Monday, February 14, 2011
Velma Gratch Review
It's hard being the last of three sisters to enter first grade. All of Velma's teachers remember Frieda for her wonderful singing voice and skills in math. They remember Fiona for how fast she could run on the soccer field and how well she spelled. But Velma's teachers can hardly even remember her name! All this changes, however on a field trip to a butterfly conservatory where Velma gets to stand out for her own reasons.
This story will resonate with all children entering school in the shadow of an older sibling and the whimsical nature of the text and the colorful and engaging illustrations will be sure to please and entertain even only children. The lesson of the importance of being true to yourself and carving out your own path is one that is important to all children, and reflects principals of Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Velma's sister Frieda appears to be strong in rhythmic and logical intelligences while Fiona appears gifted in kinesthetic and linguistic intelligences. As linguistic and logical intelligences are highly valued in traditional school settings, both older sisters did well in school and are fondly remembered by their teachers. The interactive nature of the field trip allowed Velma's own skill in naturalist intelligence to shine through. This shows the importance of differentiated education in making each child feel valued by allowing them to explore subjects using a variety of intelligences and not just through the traditional linguistic and logical modes.
Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly. By Alan Madison. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2007.  pages. $17.99, ISBN 978-0-375-83597-1
Support your local independent book store or check it out from your local library.