Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book Review -Speak Up, Tommy!


Speak Up, Tommy!

By: Jacqueline Dembar Greene
Illustrated by: Deborah Melmon
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-0761374985
Revewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: June 2012

Tommy played quietly outside Ms. Anderson’s room on the playground while two boys whispered and pointed at him. It was recess and while the other children happily played in groups, he tossed his tennis ball against the wall. Two boys approached him and he wanted to shrink as they teased him saying, "Speak up, Tommy...you talk funny." Yes, he did and he also didn’t understand some of the things Charlie and Josh said to him. For one thing, his real name was Tomer, which meant "palm tree." He could stand tall in Israel, but he felt like hiding in this strange place.

When reading circle began, things were even stranger and more uncomfortable. Tommy’s eye’s widened in confusion as he looked at the words on the page. "Would you begin, please, Tommy?" It was hard for him to pronounce the words, especially when "the 'r' sound rolled and trilled as he read." When he sat at his desk to practice his letters, Josh teased him when he traced them with his finger. They were nothing like the "Aleph, Bet, and Gimel." All of a sudden the classroom door opened and Officer Sweeney and his dog, Samson came in. There was something very special about Sampson, but would he be able to help Tommy? Would Tommy be able to help him?

This is a heartwarming story of Tommy, an Israeli immigrant who finds a bit of home in a police dog. Many children like Tommy, whether they are immigrants or simply have moved to another school, often find it difficult to blend in with others. If a child is perceived to be 'different,' it makes adjusting even more worrisome. Stories like this one can be shared during circle or story time in an attempt to make other children understand and help in the transitioning. The charming artwork subtly captures Tommy's emotional distress and the discomfort of his new classmates. This would be an excellent book to add to any library or classroom shelf.

Quill says: This is an excellent book to have on hand when new students come into a classroom, especially those who have English as a second language!