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Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, the nationally bestselling and celebrated creator of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Owen, and Kitten's First Full Moon, Chrysanthemum is a funny and honest school story about teasing, self-esteem, and acceptance to share all year round.

Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. "You're named after a flower!" teases Victoria.
"Let's smell her," says Jo.

Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again?

Supports the Common Core State Standards

32 pages, Paperback

First published September 16, 1991

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About the author

Kevin Henkes

180 books1,078 followers
Kevin Henkes became an author/illustrator when he was nineteen years old, working on a card table in his bedroom.
Today he's the author of many award-winning picture books and novels.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,093 reviews
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,212 reviews132 followers
March 12, 2021
The hubby is wooing me with adorable children’s books now that his new office is in the elementary library.

What an adorable and brightly illustrated gem. It was “absolutely perfect” just like Chrysanthemum’s winsome name.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,882 reviews31.2k followers
November 17, 2020
I do love the name Chrysanthemum, but it is long. It's unique and you could nick name them ChrysAnn. Anyway,

This book is an interesting study of identity and how our peers can affect us. It can also be a nice book about being a little different at school and having to deal with that. It's a little longer story. I wasn't really taken by the artwork, but it told the story just fine and had plenty of fun details.

Chrysanthemum loved her special name for 5 years and then she goes to school and is teased about her name. It deflates her and she begins to hate her name. She just met these kids and already she cares what they think about her to the point they can make her hate her name. We really do need our peers to accept us.

The thing is, school throws together everyone and sometimes we have to have patience to find our tribe. It can take years, at least in my case.

So, all the kids make fun of Chrysanthemum and then something amazing happens. A music teacher comes in and she is a person who all the kids love. There is an immediate connection and she is one of the teacher's kids look up too. It's like a spell or fame. Their opinion means so much to everyone. When Mrs. Twinkle says she loves the name Chrysanthemum, the whole class changes there mind. Now, that is some magic. I have seen this phenomenon so often, either with a famous person, or someone who most people genuinely like and they have this mysterious pull on people's opinions, at least for a time. I've never had that and I always wondered what that would be like, to be a taste maker, essentially, or simply universally liked. I was too busy being a wallflower to ever know.

The story is trying to get a message across and it can be important if a kid is dealing with something like this. The mice are cute enough. I think the message seems a little forced, but that's okay for the age it is trying to help.

As for names, I came up with a lot of names for my kids if I ever had them, and I found unusual names for them. I also feel that a girls name needs 3 syllables, well not need, but I like that. I never had kids so they were spared the embarrassment of my names I gave them, but I write all kinds of stories and my names for my main characters are fun to come up with. Chrysanthemum would be a name I would totally use. Anyway.
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,124 reviews104 followers
October 26, 2018
I really and for all intents and purposes do much love Kevin Henkes' Chrysanthemum and on an intensely personal and emotional level at that, and firmly believe that it is a story to which especially those of us (and really both children and adults) who have unusual, foreign sounding or simply imaginative first names can easily and readily relate (like me, for example, with a given name like Gundula).

And first and foremost, Chrysanthemum is therefore and even simply a sweet and evocative story about loving, about appreciating one's name, about loving oneself, but also very much and even sadly a tale about bullying and schoolyard, classroom harassment and how this is often neither taken seriously enough nor even remotely successfully combatted. For just look at Chrysanthemum's first teacher Mrs. Chud, who annoyingly and really totally in all ways cluelessly does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING USEFUL with regard to Chrysanthemum being relentlessly and loudly ridiculed due to her name, except that she says something snarky and sarcastic to Victoria (thank you for sharing that with us); younger children often do not even get and understand sarcasm and satire and what Victoria sorely needs and requires is direct criticism from Mrs. Chud or some other adult authority figure, actual, bona fide verbal chastisement and censure (lasting consequences, an educational deterrent and lesson, so to speak).

And even Chrysanthemum's own parents, although they do tell her their daughter that she is special (and that her name is perfect) and try to coddle her a bit at home, really also do nothing even REMOTELY useful or all that practical about the relentless bullying itself, as they neither complain at school nor do they bother with confronting the teacher. They simply and naively believe that by telling Chrysanthemum that her name is beautiful, everything will be alright, but the intimidation and nastiness just keep happening (and yes, my parents did pretty much the same when certain popular morons at school started calling me Gondola instead of Gundula and made relentless fun of my German accent, but I guess it did not much help that one of my teachers also believed it was my own fault that I was being bullied as according to him, I was supposedly not trying "hard enough" to get rid of my accent, talk about victim blaming, and sadly, my parents agreed with the teacher and simply told me to try harder, pretty rich considering that they also had a similar if not even a more pronounced German accent when speaking English).

However and that all being said, and while it does indeed and I think with some justification bother me how little and especially how few practical measures are taken by Mrs. Chud and Chrysanthemum's parents (by the majority of the adults in Chrysanthemum) to confront both the nastiness and the bullies (Victoria and her little gang of robot-like acolytes), I actually very much do both cheer and heartily applaud Kevin Henkes for not shying away from featuring, from presenting this sorry factoid, this uncomfortable scenario, as in reality, it happens far more often than any of us would care to think and even desire to consider (for while it might indeed make especially parents and caregivers such as teachers potentially uncomfortable, it is the truth, or rather, it is the unavoidable and sadly frustrating reality of bullying and how it is approached that it is often really NOT handled or rather that it is time and again not successfully and intelligently dealt with).

For to successfully combat schoolyard intimidation and nastiness, one usually and generally will need to actively confront both the bully/bullies and their unacceptable behaviours, and the only adult character to really ever do this in Chrysanthemum in any positive and thoughtful manner is Mrs. Twinkle (the popular new music teacher), probably because she knows from likely equally painful personal first-hand experience what name calling and bullying is like (having the name Delphinium). And she achieves a positive outcome and end in a manner that not only makes Chrysanthemum feel great and special about herself again, but it also makes the erstwhile bullies rather majorly ashamed and finally realise that Chrysanthemum's name is indeed not only unusual but also sweet and pretty (however, if they have actually learned their lessons on a permanent and lasting basis, that will of course remain to be seen, as this is left open by Kevin Henkes).

Now while I do realise that some readers tend to chafe a bit at the ending, the epilogue (where Chrysanthemum giggles because her erstwhile nemesis Victoria has forgotten her assigned musicale lines), on a purely emotional and personal level, and after all of the relentless and loathsome teasing she has had to endure, I can certainly very well understand Chrysanthemum's reaction (her giggling at Victoria). And really, all she does is giggle a bit, not particularly friendly and nice, I guess, but Chrysanthemum does NOT in any way attempt to nastily and viciously humiliate Victoria in front of the entire class (which is precisely what Victoria does with Chrysanthemum, and on numerous occasions, like when she raises her hand and pontificates to the entire class that Chrysanthemum's name contains thirteen letters). And no, I am certainly not trying to excuse Chrysanthemum's behaviour as being in any way praiseworthy, but I can and do much understand and actually even rather appreciate it on a personal and emotional level (and think that Victoria more than richly deserves being mildly teased, as one reaps what one has sown, and a dose of one's own bitter medicine might actually and in fact be a healthy tonic for Victoria).

And now finally, and as much as I appreciate and even oh so much love Kevin Henkes' narrative, I do not really find his accompanying illustrations equally visually attractive and evocative (although I do consider the pictures bright, fun and sweetly descriptive, and a more than decent accompaniment to the presented, the featured text). For since I cannot actually find anything in the narrative which indicates that Chrysanthemum deals specifically with mice (and mouselike behaviour), I would most definitely prefer illustrations of (and a story about) human beings instead of anthropomorphic rodents (but that is a small and entirely personal pet peeve, as I have actually never liked especially human-like mice overly much, and especially not as pictorial offerings). Four stars for Kevin Henkes' Chrysanthemum and highly recommended!
Profile Image for R..
897 reviews111 followers
March 30, 2009
I loved the subplot, told only in the pictures, wherein the father consults archaic psychological texts in order to understand his daughter's distress.
Profile Image for Ronyell.
955 reviews322 followers
May 13, 2014

“Chrysanthemum” is a cute tale from Kevin Henkes about how a young girl mouse named Chrysanthemum tries to appreciate her long and unusual name when she goes to school and is teased by her classmates. “Chrysanthemum” is a truly heartwarming story that children will easily enjoy for many years.

Kevin Henkes has done an excellent job at both writing and illustrating this book. Kevin Henkes’ story about how Chrysanthemum starts to loathe her name because some kids teased her about her name is easily relatable to children who have also been teased about their names. Also, the story does a great job at describing how much Chrysanthemum loves her name and even though she was teased about her name, she learns to accept her name and many children will learn that they should not let other kids tease them about their names and that they should accept who they are no matter what. Kevin Henkes’ illustrations are cute as all the characters are mice that perform human activities such as dancing around on their hind legs. The image that stood out the most was the image of Mrs. Twinkle herself as the text describes how amazing she is and the image strongly reinforces that by having Mrs. Twinkle look extremely beautiful and having a large stomach due to her being pregnant which is one of the few times I actually saw an image of a pregnant character in a children’s book.

“Chrysanthemum” is a wonderful book about accepting who you are no matter what other people say that children will easily relate to and enjoy. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since there is nothing inappropriate in the content of this book.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Profile Image for Tara.
138 reviews20 followers
December 2, 2007
This is just a darling book. Having saddled my eldest with a somewhat unusual name, I used to read this book to him frequently in the hopes that he would absorb the message that an unusual name is something you can be proud of. I can't say for sure whether this story made a difference, but he likes his name and has never let anyone's teasing change his mind.
Chrysanthemum is so much fun to read. I do wish that the epilogue was just a little different. The last page has the mean girl making a mistake and Chrysanthemum giggling about it. It's reasonable for Chrysanthemum to feel some satisfaction at her enemy's downfall (and I would feel the same way), but I find myself wishing that Chrysanthemum had been the bigger mouse and not enjoyed Victoria's flub so much. It ends the story on a slightly sour note that keeps the book from being absolutely perfect.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,862 reviews5,006 followers
November 5, 2009
Very cute illustrations and a sweet portrayal of a loving, happy family soften a realistic portrayal of how mean and xenophobic children can be, and how easily a child can be excluded and made to feel abnormal.
Profile Image for Crystal Marcos.
Author 4 books888 followers
September 5, 2010
I enjoyed this book and reading the discussion about it. I liked the attention to detail in the illustrations. For example, the books Dad was reading or the chalkboard with words. I also smiled at the little mice sleeping, some of them with their arms strait up in the air. Too funny! I got a kick out of the students names listed on the page seeing Kay and Max next to each other. I will have to share this book with Kaylee and her cousin Max when they are old enough to read.

As for the story itself, I agree with all points made in the discussion group here on goodreads in the Children's Picture Book Club. I do believe the bullying should have been addressed more. I wasn't too thrilled that Chrysanthemum giggled at Victoria after her mistake. That isn't something I want my daughter to think is okay.

I loved Mrs. Twinkle and her interesting dress. Not sure I could have rocked that dress when I was pregnant, but she sure did!
Profile Image for Karol.
628 reviews29 followers
September 14, 2010
Poor Chrysanthemum! As a parent, I can surely relate to the teasing that children can dish out. My son was much like Chysanthemum, confident in himself and excited about going to school. But he had to deal with being teased too - as son many kids are. What I liked about the book was that it showed how much power grown-ups have to deal with this sort of thing. Mrs. Chud ignored it, but dear Mrs. Twinkle lifted Chysanthemum up as a child who should be envied, not made fun of. And soon, the other kids wanted to be more like her.

The illustrations were a little too cutesy for me, given the theme of bullying and teasing. But I imagine for children, it might help draw them into the story and make the bullying feel less threatening.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,761 reviews1,218 followers
September 12, 2007
For a basically sweet book, I think it’s a tad too mean at the end, unnecessarily so. But, it can be a helpful book for young kids who have unusual names or get teased for their names, or teased for any other reason. Good also for kids who tease others or those who have witnessed other kids being teased. In other words, just about every young child.
Profile Image for Emily Briano.
424 reviews110 followers
September 24, 2016
I absolutely love reading this book with Catherine. I love the cadence of "Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum" over and over. I love her outfits. I love how she loves her name and is her own person....errr mouse. I love how loving her parents are (and can we talk about her dad's excellent vocabulary and supportive reading habits?) I love how the mean girls get their due in the end and want a little share of Chrysanthemum's unique and magical spirit. Maybe...just maybe I would like to be Chrysanthemum when I grow up. In the mean time, if someone finds a dress with seven pockets for my secret treasures couldya help a sister out?
Profile Image for Jackie.
4,096 reviews46 followers
April 22, 2014
Chrysanthemum loves her name, her parents picked just the right one...that is, until she goes to school and all the kids laugh at her name and tease her. "She's named after a flower...her name doesn't fit on a nametag...", etc. Chrysanthemum is depressed and disappointed when she gets home from school, but her parents bolster up her self-esteem.

The other kids don't see the light, though, until a very thoughtful, insightful teacher comes to her rescue and saves the day! Chrysanthemum is a great read-aloud for bullying education...since bullying comes in many forms and in many ways. Love the water color illustrations.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,797 reviews2,343 followers
April 10, 2020
Little Chrysanthemum adores her unique name, until she starts school, and other kids make fun of it.

Henkes' books are always a delight, and this is one of his best.

Profile Image for Brittnee.
257 reviews7 followers
August 24, 2018
Cute story with a wonderful message. I use it to teach kindness, that it is okay to be different, and to love who you are no matter what others say.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,116 reviews186 followers
October 5, 2019
"The day she was born was the happiest day in her parents' lives" begins Kevin Henkes' charming picture-book, Chrysanthemum, which addresses itself to the question of identity and difference, and how it feels to be the object of classroom ridicule. Having always loved her name, and believed it to be "absolutely perfect," Chrysanthemum is shocked and dismayed to discover, on the first day of school, that her classmates do not feel the same. Soon the object of a schoolyard taunting campaign, Chrysanthemum is miserable, until a lovely new teacher tells the class her name, and changes everything...

Henkes' mouse tales, from Julius, the Baby of the World to Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse , are always a joy, but Chrysanthemum is undoubtedly my favorite. The author's pitch-perfect depiction of a young girl's initial enthusiasm for school, and her surprise and dismay at the cruelty of her peers, is combined with adorable illustrations that are both colorful and expressive. The accompanying adult humor - Chrysanthemum's worried father takes to reading tomes with titles like The Inner Mouse Vol. 1: Childhood Anxiety and A Rose By Any Other Name...Understanding Identity - will provide some enjoyment for parents as well.
9 reviews
January 26, 2014
Chrysanthemum is an award-winning picture book written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. The story is based on a little girl’s journey of dealing with her very unique name. She starts loving her name, until she is teased about it at school. Eventually with the help of her teacher, Chrysanthemum is able proudly love her name again. Chrysanthemum falls into the realistic fiction category, because it is believable and relate-able. This a great book to introduce to a classroom because the emotions that Chrysanthemum experiences can easily relate to each student. This story has a thin disguise for the heavy-handed moral lesson, but it does not take over the story.

This book is recommended for grades K-2. With bullying being such an important issue to address into today’s classrooms, this book is a creative way to introduce the topic to this age group. It would be a great read aloud book because of the entertaining, yet symbolic text, combined with the great illustrations. For younger readers, the illustrations help express Chrysanthemum’s emotions and tell her story. I am somewhat disappointed with the ending of the story. I wish Chrysanthemum would have been the “bigger mouse”. Unfortunately, many times this ending happens in classrooms and helps classify the story into realistic fiction.

Kevin Henkes has written a series of Mouse Books that are all perfect for the classroom. If a student enjoys Chrysanthemum a teacher can introduce the student to the entire series.

Profile Image for Kimberly.
971 reviews4 followers
March 2, 2013
I'm not in the habit of rating the dozens and dozens of children's books I read to my kids, but I had to review this one. This is a terrible book and I can't figure out why the heck everyone thinks it's so wonderful! Basically, it's about a girl named Chrysanthemum who doesn't like her name, because she gets teased and bullied for it (her friends have 'normal' names). Then, one of her teachers tells Chrysanthemum how much she loves her name and that she wants to name her baby (the teacher is pregnant) Chrysanthemum. Suddenly, Chrysanthemum loves her name because her teacher says it's an awesome name. What kind of message is that?! Yeah, let's teach little girls to evaluate themselves and their feelings of self-worth based on other people! This book doesn't even deserve 1 star. I hope parents look beyond the books popularity and critically think about what it's message is to young kids. It's completely beyond me why this book is on must-read lists for young children.
1 review
January 28, 2019
Many authors enjoy using different techniques to make the important moments stand out. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes teaches that everyone has something special about them, no matter what. I know this because of Mrs.Twinkles modeling, Chrysanthemums wonderful achievement, and Chrysanthemums parents encouragement. Now, that I know this I can think about what’s the special thing that I have, because Chrysanthemum sure found hers!
Profile Image for Brittany Sammons.
6 reviews2 followers
April 28, 2019
I adored this book because of what it stands for and the honest conversation it sparks. Henkes does a wonderful job at using a real life situation for kids to relate to, while having a mouse be the main character. The lessons of being true to who you are, being made fun of for being different and struggling with emotions are constantly revisited in this story. It examines what it looks like to be influenced by peers and the harsh truth that not everyone is kind.

For my classroom, I would use this book as a social emotional lesson and build our classroom community. This would be a good book to read during the first week of school to remind students that our words matter and can be either helpful or hurtful to our peers. It also celebrates being unique and that we are all indescribable wonders. After reading this book, I would have a class meeting to discuss what we noticed and what we could do differently in our own classroom. I would then create a name bulletin board where students can create a nameplate to stick up for the year.
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,397 reviews
April 6, 2017
A little white mouse named Chrysanthemum LOVES her moniker, that is until she begins school. That is until an adored teacher named Delphinium helps her and her classmates think of her name in a flattering way.

This story is a little long for pre-school age children and perhaps a little out of their experience but it is wonderful for K - 3.
Profile Image for Samantha (The Biblophage).
86 reviews25 followers
March 24, 2018
Looking back on books that I read as a child, this was definitely one that made me the reader I am now. I made my mom read this to me over and over again because I loved the story so much. Definitely one of the books that reminds me why I want to work in publishing so badly.
Profile Image for Surya.
259 reviews55 followers
April 7, 2020
Awww such a cute story, so very relatable.
And the epilogue, even more adorable <3
1 review2 followers
January 30, 2019
Usually in books, authors write a lot about how people get bullied. This is also shown in the book ´´Chrysanthemum´´ by Kevin Henkes. It’s about how a little girl named Chrysanthemum gets made fun of and doesn't stand up for herself when the girls Jo, Rita, and Victoria make fun of her. This text taught me that I should stand up for myself.

Chrysanthemum taught me to be confident and tell people what I think. Three girls named Jo, Rita, and Victoria don't care about how Chrysanthemum really feels. They make fun of her name.
´´ ‘It’s so long,´ said Jo. ´ It scarcely fits on your name tag,´ said Rita, pointing. ´ I´m named after my grandma,´ said Victoria. ´ You’re named after a flower!´ ´´ At this moment, Chrysanthemum feels terrible because all of her life, she thought that her name was perfect but now, she lost her self confidence and doesn't think that anyone likes her name anymore.

Chrysanthemum taught me to be an up stander and to be confident in myself. After Jo, Rita, and Victoria make fun of her, Chrysanthemum doesn't stand up for herself. She goes home telling her parents what happened. She felt better. When Chrysanthemum went back to school the next day, the same thing happened.
“ ‘She even looks like a flower,‘ said Victoria. ‘Let's pick her,‘ said Rita pointing. ‘ Let's smell her, ‘ said Jo.´´ If Chrysanthemum doesn't stand up for herself, then Jo, Rita, and Victoria are just going to keep on making fun of her. This is an example of cause and effect because if Chrysanthemum doesn't stand up for herself, then Jo, Rita, and Victoria will keep on bullying her. If they keep on bullying her, then Chrysanthemum will be sad and she won't be confident in herself anymore.

The book ´´ Chrysanthemum ´´ by Kevin Henkes taught me that when someone bullies you, you should be brave enough to stand up for yourself and other people too. It also made me think about how so many people get bullied but because of what happened in their past with bullies, they don't have the courage to stand up for themselves. If you tell the bullies to stop, other people's life will become happier as well.
´´ If people are trying to bring you DOWN, it only means that you are above them. ´´
Profile Image for Marien Dille.
110 reviews3 followers
August 7, 2022
counting this one bc my friend read it to his kids on Monday and I was there and it was PERFECT. and also bc I am in a reading slump and SO far behind my goal looool. if I name a child chrysanthemum that will be the reason why. thank u very much and have a nice day.
Profile Image for Meredith.
3,413 reviews59 followers
July 17, 2021
Chrysanthemum loves her name until she starts school where her classmates tease her.

"'Your name is beautiful.' 'And precious and priceless and fascinating and winsome.' 'It's everything you are.' 'Absolutely perfect.'"

Chrysanthemum loves her name. She and her parents think it's perfect. Then she starts school, and her classmates find it funny and strange.

"Chrysanthemum wilted."

A trio of other girls make fun of Chrysanthemum's name at every opportunity, making her school life miserable. But they abruptly change their tune when .

This story is about someone who is happily marching along to the beat of her own drum when someone else decides to rain on her parade and tear her down in order to feel big. It addresses teasing/bullying. Chrysanthemum's classmates tease her about her name because it is both unusual and nature-inspired.

Although Chrysanthemum's teacher, Mrs. Chud, redirects, she does virtually nothing to shut down this reoccurring behavior. Instead of using it as an opportunity to discuss kindness and common courtesy, she ignores it. Perhaps she is the sticks and stones will break your bones ... type or simply thinks children need to learn to handle things on their own without adult interference.

Chrysanthemum's parents do their best to reassure their child and cheer her up, but their influence is limited. (I liked how her father is shown reading parenting psychology books.) While starting school is often difficult for children, it can also be hard for caregivers because they can no longer stand between their child(ren) and the things that may hurt them.

Chrysanthemum, who has never before suffered ridicule, is at a loss as to how to respond. Rather than trading insults or standing up for herself, she simply feels sad. She goes from loving her name to hating it within the course of a single day. And if it hadn't been for the music teacher Mrs. Twinkle, Chrysanthemum would have been bullied for the rest of the school year and possibly the rest of her school career.

Luckily, there was a teacher willing to say something to the mean girls. Her method of making the name they mocked seem desirable was much more effective in changing the girls' behavior than scolding them or reminding them of the school's anti-bullying policy. That was a clever bit of psychology. Mrs. Twinkle's praise boosts Chyrsanthemum's spirits, and she regains her original spark.

Most young readers have been hurtfully teased about something by their peers at some point in their lives and will relate to Chyrsanthemum's plight. Children with unusual names will find particular meaning in this book. Adults reading this story to small children will be able to reflect upon both Chrysanthemum's and her parents' experience as they can see themselves as both the child and the caregiver.

Other books to share on the same topic are Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds, Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney, and Purplicious by Victoria Kann.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,093 reviews

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