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.
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!
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!
Pecan Pie Baby
Written by: Jacqueline Woodson Illustration by: Sophie Blackall
Published by: G. 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:
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.
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.
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 Instructions. Blueberry 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.
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.”
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.
There 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.
Ultimately, 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.
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.
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!