Award-Winning AWB (Award-Winning-Books) 2015 Books GB Challenges Grey and Golden, Young and Fleeting It's Monday What Are You Reading Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Unlikely Friendships, Wild Silences, and Fleeting Connections in Picturebooks for Children: “Wild”, “The Lion and the Bird”, and “Mavis and Merna”


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.


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
Click on the image to be taken to my review of the book.

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

Many thanks to Iphigene for this gorgeous poster.
Many thanks to Iphigene for this gorgeous poster.

These three books are not only just beautifully illustrated by extremely talented and stylistically different author-illustrators (Marianne Dubuc, Emily Hughes, Ian Wallace), these books also talk about fleeting connections that last a lifetime, wild silences, and building transient homes in the most unlikely of places.

IMG_9848The Lion and The Bird

Written and Illustrated byMarianne Dubuc
Published by: Enchanted Lion Books, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have been seeing this book making the rounds in the kidlitosphere. When I saw it listed as one of Maria Popova’s must-read books in 2014, I knew it was time to hunt this title down from our library.


This story explores the unlikely friendship between a gentle farmer lion and a wounded bird. Lion does more than tend to Bird’s wounds, she was invited in from the harsh cold of the winter (as her tribe of birds flew away leaving her behind), provided food and shelter, and given more than a space to rest but a home.


However, when spring came, it was clear what Bird needed to do.


Almost wordless and illustrated in gentle colours and muted tones with a lot of white spaces for the eyes to rest, this is a book to quietly savor in all its whispered thoughts. Even the fonts are typed and laid out very discreetly in minuscule format, almost afraid to disrupt the peace of the blues and the soothing greens (see below).


I like how this story captures those fragments of forever with special individuals in our lives, and how these fleeting connections can serve to change us, and what it’s like to let go and welcome them back, if they do come again.


Written and Illustrated by: Emily Hughes
Published byFlying Eye Books, 2013
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

While The Lion and the Bird shows the reader the quiet beauty of friendship, Wild is a tangled mess of greens and bursting whites and untamed blues that ripple out into the open sea.


This young girl is reared in the wild, taught by the birds to speak, by the bears to hunt, by the foxes to play, and by the forest to find a home in trees, with the open skies her blanket.


Then one day a couple found her in the forest. And bless-their-well-meaning-hearts, they took it upon themselves to take her home, as strange as she was, and find a suitable place for her.


This turned out to be the home of a famed psychiatrist who decided to take in what the papers called a ‘feral child.’


Armed with statistically-reliable psychological tests, shining utensils, and age-recommended/suitable toys for young girls, the couple set about their self-ordained task of taming this wild girl.


Whether or not they succeeded in making her more ‘civilized’ I shall leave for you to discover. What a fascinating read into what constitutes civilized behaviour, from whose lenses is the notion of ‘wild’ defined, and whether having four walls, a window, gadgets, and letters necessarily make one a better being. Because at the end of the day “you cannot tame something so happily wild.”

IMG_9822Mavis and Merna

Written and Illustrated byIan Wallace
Published byA Groundwood Book, 2005
Borrowed through interlibrary loan. Book photos taken by me.

Mavis has a favourite store in their small town – Gully’s, the busiest store in Fortune’s Cove. When Joe Gully, the storeowner, passed away, the store with its various odds and ends, its smell of perfume and leather, was closed down by Mrs. Merna Gully, the widow.


While the rest of the neighbours, Mavis’ parents included, whispered amongst themselves about the fortune that Merna Gully has now inherited with her husband’s demise, Mavis was concerned about how Merna must be coping.

“Mrs. Gully must be really lonely,” Mavis told her parents.

“As lonely as a woman can be counting her millions,” replied her mother.

“Merna Gully doesn’t have to work another day in her life,” said her father.

Mavis got curious about what this kind of life must be like, and so she took it upon herself to take a solicitous peek into her neighbor’s window:


And thus began a strange but beautiful friendship solidified over years of Solitaire games, snacking on pretzels and gingersnaps while starting out at winter windows, mowing in zigzag lines, picnics at the beach, and cruising the open road with no place to go.


This is a bond forged by a random act of kindness, a fleeting connection that lasted a lifetime, and the enduring beauty of compassion. One of the themes that we are exploring for March-April has to do with inter-generational friendships among individuals who may not necessarily be related. Mavis and Merna is a book that will move the reader and make them think about how the courage and the curiosity of a young girl and the unarticulated loneliness of an old widow found comfort, peace, and home in each other.

Currently Reading…

It has been a productive reading week. I finished re-reading Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian for my book club and Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman. Astounding reads, both of them.

IMG_0257I have started reading the first few chapters of Dan Brown’s Inferno. Quite a fast-paced novel, this one.


I am very pleased that I am making so much progress with my Sandman Library, as I am now in Book 8: World’s End by Neil Gaiman.


I also hope to begin reading this novel given by Pansing Books for review, as it seems to fit our current reading theme quite nicely: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.


Mavis and Merna is Winner of the IODE Toronto Chapter Jean Troop Book Award and the IODE Violet Downey Award

#AWBRead2015 Update: 28 of 35

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).

6 comments on “[Monday Reading] Unlikely Friendships, Wild Silences, and Fleeting Connections in Picturebooks for Children: “Wild”, “The Lion and the Bird”, and “Mavis and Merna”

  1. Mavis and Merna looks like a delightful book as does Wild. I’ve just finished Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give you the sun, so it will be interesting to see what you think of The Sky is Everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think The Lion and The Bird is one of my top favorite recent picture books, Myra. It is just wonderful. I like the look of Wild too, but Mavis and Merna also looks great. Sadly my library does not have it, but I’ll keep looking for it. Thanks very much for sharing these.


  3. I need to read Inferno! I bought it when it came out and just haven’t gotten to it!
    I loved The Lion and The Bird, I need to reread that one. I remember seeing Wild, but I never found it. I need to see if I can find that one, thanks for the reminder!


  4. Inferno was such an improvement over The Lost Symbol! And thanks for the book recommendations!


  5. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Finding Life’s Meaning, Traveling the World, and Coming Home in Existential Picturebooks for Children (and the young at heart) – Gathering Books

  6. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Love and Compassion among Animals and their Humans in Picturebooks – Gathering Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: