.
He takes him fishing.
He teaches him how to whittle.
He invites Welcome into his heart and into his home.

With Mr. Hamp’s help, Welcome finds happiness and success. He pays this act forward by the story’s end, allowing his own bright light to shine upon others.
Through heartwarming illustrations and lyrical prose, Polacco succeeds in teaching an important lesson to both children and adults—it only takes one person to make a difference.

Intended as a read-aloud, this story of love and hope is perfect to experience while snuggling under a fluffy blanket and sipping a cup of hot cocoa. By the story’s end, everyone that reads Welcome Comfort will most assuredly be inspired to become a ONE.
Page count: 32
Average words per 2-page spread: 127
Suggested grade range: K-4
Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco is available on Amazon.

Special Note: Thank you to A. in Florida for contributing your photograph to this blog post. You are definitely a ONE! :-)

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