Bookworm: ‘Change Sings’ a joyous book for your child

There’s always room for a book like ‘It Takes Guts’

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Columnist

“Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem”

  • By Amanda Gorman, pictures by Loren Long
  • c. 2021, Viking Penguin
  • $18.99, $24.99 Canada; 32 pages

You don’t like that. It wasn’t what you wanted. You didn’t ask for it and you’re not happy. Things shouldn’t be that way. It’s not right, and you don’t like it. Somebody needs to fix this, so why not you? Why, as in the new book “Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem” by Amanda Gorman, pictures by Loren Long, don’t you reach for a different kind of music?

“Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem” by Amanda Gorman, pictures by Loren Long.

One thing you can count on for the rest of your life: things won’t always stay the same. You were once a baby and now you’re grown. Your room changed when you were too big for your crib. Look around and your neighborhood changes all the time! Change happens every minute of every day, it hums like a guitar string, and if you listen, you can “sing along.” You won’t be the first one, you know; many of America’s most beloved heroes screamed and spoke and speeched and sang for change to come.

That’s because with change comes hope.

Change doesn’t have to be big, of course. You can make change by picking up trash in the park near your home or asking for cleaner air or better playground equipment or better schools. You can volunteer to help others by being generous with your time. Bring your friends along and make it “a hundred hearts, each of us lifting a hand.” Do it today, tomorrow morning, the next day or the next, even when no one else knows about it.

Make change, even if you aren’t around to see it and the good that comes from it. Make your change into music that anyone can play, even if they’re different than you. Make it something fun. Make the change that’s inside you, to see the results you want to see.

Then watch what happens: when you start to do good, someone else is inspired and they want to do something good, too. Two people become four and more and more and that’s “just what the world needs.” So, what will you do? Where will you start? Who will you ask? Won’t you jump on the bandwagon, too?

When everybody around you is doing something that looks like fun, you naturally want to jump in and join them. Your 4-to-8-year-old may feel shy about that, or they may feel excited when they see people doing something for the world; either way, “Change Sings” shows why it’s important to get involved, especially if you’re a kid.

Grab this book to read aloud to your child, and you’ll notice two things: the illustrations are lush and colorful, but artist Loren Long doesn’t overstimulate. In this book are gentle, quiet pictures to accompany the second thing: a story that consists of relatively few words, as author-poet Amanda Gorman tells the tale simply but in a way that truly calls kids to action.

This book is a good start to a current-events conversation, or you can just enjoy it for its musical prose. “Change Sings” is a joyous book, and your child will like that.

More:Bookworm: Concerned about climate change? Read ‘Trashlands’

“It Takes Guts: How Your Body Turns Food into Fuel (and Poop)”

  • By Dr. Jennifer Gardy, illustrated by Belle Wuthrich
  • c. 2021, Greystone Kids
  • $19.95, $24.95 Canada; 145 pages

There’s always room for one more cookie. No matter how much you eat for meals, no matter how stuffed you feel when you push yourself away from the table, you can never say “no” to dessert. Somehow, there’s always room for a cookie, a sliver of cake, a piece of candy, and where do you put all that food? Read “It Takes Guts” by Dr. Jennifer Gardy, illustrated by Belle Wuthrich and find out.

“It Takes Guts: How Your Body Turns Food into Fuel (and Poop)” by Dr. Jennifer Gardy, illustrated by Belle Wuthrich.

Maaan, you’re hungry!

That snack you want will sure taste good but before you take a bite, look inside your mouth. You see teeth and a tongue in there but look again. There’s also saliva, “growth factor” and pain-killing molecules, enzymes, “300 different types” of bacteria, nerves, muscles, and taste buds. It’s a wonder there’s even room for food!

Now take a bite of that snack.

You don’t even have to think about when it’s time to swallow. Your body knows, just as it knows to send the food to your stomach ... and if it accidentally goes “down the wrong tube,” your body makes you cough. Smart, eh? Peristalsis moves the food down your esophagus, which takes a little time before your chewed-up food hits your stomach.

Shaped like a bean, your stomach is also quite an interesting organ. It sorts what you swallow, allowing liquids to pass through while keeping solids around for a while. Your stomach tells you when you’ve had enough to eat (save room for that cookie!), and perhaps hours later, it moves what you ate to the next step in digestion.

Once it leaves your stomach, your food (now called “chyme”) moves through the small intestines, although there’s really nothing small about them: the three parts – the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum - together are roughly three-and-a-half times longer than you are tall. Almost ninety percent of the nutrients your body uses come from the small intestines and then, after a run through the large intestines and millions of bacteria, water is mostly removed and everything that’s left is outta here.

Don’t forget to flush!

At some point in your parental life, you’ve probably noticed that bodily-process talk is a theme, and that misinformation is at its core. Argh, it’s time to set the facts straight, and “It Takes Guts” can help.

Perfect for a curious kid, this book doesn’t take the humor out of the situation; instead, it lets kids find out how truly cool it all is. Author Jennifer Gardy is a scientist and researcher - she gleefully tells tales of icky experiments - but despite the kid-ness of this information, it’s also real and easy-to-grasp. In addition, children will also learn what sword-swallowers taught scientists, why an injured fur trapper was a big help two hundred years ago, and how “smart toilets” can save lives.

The mixture of silly and serious will let an 8-to-12-year-old smarty pants be an expert on an irresistible subject, and parents will love “It Takes Guts” for its informative fun. There’s always room for a book like this.

More:Bookworm: Scare up some good reads for kids

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read past columns at marconews.com.