Made by Raffi: Craig Pomranz and Illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain
Not every child is sports oriented. Not every child wants to tumble, throw things or even scream and yell during recess. Sometimes their interests gear in other directions like art, science, crafts or even music. Does that make this child odd or different? Raffi considers himself not exactly fitting in with his classmates. He’s the smallest child in the class or smallest boy. He loves to wear bright colors. They are cheerful. Thinking to himself he says” Maybe everyone is different.” You are right about that we are all different and have different interests, wear different clothing and even like different foods. Does that mean we are all odd? It’s what makes the world and people so unique and different: our differences are the best things about making each one of us unique and special.
During playtime Raffi likes to be alone sitting by himself or find a teacher to have some peace and quiet. While the other kids were playing outside he found a spot neat Miss Fernandez who was busy knitting and having some quiet time of her own. Being a great and understanding teacher when Raffi appeared to show interest in learning to knit check out what she shows him and the smile on his face when he masters the skill. What do you think happens when he comes home all excited and tells his parents about learning to knit? “Miss Fernandez showed me how it knit and it was really easy,” he told them. But, will they get him knitting needles to knit on his own. When parents embrace their child’s differences and their desire to develop a skill or hobby on their own then look at the colorful hanks of wool that he finds at the wool story and check out what is wants to make for his father’s birthday with all of the colorful wool that he bought.
Raffi was absorbed in his project and anywhere he could he would knit. His father’s surprise grew to four meters long and trailed all down the aisle of the bus. Check out the reactions of the other kids. The color photos are priceless and the facial expressions of each child and Raffi make the story come alive for all readers. Emotions are hard to define at times and writing them and their reactions would pale in comparison to their faces in the illustrations in this book. At bedtime he had more questions for his mom that you might not think a child would ask: Like: Am I strange or weird? Why do I like to sing and draw and knit? Am I girly? Great questions that are often asked but when his mother responds his feelings change and he realizes that not everyone plays football, and that he is a wonderful young boy with interests in areas that I find more exciting than football or sports. Snuggling in his bed he falls asleep.
The next day in school would change his life and the perspective of the other students when Mrs. O’Donnell comes into the class and says that they were going to put on a play and announces who would play the major roles. Raffi realized that the teacher and the school had little time to create costumes so he enlists the help of his mom to create the right cape for the child playing the prince to wear. The author shows Raffi creating the cape, outlines the procedure and in detail and wait until you see it you won’t believe how magnificent it is. But, what will the kids in school think and the teacher? Wait until you see Mrs. O’Donnell’s expression and wait until you hear what the students say! When you check out the reaction of the boy playing the prince and the other students there are many valuable lessons to be learned. Their facial expressions really hit the mark and what they say really makes Raffi take notice. Will the other students accept him? Wait until you see his father’s face when he gives him his present? Wait until you see his designs? Maybe he will star on Project Runway Junior with Tim Gunn? So move over Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Armani, Versace and even Donna Karan and Coco Chanel and make way for everything MADE BY RAFFI!
A story that shows embracing your differences, acceptance, understanding and talents just might make you noticed as someone special and unique. Check out all of his designs and hopefully one day Raffi will make this reviewer a Raffi sweatshirt with a book on the front.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine
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