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 Review and Miscellany Posts
Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.
Congratulations to our following participants:
May winner for the AWB Reading Challenge: Holly Mueller of Reading, Teaching, Learning for her review of Daniel Handler’s Why We Broke Up.
June Winner: Joyce Ray of Musings for her review of Drawing from Memory.
[Illustrator’s Sketchpad] An ‘Artful’ Being: Susanna Goho Quek, the National Geographic, and The House of Suzie Wong
We are also joining Nonfiction Monday today. The host this week is Abby the Librarian.
Drawing from the City
Based on the Oral stories of: Tejubehan
Original Tamil Text: Saalai Selvam English Text: V. Geetha & Gita Wolf
Published by: Tara Books, 2012 Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
This picture book is a beautiful tribute to Tejubehan and her husband Ganesh who were described at the end of the book as belonging to a community who are traveling singers, wandering the streets, singing devotional songs. In return for the the beautiful music they create, they were provided food and clothing and a little bit of money. When times got more difficult though, Ganesh was forced to find other livelihood choices. Things changed when he met Haku Shah in Ahmedabad who encouraged Ganesh to draw. And wonderful husband that he was, Ganesh also encouraged his wife’s Teju’s talent “disregarding what was considered appropriate for women in the community to do.” Sadly, Ganesh passed away when this book was being completed.
This book shares Teju’s life story narrative from the time that she was a little girl in her village, one with nature:
.. to Teju’s gradual realization that she belongs to a poor family with hardly enough to eat. Work is a given, an expected thing even for very young children who are expected to help around the home. Teju also shares how they traveled from her village to the city through the train that she longed to ride from when she was a young child, and how she was matched to a groom with kind eyes (Ganeshbhai) when she became of age to marry. Like her father, Ganesh also sings for a living – until the time that an artist encouraged Ganesh to try his hand at drawing.
After discovering the joys of art, Ganesh also encouraged the initially-reluctant Teju to give it a try. She described her experience as such:
It is like magic. I sit in one place with paper and pen, and it is my hand that starts to move. Lines, dots, more lines, and more dots, and you have a picture. I can bring to life things that I have seen and known, but also things that I imagine. I can even bring the two together. I have been moving all my life, looking for ways to survive, but this is a new direction. My heart is full.
I enjoyed how the story telling is very similar to a stream of consciousness, with one thread of thought leading to the next and the next, with a continuity that flows naturally from the striking black and white artwork of Teju. While haunting, it is never truly very sad as it speaks of a shared life between a couple who was able to transcend life’s travails to an elevated artform. In the latter part of the book, Teju asks herself whether she would draw her women characters as floating or flying forever like birds, because they do not ever seem to stay still (very much like her). I hope you get a copy of this book so that you will likewise be touched by Teju’s life, and how through pencil and paper, she was able to touch the skies.
Story and Illustrations By: Judith Kerr
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2011.
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
While the characters’ names are different, multi-award-winning author/illustrator Judith Kerr created this book in honor of her husband who passed away, Nigel (Tom) Kneale. In contrast to the earlier book that is in monochrome, My Henry is illustrated in soft pastels, its gentle hues possibly reflective of the disposition of the artist and her thoughtful, temperate, tender strokes and shades.
This book shows how the power of a lovingly-shared life can transcend the boundaries of death and dying. Through the old lady’s short naps and brief snooze during the day, she gets to spend time with ‘my Henry’ as they go on unprecedented adventures together such as riding a dinosaur
or water-skiing with a dolphin
or simply being together in a suspended state between waking and sleeping where psychedelic dreams make absolutely anything possible. While it still tugs at the heartstrings, the book produces a beautiful ache that celebrates a life well-lived, and the waiting, the anticipation of that moment when the couple’s lives would be one again.
Truly a beautiful gift to be able to share an entire history with another human being. Time, distance, even the boundaries of life and death do not truly matter in the face of such overpowering affection. Kiss someone you love today, dear friends.
My eleven year old daughter and I are continuing to read The Giver. While it is a re-read for me, I am rediscovering my love for the book.
How about you, dear friends, what have you been reading this week?
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