Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cassandra's Angel - by Gina Otto

I found this AMAZING book, Cassandra's Angel, while traveling on business in Colorado.  It was right around Christmas time and the book was in a gift box with the book, CD and an angel magnet.


The story follows a little girl through her day where, as unfortunately many children experience today, she's repeatedly told by the people in her life that she's not good enough and she begins to internalize that message.


Her mother tells her she and her room are a mess, her teacher calls her "incorrigible" because she chooses to paint the picture she's told to paint in her own way, and even the mayor tells her he doesn't have time for her problems.


The book is written completely in rhyme with each rhyme ending with "But she did not like that story - NO SHE DID NOT."  Which, of course, after just one reading Janan picked up on.  She LOVED shouting this part and affirming that no matter who in Cassandra's life was telling her she was worthless, she didn't have to believe that. 


Her worth is validated at the end by an angel who tells her:


All of the people who tell stories to you,
They each have the truth deep inside of them, too.


They have just forgotten it over the years,
So now what you hear is their sadness and fears.


It isn't their fault, all those stories they tell.
They believed the stores they were given as well.


Those old kinds of stories create guilt and fear,
But today, Cassandra, those old stories stop here.


...


With a soft breath of wind the Angel was gone,
And Cassandra could feel in her heart a new song...
"I'm Cassandra, a bright light", was her very next thought.
And no one could change that story - NOT THEY COULD NOT!


This book is very empowering for children.  Even the best parents, at times, forget to discourage the ACT rather than the child.  And our school systems, rather than nurturing a child's individuality and talents, more often forces them to adhere to a set expectation which squelches who they truly are.


While often a nightly choice for Janan, it would also be a wonderful book for those times when a child is struggling with negative messages they're receiving.


The book was made into a musical (hence the CD included in the gift box) and the music is also wonderfully affirming for children!  It was Janan's favorite CD for years.  Below is a clip of her singing along while making banana bread.  


video




This book was my first introduction to what has become my favorite publisher, Illumination Arts.  Their books are beautiful, positive and without the commercialization of so many of today's books linked to cartoons, movies or television shows.  I'm sure it won't be long before you see many of their other books show up here.  

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