Breaking News

Breaking News

When devastating news rattles a young girl's community, her normally attentive parents and neighbors are suddenly exhausted and distracted. At school, her teacher tells the class to look for the helpers―the good people working to make things better in big and small ways. She wants more than anything to help in a BIG way, but maybe she can start with one small act of kindness instead . . . and then another, and another.Small things can compound, after all, to make a world of difference.

The Breaking News by Sarah Lynne Reul touches on themes of community, resilience, and optimism with an authenticity that will resonate with readers young and old.--from the publisher

48 pages         Roaring Brook Press         Ages  4-8


“I read the news today, oh boy”

--Lennon & McCartney, “A Day in the Life” (1967)

“Suddenly Mom is glued to the television.

Dad can’t stop checking his phone.

They whisper and I pretend not to hear.

It is more than a little scary.”

For some reason, I often cannot tell you exactly where I was, or vividly recall the moments when the news has been really good. For instance, the day the then-governor announced the deal that ended plans to construct the nuclear plant I’d spent so many years fighting. Or when that damned war of my childhood and adolescence officially ended. Even clear memories of relatively recent good news, like the night we elected a black President, escape me.

Bur memories of the bad news sticks with me like glue. We moved away from a town at the beginning of 1964. Yet, fifty-five years after the fact, I can show you what exact house we were walking by on the way home from school when, on November 22, 1963, two big kids ran up and told my friend and me that the President had been shot. I recall in precise detail the warm Saturday morning in January 1973 when my parents went barreling away on what turned out to be my grandfather’s last day alive.

The police cracking heads on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Bobby Kennedy shot dead.

Martin Luther King shot dead.

John Lennon shot dead.

The twin towers falling.

Maybe I’ve unknowingly spent lots of nights dreaming and reliving these bad moments, that I can so clearly recall them. I can see exactly where I was, and replay in my head the television news I absorbed on those days and nights.

“Mom forgets to tuck me in.

Dad is too tired for bedtime stories.”

I want so much to protect young kids from one day having their heads filled with fifty-five year old bad memories.

And so, I appreciate THE BREAKING NEWS, which tackles a very unusual topic for a picture book. In it, a child recounts how the breaking news overwhelms the community. Fortunately, the young narrator has a teacher who is sensitive to her students’ needs and fears:

“At school, my teacher says to look for the helpers. Even when the news is bad, you can still find good people trying to make things better in big and small ways.”

The young narrator is inspired to be one of those helpers. Learning through trial-and-error how to be useful, she achieves her goal of being a helper, first, in small ways and then in a larger way.

We never know what the bad news is, giving this tale a real universality. The clear, bold illustrations feature a multicultural cast in an urban neighborhood. On a day in which I’m absorbing the latest bad news, THE BREAKING NEWS is a breath of fresh air.

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

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