Myra here.

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

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Check Off your Reading List Challenge 2014.


Click here to sign up. If you have already signed up, here is the January-March linky where you can link up your reviews or updates from your reading list. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Hugless Douglas World Book to two lucky CORL participants from Jan-March. So link up your posts now!

Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.


I thought that these two picturebooks go well together as they speak about little girls knowing more about their family histories, making them wonder what the future holds in store for them.

IMG_2527Chavela and the Magic Bubble

Written byMonica Brown  Illustration by: Magaly Morales
Published byClarion Books, 2010
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

Chavela is a chubby-cheeked little girl who likes chewing gum, which by the way is banned here in Singapore. Looks like Chavela would not be visiting this part of the world soon.

Chavela is described as quite talented when it comes to blowing bubbles – they can be quite colorful, huge, and even take the shape of a beautiful butterfly.


Then one day, Chavela’s abuelita took her out shopping on Market Street. Her abuelita would often tell her stories about Mexico, where she grew up. Abuelita’s own father used to be a chiclero in Playa del Carmen. His job is to care for the sapodilla trees and harvest the chicle, the ingredient that is essential in the making of chewing gum.


And so it seemed like this box of magic chicle gathered from the deep rainforests of Mexico found Chavela that afternoon. It took her farther into the jungles of the Yucatan where she made friends with a young girl like herself. Who this young girl is and how Chavela returned to her home, I shall leave for you to discover.

The narrative has a touch of magical realism to it coupled with a grandmother’s narrative that has the power to weave dreams and cast spells in a young girl’s imagination. Teachers would be happy to note that there is a detailed Author’s Note found at the back of the book which contains factual information about rainforests in southern America and Central America, the process of chicle harvesting, as well as helpful resources and links for further reference.

Who Will I Be, Lord?IMG_2521

Written by: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson Illustrated by: Sean Qualls
Published by: Random House, 2009
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

I am a huge fan of Sean Qualls’ artwork. There is just something so radiant and joyful and exuberant in his illustrations that practically leap off the page.

In this picturebook, a young girl wonders about what she would become in the future, as she looks at various members of her family and recalls what they do in life. She begins with her Great Grandpap who was a mailman and played banjo in the radio even before there was television.


Great Grandpap was married to Great-Grandma who was white, and was disowned by her own family for having married a colored man. Great-Grandma was a housewife who “mama’d five children and made the best cakes in the country. She wore pants when other ladies mostly only wore dresses.”

The young girl also talked about her grampa who is a preacher who speaks with quiet power and her grandma who is a teacher who is thought of as “uppity” by most people because she speaks in ‘proper’ English:


Mama says Grandma’s proud of her education and likes passing the plate around so everybody can have some.

Then there is a cousin who is a jazzman who flips burgers during the day but who vows to be famous someday, her papa who is a car man, and her mama who takes care of most everybody. My favorite though is the uncle who happens to be a pool shark who “handles a pool cue like a magic wand and makes the colored balls dance on the table.”


No, this book is not about doctors, successful businessmen, lawyers – but ordinary folks who are dreamers and workers making their way in the world. I like how the young girl described her uncle who is a “pool shark”:

People say he’s a rascal.

Mama says she likes him

because he isn’t two-faced 

like some. He is who he is.

There is no pretension in this book, no attempt to glorify or put one’s best foot forward – just sparkling wonder, the ardent simplicity of life as it is, and the beauty of a refrain “And what will I be, Lord? What will I be?” 

Currently Reading…

I finished reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente and would be writing a review of the Fairyland trilogy for our Fantasy theme late this year. I also finished reading Salvage by Keren David.


Reading contemporary realistic fiction was a perfect change of pace for me after reading Valente’s surreal-borderline-weird narrative. I really enjoyed this British novel and would be writing a review for this as it is perfect for our current reading theme.


I also finished reading Drama by Raina Telgemeier since this is our book club read for GatheringReaders this month at the Jurong West Public Library with my 9-14 year old readers. I posted a Virtual Discussion post last night for my book club participants to respond to.


I am also reading Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.


The junior booknerd was avidly reading Prisoner of Azkaban yesterday, which she needed to stop reading last month as she listened to the audiobook of The Book Thief for our bookclub. She is distracted however by Raina Telgemeier’s Smile (which we just bought from Kino at 20% off). Always great to be distracted from books by other books. Spring Break is off to a great start.



Reading Challenge Update: 49, 50 (25)

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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).

8 comments on “[Monday Reading] Little Girls, Magic Bubbles, and Family Histories

  1. I love Smile, still haven’t read Drama & need to. It’s such a big part of our school! I love seeing about the book “What Will I Be Lord”. Such great words to hear that Grandma “likes passing the plate around so everybody can have some.” And Chavela and The Magic Bubble looks terrific, too. Thanks Myra!


  2. Wow, thank you for sharing all of these wonderful books. My friend loved Dr. Bird’s advice, and I had wondered if others liked it. I enjoyed Drama very much–my only issue was two of the male characters looked similar to me, and I found that to be confusing, but I adored the story. I hope you have a wonderful reading week!


  3. What a lovely spot to read secured by your little reader! I want to sit and read there with those gorgeous windows. I just got I Dreamt from the library after seeing it on your post last week and also included The Promise in my #IMWAYR post. Love all the ideas I always get from this blog!


  4. I love the idea of a magic bubble and the simple yet powerful message of Who Will I Be, Lord? I enjoyed The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, but agree with you. It does border on weird. Thanks for sharing!


  5. I don’t think I’m familiar with Sean Qualls! I love the pictures you show–will have to do a little research and see what I can find in the library. I really love finding a new-to-me illustrator. I enjoyed Drama very much–I need to book talk it in Adolescent Lit class and see if I can get a few people reading it. I appreciate that Talgemeier writes graphic novels for younger teens. Looking forward to your thoughts on Fun Home. I think perhaps my expectations were too high, as it didn’t quite match up for me to the gushing reviews I had read. One of my students heard Allison Bechdel present at a conference a couple of weeks ago and absolutely loved her–she’s reading Fun Home and Are You My Mother?


  6. bluestockingthinking

    Hi Myra,
    I totally agree with Carrie here, I so want to spread out on that leather couch and read in front of that wall of windows! Sigh 🙂


  7. Drama was such a fun book along with Smile. I can’t wait to see what she gives us next. I am putting Who Will I Be Lord and Chavela on my TBR list. Thanks!


  8. I just finished cataloging copies of Drama and Smile for my library. I hope to sneak a peek inside a little later today.


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