Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 340

Picture Book: Eight Days: A Story of Haiti

Author: Edwidge Danticat

Illustrator: Alix Delinois

Summary: On the first page of this extraordinary book, Junior is being interviewed on camera. He has just been pulled out of the rubble that was his home prior to the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Junior explains that while he was trapped and afraid, he missed his family but he was brave too. In his mind, he played. Each double page spread that follows chronologically takes the reader through the memories of play that Junior clings to from the first day to the eighth day when he is rescued. These imaginings help Junior survive. In many of his pretend memories, Junior plays beside his friend Oscar, who is with him in the rubble. On the fifth day, during a memory of playing soccer with Oscar, “Oscar felt very tired and went to sleep. He never woke up. That was the day I cried.” Two more days of beautiful memories follow, memories of a pre-earthquake Haiti that no longer exists.

Hanna’s Comments: Before reading this book, explain to your audience that the days of activities that Junior engages in are pretend memories that help him cope as he waits in the rubble to be rescued. Also, tenderly warn them of the death of Alex, likely beside Junior as they wait. Be sure to point out to your audience that Junior is not an actual person, but he symbolically represents not only the many who were trapped and rescued because of the earthquake, but the entire nation of Haiti. A Note from the Author in the back gives context to the earthquake. Why do I offer such a heartbreaking story for you to read to children or youth? Because I believe such stories build compassion, empathy, and resilience. Talk about how Junior’s good memories of the Haiti he knew before the quake, may have kept him from giving up and likely kept him strong as he waited.

I would also highly recommend these books about Haiti: Hope for Haiti by Jesse Joshua Watson, also about children after the 2010 earthquake, and Selavi: A Haitian Story of Hope by Youme, a book written before the earthquake about orphaned children who together create a children’s radio station, Radyo Timoun, which is still in operation today. There are also several non-fiction books about Haiti and the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Orchard Books, 2010

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 32 

Available in Spanish? Not at present 

Formats other than Book: Tablet 

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book connects with: adaptation/assimilation, anxiety/worry, armor, aspirations/dreams, bravery/courage, brokenness, challenges, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, danger, death/loss/grief, difficulties, disaster, emotions/feelings, fear, found, friends/friendship, hope, loneliness, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, miracles, North America, patience, perseverance, play, prisons/prisoners, resurrection, strength/strength in God, survival, tragedy, victims, waiting    

Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous… for the Lord your God is with you (Joshua 1:9); oh Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:7); they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength… (Isaiah 40:31); fear not for I am with you… I will strengthen you… (Isaiah 41:10); God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of elementary or middle school children who are learning about how to faithfully respond to fear in challenging circumstances. Or Read this to a group of people going on a mission trip to Haiti.