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The Stories Julian Tells | Class #3, 2016

The Stories Julian TellsThe Stories Julian Tells is the first book in an ongoing series about brothers Julian and Hughie, and their neighbor Gloria. This is an early chapter book for readers who have acquired some fluency but aren’t ready to tackle longer books yet. The chapters are fairly short, there’s lots of conversation, the plot is easy to follow, and there is a clear central character.

What do you think of Ann Cameron’s writing? Is the story engaging enough for children who are still struggling a bit with reading?

How do you feel about a white author writing a book in which all the characters are African American?

Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is a freelance designer and consultant with degrees in studio art and children’s literature. She is the former creative director for The Horn Book, Inc., and has taught children’s literature at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogged for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.


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Sammie Herrick

I really enjoyed this book and I think it's a great book for children just starting chapter books. It has large text and a few pictures that help break up the words. I also like that the book has smaller stories within it. It helps students feel accomplished if they can get to the end of a story when they read, so to have five stories within one book gives students the opportunity to feel the success of finishing a story multiple times. I also appreciate that this book uses metaphors. This is something students learn in school but doesn't show up in text very often, so hearing Julian and Huey's dad talk about how the pudding will taste like a whole raft of lemons, was a good piece of language. Another element that I liked was the combination of reality and imagination in the illustrations, there was the family making pudding together alongside the raft of lemons. The next story shows the father and sons on the couch looking at the catalog, but also surrounded by cats. It brings together whimsy and actuality, which makes the book more fun. I also agree with many posters above about the teachable moments in the stories and the experiences Julian and Huey go through are fairly common and easy to relate to for a child, but also endlessly entertaining.

Posted : Apr 06, 2016 05:23

Kara lawson

Children’s books that showcase African American characters are far too few, and when they do exist, from my experience, many are about slavery or the Civil Rights Movement. According to their website, the Cooperative Children's Book Center received just 269 of 3400 books with African or African American protagonists last year. How refreshing to see Julian portrayed in the illustrations as an African American child, though his race is not explicitly addressed in the text, taking early independent readers on a fun ride into the everyday adventures of being a kid — flying kites, losing a tooth, and learning how to cook. My third graders deserve access to books about things they can relate to and about people who look like them… I’m excited to share The Stories Julian Tells with my students!

Posted : Apr 06, 2016 02:56

Gabrielle Cohn

I agree with so many of the comments related to this book. Hannah, Jacqueline and Sophie all touched on the important element of race in this book. Ann Cameron introduces characters of different races, genders, ages and backgrounds, which exposes children to people that are different from them. Without being too overbearing, Cameron is able to convey beautiful lessons to her readers. She highlights the values of family, loyalty, and friendship, while referencing the journey of growing up. I also admire Cameron's ability to relate to common childhood experiences; interactions with siblings, developing friendships, learning how to be patient and embracing simple life milestones like losing teeth.

Posted : Apr 06, 2016 03:28

Soujanya Ganig

There were so many great things about this book but I would like to point to two things in particular. First is the use of phrases like “taste like a night on the sea”, “when he laughs, the sun laughs in the window-panes, “when he thinks, you can almost see his thoughts sitting on all the tables and chairs and “when he is angry, me and my little brother, Huey, shiver to the bottom of our shoes.” I think the book is great in developing some higher order cognitive skills in early readers. Second, the stories are very endearing because of the nature of interactions of the children with adults and between themselves. I liked how the author built the suspense by making it seem like the father would do something else and these make for great teachable moments for both young and old readers. Like many have pointed in the comments above, it models healthy parent-child and peer relationships.

Posted : Apr 05, 2016 10:50

Tom Grasso

I agree with so many of the comments from previous posters. Ann Cameron accomplishes a lot with a relatively short and accessible amount of text, e.g., touching upon: universal themes of childhood, older-younger sibling relationships, the mischief of children, and some of the funny moments that result from that mischief. There is a lot here for young readers to be engaged with, and Cameron's style is simple, but at the same time complex, e.g., multiple meanings of words. Some previous posts mention teachable moments, and I agree that there are many woven into the different stories. However, Cameron is not heavy handed or overly didactic with these teachable moments, which can be the case in many children's books that try to "teach" a lesson. One of my favorite things about Julian and Huey is their "magical thinking" (eating fig tree leaves to grow), which is something that Marty pointed out. This type of magical thinking is something that many children can relate to, and I imagine that young readers would get hooked into these stories as a result. I agree with Jacqueline and Hannah's comments about culture and diversity as it relates to a white author writing a book in which all the characters are African-American. Some of my favorite adult novels are written by "cultural outsiders;" one that comes to mind is "Memoirs of a Geisha"---a book written by a white American man (Arthur Golden) from the perspective of a Japanese geisha. Knowing that Golden wrote the book made me appreciate the richness of the story in a way that I cannot quite put into words.

Posted : Apr 05, 2016 09:00

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