Doodles and Daydreams

h1 June 6th, 2017 by jules

“That night just as Sarabella was about to give up, a whale of a thought appeared on the horizon. The closer it go, the more beautiful it became. And though it was the most enormous creature she had ever seen, Sarabella felt unafraid. ‘Do you know what I think?’ asked the whale. ‘I can see what you think,’ replied Sarabella. ‘And so should everyone else,’ said the whale. ‘To share it, you’ve just got to wear it.’
Then the whale blew Sarabella a kiss before she swam off.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


Today’s post is a bit of a preview. This September (from Dial Books), readers will see Judy Schachner’s Sarabella’s Thinking Cap, a picture book that is an explosion of color, as well as a tribute to those deep-thinking, philosophically-minded students in class who have trouble focusing, all on account of the boatloads of thoughts in their heads.

I’ve an F&G, and I like it. It’s more than a tribute to a child’s imagination; it’s a story that shows the reality of how challenging it can sometimes be for students like that to fit into the traditional classroom mold.

“Sarabella had no time for small talk,” the book opens. “In fact, she never talked much at all … because she was too busy thinking.” Sarabella, as her (similarly creative) family likes to put it, has her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds. She has “daydreams in her DNA,” her mother tells her. She comes home with report cards from her teacher, Mr. Fantozzi, who appreciates her creative mind, yet also feels the need to curtail the imaginative wanderings. In other words, he consistently notes, she needs to learn to focus.

Schachner writes with precision and charm—altogether avoiding the type of excessive whimsy that often marks books about a child’s burgeoning imagination—about the interior of Sarabella’s mind. I also like how Schachner avoids deomonizing either student or teacher here; they have to find a way to meet in the middle, after all. (Isn’t that the way of modern classroom education?) At one point, “during a math-facts memorizing meltdown,” a “bear of a thought” stops by. Here, we see the polar bear of Sarabella’s imagination, who follows her to school on a bike, no less. By the time she gets to class, that bear is asleep, but in his place has appeared a flock of birds. None of them actually help with her math work.


“She thought about big things and small things …”
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It’s when she finds herself at the round table in the “quiet room” (a nod to the introverts of education, too) and her teacher tells her to don her thinking cap that a solution comes to her, one her classmates—and her teacher—can easily understand. It’s a solution that involves an effort on Sarabella’s part to share a bit of her interior life with those with whom she spends her days — no small task at all. Especially for an introvert.

It all adds up to a tender, sensitive tribute to those introspective students in a classroom, who don’t always quite fit the standard educational mold — a welcome thing, indeed.


“And that’s exactly what Sarabella did when she placed the most spectacular collection of doodles and daydreams right on top of her head. ‘So that’s what you’ve been thinking!’ said the kids in awe. Lara saw unicorns, and Xavi saw planets. Dylan saw a cat, a snake, and a feather, while Nate reported seeing clouds with a touch of bad weather. ‘A penny for your thoughts, Mr. F,’ said Sarabella. ‘I think,’ said Mr. F with
a smile, ‘your thoughts are worth more than all the pennies in the world.'”

(Click to enlarge spread)


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SARABELLA’S THINKING CAP. Copyright © 2017 by Judy Schachner. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

2 comments to “Doodles and Daydreams”

  1. That looks so cool! Three cheers for imagination!

  2. this looks absolutely gorgeous in every way!

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