[Monday Reading] Pregnant Moms, Pecan Pie, and Blueberry Girls

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Myra here.

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

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Check Off your Reading List Challenge 2014.

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Click here to sign up. If you have already signed up, here is the April-June 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 Julian Sedgwick’s Mysterium: The Palace of Mystery to two lucky CORL participants from April-June. So link up your posts now!

Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.

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I am glad to find these two picture books from our public library. While the last one by Neil Gaiman is technically not a picturebook about food, I still thought of including it – primarily because I love the lyrical text and because I love blueberries!

IMG_3176Pecan Pie Baby

Written by: Jacqueline Woodson  Illustration by: Sophie Blackall
Published byG. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

A collaboration between the brilliant writer Jacqueline Woodson and the immensely talented artist Sophie Blackall – what’s not to love?

This is a story about a young girl named Gia and her mother who is expecting a baby to arrive “by the time the first snow’s on the ground.”

Gia is not very sure whether she likes this idea or not. In fact, she wishes silently that the winter would “come and go quickly without bringing any snow.”

There is subtlety in this picturebook captured by Woodson’s sparse text that evokes so much feeling and truth. Even Gia’s friend, Micaela, is apprehensive that the baby would sleep in her overnight bed, displacing her! And it seems that the only thing that anyone talks about is that “ding-dang baby!” From Gia’s uncles who are fastidiously putting the crib together:

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to aunts who visit and fuss over Mother’s tummy. Even Grandmother suggests that Gia should stay with her while Mother focuses her energy on the baby. But Mama says: “Me and the baby need Gia with us” – and yes, the baby needs pecan pie too! While Gia thinks that the baby is a mere copycat, it does appear that all three of them love pecan pie the most.

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The reader is able to sense Gia’s frustration as she describes how it is like to be invisible and to be so utterly alone. How the story ends, I shall leave for you to discover. The artwork is ingeniously-Sophie-Blackall with her trademark roundedness, expressions, energy, and color. The narrative is distilled to its barest essence, conveying simplicity packed with emotional punch. A perfect book for would-be big sisters – especially for those who absolutely adore pecan pie. It would also be interesting to discuss this in-depth with older children, since the father’s voice is distinctly absent in the narrative. A great portrait of a non-traditional family structure done with grace, luscious humor, and lots of love.

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Written by: Neil Gaiman Illustrated by: Charles Vess
Published by: Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2009
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

I love the collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess in their picture book InstructionsBlueberry Girl demonstrates yet again their dynamic energy and how seamlessly Gaiman’s words and Vess’ artwork go together.

This picturebook was written by Gaiman for his daughter Tash “when she was only a bump and a due date” yet the message is one that is universal and would be valued by readers who have their own blueberry girls.

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With Gaiman’s trademark touch of magic, he weaves together an incantation, a spell of protection for this precious blueberry girl, calling on the powers of “ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind.”

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Written in haunting verse, think of this book as faeries’ well-wishes as they gather together baskets of sunshine, a moon’s glow in a cupped hand, and the taste of blueberry painted in one’s skin.

Dull days at forty, false friends at fifteen – let her have brave days and truth,

Let her go places that we’ve never been, trust and delight in her youth.

IMG_3184There is an element of the fairy tale mixed along with myths, a playful swing of hope mixed with a fervent prayer uttered by a devoted father.

Help her to help herself, help her to stand,

help her to lose and to find.

Teach her we’re only as big as our dreams. 

Show her that fortune is blind.

IMG_3185Ultimately, these are words of offering for a blueberry girl, beautiful and eternal. While I am ambivalent about the typography used in this picturebook – the design has gotten in the way of clarity in a few words, the artwork and narrative are gorgeous.

Currently Reading…

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I finished reading Scowler by Daniel Kraus last Saturday. It’s like watching an episode of Criminal Minds but in a book, and more nuanced, and definitely prolonged. It has been a long time since I read something quite as dark as this novel. I would be posting a review of this one along with other monster-themed YA novels for our Saturday Reads in a few weeks’ time.

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I am alternating between these two books over the past two days. Been making a bit of progress with both of them: Last Night I sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I am hoping to finish Saenz’ novel early this week. I have a feeling you’d be seeing more of The Goldfinch in the coming weeks – it’s a thick book!

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Reading Challenge Update: 84, 85 (25)

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10 Comments on [Monday Reading] Pregnant Moms, Pecan Pie, and Blueberry Girls

  1. The Neil Gaiman book looks tantalizing, Myra – he has such an unusual imagination, and the artwork looks stunning. One for my TBR list!

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  2. Love the theme. I love recommending Blueberry Girl when people buy The Paper Bag Princess!

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  3. My students were really excited to see that Raina Telgemeier has a new book, Sisters, coming out. It’s the sequel to Smile.

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  4. I have an old copy of Blueberry Girl, a beautiful book and message for all new babies for sure. Don’t know Pecan Pie Baby, will look for it, Myra. Looks sweet.

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  5. Scowler is still hanging on me… audiobook brought it to life. Enjoy The Goldfinch, took me a month, even with the audiobook…

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  6. I’ve had Scowler on my list for forever. Hoping to get to it this year. I hope you enjoy your other reads as well!
    Here’s my It’s Monday! Post
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

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  7. Hi Myra! I have Goldfinch on my bedside table but believe it will be summer before I tackle it! Blueberry Girl looks like a beautiful book and a great gift for new mothers. I am a new fan of Jacqueline Woods since reading Each Kindness earlier this year, so happy to have a new title of hers to read. Have you read many of her other books. I have heard The Other Side is also powerful. Thanks for all the great titles! Happy reading week!

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  8. I love Pecan Pie Baby. It’s a sweet one. Goldfinch will be something I read within the next month or so. It has been highly recommended. Have a great week.

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  9. I was reading Goldfinch over winter break–put it down and haven’t gotten back to it even though I liked it a lot. I need to get back to it and try to finish. Scowler looks terrifying to me! Not sure I will read it, though I am intrigued. Looking forward to your review. Thanks for reminding me how much I like Pecan Pie Baby–that’s one I wish I’d read aloud in Children’s Lit. I do love Jacqueline Woodson. Each Kindness is a new favorite for sure. If you’re in Baltimore in November, any chance you’ll be hanging around for NCTE Nov 20-23? Also in Maryland!

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  10. Pecan pie and blueberries – I’m hungry! I’m going to see if our library has Pecan Pie Baby – I like the illustration you show. :)

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