Phoebe Sounds It Out by Julie Zwillich illustrated by Denise Holmes (2017)
I love when a book surprises me. I expected this book to be a bit didactic, or at the very least follow the proscribed path of struggle, positive attitude, success/belief in self, but instead it allows Phoebe to just...be. It doesn't need to connect the dots for the readers, and I love that. Today at school the children are practicing writing their names, but Phoebe's name doesn't match the letters and sounds she has learned. After procrastinating and goofing off a bit, Phoebe gives it her best shot. Instead of telling readers what it should be, or having Phoebe learn a Lesson, her "Feeby" is simply accepted and praised by her teacher, "What a great start." A perfectly encouraging and sweet story that makes a perfect tie-in for any name-writing activity.
Themes/topics: school, writing, names, individuality, phonics
Sample text from three spreads:
Phoebe had seen her name before. Mama had even stitched it on her ladybug backpack. But it started with a "P" and a had a whole lot of other letters that didn't make sense. Phoebe figured her mother had made a mistake. She didn't want Mama to feel bad about it, because everyone makes mistakes, even mamas.
Phoebe put down her pencil and picked up another one. Then she held it under her nose and pretended it was a moustache. Ms. April was floating around the table singing quietly, "Just sound it out."
Phoebe sounded out the first letter of her name. "Fffff." This was certainly not her her name began on her backpack. P was for popcorn and pencils. She knew the letter that made the right sound: one line and two sticks.