In light of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, The Story Circle / El círculo de cuentos by acclaimed author Diane Gonzales Bertrand is an excellent bilingual picture book for parents and teachers to share with children who are in the midst of dealing with a storm, flooding and its aftermath.
Monster storms closed the school for three days. “Carpets bubbled with mud. Green slime swallowed books.” And when the children returned, the new bookshelves in the classroom were empty. “What will we do for story circle?” they ask.
With the kids sitting around her on the new rug, the teacher tells a story about a boy who loved to fly. Afterwards, she asks them what pictures they imagined. Each one sees something different: wings like yellow sunbeams, a pond that looked like a green button and cloud horses running in the blue sky. Soon, all the children are excitedly raising their hands to tell their own stories.
“I wrote it to celebrate the resilience of men and women, boys and girls, who overcome a bad situation with creativity and optimism,” Bertrand said. “Even stories about bad times help others feel not only sympathetic, but always connected to someone else. When we share our stories, we share what it means to be a community of friends and neighbors.”
Reviewers have praised the book widely. Catholic Library World says it “shows the importance of imagination, creativity, and courage in the face of adversity” and according to School Library Journal, “all readers can connect in some way with its themes of resiliency and cooperation following a difficult event such as a natural disaster.”
DIANE GONZALES BERTRAND is the author of numerous books for children and young adults. Her picture books for children include Cecilia and Miguel Are Best Friends / Cecilia y Miguel son mejores amigos, A Bean and Cheese Taco Birthday / Un cumpleaños con tacos de frijoles con queso and The Empanadas that Abuela Made / Las empanadas que hacía la abuela. A native of San Antonio, Texas, she teaches writing at St. Mary’s University where she is Writer in Residence.