Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka

Illustrator and storybook writer Chris Raschka's Yo! Yes? details the short yet sweet meeting of two boys, one white, one black on the street. With the story's word count totalling only 34 words, one would think at first glance that the story's plot would be uninteresting; however, it's message of finding friendship in the oddest of places it what is clearly understood at the culmination of this award-winning book.

Raschka's rhythmic text introduces the reader to two opposities, while one is shy, the other is very outgoing. As the two communicate with very few words, "Yo!" "Yes?" "What's up?" "Not much." The exchange of words lead up to an increased amount of converstaion. The two boys join together to become friends at the final pages as Raschka depicts them both jumping up into the air while yelling simulateneously, "Yow!"

Although the text is simplistic, the underlying message that Raschka details in the story is that you can find friendship with someone who may appear completely different than you on the outside. But if you take the time to get to know that person and his intentions, you may find that you have alike than you assumed.

  • What gave Raschka the inspiration to write Yo! Yes?
While I did not find an exact answer to this question, I discovered the process of how he gets started on writing a story. In an interview with Scholastic, Raschka states,"usually a number of events will be going on around me to start on a book. What I mean is I will have read a poem or saw a picture that is lingering in my mind. I will be brooding about something going on in my life, and then I will remember something that happened to me as a child. Some of this will just come to me; some if it I will actively pursue for instance, maybe it was that worried me the most when I was eight. So then I will have this thing that I want to get down. It might just be a single picture in my mind, or an image suggested by a line of poetry, or a phrase I heard on the street, something that I want to nurse along into a picture book."

The part of the interview where he says, or a phrase I heard on the street, totally struck me - perhaps he heard bits and pieces of a conversation like this on the street, and this was his motivation to write Yo! Yes? I wonder??

I think reading this story aloud, even using this as a Reader's Theatre activity in the classroom, will allow for children to be actively involved in the text, as well as being "eavesdroppers" on their conversation. Raschka sends the message that children can find friends in the most unlikely places, and at first glance, with the most unlikely people.


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