by Judy Newman with Cristy Bertini and Alana Pedalino
When I was a kid, I wanted to be onstage, singing my lungs out to a roaring crowd, and accepting a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performer of the Year. Since I could barely carry a tune and my one musical moment onstage was in a Newton, Massachusetts YMCA theater production circa 1968, that wish was pure fantasy.
Once my preteen self-consciousness kicked in, I didn’t dare to even think of myself as a rock star, and my aspirations shifted to role models with more subtle talents. I wanted to be able to wiggle my nose and perform everyday magic like Samantha Stephens on Bewitched and have superhuman speed, vision, and strength like Colonel Steve Austin aka “The Six Million Dollar Man.” I believe there are thousands of us out there who spent the late 1960s and 1970s practicing nose wiggling and fantasizing about being bionic.
While, as far as I know, no one has mastered magic by nose wiggling, it turns out that being bionic doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore. My friend Thomas Baldwin sent me this article on leg-lengthening surgery. It feels kind of bionic to me.
I still can’t sing. I know the one or two magic card tricks everybody knows, and while I would like to be a bit taller, I don’t think limb-extension surgery is in the cards for me. At this stage of the game, while I want to push hard on all of our Scholastic Book Clubs projects and I believe that every child can learn to identify as a reader, personally, I am learning to focus on who I am (always a reader!) and what I can do rather than strive to be someone I am not. There are plenty of fabulous rock and roll singers out there! The Hall of Fame doesn’t need me.
The main character of the Scholastic Book Clubs Book of the Week, Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish by Margarita Engle, illustrated by David Walker, doesn’t want to be tiny. He dreams of growing “as big as the forest and as tall as the trees,” yet no matter how much—or how hard—he wishes, he cannot change the fact that he is a tiny rabbit. But he comes to understand how special he really is and how his big ears serve him quite well in a jungle filled with hungry beasts.
“Tiny rabbit is an appealing character with an imagination that outstrips his diminutive size.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Engle’s rich adjectives and repetition make this an enjoyable read-aloud.” —School Library Journal
I wish I had read Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish when I was a kid. Perhaps it would have saved me a lot of wasted time practicing magic in front of the mirror. On the other hand, I believe in the discovery process for every child and Tiny Rabbit and I both came to the conclusion that while we can’t be big—or a rock star or bionic—we have special gifts. That journey is important for every child.
I think my friend and colleague David Vozar has a good grasp on all of this. He wished to be different than he was as a kid but now he realizes his big wishes fueled the (amazing!) person he is today:
Many of Margarita Engle’s stories are written in verse and reflect her Cuban heritage and deep appreciation of nature, including Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish, which is inspired by the rhythms and humor of Afro-Cuban fables. Margarita is a Pura Belpré Award winner, as well as the first Latino author to win a Newbery Honor. With its beautiful acrylic illustrations depicting the animals of the jungle both big and small and wonderful message of accepting our own gifts and celebrating our uniqueness, Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish is a perfect classroom read-aloud. I urge you to watch the video Margarita shared this week.
You’ll love this week’s videos and classroom activity to help introduce Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish to your students:
• Watch the Book Boys Brain Break video with your students after recess or in between lessons
• Learn how a teacher uses Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish in the classroom in Book Talks
• Watch a video with author Margarita Engle in Behind the Scenes
• Download a printable activity to accompany Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish in Cooked Up from a Book
I hope your students relate to Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish and that they learn this lesson: No matter how much you wish to be different, you will always be the wonderful person you were meant to be. And every child has special gifts to share! Our job as adults is to help them find those gifts and nurture them.
Our wish at Scholastic Book Clubs is to help teachers inspire students to see themselves as readers. That’s why in addition to the $1 Book of the Week, we’ve created special inflation-busting savings for teachers, exclusive author events, live read-aloud shows, and fun contests to get kids engaged with reading.
Thanks for reading with us!
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs