January 12 – It’s International Creativity Month

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About the Holiday

Are you an artist, a writer, a decorator, a chef? How about a floral arranger, a woodworker, a fashion designer, or a gardener? Inside almost every heart lies a desire to create. Whether you use your ingenuity in your job or as an escape from the routine, this month celebrates all that is innovative. Sometimes this comes not in something you can see or touch but in a new thought or novel way of solving a problem—as seen in today’s book!

Neville

Written by Norton Juster | Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

 

A little boy stands on the sidewalk alongside his belongings and watches the moving van drive out of sight. “Now it was quiet, and there he was, where he really didn’t want to be.” It wasn’t as if anyone had consulted him about moving. He did not look forward to the next day at school with a new teacher and no friends. The boy sat dejectedly on his new front steps. His mom came out and sat with him. “‘Maybe you’d like to take a little walk down the block. You might even meet someone,’” she said.

The boy grumbled but got up and headed down the street, skeptical of meeting new friends that easily. As he walked, he looked around without much interest. “But then he stopped. He turned around slowly, put his head back, took a deep breath, and called out, NEVILLE….” When nothing happened, he tried it again, louder. “NEVILLE.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-neville-new-house

Image copyright G. Brian Karas, 2011, text copyright Norton Juster, 2011. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

Suddenly, a boy about his age was standing next to him saying he should yell louder. He did, but the newcomer still didn’t think it was loud enough. He joined in and the two shouted, “but not very together.” A little girl appeared to tell them that no one could understand the overlapping words. Then “she raised her arms, counted to three and brought them down like a conductor. They all shouted at exactly the same time.”

Pretty soon kids were coming from all over the neighborhood. Many already knew the name and were shouting it before they even reached the group. They didn’t all yell together, but it was fun trying anyway. During a break in the yelling, one child said, “‘Hey, I don’t know anyone named Neville who lives around here. Is he new?’” The boy spoke up, “‘I guess so. Everyone has to be new sometimes, don’t they?’” 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-neville-group-of-kids

Image copyright G. Brian Karas, 2011, text copyright Norton Juster, 2011. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

The other kids wondered if Neville was a friend of the boy’s. He admitted that he was probably his best friend. One little girl thought the boy had to be pretty special if Neville liked him so much. And just like that everyone wanted to know more about Neville. They asked the boy question after question. “‘I like Neville already!’” someone cried out.” The group even broke up as some kids went to find Neville on the next block. By this time, adults were taking notice too. It was getting time to go home, and one by one the kids left, but only after a promise that they could continue looking for Neville tomorrow. The boy promised to be there, and everyone walked and skipped away happily.

As he watched them go, the boy listened to their conversations. Their voices floated toward him, saying “I hope we find Neville…. Even if we don’t, I like his friend a lot…. Maybe better!… Hey, what was his name?… Oh, we’ll have to ask hi tomorrow.” He started back to his new house, waving to one of the kids he’d met on his way.

When he reached his front door, he took a long look at his house. “‘Not so bad,’ he had to admit.” He ate dinner and got ready for bed. His mom tucked him in and whispered, “‘Good night, Neville, pleasant dreams…. ‘Good night, Mom,’ he whispered back, an in a moment he was asleep.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-neville-special

Image copyright G. Brian Karas, 2011, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

With perfect pitch and a timeless charm, Norton Juster presents a clever “new-kid-on-the-block” story that will enchant readers. The boy’s feelings on moving day are honestly portrayed and sprinkled with humor, and as he trudges down the street in search of new friends, children will be rooting for him. The boy’s creative method of attracting attention offers camaraderie and suspense in equal measure. The inclusive questions and comments from the neighborhood kids are touching, reassuring readers that Neville will fit in just fine.

As the story opens, G. Brian Karas presents Neville’s house and neighborhood in gray-scale tones. Only his belongings and the family car have color. At the encouragement of his mother, Neville walks off down the piano keyboard of a sidewalk toward a horizon of nothingness. The first attempts at calling “Neville” are gray and blue, but suddenly another child comes by, and the grass begins to turn green and the name becomes purple-and-blue plaid. When the little girl enters the scene, Neville (both the name and the boy) shine brighter and the atmosphere turns spring-like.

When kids from all over join up, they bring with them a riot of color in their unique clothing and the voices. The image showing the kids on the grass, peppering Neville with questions is heartening, and as the children head home, the scene pans out to show the diverse neighborhood in full color. Even Neville’s house is painted and has a flower basket hanging out front. His bed is cozy, moonbeams shine through the window, and sweet dreams are close at hand.

Neville is a terrific book for kids experiencing a move to a new home or school, joining a new group, or who love a clever and humorous story. It would make a fun read-aloud for home or the classroom.

Ages 4 – 8

Schwartz & Wade, 2011 | ISBN 978-0375867651

Creativity Month Activity

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Personalized Organizing Jar

 

With your own creativity you can make a personalized organizer jar that looks cool on your desk while keeping things tidy.

Supplies

  • Wide-mouth plastic jar, like a peanut butter jar
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-name-organizer-jar

Directions

  1. With the chalkboard paint, paint a shape to write your name in
  2. With the acrylic paint, make a border around the chalkboard shape or get more creative—make a roaring dinosaur, for example!
  3. When the paint dries, add your name with the chalk
  4. Add your favorite pens, pencils, markers, bookmarks, stickers, and other supplies

Picture Book Review

 

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