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.
Sign up here to join us! Thanks to Iphigene, we now have our July-September linky up and running. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Slated by Teri Terry to two lucky CORL participants from July-September.
“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
— John Steinbeck
Written and illustrated by: James Thurber
Published by: The Wooster Book Company (1939)
Book borrowed from Wayne County Public Library.
Last November, I read James Thurber’s award-winning picturebook, Many Moons. Myra wrote a review on the book in one of her Monday Reading posts in 2012. James Thurber’s books, The 13 Clocks and The Wonderful O, were featured in Myra’s NYRB Reading Week special in 2010.
Today, I am sharing another work from the brilliant mind of James Thurber. The Last Flower is a short story—a parable—about war. As noted on Amazon, The Last Flower was written two months after World War II began, in 1939. James Thurber dedicated the book to his daughter, Rosemary, “in the wistful hope that her world will be better” than his.
The Last Flower contains alternating text and images, and it could be regarded as a graphic novel in Thurber’s time. The book does not only tell a story of war but it also illustrates the cycle of war and peace that is still relevant to this day.
World War XII, as everybody knows, brought about the collapse of civilization. Towns, cities, and villages disappeared from the earth. All the groves and forests were destroyed and all the gardens and all the works of art… Books, paintings, and music disappeared from the earth, and human beings just sat around, doing nothing…
Despite the terrible things brought about by war, hope remains. It comes in the form of a flower that a young woman and a young man nurtured together. The existence of the flower brought peace, love, and unity back on earth. This flower—the last flower—was able to endure the cruelty of war and carried on.
Although the words and illustrations in the book are so simple, James Thurber’s The Last Flower provides a beautiful insight into the human condition, as is always reflected in his works. There is a constant struggle between man and nature, man and others, and man and himself. For as long as man is not satisfied, he would always find himself in conflict.
Written and designed by: Marcia Williams
Published by: Candlewick Press (2007)
Book borrowed from Wayne County Public Library.
In Archie’s War, Marcia Williams presents World War I through an interactive albeit fictional scrapbook, created by a ten-year-old named Archie Albright. The book used alternating indigo- and sand-colored stock papers for its pages. It combined text, cutouts, comic strips, photographs, drawings, speech bubbles, and newspaper clippings. Archie included a timeline of the war at the bottom of some pages, and history tidbits on the side.
Archie’s War chronicles the experiences of Archie and his family in London during the first World War. Everyone in Archie’s family was patriotic, except his older sister, Ethel, who favored peace over war. What Ethel did not realize was that war could change people. Later in the story, after the Germans started bombing London from Zeppelin airships, Ethel would join the war effort. She and her grandmother would serve tea every evening to wounded soldiers who came back to London from the trenches.
Archie’s uncle was the first in his family to fight in the war. He would write the family letters, telling them about life in the trenches. Sometimes, he would send Archie some drawings to put in Archie’s scrapbook. When the British needed more manpower to drive the Germans away, Archie’s dad and Archie’s best friend’s dad joined as well. Lord Roberts, a field marshal, sent a message to all the children of Britain to explain why their Mother Country has decided to fight the war.
You have all heard of the war; you have all heard of the fighting forces sent from every part of the Empire to help the Mother Country. Why are we fighting? Because the British Empire does not break its promises, nor will it allow small nations to be bullied.
Germany, however, was bent on war, and on dominating other nations. Britain did her best to keep the peace, but Germany (breaking her word) marched her armies into Belgium to try to conquer France.
Children of the Empire, this is why we are at war—to hold our promises, to help our friends, and to keep the flag of liberty flying not only over our own empire, but over the whole world.
Although it was a little challenging to navigate around the book—there are images and text all over the place—Archie’s War was able to describe the effects of war to a nation. Men, young and old alike, were asked to sign up to fight. Women worked while the men were away. Families fled to a safer place. Young boys and girls left school at 13 years old to work. Taxes went up but wages remained the same. Commodity prices increased and supplies were running short. Soldiers suffered psychological trauma (PTSD/shell shock).
Archie’s War contained a lot of stories and information. While some of us are fast readers, it does not hurt to take a little time reading each page in Archie’s scrapbook. The pieces of information on the side are a treat for readers, and the inclusion of actual photographs is splendid. A child’s insight into life during the war is always fascinating. Of all the books I borrowed, Archie’s War is definitely the only one of its kind.
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
I am 2/3 done with the book and I plan to finish it before July ends. I love love love Willow Chance! I can’t wait for the virtual book discussion that Myra, Iphigene, Karen (Myra’s soul sister), and I will be having in August. Wheee~!!
The Sigh by Marjane Satrapi
I fell in love with Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis series that I decided to borrow two of her children’s books. I finished reading Monster Are Afraid of the Moon the other night. I just started with The Sigh this morning. I also borrowed the movie version of Persepolis and will probably watch it sometime this week.