Cummins, J. (2002). Country Kid, City Kid. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Country Kid, City Kid shows the similarities and differences in the lives of Ben, a country kid, and Jody, a city kid, based on where they live. The focus is very much on their daily routines, the small differences between Ben and Jody's experiences and the underlying similarities. In the illustrations, Jody and Ben often wear parallel colors or items of clothing, which was a nice touch. And it's only a matter of time, before they meet and become friends despite those surface differences.
Of course, the question arises, what about suburban kid? Where is his or her story? Another issue with the book is that it assumes a middle class and Christian background. Also, the fact that Ben is white and Jody is black is completely unaddressed by the text (but some teachers prefer any potential race issues to be ignored). It is worth discussing though, since minority characters are only shown in Jody's city narrative. Apparently the country is only for white people. And why, in all the comparisons, is information about the white boy shared first?
Activities to do with the book:
Students could write and draw about their own lives following the example laid out in the book, focusing on narrating their daily lives, what they did over the summer, new friends they made, how their family celebrates holidays or interacts with their community.
Also, if a student is preparing to go to a summer camp for the first time, this book could be shared to help prepare the students for the various activities they can enjoy.
"Ben is a country kid. When he wakes up in the morning, he hears cows mooning and birds singing."
"Jody is a city kid. When she wakes up in the morning, she hears taxicab horns and fire truck sirens."
"The first snowfall sends Ben scurrying for his sled to go sliding down the big hill with his friends."
"When it snows in the city, Jody knows to wear boots for walking on the slushy sidewalks. She can't resist jumping in the fresh snow."
"For summer vacation, Ben is eager to go to Camp Eagle Ridge to canoe, build campfires, and meet new friends."
"Jody is excited about her first time at Camp Eagle Ridge. She looks forward to swimming, hiking and learning to ride a horse."