PPBF: Top Notch

Today I’m grateful for the close of another incredible week; Wednesday night we were treated to this brilliance on an overnight with our friends in Waelder, TX that we hadn’t seen in several years.

Monday I was a guest choir teacher at the Jr. High, Tuesday I got to hang out in a preK-3 early childhood class. Wednesday was a travel day with my husband and Thursday found me talking about Making Gratitude A Verb with a Reading Club that’s been going strong since the 1930’s. 

Author: Kristie Arendale

Illustrator: Marina Halak

Publisher: Blue Balloon Books

Birth date: June 13, 2023

Suitable for: ages 4-8

Themes: courage, confidence, mindset

Brief synopsis: Savannah’s very favorite, Gym class, is about to take it up a notch when the coach introduces a rope-climbing unit. What will it take for this little athlete to muster up the courage to conquer her fears and climb that rope to the top?

Opening page: The moment the alarm sounds, Savannah’s eyes pop open and she jumps out of bed. It’s the first day back after break, and she can’t wait to see her friends and teachers. Best of all … it’s GYM day!

As she ties her new shoes, Savannah wonders what fun things are in store. With an excited bounce in her step, she heads off to school.


Check out this five-star review from a reader on Amazon.

Why I like this book: This newcomer from author and veteran school counselor Kristie Arendale so beautifully normalizes a child’s fear of trying something new and the what if’s that can so easily take over. What if I fall? What if people laugh at me? What if I can’t do it? How will Savannah ever reach her personal best like the poster on the wall encourages if she can’t get over the fear that wants to block her from even trying? With sensitivity and a lot of encouragement and love, Savannah, coached by her best friend and her brother, gives it a try and does a top-notch job of conquering her anxious thoughts and reaching her goal.

Use the book as a springboard for students to talk about a time when they were scared to do something, but then dug deep and found the courage to do it anyway.

I used to be afraid to _________________. Then I _______________________.

And now I ______________________________________.  

How does having a growth mindset help them when their rope seems too high? Savannah uses positive affirmations to help her; how might a mantra might help next time your students are stuck?

Here’s a list that Teacher Toni and I collaborated on.

And in the story, Savannah’s brother is wearing a superhero cape; 

what do superhero skills have to do with mindset?

As for the anxiety, what strategies can help put that prefrontal cortex back on once our lids are flipped, so that we don’t give up and give in?

Check out some tried-and-true tools {here}.

Check out this book, then head to Susanna Hill’s blog


Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments