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 Review and Miscellany Posts
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Our current bimonthly theme in GatheringBooks is Crazy about Cybils where we give love to all the books that have been shortlisted and have won awards in the Cybils since 2006. The 2012 Cybils Award Winners have just been posted last Valentine’s Day here. Do visit to check out amazing titles that should go directly to your to-be-read stack.
These three picture books have been nominated for the Fiction Picture Book Category in 2012. Since they have a common thread and have a similar theme, I thought of putting them together here.
Robot Zombie Frankenstein!
Story By: Annette Simon
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2012
Book borrowed from the public library.
This is a book that I read aloud to myself – with matching voiceovers that became increasingly dramatic as I turn to the next page and the next AND THE NEXT. I think you get the picture.
Essentially, this is a book about two robot buddies who are doing a hilarious game of one-upmanship. Young children would find this delightful as each page contains very few text yet it manages to show the transformation of each one as one turns into a Robot Zombie! And the other robot pulls one over the other by becoming a Robot Zombie Frankenstein! Not to be outdone, the other Robot becomes a Robot Zombie Frankenstein Pirate! The formula in the narrative is so achingly simple, one wonders why it has never been done before! Well, at least, not that I know of. The word play and the aww-inducing ending topped with luscious pie (… with fork!), and the inevitable ‘Mexican standoff’ among these two robot-friends would definitely make this an absolute favorite in most households.
Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey
Story and Illustrations By: Mini Grey
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Book, 2011
Book borrowed from the library.
Reminiscent of the film Toy Story with toys coming to life, this Mini Grey picture book revolves around the story of Traction man and his friend Scrubbing Brush – they are going on a holiday! The “big and sparkly” wide ocean excites Truffles, the new dog, and the golden-haired boy who is carrying Traction Man along with a little bag of goodie toys.
Things become dicey when Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush get washed up on the shore and a young girl with her dog Fluffy chanced upon them and unceremoniously dumped them inside the girly-girl pinkish-pink Beach-Time Brenda Bucket. The Dollies wearing varying shades of pink clothing and “light pink, mid pink or sick pink” accessories were so happy to have Traction Man with them, they cried out “You can stay in our castle For Ever!” – which inevitably made Traction Man want to escape more than ever. Typical male. I could see that there were attempts to go beyond the gender role expectations in this fun book as could be seen in the ending with the Dollies wearing excavation shorts and cave helmets – and the clear attempt to portray the girl dollies in a sardonic fashion in the beginning with “fluttering eyelashes” and “unrealistic vital statistics” on the back of the book cover. However, others may still view it as perpetuating gender role stereotypes with macho Traction Man and the simpering dolls handing out Raspberry Ripple.
Boy + Bot
Story By: Ame Dyckman
Illustrated By: Dan Yaccarino
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Borrowed from the Public Library.
This is a story that I feel would resonate with a lot of young boys. There is an unusual connection between most boys and machines – very Transformer-like. A fascination that seems to be within their bloodstream – the desire to tinker, disassemble, repair, break apart… then fix.
What I enjoyed most about this book is that boy and bot regarded each other to be so similar in most respects that they did not even realize that they ‘operate’ differently. When Bot’s switch was accidentally turned off, Boy thought he could ‘fix’ him by feeding him applesauce, reading him a story and tucking him in during the night. When Bot woke up and saw Boy fast asleep, he thought that Boy malfunctioned. The robot proceeded to ‘fix’ Boy by giving him oil and reading him an instruction manual. This story reminded me a little bit of Raymond Briggs’ Snowman. Now I could understand why most of our blogger friends are fascinated with this story.
Admittedly, I have not made much progress with Antonia Michaelis’ The Storyteller as I am currently absorbed with finalizing the book titles for Project Splash! Asia. And so I am reviewing a few water-themed novels such as Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water among others (if I find the time to read them all, that is). One of those moments when I wish that I have more than twenty-four hours in a day and that I can spend the entire day just reading and writing.
How about you, dear friends, what have you been reading this week?
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