Monday Reading: Of Grandparents, Water Tales, and a Graphic Novel

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen and Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts (and brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Two of our blogging friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have inspired us to join this vibrant meme.

Last Week’s Reviews and Miscellany Posts

Click on the image below to be taken to our book reviews from the previous week.

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CallItCourage

Miscellany Posts/ Weekly Meme

Photo Journal/A-Z Photo Challenge: W is for Water in San Francisco

Group Endeavours in Service Learning: Let’s Read Together, Singapore!

Poetry Friday: Blackwater Pond by Mary Oliver

Photo Journal/ Travel Theme: Circles

Photo Journal/ Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

Book Hunting Expedition: All Out Book Sale at Bras Basah

As most of you know, we are celebrating Water Tales until the end of the year. As I was doing a bit of research on fantabulous picture books with a water theme (also in keeping with Project Splash! Asia), I discovered four picture books on grandparents and water. I thought of collecting them all together here to share with you.

Deep River

Story By: Elaine Moore
Illustrated byHenri Sorensen
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1994
Borrowed from the NIE Library.

This is a book that would resonate deeply with grandfathers who enjoy a quiet bonding time with their grandchildren through fishing. There is a hushed quality to the entire narrative that makes one want to read it aloud in soft quiet tones – respectfully allowing the lyrical text to roll off seamlessly in one’s tongue:

Night air bounces off the leaves outside my window. It whispers through the curtains.

“We still goin’, Jess?”

I sit up fast. Grandpa puts a finger to his lips. We’re going fishing. Just the two of us. Usually, it’s my brother who goes fishing with Grandpa. This is the first time for me.

Grandpa is wearing an old, wrinkled hat. Grandma says it’s as old as the hills. “Here, Jess.” He tosses me a hat. “The sun gets hot out there on the water.”

We load up our gear and creep out, careful the screen door doesn’t slam behind us.

The moon’s round dish-face makes a shimmery path to Grandpa’s truck. The stars are shiny pebbles lying so close to the ground I could scoop them up with my hand. It is like church, cool and quiet. Talking loud doesn’t seem right.

The imagery is exquisite and the water color illustrations have that serene vibe to it that is a perfect complement to the whispering words. While I was not too keen about the book cover (I could imagine that a lot of kids would pass over this title on the library shelves – which is a shame, really), the flow of the narrative, alongside the values of stillness and patience, and the twist in the end is well worth the read.

Grandpa’s Boat

Story By: Michael Catchpool
Illustrated by: Sophy Williams
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd, 2008.
Book borrowed from the NIE Library.

This book made me yearn for the sea. I would like to think of myself as a daughter of the stars and the waves. Each page brings that wonderful hue, the distinct shade of the sky, sand, and sea. The story is told from the eyes of a granddaughter who is coming to terms with the loss of her grandfather who loved his boat Periwinkle – but not as much as he loved Grandma. While there is an undercurrent of sadness, I sensed the lovely celebration of life and the echoes of a love as wide as the sea:

Mum says I had my first ride on The Periwinkle with Grandpa when I was only a baby, long before Grandpa was ill. She says we dipped and raced our way across the water and I kicked and squealed with delight, as she held me tight, but I don’t really remember.

But sometimes I dream about racing across the waves, beating the seagulls as we dash along, the wind cheering us on our way.

I dream about Grandpa too.

The book tells the story of old Periwinkle’s restoration – from an old boat with holes and peeling paint to a lovingly washed and scrubbed boat ready to take on the sea and sky once more. The subtlety of the text and the subdued shades of the beautiful illustrations would make this an instant favorite among most kids – and adults too.

Passing On

Story By: Mike Dumbleton
Illustrated by: Terry Denton
Publisher: Red Fox, an imprint of Random House Australia Pty Ltd, 2001.
Borrowed from the NIE Library.

This picture book is told in verse and also speaks of a love between a grandson and his grandmother who just passed away. As can be deduced from the title, it talks about the boy ‘passing on’ to his younger brother the things that he used to share with their grandmother: fishing from off the quay, standing on the shore, and wading in the sea. While I was not too keen about the illustrations, the rhyming text, and the too-overt message of the entire narrative, I also sensed the beautiful bond between Grandma and this young boy who inherited his Grandpa’s cheeky smile and love of books.

Seaside Dream

Story By: Janet Costa Bates
Illustrated by: Lambert Davis  
Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc. 2010
Borrowed the book from the NIE Library.

Naturally, I had to save the best for last. I have to admit that I am quite partial with Lee and Low Books, as I find most of their books absolutely beautiful with sentiments that are keenly felt and matched with glowing illustrations that make the reader’s eyes glaze.

Seaside Dream celebrates the story of Grandmother who was originally from Cape Verde and made a life for herself and her family in the States. Grandma’s birthday celebration is a cause for family and friends from near and far to come visit and fill the entire house with the smell of delectable dishes (good kachupa or munchupa depending on which part of the island you came from), the sound of laughter and noise of family members coming together in playful banter – the sense of comfort, warmth, and quiet acceptance felt like a tangible object like a seashell that has drifted to the shore.

Despite a house filled with well-wishes, Grandma’s heart aches for her sister, Aura, who lives across the sea and who could not make herself leave the islands that is her home. At its core, this lovely book speaks about waves of sadness, ancient eyes that have known the bitterness of parting and sorrow, and mantenhas carried by the multitude of stars and conch shells that whisper the promise of togetherness.

Currently Reading…

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My ten year old girl re-reading Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese for the nth time.

I have just finished reading Gene Luen Yang’s The American Born Chinese and this is in keeping with our GatheringReaders book club meeting Wednesday of this week. A book recommended by my ten year old daughter who must have read this a total of three times now, I understand her fascination after I read the first few chapters. Truly riveting. I finished it in a little over two hours’ time I think, and we watched a theatre play in between. I can’t wait to discuss it with the GatheringReaders kids this Wednesday.

I did not realize that Rumo was a book in two novels, so it’s going to take awhile before I finish this one. It gives me so much pleasure to revisit Zamonia and be intimate with a Wolperting Hero and villainous Shark Grubs with fourteen arms. I am thinking it would take around two months or so to finish this entire novel.

I know that it’s December now and I meant to finish Ray Bradbury’s The October Country several months back, but as per usual, life got in the way. I had to return this book and borrow it once again. I think I’d only need to read around three or four stories and I’d be finished with this grisly yet glorious collection.

How about you, dear friends, what have you been reading this week?

Seaside Dream is Lee and Low 2006 New Voices Award – Honor Award

AWB Reading Challenge Update: 124 (35)

Picture Book Challenge Update: 139-142 (120)

11 Comments on Monday Reading: Of Grandparents, Water Tales, and a Graphic Novel

  1. The picture books look lovely. Really beautiful illustrations.

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  2. The illustrations in the grandparents’ series are beautiful. I have never read The October Country but I am going to add it to my ever-growing list. Thanks for sharing! Have a great week.
    Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

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  3. Nice themed book week! Have a great reading week!

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  4. I adore illustrations as lovely as these, and the narrative in the Deep River and Grandpa’s Boat books was totally engaging. Thanks for sharing.

    Here’s MY MONDAY MEMES POST

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  5. Love all the picture books that you read, Myra – and thank you for sharing snippets of the writing as well, which helps in getting a feel for the book. American Born Chinese sounds like a must have – so, onto my wish list it goes!

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  6. Thanks for showing October Country. Don’t think I’ve read this Bradbury–adding it to my TBR list!

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  7. Gene Luen Yang’s The American Born Chinese is a book that I had the option of reading for a library class (I ended up choosing another). And I’ve picked it up countless times, only to set it back down. I know I really should read it. I just haven’t yet.

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  8. I can’t help but think of Allen Say and Grandfather’s Journey when you mention grandparents. I also think of Tommie dePaola’s Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs. I’m very intrigued by Grandpa’s Boat

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  9. I look forward to any new work by Gene Luen Yang! And, I enjoy Elephant and Piggie!

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  10. I loved looking over your “water themed” books. The Elephant and Piggie book is a favorite and must read for those of us in the Pacific Northwest with our long, wet, and sometimes dreary winters. A great “glass is half-full” mentality to reinforce with kids! And I’ll be certainly looking for American Born Chinese–sounds great!

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  11. American Born Chinese keeps popping up on blogs… I’m going to have to check it out. I love Bradbury, and October Country would be a great one to reread :)

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