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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 Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! It’s that time of the year to set new reading goals for the coming year.

https://gatheringbooks.org/2014/12/03/award-winning-books-reading-challenge-2015-awbread2015/
https://gatheringbooks.org/2014/12/03/award-winning-books-reading-challenge-2015-awbread2015/

Here is the sign up page. Pansing Books has once again generously pledged book prizes (award-winning titles of course) to two randomly-selected participants of this challenge every quarter. Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details. You can also use the widgets below if you are participating in this challenge. You can also use the hashtag #AWBRead2015 if you’re signing up and posting on Twitter.

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Many thanks, dear Iphigene, for this lovely widget. Truly beautiful.
Many thanks, dear Iphigene, for this lovely widget. Truly beautiful.

I just love how these three picturebooks deal with fantastical creatures while at the same time tackling big themes and topics on friendship, belongingness, knowing one’s identity, and acceptance that would resonate with for-the-most-part-human children.

IMG_6994Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great

Written and Illustrated by: Bob Shea
Published by: Disney Hyperion Books, 2013
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Things were going just fine and dandy for Goat until Unicorn moved in. Goat always thought he was pretty special with his bicycle, nearly-perfect marshmallow squares, and his signature dance moves. Then Unicorn with his shimmering flight, his storm of cupcakes, and professional prancing moves continually steal Goat’s spotlight, albeit without really intending to – which perhaps makes it even worse!

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Seriously what’s a Goat to do with such Unicorned perfection but grumble and whisper to himself while Unicorn gleams in all his glory? When Unicorn struck up a conversation with Goat over his goat-cheese pizza which I am sure smelled heavenly, Goat realized a few things about himself and Unicorn too in the process. Such a deceptively-simple tale about acceptance, going beyond one’s self, and realizing each individual’s worth packaged quite effectively in such an accessible, easy-to-read, fun narrative format – that begs to be read aloud repeatedly.

The Mermaid And The ShoeIMG_6986

Written and Illustrated byK. G. Campbell
Published byKids Can Press, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I’ve seen this book shared by quite a lot of Monday reading friends, and so I resolved to borrow it from our public library as soon as it became available.

This picturebook is a refreshing shift away from the red-headed vixen that is Disney’s Ariel with her longing to walk on land, trading her fins and tail for legs, and all for love. The story begins with a brief description of King Neptune and his fifty daughters who happen to be his pride and joy.

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Each daughter had a special talent, something that made them stand out, carving a niche area for themselves in the vast universe of the sea. All except for Minnnow.

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How can you not love that gaze and flowing white hair? It appears that she can do nothing right at all, as her insightful questions are considered a nuisance by her evidently-talented sisters with their wavy perfection. They do not mince words in letting Minnow feel how ‘useless’ they think her questions are, particularly the glowing Calypso, simply because that’s how sisters can be, on occasion.

And then Minnow found the red shoe.

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Just like an intrepid scientist or bright-eyed explorer, she pursued the truth behind this red shoe and what its various uses can possibly be. I am reminded of what Galileo said about the roots of intellectual freedom – pursuing truth wherever it leads you without fear of oppression. That is exactly what Minnow did.

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And what she discovered, I shall leave for you to discover, dear friends. In her journey, she found her voice. She also owned that luminous quality which made her special. And no, it does not involve a prince. Not in the least.

As I was reading the book, I had a sense that the artistic style was familiar, then I realized that K. G. Campbell is the illustrator of Kate DiCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses which my 12 year old daughter and I simply adored, and something clicked in me. No wonder I felt such a great affinity with this book! This is everything that everyone said it would be and more.

IMG_7116Uni the Unicorn: A Story about Believing

Written by: Amy Krouse Rosenthal Illustrated by: Brigette Barrager
Published by: Random House, 2014
Borrowed through inter-library loan. Book photos taken by me.

I just recently learned about this picturebook through fellow Monday reading enthusiasts and I was thrilled to find out that it’s already available in our library.

The subtitle “A story about believing” is a foreshadowing of what the story is about. There is magic here in all its unapologetically-sweet glories – with golden hooves, a horn that heals and mends, and young Uni with the sparkling purple eyes who believes with such absolute certainty that little girls are real, contrary to what every other creature in his universe says.

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I love the altered point-of-view here with this glowing faith expressed by a creature of magic dreaming of something so seemingly-mundane as a child. Simply goes to show that what is real or strange, what is true or make-believe can be a matter of perspective.

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I felt, though, that the story would have worked better without the shift in perspective in the end. Despite that, I marveled at the beauty of the art, and the simplistic, refreshingly-naive, blatantly-wide eyed approach to belief here matched by swirling rainbows, sparkles, and enchanted dreams. Not for the cynic with jaded sensibilities.

Currently Reading…

I have finished reading Station Eleven before we left San Diego a week ago and I have now been reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater while traveling around LA and San Francisco. I am currently in the Greyhound Bus on our way back to San Diego and reading this book while editing this post.

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Will be going back home to Singapore in two days’ time. Can’t wait.

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Reading Challenge Update: 293-295 (25)

7 comments on “[Monday Reading] Of Unicorns and Mermaids

  1. I love Bob Shea AND his work. Such a talented, VERY funny guy! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve had such a spectacular trip, Myra. I imagine it will be good to be home, however. Thanks for these lovely fantasy stories. I’ve heard much about The Mermaid and The Shoe, but still not read it. Perhaps I can find it over my break. Happy Traveling one more time!

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  3. I think Bob Shea is a genius! I feel like Unicorn and Don’t Play With Your Food (one of my top 5 PB titles of 2014) get overlooked in awards discussions because of the humor and the silly, and that’s so unfair! Don’t Play With Your Food is very distinguished by Caldecott criteria! Had to laugh at your comment about how Uni for Unicorn isn’t for the “cynic with jaded sensibilities.” I often feel like that’s exactly who I am as a reader, and yet so often, PBs allow me to be a different kind of reader–one who lives in an endlessly beneficent world of possibility and wonder! Safe travels!

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  4. Thanks for sharing glimpses of Uni the Unicorn, can’t wait to read it! 🙂

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  5. Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great is really hilarious. Such fun as a read aloud. I also adore Don’t Play with Your Food (as Elisabeth mentions above) I can’t wait to start reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue Love the photos you shared!

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  6. Pingback: Friendship, Diversity, and Social Anxiety in “Lily the Unicorn” – Gathering Books

  7. Pingback: Of Stylish Hats and Dreadful Sweaters – Gathering Books

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