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Melena's Jubilee Hardcover – November 8, 2016
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From School Library Journal
"Little Melena learns the power of a fresh start... In Melena, Elliott creates a thoughtful, upbeat character whose impulses are convincingly childlike. In between her musings on fresh starts, she plays with her friends (a multiracial group) and helps her grandmother harvest lunch from the garden...Boyd's bright, multimedia illustrations depict a warm, loving family and a cheery urban neighborhood. An author's note provides context on the concept of jubilee―forgiveness―and tips for readers on making their own fresh starts. This cheerful meditation on starting over features a character that's hard not to love. (Picture book. 4-7)"
― Kirkus Reviews
"This is a great reminder to children of the joys that kindness, generosity, and grace can bring to you. Instead of forcing her way through the day, Melena considers others first and treats the day as a fresh start, putting all her problems from yesterday behind her. Recommended for one-on-one reading with older pre-readers, or for independent reading for young readers. The seven tips to your own Fresh Start Day are a nice addition, as is the author's note on the significance of the concept of jubilee in African-American history and the importance of debt relief to struggling peoples and nations."
― Jessica Rodrigues, Net Galley
"Melena awakes to a beautiful day with the feeling of new possibilities in her heart. The day before, one of Gramma’s friends tripped over toys Melena forgot to put away, and the fall caused her mother’s vase to break. On this morning, Melena puts her toys away, makes her bed, and chooses peace and kindness―she doesn’t hit her brother with a pillow and doesn’t ask for money she had lent out the previous week.Instead, she shares what she has and looks for ways to enjoy the things that are sometimes taken for granted. Colorful, collage like illustrations of brown-skinned Melena and her friends and family appear in rich, saturated tones and bright backgrounds, evoking the sunshiney atmosphere of the story. An author’s note provides some additional background about the history of the Day of Jubilee and its importance to the African American community. Young readers might be moved to consider a more positive outlook after reading about Melena’s kind choices and reflect on her wisdom as she appreciates the day from the start."
― Selenia Paz, Booklist
"This book is so nice. It is happy because Melena is happy about what she has, and she makes good choices and thinks about other people. She decides not to be rude, like she knows she can hurt her brother but decides not to, and then she feels really good about doing good things. You will like reading about how Melena has a fresh start. You can have a fresh start every day, too!"
― Liesel, Age 5, Kids Book Buzz
- Publisher : Tilbury House Publishers; 1st edition (November 8, 2016)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 32 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0884484432
- ISBN-13 : 978-0884484431
- Reading age : 3 - 5 years
- Grade level : Preschool - 5
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Dimensions : 9.4 x 0.5 x 10.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,944,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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As far as a book to read in the classroom, both the idea of forgiveness and making better choices are concepts we focus on and I think the story will really resonate with some discussion. The idea of starting over also really appeals to me as an educator for helping children move on from bad days. They happen to everyone, but that doesn’t mean they have to hang over us. As a parent I also like these ideas and have talked about them with my daughter when she or I have had a rough day. I originally ordered the book for my library, but after reading it to my daughter she asked for her own copy. Something about the illustrations and the story really clicked for her. This was the first book in a couple months that she has requested I buy.
I hate to say this, but Boyd’s illustrations are bright and rainbow-hued which is like catnip to children. Shallow, but true. The illustrations are beautiful, though and the brightness celebrates the message of the book. The various types of prints and papers used really makes them interesting to pore over. While Elliott’s story is beautiful by itself and has a message without hitting you over the head with it, I think the two together make this a great book. I’m pretty sure the rainbow at the end sealed the deal for my daughter. :)
If you have money in your budget, be sure to purchase this one. It will find many appreciative readers, from parents to teachers to students.
Melena, the heroine of this book, wakes up with a wonderful, positive song in her head – just to remember that yesterday wasn’t a good day. She forgot to put her toys away, which lead to a series to unfortunate events… Luckily both her grandma and mom forgive her, declare this morning as a fresh start. Melena carries this idea with her all day, forgiving her brother for a smack on the head, picking vegetables in grandma’s garden and sharing a desired hot fudge sundae with her friends instead of calling in a dept. Every act of kindness brings great joy, because “it’s about waking up to a blue sky and finding out you have been forgiven. It’s about free sunshine, and the tasty things that grow in my grandmother’s garden. But mostly it’s about the chance to start all over again, every single day!”
“Melena’s Jubilee“ is a wonderful book to talk about empathy and the power of compassion – both hard to grasp concepts for preschoolers! Per her own words, Zetta Elliot writes about black children because “I grew up believing I was invisible in the real world, and it hurt just as much to discover that I was also invisible in the realm of the imaginary. I write the books I wish I had had as a child.” Children’s’ literature should embrace all children so children can find themselves in these books - no matter the skin color, religion and potential handicaps. Diverse children’s literature was always an important, but often overlooked matter. Recent political events are a humanitarian and political disaster, but at least they underlined the importance of inclusive, diverse books to broaden our childrens’ view of the world.
Zetta Elliots book is accomplished by wonderful artwork by Aaron Boyd. He incorporates almost photo-like pictures of Melena and her friend in an artistic, abstract background. Like the book itself the illustrations can be a great discussion starter. Furthermore, the author’s note and a list of seven potentials ways for a “fresh start day” offer multiple activities for schools and families.
A wonderful book to brighten a hard day, to learn about African-American culture or just to enjoy a thoroughly positive book!