PPBF: The Boy Whose Face Froze Like That

Happy Friday the 13th; wait, is that an oxymoron?
I hope that you're staying safe despite uncertain times.

We're washing our hands and using more germy gel than ever, 
but also trying to take our lead from this Eastern Bluebird
who has been hanging out outside of our breakfast area,
cautiously optimistic, flitting about with grace and grit.

And, since laughter can be such a strong resilience skill, 
today's PPBF just might help momentarily to take the edge off.

Title: The Boy Whose Face Froze Like That
Author: Lynn Plourde
Illustrator: Russ Cox
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Birth Date: March 10, 2020
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes: resilience, grit, unconditional love
Brief synopsis: Wendell always makes good choices, so when his friends make faces even though their parents tell them not to, it follows that he would not want to follow their lead, right?
Opening page: Kids have always made faces. Blame it on the cave-kids. They started it. Cave-parents warned: "Stop it! Your face will freeze like that!"


Read conflicting reviews {here} and {here}.

Why I like this book: The first-grade students I read it with last week really connected with it. They giggled at the silly faces and laughed at the even sillier thought that a face could really get stuck like that. They thought it absurd, of course, but they roared when, at the end, it appears the dog's face might be stuck like that. It's a super engaging, funny read-aloud.

With some hidden gemstones.

First, Wendell tends to be a perfectionist, so your perfectionists might especially get what he's going through. Use this as a springboard with all kiddos for discussing what it means to be someone like Wendell, a kid who "always ALWAYS followed the rules." Is there a certain kind of pressure that comes with "He never once disobeyed his parents."? Is that even possible? If so, where and/or from whom does that pressure come? From parents? From peers? From within? And what, if anything, can you do about it?

Second, Wendell caves under the pressure of wanting to try making a face, just to see what happens. This picture-perfect moment just begs for a writing activity that asks for our impressionable young learners to describe a time when they gave in to the pressure of doing something just because everybody else was doing it. 

(Cue the age-old parenting question: Would you jump off of a cliff 
just because everybody else was doing it?)

What happened and how did peer pressure influence you?
What was that experience like, positive or negative?
How would you describe the feelings that came along?
Who else was involved and how did they feel?
What, if anything, might you do differently next time?

Find out what other things their caregivers tell them not to do
that they've always wanted to try for themselves, just to see.

Then, encourage them to draw a Selfie of that experience.

Third, in the end, this is a timeless treasure
of unconditional acceptance and love.

When his parents see Wendell's face stuck like that, 
they don't scold or shame him, belittle or berate him.

Instead, they kiss him, high-five him, and dance with him
before reminding him, "We love you . . . Just the way you are."

Is it didactic? Sure is.

But in a world that tries to tell us that we are not enough,
the time is right to do an about-face:
You are loved are uplifting words
for us to hear, embrace, and share.

Head. Heart. Hands.

No pressure, but this silly newcomer is one
that I think you'll want to check out!

Then head to Susanna Hill's blog for today's other PPBF picks.

Before I join that brilliant Bluebird outside to soak in some Vitamin D and to pick some more weeds, a reflection about loving one another through tough times. Today and tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, I pray we'll continue to seek and find bountiful blessings in our burden, maybe even more opportunities than ever before to not only tell people but to show them that we see them, that they matter, that they are loved ... just the way they are. 

Let's be kind to one another as we push through this pandemic,
a poignant, powerful message for a beautiful Springtime day.


  1. What a hoot! Kids will love the silliness of this story. I love the artwork. For some reason it reminded me of the Christmas movie where the boy is dared to stick his tongue on a flag pole -- the double dare. I liked your suggestions for using the book!

  2. I love the premise of this story. I recall my parents telling me my face/eyes would get stuck in whatever grimace I was making at the time. And your activities sound great! Am looking forward to reading this story. One thing, though, the illustrator's name is Russ Cox, not Fox. He was the illustrator for my website banner, so I'm familiar with his work. Cheers!

    1. Fixed. Thanks for letting me know about the typo so I could fix it; I love his artwork, too!

  3. I can remember being threatened with that statement as a kid! Cute!


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