November 9, 2016
Janine by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Janine is one of a kind. She sings on the bus, collects facts, and is eager to show her classmates what a good friend she can be.
When one of the “in” girls plans a party, she leaves Janine off the guest list and she isn’t shy about sharing why. Janine isn’t cool, she dresses funny and she uses big words.
Fortunately, her negativity doesn’t dampen Janine’s spirits. Janine continues to be friendly to everyone — helping manuever a classmates wheelchair and sharing baseball stats with one of the cool boys.
When the cool girl finally tells Janine that she can’t come unless she changes who she is, Janine decides to throw a party and invite everyone. Not surprisingly, her cheerful friendly attitude pays off as the other kids, even most of the popular ones, share her enthusiasm for a fun party for all of their classmates.
Even if I didn’t know that Janine is based on the author’s daughter, I would love this book. Love. This. Book.
Janine is a girl who is 100% her own person. She dresses the way she wants. She has her own enthusiasms. But none of this stops her from liking other people even if they are different than she is. You just get the feeling that Janine actually relishes their differences.
And her joy, enthusiasm and sense of self come through in Cocca-Leffler’s illustrations. They are high energy and as expressive as Janine herself.
This is an excellent book for school counselors as well as for the classroom. Use it to spark discussions about kindness, inclusive behaviors and how to handle disagreements with other people. Share it to with the young reader who may need a bit of encouragement to be herself in a world that doesn’t always seem to appreciate her unique sensibilities.