Sugar and Snails

Written by: Sarah Tsiang

Illustrated by: Sonja Wimmer

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender Stereotypes, Family, Love, Acceptance, Self-Expression.

Summary: Our story opens at a kitchen table, where two young children are sitting with their grandfather.  He recites the old rhyme about what little girls and boys are made of.  Indignantly, both children disagree with the rhyme and point out what they don’t do that’s in the rhyme.  Their grandfather begins making up new rhymes that fit the children better.  Whimsical illustrations accompany the new rhymes, involving rocks, toast, and butterfly socks.  Whales, rubber boots, and dinosaur tails! The book ends with both children in elaborate costumes, dressing up to show what they’re made of.

A fantastic book to combat stereotypes that girls are supposed to be sweet and nice, enjoying feminine dress and boys liking sports and worms!  It’s great to see that the grandfather is open to helping the kids discover what they are made of, and allowing them to be themselves.

Reflection Questions:

  • What are you made of?
  • Do you think boys and girls are made of different stuff?
  • What makes you a unique human being?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Make up your own rhyme about what you are made of!  Consider things that you love, and what makes you one of a kind as well as rhyming words.
  • Draw a picture that shows you in a costume, wearing things you are made of!  Have a gallery walk around your classroom and look at everyone’s drawings.  Are there any similarities?  What are some of the differences that you notice?
  • Everyone is unique and different, as well as similar in some ways.  Write your own biography of your life up until now.  Include information such as where you’ve lived, what you like, and what you love about your community!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sarah tsiangSarah Yi-Mei Tsiang As a child, Sarah Tsiang dreamed about being a part-time librarian and a part-time truck driver. Though many people suggested that she work in a bookmobile, it just didn’t thrill her the way an 18-wheeler could. Eventually, she gave up that dream and decided to be the Prime Minister of Canada. Somehow, this led her to writing picture books and poetry. Sarah spends most of her days building giant snow forts, jumping in piles of leaves, and going to the splash pad at the park (adjust for season). She also writes. Sarah started writing at the age of four, mostly one-word stories comprised of her favorite words: “noodles” and “mommy.” She spent most of her time in elementary school making up stories for her friends during recess. She spent the rest of her time reading and re-reading books like Jacob Two-Two, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Indian in the Cupboard, and Where the Red Fern Grows. Sarah writes picture books, Young Adult fiction and poetry. Her picture books include A Flock of Shoes (2010), Dogs Don’t Eat Jam and Other Things Big Kids Know (2011), The Stone Hatchlings (2012), and The Night Children (2015). Her latest picture book is Sugar and Snails (Spring 2018), a playful rendition of the old rhyme, rewritten to reflect today’s attitudes toward gender stereotypes.   She has also written a middle-grade book of non-fiction, Warriors and Wailers: 100 Ancient Chinese Jobs You Might Have Relished or Reviled (2012). Her YA novel for reluctant readers is the fast-paced Breathing Fire. Her two books of poetry are the Gerald Lampert Award winning Sweet Devilry and the Pat Lowther Award nominated Status Updates. Sarah and her daughter spend a lot of time at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library, where they are trying to read every book in the building. Her newest little one, Isaac, is keen to start reading as soon as his eyes can focus and he figures out how his hands work. Of the hundreds of their family’s favorite picture books, a few of them are the Mole Sisters series, anything by Mo Willems, anything by Sarah Garland, Best Friends for Frances, The Story of Ferdinand, Emily’s Balloon, Dormir, moi? Jamais!, I Really Want to Eat a Child, Ish, and A Pocket Can Have a Treasure In It. Sarah loves school visits and can hold writing workshops for anyone from kindergarteners to seniors.

sonja wimmerSonja Wimmer loves painting pictures and telling stories. After studying and working some years as a graphic designer in her hometown of Munich and Brussels, she decided to pack her suitcase and move to Barcelona to study Illustration at the “Llotja” Arts and Crafts School. Since then she lives between brushes and all kinds of wonderful tales, working as freelance illustrator for publishing houses and other clients around the world. Over the last years various of her books have been awarded in the United States.

 

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