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 April-June 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 Julian Sedgwick’s Mysterium: The Palace of Mystery to two lucky CORL participants from April-June. So link up your posts now!
Rukhsana Khan was one of our speakers at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content here in Singapore back in 2010 and in 2012 (click here to read more about her session in 2012). At the time I vowed to know more of her work. I am glad to finally feature a few of them here in GatheringBooks with two of her beautiful picturebooks, in time for our Buffet of Asian Literature reading theme, seeing that the Middle East is technically considered a part of Asia.
Big Red Lollipop
Written by: Rukhsana Khan Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall
Published by: Viking, an Imprint of Penguin Group, USA, 2010
Borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.
Rubina excitedly rushes home to share her first birthday invitation to her Ami and her two sisters. She had to, of course, explain to her mother what birthday parties are and why it is absolutely important that she be allowed to go. However, her younger sister, Sana, insists on coming along to the party.
Her mother or Ami is adamant that Sana comes along, otherwise Rubina would not be given permission to go. With a heavy heart, Rubina calls Sally to ask whether she can bring her younger sister with her to the party.
As to be expected, Sana ruined the entire experience for Rubina. She cries whenever she falls down during musical chairs and she simply had to win all the games. Even worse, Sana eats the big red lollipop that is included in the birthday loot bags/giveaways which Rubina has been saving to relish for later.
Sana did save a tiny triangle of a lollipop stuck in the stick for Rubina. When it was Sana’s turn to be invited to a classmate’s birthday party, it was their youngest sister Maryam who begged to come along. Naturally, Ami insisted that Sana also brings Maryam along. How the story ends, I shall leave for you to discover.
With Sophie Blackall’s trademark artwork that breathes life, this picturebook would resonate with anyone who had to deal with annoying siblings, and it does demonstrate what it means to ‘share’ and be part of a family. In the highly-detailed comprehensive teachers’ guide that Rukhsana created, she mentioned that this is actually based on a true story: “Bushra is Rubina, Rukhsana is Sana. Except in real life Rukhsana never did give the green lollipop to her older sister Bushra—but she should have, so when she grew up and wrote the story, she did.”
King for a Day
Written by: Rukhsana Khan Illustrated by: Christiane Krömer
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011
Borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.
In this picturebook, the reader gets introduced to Basant, a “spring kite festival celebrated all across South Asia.” The setting of this book is in the ancient city of Pakistan, specifically the rooftops of Lahore. Malik, a young boy in a wheelchair, is up early with his kite named Falcon. His brother and sister are as excited as he is, but a little doubtful as to whether Malik would be “king for a day” with only one kite.
“Insha Allah, it will be fast enough.”
Malik wanted to show the bully next door that despite his exorbitantly-priced kite named Goliath, Malik’s smaller kite, built for speed would be able to cut, snip, rupture its strings. It reminded me a little bit of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kiterunner with the circling kites, the dipping and the diving, and the chasing after fallen kites.
In the Afterword, I found out just how huge a deal the kite festival is and how potentially dangerous it can be, so much so that it was banned for safety and security reasons in addition to orthodox religious opposition. The festival returned in 2013 with much rejoicing, so I figured that the publication of this beautiful picturebook is quite timely. I also learned a little bit how the kite festival goes:
Traditionally kite strings were coated with powdered glass so they would be sharp enough to cut through other kite strings. Later, metal strings were also used. Unfortunately the sharp strings sometimes injured people and cut electrical wires.
Whether Malik would become King for a Day, I shall leave for you dear readers to discover.
I am in awe of this beautiful book. The illustrations as you can see above play with perspective, mixed media, gorgeous collage, with outstanding overall design and graphic layout. The fact that Malik is also in a wheelchair was not even written at all in the narrative, showing how dynamic the relationship between text and illustration is. I would definitely hunt for more books illustrated by Christiane Krömer as well as other picture books authored by Rukhsana Khan.
I was able to finish reading A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd and would be reviewing it for our current reading theme in the next few weeks as it does deal with food food food! I fell in love with Felicity Pickle. I think this book came to me at just the right time when I needed to believe in magic.
I was also able to finish reading Stitches, a graphic novel memoir written by David Small. As I am a huge fan of Small’s artwork, I knew that this autobiographical novel would simply resonate with me, and it did. Heartbreaking book.
I have picked this book up again from my bedside table. I have been ‘reading’ this book in spurts and prolonged stops, and finally I think it just might speak to me now: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.
And no, I have not abandoned The Goldfinch yet. It is a sad novel and I find myself needing to breathe other words as it is very easy to drown in the narrative’s spiraling cycle of learned helplessness and the constantly-impending sense of doom that permeates each page.