It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts
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Click here to sign up. If you have already signed up, here is the January-March linky where you can link up your reviews or updates from your reading list. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Hugless Douglas World Book to two lucky CORL participants from Jan-March. So link up your posts now!
I discovered these two picturebooks by accident as I was looking for possible titles that would be apt for our current bimonthly theme on multiculturalism and diversity: a celebration of the outliers, those who live in the fringes of society. As I read through these two titles, they immediately went into my text-sets for my course currently being offered to higher-degree students in my university.
Written by: Nicola Davies Illustration by: Laura Carlin
Published by: Walker Books, 2013
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
This is a story of a young girl who lived in a broken city where nothing ever grew. Think of it as a dystopian-themed picturebook where everything is grey and “no one ever smiled.”
She describes her environment in this fashion:
When I was young I lived in a city that was mean and hard and ugly. Its streets were dry as dust, cracked by heat and cold, and never blessed with rain. A gritty, yellow wind blew constantly, scratching round the buildings like a hungry dog.
Despite the bleak imagery, the reader gets to marvel at the beauty of the words, its lyrical scent, its poetic texture. And so this young girl felt her heart shrivel as she becomes a thief, forced to steal by virtue of chance and circumstance. Until the night she found an old lady down a dark alley.
She thought that a frail old lady would make for an easy victim, but the young girl was surprised at the old woman’s resistance who “held on with the strength of heroes.” Finally, the old woman made a bargain with the thief: “If you promise to plant them, I’ll let go.” Not really knowing what is in the bag, and not really caring much, the thief agreed just so she could finally escape from that strange night.
Much to the thief’s surprise, the bag contained nothing but acorns. She began to realize the enormity of her promise and that “I held a forest in my arms, and my heart was changed.”
This powerful story demonstrates that it is never too late to transform one’s life. It celebrates redemption found in cracked streets, patience gathered from parched pavements, and bright greens and yellows amidst dead-eyed grays and dust-covered hearts.
I Dreamt… A Book about Hope
Written by: Gabriela Olmos Illustrated by: Renowned illustrators from Mexico – Manuel Monroy, Juan Gedovius, Chubasco, Marissa Arroyo, Maria Figueroa, Alejandro Herrerias, Mauricio Gomez Morin, Gonzalo Tassier, Valeria Gallo, Alvaro Rocha Buitron, Fabricio Vanden Broeck and Alejandro Magallanes.
Published by: Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2013
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
I was blown away by this picture book. The jacketflap of the book provided information as to how this book was born:
In this moving and beautifully illustrated book, a young child dreams of a world without violence.
Violence, guns, crime, bullying and war affect the daily lives of children all over the world. This book was created in Mexico, where the war against drugs has brought tragedy, fear and insecurity into the lives of many young children.
Some of Mexico’s best illustrators have donated their art for this book, which encourages children to talk about their experiences and to find the hope they need so that they can take an active role in helping to build a more peaceful world.
My 12 year old daughter read this picturebook as we were waiting for my husband to pick us up from our weekly Sunday trip to the library. And she kept on sighing and saying “aww” and declared it to be beautiful after she has read the entire book with shining eyes. What better recommendation can you get than that?
The book deals with very tough issues – there are even some themes that parents might not wish to talk about with their very young kids. There are drug lords, air raids, thieves, and kidnappers. Yet each page ends in a hopeful note, a transformation.
No matter how farfetched the dream might appear to the most jaded and most cynical eye, it has the gentle touch of a child’s faith. There is the wide-eyed wondering of a child’s eye that can transform bullets to flowers and prohibited substances to soap bubbles. I also love how the artists ingeniously embedded a few Hispanic words as you can see in the image of the tree above.
This is further proof that picturebooks have indeed “come of age” if I were to use the phrase Joseph Schwarcz coined in his book. The author and amazing illustrators do not balk at the fact that there are children in the world who experience these things as part of their every day reality. Yet despite this truth there is a silent hope for a better world with the knowledge that there are “others who fight back and break open the sidewalks …
… and grow despite everything. And it is they who help us all to breathe.”
I am reading Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making for my adult book club here who would be meeting in a week’s time. I received a review copy from Pansing Books. Whee!
I rarely read books on my phone but this one is an exception: The King in Yellow by Robert William Chambers. As you may already have guessed, I am an avid fan of True Detective, the darkest of the dark TV series my husband and I have seen thus far (even more so than Breaking Bad). One of the most haunting, most disturbing, hands-down excellent TV viewing I’ve had in awhile. I’m reading The King in Yellow via Goodreads.