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
Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.
Congratulations to Katrina of Vamos a Leer for her review of Gringolandia. Please send your address and contact information to gatheringbooks (at) yahoo (dot) com so that Pansing Books could send your book prize to you.
Until the end of this month, we will be tackling difficult topics in literature: those that deal with loss, heartbreak, and coming of age. This week, my Monday offering is themed under the loss of one’s beloved canine companion through these poignantly-written picture books.
Sammy in the Sky
Story By: Barbara Walsh
Illustrated by: Jamie Wyeth
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2011
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
Sammy, with his black and tan fur, is quite simply the best hound dog in the whole wide world – or so this little girl believes with all her heart. Like most loyal dogs, Sammy never complained even when he is made to wear a floppy pink bonnet over his ears as the little girl plays house and doctor with him.
When Sammy turned twelve, however, the doctor discovered that he had a bump on his neck as big as a baseball; and that there was nothing that medicine can do to make Sammy feel better. As the story progresses, one is able to see how Sammy is no longer able to chase after seagulls as much as he usually did, nor is he able to run around after soap bubbles blown by the little girl and her sister.
The story made me reflect on whether it is easier knowing that a beloved is about to die in a few months’ time to help prepare one for the inevitable – making each moment count. In this story, the children’s parents are able to discuss Sammy’s gradual weakened state with them.
I also appreciated how death was communicated to the child regardless of the pain in one’s chest with quiet recollection of times spent with Sammy. While I find the narrative too out-there, with sentiments all neatly spelled out and articulated, it remains a beautiful tribute to chasing bubbles in the air and the love keenly felt towards one’s faithful friend.
Harry & Hopper
Story By: Margaret Wild
Illustrated by: Freya Blackwood
Publisher: Scholastic, 2009
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
I am a huge fan of Margaret Wild. Her narrative always strikes a chord in me with its subtlety, keen eye for detail and the spaces in between allowing the reader to put her own thoughts and reflections about the story. Freya Blackwood’s glorious artwork is neatly interwoven into the narrative adding a different dimension to it. I am in awe of the stark simplicity of the text, and the huge emotions deliberately left unspoken in this beautiful book – nothing is superfluous.
Unlike the story above with Sammy being terminally ill, Hopper died due to a very unfortunate vehicular accident, the details were not even mentioned. Harry’s acute denial about Hopper’s death, his refusal to sleep in his own bed that smells of his beloved dog, his inability to even speak about it to his classmates – communicated such a profound sense of loss that there is absolutely no words for it.
And like most of Margaret Wild’s prose that veers towards the surreal and the strange, the reality overlapping with flights of fancies borne out of deep overwhelming sadness, Harry gets to say goodbye to his jumpy dog in the most beautiful way imaginable – eyes still glimmering “with mischief and delight.” This, I shall leave for you to discover.
For teachers who may wish to explore more of Margaret Wild’s works, here is a list of links that may be of use to educators. It contains a lot of resources that may be used in connection with not just Harry and Hopper but other books written by Wild. Do check it out.
While I have already arrived in Singapore last week, I was invited yet again to speak at another conference this weekend in Manila. I am now back in Singapore though after taking the very last flight out last night. All this traveling can be exhausting too. It’s good that I have TS Spivet to keep me company during my flights back and forth. I continue to be entranced by The Selected Works of TS Spivet by Reif Larsen.
How about you, dear friends, what have you been reading this week?
Harry & Hopper by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood
- Speech Pathology Book of the Year Award: Lower Primary category: Short-listed for Harry and Hopper (2009)
- CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal: Winner – UK’s most prestigious children’s illustration award for Harry & Hopper (2010)
AWB Reading Challenge Update: 35 of 35
Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 159/160 (150)