Friday, May 13, 2016

WHAT JAMES SAID by Liz Rosenberg reviewed for Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

  Misunderstandings arise all the time. For kids and adults. The heat of the moment can make tempers flare unreasonably out of control. This book is perfect for those times. Some books are fun library reads. I recommend this one as a book to own.     

   I had to be MIA for a few Fridays and have two posts today to catch up a bit. Scroll up (or down, depending on which you started on!) to be sure you don't miss anything.

Title: What James Said                 
Author: Liz Rosenberg
Illustrator: Matt Myers
Publisher: Roaring Brook, Macmillan, 2015
Intended Ages: 4-8
Themes: Friendship, misunderstandings
Synopsis: When a comment from her best friend, James, is relayed back through a chain of classmates, a little girl takes the remark out of context, thinks James is saying bad things about her, and decides they're "in a fight."
Opening line(s): "I'm never talking to James again. We are in a fight."
What I like about this book: I have a serious crush on this book. The text runs slightly longer than average (541 words) and not a moment feels too long or wasted. The voice is fantastic, carrying authentic emotions without feeling preachy or moralizing.
     The friendship is between a boy and a girl. Great, right? Even better, it's an African-American boy and a Caucasian girl. Because race and gender play absolutely no part in the story, the illustrator may be the one to thank for this realistic reflection of childhood. Paint blotches from the artistic main character reinforce the emotional mayhem while ample white space on the pages keeps a tight focus on the main characters.
     Communication skills are HARD. Especially when feelings are hurt. And the little girl in this story does what many of us might when we hear something that hurts our feelings. Instead of asking James about it, she shuts down and closes him off with the silent treatment. Poor sweet James doesn't have a clue what's going on and tries his hardest to make his friend feel better. 
     The story mirrors the best and worst moments in childhood friendships. Timeless. Classic.

  • Compare this book to Ame Dyckman's book Horrible Bear, another book about misunderstandings. Is anyone at fault in each book? Why or why not? Could either situation have been handled better?
  • Discuss misunderstandings you have had. Did you ever get it straightened out? Is anyone owed an apology? Is it a funny story to share?
  • Make a picture for a friend. 
  • Make awards for friends or family members. Awards for funny joke-teller or homework-helper for example.
Thanks for stopping by today! Let me know if you've read this book. 
This review is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF


  1. Poor James! I feel so sorry for him. I'll have to check out this book to find out how those two patch things up. Thanks for a great post!

    1. James is a great friend! And since it's a picture book, it all turns out happily ever after. :)

  2. What an important book about misunderstandings and learning to get along. The cover speaks volumes -- love it. Sounds like a wonderful read for parents and children. And, a great classroom book. I always enjoy your suggested activities.

    1. Thanks, Pat! I love this book (have I said that too many times?)

  3. It sounds like a great book for discussing communication skills. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank YOU! I know I forget my communication skills as an adult, perhaps that's why this book speaks to me. :)

  4. Yes, another to add to my TBR pile! We all need to get better at communicating, don't we? Thanks for highlighting!