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Main page » Non-Fiction » The Girl with the Brown Crayon

The Girl with the Brown Crayon


A beautifully realized, deceptively simple classroom memoir from a longtime kindergarten teacher and author. Paley begins the narrative of her final year of teaching by focusing on Reeny, a self-assured, thoughtful, and creative black five-year-old girl in a class that's mostly Caucasian and Asian. Reeny is a wonderful character, but it is her identification with another character, Frederick the mouse in a Leo Lionni children's book, that is the catalyst for a truly remarkable classroom experience...Disproving the general opinion that kindergartners are unable to focus on a lengthy, ongoing project, these children show an amazing aptitude for referring back to previous discussions, understanding metaphor, relating their reading to the world around them, and using the information they glean in creative and unusual ways. Their discussions cover everything from race and friendship to gender and the artistic personality, and they are able to appreciate the Lionni titles with a maturity that is sometimes startling...The reader closes the book with the hope that Paley will, with Reeny's help and her own newfound self-awareness, overcome her ambivalence about standing out and continue to write superb books like this one. (Kirkus Reviews )

Paley [tells how she] and her co-teacher turn a sizable portion of their curriculum over to a study of Lionni stories, and her students blossom with insight...Paley's book is a treasure for anyone who wants to know more about what magic is possible in a classroom where a teacher encourages what Paley calls...a "narrative community."
--Carol Doup Muller (San Jose Mercury News )

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Tags: Reeny, classroom, character, wonderful, identification, Brown, Asian