Monday, September 17, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Dot

If you know this book, you may know that it’s a picture book, and not technically targeted for readers of middle grade books. But since International Dot Day was on September 15th and this is a book that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, I decided to feature it today. Plus, it’s one of my favourites!

Today’s pick: The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Candlewick Press, 2002

Publisher’s Description:

An enchanting invitation to self-expression - from the illustrator of the Judy Moody series

Her teacher smiled. "Just make a mark and see where it takes you."

Art class is over, but Vashti is sitting glued to her chair in front of a blank piece of paper. The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can’t draw - she’s no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. "There!" she says.

That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery. That special moment is the core of Peter H. Reynolds’s delicate fable about the creative spirit in all of us.

With a simple, witty story and free-spirited illustrations, Peter H. Reynolds entices even the stubbornly uncreative among us to make a mark - and follow where it takes us.

My take:
I think anyone, no matter what their age, can relate to the feeling of not feeling good enough to even try. I know I’ve felt that way as a kid (I was terrible at sports) and sometimes still as a writer (there are days when I want to give up).

This book has many important ideas about taking a chance, practicing, persevering and feeling proud of your accomplishments. I love the idea that something simple like a dot could change someone’s perspective. It’s worthwhile to think about how a bit of encouragement plus some time for thinking and experimenting can lead to something amazing.

I also love the illustrations in this book, the simple lines and beautiful colours seem just right to convey the story’s message.

How I discovered this book:
This book has special meaning to me. As a volunteer at my daughter’s school, I attended an assembly where the principal read this book to the entire school. The principal passed away a year or two later, but when I read the book, I think of him and how caring and fair he was to the students.

Other info:
Peter Reynolds is the illustrator of the Judy Moody series of books. He is also the co-owner of a bookstore, The Blue Bunny, in Dedham, Massachusetts. He has a twin brother named Paul.

The Dot has won many awards, including the Chapman Award for Best Classroom Read-Aloud, Irma S. and James H. Black Honor from the Bank Street College of Education, The Christopher Award, and was named an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award Winner. It is also an animated film by Scholastic/Weston and FableVision.  
On the publisher’s website, there’s a great quote from Peter Reynolds, “…when it comes to expressing yourself, you can invent your own rules.”

Other picture books written and illustrated by this author include:

Rose’s Garden
The North Star
So Few of Me
The Best Kid in the World
My Very Big Little World
Ish (a sequel to The Dot)
Sydney’s Star
For more, visit Peter Reynold’s website or The Dot website.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!


  1. Awesome that the principal read it to the school. This sounds like a good book and the title is intriguing. Thanks for sharing about it.

    1. Well, it's not technically middle grade, but it's a good book for teaching at many different grade levels because of the meaning behind it.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful book to read aloud to students. Very thematic and powerful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Laura, even my K students can make connections about how practice helps you get better at something.

  3. I love this book. It is one of my absolute favorites! I met Peter Reynolds at a bookstore in Needham once and I asked him to sign So Few of Me for my son, Peter.
    He said, "How do you spell that?"

    1. Wow - lucky you! It's one of my favourites too. It's amazing how such a seemingly simple story can have so many important messages.

  4. I love books that can speak to all ages through all times. That is something special.

  5. This sounds great, and with an important message. Will be sure to check it out - thanks!

  6. As you know from my comment on Dot Day, I love this book! In fact, I'm a big fan of Peter Reynolds. I love the simplicity of his illustrations too.

    That's a bittersweet story about your daughter's principal.

    And it's true that we can all make our mark on the world.


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