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 Reviews and Miscellany Posts

Do click on the images (or links) below to be taken to our reviews last week.

Book Reviews

Miscellany Posts

Book Hunting Expedition (28): Mostly Kids’ Tales, Thanksgiving Loot

Photo Journal/ A-Z Photo Challenge: V is for Vancouver

Poetry Friday: Of Seas and Sailors

The Bookworm Adventure in the Maze of Shelves

Book Hunting Expedition (29): Book Bargains and Freebies

Winner of the AWB Reading Challenge

Congratulations to Vera of Between Covers for your review of Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonnel! For new friends and followers, we are hosting the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge this year – and we are happy to share that we will be continuing this in 2013. Monthly book prizes await. We shall have the announcement post up in the next few days.

Water Tales

Island Boy

Story and Pictures by: Barbara Cooney
Publisher: Viking Penguin Inc., 1988
Book borrowed from the public library.

I first heard about this book through Leonard Marcus during his keynote speech at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content May of this year. The cover alone has made me wonder  about this book and I knew I had to find it. I am glad that it fits our current bimonthly theme perfectly.

This book is essentially about one’s life choices and knowing one’s home with absolute certainty – the resounding echoes of the ‘island’ with the sound of the crashing waves and the blue of the water flowing in one’s veins. Matthais is the youngest of six boys and six girls – described as “the little clear-eyed quiet one, the baby.” It was in Matthais that Tibbetts Island, their family home, made its indelible mark. While he left home and sailed to various cities and saw many astounding sights from Green Harbor to Portland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, even to the West Indies, Matthais knows that even while in the middle of his journeys that he would find his way home. I love the stark simplicity of the book, the gentle colors and hues in the evocative drawings that are devoid of any pretensions – nothing but a peaceful quiet that would move one’s heart, reminding one of a time that is lost, as one smiles in wistful remembrance.

For most people, coming ‘home’ can be a painful experience – seeing how everything seems littler, more confined somehow, the bright colors faded as one looks around with differently-textured eyes that have seen more. I invite you to know Matthais and see the world and his home through his eyes. A valuable lesson in humility, simplicity, and service.

Hattie and the Wild Waves: A Story from Brooklyn

Story and Illustrations By: Barbara Cooney
Publisher: Viking Penguin, Inc., 1990
Book borrowed from the public library.

I am slowly becoming aware why Barbara Cooney is so loved as I read more of her works. I would have loved to know her, as I’m certain that she has this regal, piercing, yet sedate way about her – as is reflected in her drawings that convey radiance and joy with startling equilibrium and grace.

As I read the notes on the jacketflap of the book, I learned that the title character of this book is based on the life of Barbara Cooney’s mother. Hattie belongs to one of those old-rich, extremely privileged families with castle-like homes and buildings to their name. Yet despite this, I never felt that Hattie was defined by her family’s wealth. In fact, her being distinct from everyone else has been highlighted from the very beginning. Hattie’s older sister is certain that she will be a ‘beautiful bride’ someday with her flawless needlework, perfect hair, and impeccable manners – and her brother resolute in his goal to make lots of money and work alongside their father. Hattie, on the other hand “was thinking about the moon in the sky and the wind in the trees and the wild waves of the ocean.” Hattie is an artist. She has colors in her eyes, her aesthetic sense built into her being, as she gradually realized after a certain point in her life that there is a need for her to “paint her heart out.” How Hattie learned to accept and embrace who she is, I shall leave for you to discover.

What I loved most about these two books is that they tell stories of genuineness. There is an aching honesty in both Hattie and Matthais’ lives that is so simple and so keenly felt that it inspires the readers to go out and be better versions of themselves. I also love the fact that unlike most picture books of today which have a regimented 300-word rule, Cooney’s books embrace both the text and the artwork in kind. The narrative is as gentle as the soothing drawings. Barbara Cooney’s books are precious water-gems.

Currently Reading

I am currently enjoying A River of Stories – it is quite thick but the stories are fairly short and I am also relishing the poetry. I hope to feature this for our current theme this month. Since I have already finished reading Moers’ The Alchemaster’s Apprentice, I made sure I started reading Moers’ Rumo right away. I really think I am a resident of Zamonia – exiled here in our boring parallel universe. Perhaps in time I can cross the northern lights and be in Zamonia finally.

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

Island Boy: Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, Parenting Magazine Reading Magic Award, Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice, The Horn Book Fanfare, LOUHI, WITCH OF NORTH FARM (Viking, 1986), NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

Hattie and the Wild Waves: Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice, Parent’s Choice Illustration Honor, NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, The Horn Book Fanfare, Child Study Association Children’s Books of the Year

AWB Reading Challenge Update: 120-121 (35)

Picture Book Challenge Update: 136-137 (120)

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

10 comments on “Monday Reading: Water Tales and Winner of the AWB Reading Challenge

  1. therelentlessreader

    The art in the books you pick is always so beautiful and I’m so glad that you share with us 🙂

    Have a fantastic week!


  2. shannonjoe

    Looks like some great books! My new thing this week was that I actually started listening to an audio book in my car-and LOVE it! 🙂



  3. The illustrations in the books look lovely. My oldest daughter would really enjoy them. Will have to look them up.

    Have a lovely week. 🙂


  4. I know the island book by Cooney, but not the other one, Myra. She does tell good stories, doesn’t she? And the River Stories looks good, too. I found an old Jane Yolen anthology about water which I’ll review later-connects directly to your water theme! Thanks!


  5. Barbara Cooney … what a treat it is to open any of her books. These were some of my own children’s favorites years ago, and I still have the tattered copies!


  6. Oh such lovely books by Barbara Cooney. Thank you for highlighting them. I wonder if I can still get my hands on them through my library.


  7. I do love Barbara Cooney-both her words and her art. I saw an exhibit of her work a few years back. What a treat to spend time with the original art, especially my favorite spreads from Miss Rumphius.

    Water tales, hmm. Water Shaper by Laura Wiliams McCaffrey and The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse come to mind.


  8. Have a wonderful reading week! Look like you’ve been awfully busy
    Whatcha readin’ this week @ the Brunette Librarian 🙂


  9. What lovely choices! Did I miss how you choose your themes?


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