Vanilla Ice Cream
written and illustrated by Bob Graham
2014 (Candlewick Press)
Source: Orange County Public Library
So how can I teach children that their actions have a ripple effect either negative or positive? I can talk to them and give examples from my life. If they're not busy picking apart the carpet or tying their shoelaces together, they might listen. I've found a better way. Bob Graham's Vanilla Ice Cream features a curious sparrow from India that finds an open bag of rice on a truck bed. The sparrow stays with the load of rice unintentionally as it makes its way through a city and onto a ship. This ship is heading toward Sydney with one truck-stop sparrow in tow. The sparrow flies through Sydney and finds toddler Edie Irvine sitting in a stroller. Edie is out and about with her grandparents. They stop at the Cafe Botanica where the sparrow, a dog and ice cream combine to rock Edie's world with a new sensory experience. Graham does not use a lot of text but instead engages in storytelling with brilliant watercolor art that gives a panoramic view. It's the picture book equivalent of a wide screen movie and it's fantastic for working on how to infer.
Vanilla Ice Cream demonstrates how the smallest of actions and beings can change the lives of others. It's enormously important that children understand how their actions affect other people. Reading this book can help bring about a discussion of this. Plus, you will get to say to students throughout the year, "Be the bird." They will understand that you are asking for positive actions.
If you are not familiar with Bob Graham, go to your library and find his books. He's able to convey great truths about life without knocking you over the head with a message.