PPBF: A Castle On Viola Street

I'm teaming up with these amazing bloggers to showcase
The Season of Giving.

Click to graphic to hop over after you check out today's PPBF.

Here are links to the posts to spread joy so far this month:

Today's PPBF was carefully selected to complement the blog hop. This treasure mixes the values of
 charitable giving and work ethic together 
adds in some generosity, compassion and joy
then cements them all together with 
hope, service and volunteerism.

Author and Illustrator:  DyAnne DiSalvo
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Date: August 7, 2001 (first edition)
Suitable for: grades K-3rd (and up!)
Realistic fiction
Themes: service, volunteerism, charitable giving

Brief synopsis:  Though Andy and his family rent an apartment and don't actually have a house themselves, he and his father join an organization to help renovate and rebuild a home for another family. Everyone chips in, even the little sisters, who do their part by serving fresh lemonade to the builders. Will Andy's family of five eventually get a home of their own, too?

Opening pages: In the old days, before I was ten, we rented an apartment on Emerald Street. It was a small place to live in for one whole family, but somehow we made the room.

There always seemed to be enough to go around, even with five people at our table.

Resources:  Story enrichment activities {here}.
Read a review on Best Children's Books {here}.
6 Elements of Social Justice Ed post with ideas {here}.
Kids Korps USA You Tube Clip {here}.

Why I like this book:  Where do I start? It's got service written all over it. In a pay-it-forward, sweat equity sort of way. This family, who's experiencing scarcity themselves, works to help fix-up a house for the Tran family. It's got so many season-of-giving values rolled into one majestic masterpiece.

There are quite a few quotes throughout the text that are 
worth repeating and reflecting upon:

*Our family is rich in more ways than we can count. They are a family of five in an apartment, dad working shifts and mom employed part-time in a bakery. How can that be? What does mom mean by this?

*Well, you know how sometimes, when you never believe that anything will ever be different, then one morning you just wake up and nothing is the same? How is this possible? Ask students to talk about a time when this happened to them.

*Sometimes new things are hard to get used to and people are slow to change. Why is this? Does "slow to change" mean the same to a child as it does to an adult? Discuss what students think this means and how it might apply to them.

*Being little is no excuse not to pitch in. Is there an age minimum for being a helper? Brainstorm ways that they like to help. Is there a job they're eager to do but just aren't old enough yet? I know that Joshua wanted to volunteer at the local Animal Shelter but they have an age requirement. Find out if students understand why that might be necessary. How might they work around such restrictions and still help?

*Big dreams are built little by little. First the Dad says this, then Andy repeats it. Do you agree or disagree? Can you think of another story or show you've seen in which this is true? Does it ring true in your life yet? Explain. 

When Andy stops to pick up a piece of wood that his father says he can keep, ask students to predict what Andy's going to do with it. A second grader I read it to this week predicted he'd make a music box. AdOrAbLe! 
What would they make if they were Andy?

Why is the word castle in the book's title?
And what is it that makes a house a home anyway?
The first time I was truly faced with this question was when
my son and I traveled to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina
to help clean out a house nine months after it had flooded.
You can read that account {here}.

Finally, research housing organizations like these:

Habitat for Humanity
Rebuilding Together 
Kids Korps USA 
Community Housing Development Organizations 
Local Initiatives Support Corporation 
World Vision US Programs 

Compare and contrast program requirements and restrictions.

Encourage students to make a list of the jobs, tasks, service opportunities that they're able to do despite their size and age.
Then ask them what they're waiting for; 
sometimes all they need is a ride! 

This sweet story could even springboard into a discussion about what volunteer jobs students want to do when they get  a little older.

View the other bloggers' posts {here}.


  1. Lovely book, thank you!

  2. Sounds like a great book for the classroom too, and the art looks terrific.

  3. This book sounds like a winner all the way around and not just for Christmas. I am going to check it out. I love the ideas you give for discussions and for inspiring kids to help out. I also love your links. Thanks for introducing this book to us. :)

  4. This sounds like an important book to read - I'll have to look for it. My kids volunteered with a local habitat for humanity house and really enjoyed the work - and that there is a family they know now living in the house.

  5. Sounds like a great book and some great discussion opportunities. I'll be looking for this one! Thanks!

  6. Lovely sentiments in this book. I've seen similar books, but not this one so I will be looking for it now. Thanks for sharing.

  7. It's true. . . a home is all about relationship. How wonderful to have the opportunity to work together as a family! And a privilege for you, Barbara, to help others in New Orleans.

  8. Looks like a great book. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Looks like a great book for this season and many families.

  10. I love everything about this post! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...