Friday, June 9, 2017

PPBF: My Special Word

Perfect Picture Book Friday will soon be on vacation, but please join me here every Friday of the summer for Summer Drive-in where I'll be highlighting some of my favorite books-turned movies. Don't forget the popcorn and a pillow!

My Special Word, by Alison Green Myers,
Dwight Smith, and Beth Bogert
My Special Word

Written by Dwight Smith and Alison Green Myers
Illustrated by Beth Bogert

My Special Word,  July 2017
Ages 4-8, 119 words

Character, Identity

"There are so many words in the world."

"What if you had your own special word?" That's the question this book asks the reader, showing them how empowering words can be. Then readers are challenged to choose their own special word, one which can help them through times of oppression, strife, or uncertainty. This charming metafiction picture book was created for use with the My Special Word program, and will be available from booksellers this summer.

Here's one of my favorite spreads from My Special Word.

What I Love:
The authors have written a sensitive invitation for kids to decide what kind of person they want to become. The POV is intimate and every detail from the illustrations to the typography invokes a playful sense of intimacy. I love the word choices: kind, confident, special, unstoppable, awesome.

I adore Beth's illustrations. They present a game of hide-and-seek in which readers look for hidden words and whimsical details. Her lively characters and energetic layouts are reminiscent of Hilary Knight's classic books. The limited color lends a timeless feel to a timeless message.

1. My Special Word co-founder Dwight Smith is a not-for-profit dedicated to sharing the power of words with young people.

What's My Word?
 2. There is also a My Special Word for middle graders, written by Alison and her co-author Greta Schmidt, with additional contributions by Dwight Smith.

3. SCBWI NEPA interviewed Alison on what makes a great picture book. Or you can read about her role at the Highlights Foundation on Women on Writing.

4. Join author Alison Green Myers at a Highlights Foundation workshop this summer, or choose from their wide range of classes on everything from collage to novels-in-verse.

5. Beth Bogert is an experienced illustrator and elementary school presenter. To schedule a school visit featuring My Special Word, talks, crafts, and activities, contact Beth via her website.

6. The main character in the book chooses "kind" as her word. Ministry to Youth* has put together a great object lesson on kindness as a lifestyle rather than a single act.

Have students write their special word
on cookie sticks like these
from Cadillac Cookies
7. Family Life* offers dozens of articles about building character in your child's life, like these on integrity, responsibility, and honor.

8. Jessica from What I Have Learned shares tips for building character in the classroom including activities, bulletin boards, and worksheets.

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

View all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for Friday, June 9, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Check out these and more related Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Barbara

Reviewed by Diane
Reviewed by Kelly

Reviewed by Clara
Reviewed by Patricia

*I do not necessarily endorse the ministry listed, but recommend the content of the link provided.


  1. I can imagine the lively classroom discussion that would follow this book. Rows of children, hands raised, eager to share their special word. Thanks for reviewing this book. I'm looking forward to reading it, and I'm already making a mental list of special words for myself. Which one to choose?

    1. Thanks, Leslie. You truly have a writer's imagination. Love the mental picture.

  2. As Leslie says, what a great classroom book. I often don't enjoy metafiction picture books, but I love this concept. The front cover is also wonderful.

    1. My special word doesn't break the fourth wall with drama like many popular meta PBs. It is a gentle conversation with the reader, like a secret between the child and the author. Just right for this topic, I think. Thanks for stopping in.

  3. Who publishes these books, especially the picture book?

    1. My Special Word partnered with the Highlights foundation to have it produced and printed. Printing was delayed because of a technical hiccup, but both author and illustrator are in possession of the books and are beginning their book tours. To my understanding, it should be available for purchase shortly. When I spoke with the illustrator this week, she was surprised it was not yet showing up on Amazon. I will be interviewing the creators in the coming weeks and hope to have an update. Please feel free to email me so I can keep you in the loop. Thanks for your interest.

    2. Please see Alison's clarification below. Thanks.

  4. This is such an important book to inspire children to choose words that are empowering. Mine would be joyful. A great book and special project!

    1. I was impressed with the way the creators communicated the message clearly without being saccharine or didactic. I know it is going to make for some fantastic school visits. Thanks!

  5. Leslie is right, the class/library readings of this book will be full of kids wanting to share THEIR word. What a great premise and lovely book. Added it to my reading list. Thanks

    1. Thanks for dropping by. I can't wait to share this book with my son's school next year!

  6. WOW, Joanne! Thank you for such a thoughtful review of the picture book. I paired it with STICK and STONE in a recent school visit. I was able to talk about the positive power of words (and the sometimes not so nice side of words.) The kids could read and reread STICK and STONE a million times. I also love BAD APPLE.

    Beth's illustrations are amazing. The kids fall in love with her cat on every page as much as they fall into the rhythm of the girl's story that she tells visually. I feel so lucky that Beth is the one to bring the words to life.

    You are correct, at this time we are trying to keep up in filling grants with the picture book. We hope to have it posted for online purchase via Amazon (and other) soon. For now, orders can go through the MySpecialWord website, where teachers and parents can also apply to bring the program to schools. There are grants available for visits. The chapter book (readability 3.5) is available on Amazon and via There are five additional books in the chapter book series with several authors contributing to the series (coming September 2017, December 2017, March 2018, June 2018, and September 2018).

    Just to clarify, the project wasn't in partnership with the Highlights Foundation, but I do work for the HF. AND LOVE THEM. Boyds Mills Press did the creative direction for the printer, but BMP is not the publisher. This book is a movement to spread the positive power of words by the My Special Word non-profit. Beth and I were asked to contribute.

    We are honored to work with the many organizations that have adopted the book so far.
    Again, thank you for your review and for ALL of the great resources on bookish-ambition!


    1. Thank-you for the clarification and the additional info. Your spot-on kids' POV and careful word choices make this a book I'll continue to recommend. We look forward to the coming chaper books and the impact these books are going to have on our young people.

      And thanks for the stellar suggestion of Stick and Stone from Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld. Readers can find more info here

  7. What a lovely book & idea. Can't wait to find this one in July.

    1. Thanks. It is beautifully done and I think will be a terrific help to many families and schools.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!