Books

It’s Monday, What are you Reading and Nonfiction Monday

It is our first time to join the meme hosted by Jen and Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts (and 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 giving it a go as well as we continue with our bimonthly theme Dusty Bookshelves and Library Loot.

Poetry

I have just recently borrowed The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf. I did not realize that it is a huge tome of a book. While it is written in verse, it is told in multiple voices. I found it ingenious that even the iceberg has a voice in this narrative as it avidly waits the inevitable collision with the supposedly-unsinkable Titanic. It’s slow reading as I only have time to read it in the evenings before I go to bed.

I also try to sneak in Naomi Shihab Nye’s Honeybee every chance I get. Now that the semester is about to begin, I find that one of the things that keep me sane amidst the schedules, deadlines, conference presentations, and the inevitably-harried, hurried, mighty-competitive academic life is poetry (weaving words and words). And yoga. And yes, GatheringBooks.

Picture Books

I’ve been reading quite a lot of picture books lately. I’ve been getting to know Roberto Innocenti’s works and so I borrowed The House (with verse written by J. Patrick Lewis) and Rose Blanche. My ten year old daughter enjoyed both books, particularly the very last one which reminded us both of a movie that we both watched The boy in the striped Pajamas. I also requested Armin Greder’s The City from the library which left me wondering at the end exactly what happened in the story, prompting me to re-read it again, and yet again – beautiful in its obscurity and powerful in its symbolic, intuitive, and often-ironic meanderings.

Nonfiction Monday

We are also interweaving this post with Nonfiction Monday which is hosted this week by Cathy and Louise from The Nonfiction Detectives. Last week, I reviewed Leonard Marcus’ Show me a Story. This time around, I am sharing another one of his books: A Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal.

After reading last week’s book which is quite thick, mind you, this one was a very light read, as I finished it in less than an hour before I went to bed. I was pleased to note that a few of the book artists whom I love are here at last: David Wiesner and Chris Van Allsburg whose works we have reviewed here extensivelyI was also excited to get to know two new authors: Marcia Brown and Mordecai Gerstein. In contrast to Show Me a Story which provides us with the actual interview transcripts, this is a much more condensed version with Leonard’s voice showing through as he effectively synthesizes and summarizes his conversations with these award-winning author/illustrator in 2 or 3 pages peppered with original illustrations of the creative process of the book artists. It’s a good primer for young readers who would like to get to know their favorite authors better – definitely a more comprehensive and riveting read as compared to what can be found in the book jackets of their favorite picture books.

After visiting The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, I knew that it was time for my ten year old daughter and I to read The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank. We read Art Spiegelman’s Maus I and II when she was eight years old and we had a lot of long and heartfelt conversations about the graphic novels. I felt that she has a readiness now to listen to Anne’s distinct voice. I was also surprised to realize that this old old book was actually a gift for me by my best girlfriend, my sister at heart, sometime in the 90s and that she bought it for me (and another friend) while she was at The Holocaust Museum. The book has come full circle!

My ten year old daughter and I at The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC a month ago.

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

30 comments on “It’s Monday, What are you Reading and Nonfiction Monday

  1. It’s a nice story about the Anne Frank book, Myra. Thanks for talking about Honeybee again. I bookmarked it, plus looked up The City-sounds fascinating. I hope I can find it in the library.

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    • Hi Linda, The City is indeed a fascinating read. The coming-full-circle, the notion of savagery and civilization – all very compelling.

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  2. Thank you for the mention. I appreciate it!

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  3. Last year I mostly read picture books. Now that my daughter is older and can read, I’m only reading the ones she wants to share with me. Although I sometimes indulge myself.

    My favorite book last week was Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett. Please come see what else I’m reading.

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    • Hi there, my daughter is now ten year old but I’m stuck in the picture book phase while she has moved on. Just can’t get enough of it, truth be told. Terry Pratchett! How awesome! I am intrigued that you can read the books even though they’re not in order, is that true for Pratchett’s series? I have a few of his Discworld novels but haven’t started on them yet, since I’m still trying to get a few of the titles – they should not be read in order?

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  4. The Watch that Ends the Night sounds quite interesting. I like the idea of the iceberg as narrator. You and your daughter look like sisters, btw.

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  5. A couple of years ago I spent morning in Amsterdam. I really wanted to go to the Anne Frank museum but the line stretched for 3 blocks so I didn’t get to go. I loved The Diary of Anne Frank, Night, and Maus when I was a teen.

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    • Hi Katya, I’m sure it must be packed all the time. I should visit Amsterdam too. My travel buddy is making a side trip there as we travel to Finland last week of August, but I can’t because of teaching commitments. My daughter loved Maus I and II as well. 🙂 We read it two years back, I think.

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  6. Love your vacation pictures 🙂 I’ve been wanting to read “The Watch” but haven’t gotten around to it…but I did have our library buy it! 🙂

    Whatcha readin’ this week @ the Brunette Librarian 🙂

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  7. I’m looking for a book to do as a read-aloud with my almost 11-year old daughter, and Anne Frank, might be a perfect fit. Thanks for the idea! I’ll also have to look for the Caldecott book! Have a great week and welcome to the meme!

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    • Hi there Lorna, Anne Frank is actually pretty enjoyable and quite a riveting read. My daughter can resonate and relate with the book as it reminds her of the diary series that she’s very fond of (Amelia, etc).

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  8. The Titanic book sounds fascinating, adding that to my mental tbr pile 🙂

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  9. I read Anne Frank a couple months ago, not expecting to like it. Boy, was I wrong. Such a powerful narrative. Wasn’t a huge fan of The Watch that Ends the Night, but my favorite part was how the iceberg had a voice. I thought that was so well done.

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    • Hi Hanna, I know what you mean about being surprised by Anne Frank’s voice, it’s so fresh and so honest and so raw. We haven’t made much headway though so far because of other commitments, hopefully we can get to read in the next coming months.

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  10. The Holocaust Museum is a wonderful look at history, and emotionally draining. What an experience for you and your daughter, as well as the introduction to Diary of Anne Frank.

    On a different note, I’m adding the Caldecott book to my TBR pile. Interesting, thanks!

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    • Oh yes, the Caldecott book is amazing. I like how Leonard Marcus’ voice comes through here. The Holocaust Museum was truly a powerful experience for us while we were in DC. One of the most unforgettable museums that we have visited, definitely.

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  11. I went to several concentration camps when I visited Germany in high school. I still feel shivers when I think about it. A loud, rowdy bunch of kids became utterly silent as we wandered the buildings and the grounds. May be time to get my son to read Anne soon.

    I need to get The Watch that Ends the Night – I’ve seen several people post about it recently.

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    • Hi Maria, I know what you mean. I had a chance to visit the Mauthausen Concentration Camp while I was in Vienna. The memory burns inside my head. Won’t be able to forget about it even if I want to.

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  12. I listened to the audio of The Watch That Ends the Night and it was great. There were different voices that helped to keep the characters straight. It was completely haunting – even though I knew the ending – and I loved that the iceberg itself gets a voice. That made it even more haunting. I love novels in verse. I visited the Holocaust Museum in DC a little over 5 years ago. It was very moving.

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    • I haven’t tried listening to audiobooks yet. I should check out whether we have an audiobook version in the library. And yes, you’re right the Holocaust Museum is haunting and moving. One of the most meaningful trips we’ve taken.

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  13. I enjoyed “A Caldecott Celebration” as well since I’m doing the Caldecott challenge as well. Leonard Marcus definitely is someone I’ve been interested in reading more of his works. I enjoyed the journey your Anne Frank book has had!

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