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.
I am inviting fellow teachers, teacher educators, writers, librarians, authors, artists, parents, fellow book enthusiasts to share their own experiences and ideas about the AR program.
I found these two beautiful books in my shelves. I bought them a year ago during the library warehouse sale, and I am glad to find a reason to crack them open. These two books are among the most beautiful I’ve read this year.
Text and Illustrations By: Robert Ingpen
Published by: A Minedition book published by Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006.
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
The entire book is a letter written by Robert Ingpen to his grand daughter Alice Elisabeth. In his letter, Ingpen tells a story of a man who collects dreams and keeps them safe. This is actually perfect for our theme as the Dreamkeeper is kind of like a white dreamcatcher – he makes sure that the ogres, dark villains, monsters who occasionally find their way into people’s dreams do not escape from the dreamworld and become real. He lures them into handcrafted cages and baskets that he fashions himself – there are even baskets strong enough to carry small dragons.
The Dreamkeeper works with his sister who invents herb brews from an ancient recipe that would transform a witch to a raven so that they would be easier to catch.
She also concocts other dream-catching aids, magic sweets and sours and potions that would make it easier for the Dreamkeeper to perform his job well. And there is also Tally, a tamed goblin, who conscientiously documents the Dreamkeeper’s captures and conquests. Tally also has a specially designed remote control that can make visible an ugly troll or a concealed goblin to make it easier for the Dreamkeeper to lure them into his basket filled with licorice made by his sister. So where does the Dreamkeeper bring these monstrosities?
Under the protection of the many branches of The Great Dreamtree, good and evil spirits dwell in harmony with the creatures of dreams.
The Dreamkeeper knows that spirits, like ghosts, have a shape but no body, and that only bad spirits cast shadows. The scary shadows you see on the wall or ceiling at night often mark the presence of an escaped bad spirit up to no good. The Dreamkeeper has memorized the right words and songs to persuade these spirits to behave themselves and return.
When he speaks his voice is as soft as moss, and his words as gentle as a falling feather. He plays beautiful music on his long bamboo flute to lure and seduce runaway spirits back to the fabulous Great Dreamtree…
When I was reading this book, I was reminded of Richard Dawkins’ letter to his ten year old daughter, Juliet, which talks about Good and Bad Reasons for Believing. I share a copy of this letter to my undergraduate students who are studying the foundational course on social sciences to discuss the importance of empiricism and collecting scientific evidence. I would pair Dawkins’ letter which shuns all magical things and the power of make-believe with this gorgeously-crafted letter of Robert Ingpen to his granddaughter as he celebrates marvels and faeries and magic made real through a child’s boundless imagination.
The Merchant of Marvels and the Peddler of Dreams
Written and Illustrated By: Frédéric Clément
Published by: Chronicle Books, San Francisco 1995
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
This is a book that made me gasp in amazement. I also found this book on sale – simply goes to show that diamond nuggets can be unearthed in such expeditions. This is one such diamond – this book glitters in my hands.
Frederick Knick-Knack is searching for the perfect gift to give to his beloved. He is worried that there may be nothing in his collection of curiosities that would thrill his love and make her smile and her eyes sparkle. And so he begins with a question: “Will you… can you be tempted?”
And so he shares his thimble to stitch with and a thimble to unstitch with. Look at these beautiful dresses
and this ravishing winter dress and the many secrets found in its folds:
There is also a curious freckled frog’s thighbone and fragments of the wicked fairy Carabossa’s magic wand which can reduce a majestic full-grown elephant to the size of a speck of sand. There are also forgotten but nonetheless precious relics such as the broken end of Pinocchio’s nose, Thumbelina’s cradle (the mattress of violets is said to still be warm from her slumber) and flying hats that lay exquisite red round eggs on top of beautiful women’s hair:
There are also fragments of the palace of the King of Snails stored in a silk scarf – given by an Indian swami who talked about Bengal stars and the glimmering blue of the River Ganges.
The tear liqueur or the King of Crocodiles – one drop on the end of one’s nose can transform great sorrows into “great gray cats with green velvet eyes and a pale smile like a crescent moon.” How can one not be charmed by an ogre’s baby tooth who makes a delicacy of little girls thumbs flavoried with the essence of plums and little boys tucked into a cake coated with chestnut custard and clouds of whipped cream.
Perhaps the birthday celebrator can be enticed with a lock of mermaid’s hair?
The little round bell of a wounded cherub usually worn on their left ankle…
…or Snow White’s lip rouge and powder pot, pumpkin and carriage seeds, a saltshaker that is able to hunt down wild pianos at the foot of baobabs found on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, or seven peals of Cinderella’s laughter. My favourite though has something to do with shadows and sand:
On the subjects of roses and of sand
I have, in a chestnut chest,
a fresh shadow,
well ironed at the neck and the cuffs.
A shadow found in the setting sun
at the foot of a street lamp
in the middle of the Sahara desert.
The long shadow of a child,
who has, in his left pocket,
a pinch of sand,
a rose petal,
and a thorn,
sharp and deadly.
This book is pure poetry – from the texture of the book’s pages to the typography and the illustrations with a touch of the surreal and fantastical would be enough to make one starry-eyed in glee. Find this, if you can, dear friends. Or allow it to find you somewhere.
I was drawn to this book when I read an excerpt found in the facebook page of Brainpickings. While I am generally enjoying Sartre’s letters, I find that his earlier missives to Simone Jollivet contained greater vulnerability and truths as compared to his letters to Simone De Beauvoir which struck me more as academic treatises and random ruminations transformed into quirky little anecdotes rather than an exposure of one’s foibles and nakedness. I find myself trying to find Sartre amidst the beautiful words, the philosophical meanderings, and the intellectual reflections. Perhaps as I read further on, I’d get to see that. If not, I’d probably return this back to the library.
I am hoping I’d get to feature this for our theme: D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths. I am glad that I was led to this book because of our current bimonthly theme. It appears as if this is the book when it comes to mythology. I also have D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths which I am hoping to get into soonest.
Yesterday, our GatheringReaders book club of 9-12 year old children met up to discuss Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story. It was one of the more animated discussions that we have had. Clearly, these children are very much into fantasy. We had a lovely time comparing the book to the film, discussing Bastian Balthazar Bux’s passion for books, the character of Atreyu and the Childlike Empress, as well as why the title of the book is the way it is.
I’ve also finished reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I could understand why this book has been banned. However, I believe that it is a very important novel – one that I’d be happy to read with my eleven year old girl despite some of its more mature themes. I’d be discussing this book with my adult book club, Saturday-Night-Out-forBook-Geeks this Saturday. So many book clubs! Lovely!
Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 228, 229 (150)