I Need a Lunch Box

INeedaLunchbox

HarperTrophy (HarperCollins), Pat Cummings/Jeannette Caines

Do you remember the feeling of getting a shiny new lunch box for school? Maybe you were pumped to take it to school and show it off; ready to whip it out when the lunch bell rang.  I mean, I’m still pretty excited about my Sailor Moon lunchbox… 😉

I Need A Lunchbox was one of my favorite books growing up because I thought the story was funny and I loved the funky, bright lunch boxes. The story starts out with a young boy who has a case of “lunchbox envy.” See, his older sister is about to start school and she gets a new lunch box but he can’t get one until he starts school. He’s tempted by all the awesome lunch boxes in the store and his sister definitely rubs in the fact that she has a ton of shiny, new school supplies. He’s quite envious and the poor boy starts to dream about a lunch box for every day of the week! I Need A Lunchbox is also great because it introduces some primary colors and days of the week to younger children.

Pat Cumming’s illustrations are delightful, bright and neon-colored fun. She has some GREAT lunchbox designs that I’d buy in a heartbeat; black and white cats on a bright green background? Yes, please! A Whale lunchbox? I’ll take that one as well. I Need a Lunchbox is a cute story about a determined little boy who has great taste in lunch boxes.

P.S. This book *may* be out of print so check online, at used bookstores and your local library!

Recommended for: Toddlers to 1st/2nd Grade
Great for: We Need Diverse Books, Family, Colors, Days of the Week, Siblings, African-American
Book Info: I Need a Lunchbox by Jeannette Caines/Illustrated by Pat Cummings, 1988 HarperTrophy (HarperCollins), ISBN: 9780064433419

People

Image Credit: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, Peter Spier

Image Credit: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, Peter Spier

People takes a snapshot of the world. This book has a lot of emotional meaning for me because it was one of my favorites as a child. I still have my original copy from 1980. Look what I wrote inside the front cover:

Image for People

I’ve always loved meticulous illustration and Peter Spier doesn’t miss any details. His bold and colorful illustrations of peoples, towns, foods and traditional games are amazing. People is essentially about cultural diversity. His simple sentences prompt reflection and discussion about our similarities and differences. Children learn about tolerance, humanity and how varied our cultures are. As I read through this book again, I thought “Well goodness, he taught me about cultural relativism!” I’m pretty certain that this book is one of the reasons why I studied cultural anthropology in college. It sparked an early interest in learning about all types of people.

Though there are many great things about this book, there are some problems. Some parents and teachers might not like that Adam and Eve are the first people in the book. Spier does a fair amount of cultural stereotyping with his illustrations and the book is rather dated in many ways. So why am I recommending this book? I’m recommending it because I believe that it’s still an excellent book that people of all ages can learn from. For his mistakes, he has many more successes and a book like this one is still a good resource for a curious child. Parents and teachers can use these stereotypes (ex. Native American houses in USA are teepees/The Japanese family always wears Kimono) as learning tools. By encouraging questions and prompting discussion about these issues, children can take away more valuable lessons. A teacher or parent can also challenge their children to “update” this book by having them choose a culture featured and research how they live today.

**I reviewed the 1980 version but there is a more updated version now available. Information below

Recommended for: 1st Grade and Up
Great for: Cultural Diversity, Cultural Relativism, Discussion, Anthropology
Book Info: People by Peter Spier, 1988, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, ISBN: 9780385244695