Keisha Ann Can!

by Daniel Kirk
Putnam, 2008
Keisha Ann Can

Book Description
Keisha Ann has a lot to be proud of! As she zips happily through her day at school, she shows what fun learning and playing can be, whether she’s painting, counting, jumping rope, sharing with friends or helping the teacher.

Bursting with confidence, Keisha Ann will inspire young readers, and they’ll have fun following her through the familiar details of a school day. Daniel Kirk’s empowering message, bouncy text and vibrant classroom illustrations will appeal to kids whether they are in school or getting ready to start.

Reviews for Keisha Ann Can

Review from School Library Journal
PreS-K- An African-American child and her classmates make their way through a day at school. Full of enthusiasm and smiles, Keisha Ann accomplishes all of her activities with élan, as the rhyming text asks a series of “Who can…” questions and reiterates, “Keisha Ann can!” The poetry is catchy and upbeat: “Who can count her coins/and count again in case she’s wrong? /Who can play marimba/as she sings the sweetest song?” Gouache paintings done in a striking, childlike style are filled with motion and color. The characters, which represent a variety of cultural backgrounds, are outlined in darker lines and set against brightly hued backgrounds. The images are clear and crisp, making the book ideal for sharing aloud. The story ends on a positive, all-inclusive note: “Who can learn, /and work, /and play, /and make her dreams/come true? /Keisha Ann can/do these things, /and YOU can do them, too!” Although there are many positive picture books about school, this one is special because its heroine is shown ready to tackle anything with grace and confidence.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

Review from Kirkus Reviews
With jaunty rhymes and a spunky heroine brimming with a go-to attitude, Kirk’s sprightly tale encourages readers to let their inner star shine. From the moment she boards the bus until school is out, Keisha approaches her day with a confident attitude and a smile to match. Keisha models persistence even when things go awry and minds proper manners as she makes her way through a typical school day that includes all the minutiae of school life, from passing out paints to signing artwork. Kirk’s boldly colored gouache illustrations seem to shimmer with African-American Keisha’s ebullience and energy. With its gentle lessons in behavior, this charismatic tale will offer guidance to and bolster the self-esteem of readers both new to school as well as seasoned students. One caveat: Readers of a certain generation may find themselves reading aloud to the rhythm of the “Candy Man” song. (Picture book. 4-7)

Daniel Kirk speaks about Keisha Ann Can
Keisha Ann Can started off in my imagination not as a girl, but as a mouse! She was a positive, cheerful mouse who felt she could do anything.
[expand title=”Read More”] She could build with blocks, fly airplanes, go to the moon; she could be a princess or a president. After sharing my story with my editors, however, Keisha Ann took a different turn. My editors suggested that I try making Keisha into a real girl, one who’s enjoying her days in kindergarten. I rewrote the text for my book, and spent several days visiting a kindergarten class in my town. I took lots of notes on all the things the kindergarteners learned, watching them work and play. I learned that kids in kindergarten work very hard! I tried to put as many real kindergarten activities in my book as I possibly could.

When it came time to do the illustrations, I wanted to make the book look crisp, fun and simple, so I decided to try a technique I had used on my books Bus Stop, Bus Go, and Lunchroom Lizard. I used gouache paint, which is a kind of opaque watercolor, and I painted flat colors on top of each other. Then I sponged and sanded away some of the top color, leaving traces of both colors and interesting textures showing through. Then I outlined all the shapes with colored lines. It’s fun when you’re an artist to try new things, and to be surprised by the results you come up with. Sometimes they are good, and sometimes they are not so good, but that’s how you learn! I think Keisha Ann Can came out very nicely, and I hope I have the chance to do a book like this again.[/expand]

Things to think about and do once you have read Keisha Ann Can
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    1. What are some other things that might happen in a day in kindergarten? Do you remember anything from when you were in kindergarten? Did you study the same kinds of things Keisha Ann studies? Do you have good memories, or bad ones? Keisha Ann’s day seems to be a happy one. How would this book have been different if it had included things like having to go outside for a fire drill, or somebody getting hurt or feeling sick and having to go to the nurse, or the bathroom? What about a fight, or somebody crying? How do you think sad or scary things in Keisha Ann’s day would affect her? Why do you think I didn’t have any of these things happen in my book?
    2. What do you think Keisha Ann’s favorite subject in school is? Can you tell, by looking at the pictures? (The answer is, art.) What is your favorite subject in school?
    3. How would my book have been different if Keisha Ann had been in first grade, or second grade, or third? How would the book have been different if I had kept Keisha Ann as a mouse?
    4. Did you notice that Keisha Ann’s stuffed animal is a rabbit, and she also likes to feed the classroom pet, which is a rabbit? I put those things in the book because I love rabbits, and have two of them at home as pets. Have you ever had a classroom pet? What kind of animal was it, and what did it like to eat?

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