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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.

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Congratulations to Katie of Logonauts on being the January-February AWB Winner for your Mock Caldecott Review. Please send your contact details to gatheringbooks (at) yahoo (dot) com to receive your copy of Jennifer Donnelly’s Deep Blue courtesy of Pansing Books.

Here is the sign up page and the March-April Linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond, courtesy of Pansing books.

A Song For Ella Grey by David Almond
A Song For Ella Grey by David Almond

Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.

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We have just recently launched our new reading theme for March-April. As per usual, we researched possible books that will fit our theme and here are two books that received the most prestigious award in children’s literature: both are recipients of the Caldecott Honor and Medal respectively.

IMG_9613Nana In The City

Written and Illustrated byLauren Castillo
Published byClarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

A little boy visits his grandmother and spends the night with her. Unlike other sedate, quiet, old people who prefer to retire in quiet countrysides with the sound of crickets at night and huge porches and swing-sets and outdoor barbecues – this grandmother prefers to live in the city.

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The reader can sense the boy’s hesitation (see how his body moves away from grandmother and the throng of people) and how overwhelmed he must be feeling with these gray, faceless mass crowding all around him.

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I was particularly struck by the lines in the page above: “It is no place for a nana to live.” My heart ached not just for the young boy but for Nana with her feathered hat, galoshes, and bright red bag.

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With very spare text and such powerful art, the reader feels for this worried, anxious boy who feels the city thrumming in his veins even while indoors. While Nana obviously did not mind this, our young hero is not used to the rumbling and shaking, the incessant noise, the constant fevered lights.

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And so, our lovely Nana gave him exactly the thing he needed to feel brave and strong that would allow him to see the city through different rosy-caped eyes. Gradually, the young boy sees the very same thing he saw the previous day, but with a renewed sense of spirit, the noise transformed into upbeat sounds and glorious rhythm, the scary strangers as breathing human beings with their own stories to tell.

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Part of the reason why I love this book is because my family and I have fallen deeply in love with New York’s pulse, its glittering lights, and the vibrant free spirits that one can smell, sense, taste in the air. See this glorious page here:

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An ode to New York and a beautiful tribute to this fiercely-gentle grandmother who is unlike any old grandma you could ever meet. Reminded me of our six-day stay in this city that hardly ever sleeps last December 2014.

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Taken just minutes before we watched Les Miserables on Broadway. Yes. We Heart New York City.

The Hello, Goodbye Window IMG_9759

Written byNorton Juster Illustrated by: Chris Raschka
Published byMichael Di Capua Books, Hyperion Books for Children, 2005
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This colourful picturebook is told from the eyes of a little girl who often visits her Nanna and Poppy who “live in a big house in the middle of town. There’s a brick path that goes to the back porch, but before you get there you pass right by the kitchen window. That’s the Hello, Goodbye Window. It looks like a regular window, but it’s not.”

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Unlike the first grandma who lives in a noisy neighborhood in a tall building with other people (strangers, mostly) – the grandparents here live in a cozy, quiet, suburban neighborhood – their home rooted in memories, home-cooked dishes, and the smell of flowers from Nana’s garden.

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I also enjoyed how this window became a source of joy, games, and adventure to the entire family. In most households, the kitchen is always the place where everyone gathers: with delicious smells wafting from the stove, and all the time and energy spent on food preparation, and coming up with the most exquisite meals for loved ones – the kitchen is the belly of any home, close to the heart.

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I love this full-page spread – with Raschka’s blues and greens gleefully splashed onto the page – with gusto yet precision, an order in randomness, colour in chaos. There is deep-seated affection that exudes from each line, the kind of love that overflows, and provides a quiet sense of comfort and warmth to young readers and those who are young at heart.

For teachers who wish to make use of this picturebook in the classroom, here is a teacher’s guide created by Scholastic Books which includes extension activities that can be explored in class. And here is a 23-paged downloadable PDF file created by TeachingBooks which includes character studies, discussion guide questions among other activities that can be done in the classroom.

Currently Reading…

I am glad to share that I finished reading Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul: Memories of a City while on the airplane last week going back to Singapore. And for good measure, I also finished reading Book 5 of The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman: A Game of You. 

I am about to finish The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas for our book club meeting this evening.

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I also hope to finally finish reading Tinder by Sally Gardner. I was not able to bring it with me to Istanbul as it is quite a heavy book.

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I am also reading Book 6 of The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman: Fables and Reflections.

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Nana in the City: Caldecott Honor 2014

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and Illustrated by Chris Raschka: Caldecott Medal, 2006

#AWBReads2014 Update: 17-18 of 35

10 comments on “[Monday Reading] Different Strokes for Different (Old) Folks

  1. kaymcgriff

    I love the illustrations in both Nana in the City and Hello, Goodbye Window. They are such different styles, but are still gorgeous!

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  2. Lovely array of books… Can’t wait to read Nana in the City. 🙂

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  3. These are such glorious grandmother picture books. I’m going to have to find them and decide if we need them in our library. They sound perfect for those units on family our primary teachers do sometime during the year.

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  4. Istanbul! I’m jealous of all your travels! I enjoyed Hello Goodbye Window. His illustrations are very hit-or-miss for me but I was fine with this one.

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  5. Great books! I love your personal connection to Nana in the City, plus the comparison of the two books. I’ll be shooting you an email about the book win, wheee!

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  6. Like Earl–I’m jealous!!

    Great picture books in that pile! Loved Ninja and Nana 🙂

    Happy reading this week!

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  7. Hello dearest Myra! You have posted two of my favorite books this week! I LOVE Nana in the City for it’s focus on overcoming your fear. Now whenever I read the book – I shall think of you and your lovely family in the city! The Hello-Goodbye Window is my FAVORITE book for using as an anchor for teaching students about adding details and voice in writing. I also read it and then have students write about their own special place. It is a gem! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Loving the books you have on display here, Myra, and OH, the pics of all of you in NYC beneath NANA IN THE CITY! Love it all 😀

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  9. Pingback: [Monday Reading] The Wildness of Old Age and (Lost and) Found Memories in 2016 Picturebooks – Gathering Books

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