Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The MUST-HAVE Book for the 2020-2021 School Year

You're going to fall in love with One Little Bag An Amazing Journey written and illustrated by the MAGNIFICENT and Oh, So TALENTED Henry Cole.

Why do I think this wordless picture book is AMAZING and Caldecott worthy???

Because I can't stop reading it.

Thinking about it. 

It got me through some tough quarantine days. Seriously. Marie Kondo would be thrilled to know how much JOY it brought me. No other way to say it.

I marvel at the gorgeous illustrations and wonder how Henry Cole could tell such a powerful epic generational love story with NO WORDS.  GENIUS!  Simply GENIUS!  Think about that!

Times a milllion. kazillion.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so:

* "Beautifully effective." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Deeply profound... compelling... emotionally resonant." -- School Library Journal, starred review

* "Elevating the life of an ephemeral object to the time scale of love across generations." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

NOTE: Until I started writing this Blog post last night, I had no idea what others were saying about the book!  To know it's garnered so many well-deserved STARRED REVIEWS makes my heart just want to burst!

The story was inspired by Henry's childhood experience celebrating the first Earth Day. He brought his lunch to school in a brown bag and decided to reuse that same bag for three years. THREE!

The story starts on the endpapers...5 black and white spreads. (The only color in the book is the bag.)

These first pages show the steps taken from tree to bag. Who thought of that?  Really? My full and complete admiration!

When the "official" story begins, you see Dad making a sandwich and placing it in the bag for his son to bring to school. A heart is drawn on the bag. You feel the love.

The bag is ever present in his life: from providing comfort whether it be from the dark or leaving for college (Dad's hand on his son's shoulder just has me feeling all sorts of things as Matthew prepares to leave for college once again!) to comforting / entertaining a baby in his crib.

The bag's use each time is a nod to the power of love and family. Creating special bonds and memories.

I don't want to spoil all the awesomeness of the book for you so I won't.  But oh, my. Pass the tissues.


And his Author's Note is just full of all sorts of goodness.  

We are a huge book family and over the last few years, we had to scale back our purchasing of picture books and turn to our fantastic library instead.  But, friends...  

This is a MUST purchase.

I'm sad it arrived at my house after the lockdown and didn't get to share it with my kids this year.

But next year???

It's the perfect book to use to launch a beginning of the year class activity and promote class community. Grab it by clicking on the book above.

Challenge your students to use a recyclable brown bag for their snacks and to try to make it last all year...aim for Earth Day and keep on going. (If distance learning, I still think this works. Enjoy your snack/break together.)

Who knows, maybe the challenge could be extended into the next school year. And the year after that. And then the next.

Henry kept his bag for 3 years before gifting it to a friend. His way to honor our natural resources.

Can't you just hear one of your kids saying, "See? One person CAN make a difference!"

It really is a must-read! Grab the activity by clicking on the pic above and consider implementing in your classroom the first week of school. Easy breezy!

Worried you'll have kids who will want to join in but parents don't have a bag? Buy 100 brown bags at the Dollar Store.  Enough for 4 years of classes and some left over to replace bags that might be ruined by those ever occurring juice and yogurt spills.

Let me know if you read this lovely book and use the activity and how it goes. 

And of course tell me if you're also predicting One Little Bag for a Caldecott win!

If interested, here is Henry's Reading Rockets interview.

Since we're speaking of the first week of school, check out my New Teacher Tips.  Not a new teacher? I think you can still find a gem or two listed!  

Have a great day, my friends!


  1. Thank you for the suggestion! I haven't seen this book, but I'm looking forward to reading it. I'm heading over to Amazon after this.
    Laughter and Consistency

  2. Since John is a K-5 Librarian, I feel like he gets so many great books hot off the presses. Do you remember that awesome Extra Gum commercial from a few years ago? I loved it! This book, for me, evokes those same emotions for me.

    If you haven't seen the commercial or just want to smile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NemtQx0m0Ss

    Have a great day!


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