After a week of displaying welcome back to school and other feel good titles on my picture book easel, I put out I Do Not Like Yolanda by Zoey Abbott. I just let it sit there, unread, staring out into the classroom watching students. Each day I would head toward the easel, which also has a basket of picture books next to it, and reach for a book, but never this one. Eventually, a few brave souls started asking questions like, “When are we going to read that one,” and “Why doesn’t she like Yolanda,” and finally, “Can I read that?”
My answers were simple; “We are going to read that one soon,” and “It’s interesting why she doesn’t like Yolanda,” and “Yes, of course you can read that, just bring it back tomorrow, okay?”
I felt it was important to let this title sit on display for a few days instead of just jumping right into it. As we are still in the launching phase of reader’s workshop, I wanted to use this wonderful book for several mini lessons and it was worth the wait. Much conversation, questions and thinking out loud with others occured, simply by letting this book just sit, unread, waiting for me to pick it up and share it with my fourth graders.
I Do Not Like Yolanda, by Zoey Abbott, is a wonderful story that resonates with many students. Bianca, the main character, loves to write letters and she writes many, but she is afraid of Yolanda, the postmaster. Bianca goes through various routines to avoid Yolanda’s line at the post office, always hoping to be waited on by one of the other postal workers but she is not always successful. These encounters leave Bianca feeling a strong dislike of Yolanda that borders on fear, until she decides to face her fears and approach Yolanda’s line on a day when she has five letters to mail. Bianca still employs her good luck strategies before arriving at the post office, but she screws up all her courage and approaches Yolanda, asks for five stamps and then, cue the drum roll please, asks her about her weekend! As she waits anxiously for the answer, fully anticipating something AWFUL to happen, something magical happens instead, a friendship is born! The students were excited and relieved to see the positive outcome and this kicked off a firestorm of conversation. They had questions about characters,they had discussions about themes, they made personal connections and so much more that I have mini lessons planned for weeks! The lessons aren’t just related to reading, they are across the curriculum and definitely relate to classroom community and social/emotional learning.
Here’s what students had to say:
- I REALLY liked this book!
- The message here is “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
- Why did Bianca think that Yolanda was so mean, she was really nice!
- The illustrations were cool, I liked looking at Yolanda’s face.
- Other kids should read this book.
- This book teaches an important lesson, don’t judge a person by how they look.
- One of the messages was, “don’t be afraid,” and I really liked that.
- It was funny AND had an important message.
- It was cool that it was dedicated to the real Bianca and the real Yolanda who the author said WAS really nice, actually.
- The illustrations and the end papers were incredible, can I look at it again, please?!?!
Zoey Abbott hits it out of the park with I Do Not Like Yolanda. The lesson possibilities are endless with this book and I am certain that it will be read again and again. In an age of immediate gratification, waiting can be hard, as my students learned, but sometimes it is absolutely worth it!