Thursday, February 5, 2015

What Does Super Jonny Do When Mom Gets Sick? by Simone Colwill

Genre: Children's Picture Book
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

When Jonny's mom ends up in the hospital, he as a super hero has a most important mission. That mission is to help his mother.  This book struck a chord with me for many reasons.  Many, many years ago before I had my own kids I taught 4 and 5 year olds in Sunday School.  One of my young boys had a mother fighting cancer.  It had started out as breast cancer and spread throughout her body.  I can remember when she was having really bad days he would play superhero and tell everyone what he would do to kill the cancer bugs.  He would be quite detailed.  His mom would pull him onto her lap and tell him that his hugs and love helped her more than the medicine.  They never sugar coated things.  They told him what he could handle.  He knew his mommy was going to die.  Children are not dumb.  This book sets out to show how one child feels helpless when his mom is in the hospital.  It also shows his resilience and the ways he tries to help.  Most importantly it shows that the best medicine in the world is the love of a child.  I have seen this so many times.  That extremely ill parent perks up when they feel the touch of a child's hand or the arms wrapped around them in love.

This book helps in many other ways as well.  It educates children on what goes on in hospitals.  For many this is a mysterious, and scary place.  Unless they are a certain age, or it is a parent in the hospital, they seldom see anything except maybe the waiting room.  With all of the unknowns it becomes a scary place.  The author did a wonderful job of letting Super Jonny see what everyone does from the doctors and nurses to the cleaning people.  She has shown that all jobs in a hospital are important.

This author took things one step further.  She has asked questions that match our common core curriculum.  In this day and age it is important that we read to our children for pleasure. However, it is also important that we stretch them and ask them questions that require them to think.  The questions in the back of the book cover everything from critical thinking vocabulary and problem solving to processing information in oral, written and visual form.  As a teacher this pleased me immensely.  Do I think all picture books need this? Maybe not.  However, for those parents who love to read for their child and want them to become critical readers then this is a great starting place.  I often asked questions of my own children and grandchildren like this.  I didn't want them to just identify pictures and colors.  I wanted them to think deeper.

Simone Colville also has some great tips for preparing for a hospital admission.  These tips are great not only for hospital visits but for visits to parents who must go into rehab for a while, whether it is in a licensed facility or with a care giver.

For me the greatest message in this book was one of service and perseverance.  I work in a school that teaches community service.  We identify community as everything around them.  Community can be those in their school, their home or their neighborhood.  Often they have trouble grasping this thinking of community service as cleaning up roadsides or waterways.  What a wonderful way of helping students of all ages understand that community service really can begin with their own family.  I will share this book with not only my fellow teachers, but my friends as well.  This book is definitely well worth the read and the purchase.

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