Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose

Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose, written by Nancy Gow and illustrated by Stephen Costanza, is nominated for the 2012-13 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

This book is probably my favorite of this year’s SCPBA nominees. The story of a young princess with huge feet and a prince with a big nose is awesome for teaching young–and older–readers the value of looking past appearances and seeing a person’s inner beauty. (This is definitely a lesson that needs to be taught throughout the school years and beyond.) The book also shows readers how important it is to accept themselves as they are, even the things they may not really like about themselves. (Again, this is a lesson that everyone could stand to learn.)

When I share this book with my students, I plan to pair it with Shrek. I may even have them write their own fairy tale or love story where the two characters aren’t the beauty queens and handsome princes that they’ve always been taught to expect.

Captain Nobody

Newton Newman is invisible to almost everyone. (He’s not really invisible. It’s just that no one seems to notice him.) His own parents even forget that he’s around sometimes. But Newt doesn’t mind most of the time. He’s fine with the fact that everybody knows his star football player brother, Chris, but none of them realize that Chris even has a younger brother. (Okay, so he’s not fine, but he’s grown used to being ignored.)

Things begin to change for Newt at the Big Game. While standing outside the stadium (because he was pushed out of the bleachers) watching Chris score the winning touchdown, Newt sees something awful. He witnesses his big brother get injured. Chris is not moving. As Chris is sent to the hospital, and Newt is once again all but forgotten, things seem more bleak than ever. His big brother is in a coma, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

To keep Newt’s mind off of his troubles, his best friends, Cecil and J.J. convince him to go trick-or-treating for Halloween. There’s just one problem–he doesn’t have a costume. What’s a kid to do? Well, with the help of an active imagination and some of his brother’s old clothes, Newt comes up with a brilliant costume idea. He is Captain Nobody, hero of the downtrodden. The minute Newt puts on the costume, especially the mask he created, he feels more confident, less invisible. He feels like he can do anything; really be a hero.

As Captain Nobody, Newt is able to finally be seen. He helps people around him, and he even saves lives! But can Captain Nobody save the one person he cares about the most? Read Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford to find out!

I really identified with the character of Newton in this book, and I think a lot of young readers will as well. Nearly everyone feels invisible at some point, and, sometimes, pretending to be someone else–like we do on Halloween–helps us to finally feel like we are noticed. Imagine if that feeling could last. That’s what Newt is experiencing in Captain Nobody, and the rush of finally being noticed is a bit much for him to handle at times.

I think this book is a perfect fit for young (and older) readers who tend to be shy and apart from the crowd. Since that still kind of describes me, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I hope you will, too!

To learn more about Captain Nobody, visit the official site at http://www.captainnobody.com/.  It’s pretty cool.