The Picture Book Buzz

Extraordinary Ordinary Ella - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Perhaps the sheer number of talent shows, cooking shows, sports channels, and perhaps maybe even reality shows, demonstrates a deep-seated human desire to be special, to have a talent or a knack at something; to stand out.

When we think about the talents or skills that win awards, medals, and recognition, possessing empathy, kindness, or helpfulness rarely come to mind. Yet these are the skills and talents that should be cherished and encouraged. Instead of creating a day, week, or month where we celebrate random of acts kindness.

This week's #PPBF pick is an entertaining story about discovering just how extraordinary one's propensity for kindness and talent for nurturing can be.

Extraordinary Ordinary Ella

Author: Amber Hendricks

Illustrator: Luciana Navarro Powell

Publisher: Amicus Ink (2020)

Ages: 5-6

Fiction

Themes:

Kindness, assisting others, and self-esteem.

Synopsis:

Ella is extraordinary. Extraordinarily ordinary, that is. Not graceful like Carmen or musical like Kenji, Ella is determined to prove herself at the school talent show. But when every attempt to find a talent falls flat and her own ordinary acts of kindness steal the show, Ella discovers just how extraordinary ordinary can be!

Opening Lines:

Ella was extraordinary. Extraordinarily ordinary, that is.

What I Liked about this book:

Ella wishes she had a talent, any talent. She can't dance like her sister, play an instrument like her cousin, or cook like her best friend. In fact, no matter what she tries, she's just "extraordinarily, boringly, ordinary Ella." I love how we are reminded of their talents (and Ella's lack) by the "bubbles" above their heads!

Text © Amber Hendricks, 2020. Image © Luciana Navarro Powell, 2020.

So, when her teacher announces the school's holding a talent show, Ella is determined to discover her talent. But, no matter what she tries, nothing seems to work. Ella can't find a special talent.

Text © Amber Hendricks, 2020. Image © Luciana Navarro Powell, 2020.

As each attempt fails, Ella finds that she has just what she needs to help someone else. Getting tripped up in her ribbon dancing, meant she had just what Carmen needed to fix her ballet shoes. Though she couldn't juggle, Ella's balls enticed a dog to release Carl's magic wand. As the talent show approaches, each of her failures provides safety, encouragement, and props to the other kids.

After helping get everyone ready for the show, Ella sits in the audience wishing she had found a talent; that she was anything but ordinary. But instead of sulking, she leads the audience in their applause. When the teacher announces the final award, Ella discovers that being extraordinarily ordinary wasn't "so bad after all."

This is a great example of text leaving space for the colorful illustrations to create a delightfully, imaginative world for the reader. I really enjoyed Luciana Navarro Powell's expressions of Ella's discordant singing, the "kitchen catastrophe," and her synchronized swimming in the tub. Luciana also created a cast diverse in nationality and ability. Amber Hendricks creatively uses alliteration ("circled and soared") and internal rhyme to create a fun, snappy read aloud, full of heart. I love that Ella's generosity and caring are rewarded. It's a wonderful book to encourage acts of kindness and helpfulness toward others.

Resources:

- who helps you - at school, your sports team, church, tutors, etc.? Write a note, make a card, a bookmark, or a picture for them;

- write or draw a kindness note to yourself when your negative about yourself;

- do a random act of kindness each day. If you need inspiration, check out "100 acts of kindness of kids." (https://www.coffeecupsandcrayons.com/100-acts-kindness-kids/); and

- read Be A Friend by Salina Yoon, Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, A Sick Day for Amos McGee & Lenny & Lucy by Philip and Erin Stead, Each Kindness by E.B. Lewis, and Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev.

If you missed the interview of Amber Hendricks on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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