Gr 1-3-Third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students offer personal observations about their bodies. Entries look hand lettered and face a black-and-white photo of the body part featured. Camila Villasana likes her hair-"It's wavy like the ocean." Colette Cosner likes her hands "because they turn the pages of a book slowly and magically." Andrew Legge likes his legs because they "carry me a long way." The result is insight into how the children of varied ethnicities see themselves and take pride in their heritage. The book is an outgrowth of the Literacy Through Photography program Ewald originated at Duke University. This example of a successful writing prompt might be used to encourage students to think more about their own bodies and self-images.
Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX
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Gr. 1-3. Photographer Ewald worked with 15 ethnically diverse North Carolina school-children and their teachers to investigate how kids feel about their bodies. Each child selected a favorite body part and contributed a signed, handwritten paragraph or poem about it. Camila Villasana, who chose her hair, writes, "It comes from my Mexican heritage. Its [sic] wavy like the ocean." Ewald's tightly focused, tenderly realistic black-and-white photographs do the rest. The images mix the mundane and the poetic in equal parts and reflect the children's differences in self-esteem. The writing may not be great, but the book will work very well to inspire similar writing projects. Susan Dove Lempke
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Wendy Ewald is a writer, photographer, and teacher dedicated to children's, women's, and family issues. Her photos have appeared in The New York Times, Elle, and Harper's, among others, and are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the International Center of Photography. She has received numerous prizes for her work, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship, and several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to The Best Part of Me, she has published 14 books of photography.