It's Monday! What Are You Reading

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 (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). 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

As I was going over the nominated titles for CYBILS Fiction Picturebooks in 2015 – I took careful note of the titles that did not make it to our top seven and checked which ones I loved to create this list. I am sure our First Round Panel of Judges had a difficult time whittling down over 250 titles into just seven – and I also wanted to go over some of the eliminated titles myself, just to see which ones would resonate with me.

The first three titles in this list demonstrate the power of imagination and how one can find amusement within one’s self through hand-crafted, oft-times-serendipitous, discoveries. The last four titles highlight the many faces of home and its transitions and evolutions.

Do take note though that I didn’t really have the opportunity to go over ALL the nominated titles as yet – so think of this as a preliminary list of favourites. For instance, we still don’t have Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast or In A Cloud Of Dust or even The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes in our libraries – so watch out for Part Two of this list as soon as our libraries make these titles available in our part of the world.

Widget Handcrafted by Iphigene for GatheringBooks.

Widget Handcrafted by Iphigene for GatheringBooks.


Written and Illustrated by: Daniel Miyares
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Yet another wordless picturebook that demonstrates the remarkable power of storytelling done solely through images: visual narrative at its finest. Miyares is a new-to-me artist and I am glad to have been introduced to his work through this remarkable picturebook that shows a very simple story of a young boy who brought his paper boat outdoors to play with. I was also very impressed with how Miyares played with various perspectives and managed to show that in one full page-spread (see below):


In an age where most children derive their forms of recreation from gizmos and gadgets, this simple hand crafted paperboat and all that it signifies – warmth of home, love of sibling, puddles and rain and all its magic serve as a reminder that one is capable of discovering joy within one’s self.

My PenIMG_8243

Written and Illustrated by: Christopher Myers
Published by: Disney Hyperion, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Christopher Myers is a favourite of ours here at GatheringBooks – but this book, I believe, is one of – if not the best book that he has done thus far. Dedicated “To the people who make things, and to the people who share them” it is an ode to the power of creating, the act of putting pen on paper and transforming a blank canvas to one of absolute magic. Somehow it illuminates the trite adage “The pen is mightier than the sword” in a fresh, monochromatic, lyrical fashion that captures that unadulterated joy of being and creating:


It demonstrates the process of creating and re-creating, of traveling through a page, and of caring so deeply enough that the art moves, unfurls, and sneaks into one’s consciousness, to lodge there permanently. That is what Myers accomplishes in this beautiful gem of a book:


IMG_8240This Is Sadie

Written by: Sara O’Leary Illustrated by: Julie Morstad
Published byTundra Books, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

If you don’t know Sadie yet, now is the time for you to find her in your library or bookstores so that you can befriend this little girl who is able to transform a box into a boat, sail around the room – and doing it oh-so-quietly so that the old people can have their sleep in peace. This, she can do and more “and it still isn’t even time for breakfast.”


There is a lot of intertextuality found in the narrative that adults might be keen to explore with their young readers. There would be a jump of excitement upon discovery of various allusions and references among avid readers who possess a sharp eye and are quick in forming associations; for instance, see image below – what does that remind you of?


Again, there is that remarkable self-possession evident in Sadie who is able to amuse herself – she can transform a room into a jungle with a howl, or a tree into an enchanted forest with chattering birds, and a stuffed fox waiting for her in her bicycle. A celebration of outdoors, play, imagination. Beautiful.


Written and Illustrated by: Carson Ellis
Published byWalker Books, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

My gypsy heart has always been fascinated with the concept of home and how it is portrayed in picturebooks/children’s literature. Almost every year, we feature a reading theme that touches, even tangentially, on home; and so I am glad to finally hold in my hands the many faces of Home as portrayed by Carson Ellis who is a new-to-me children’s book artist.

Each gorgeous full-page spread is marked only by a sentence or two – very sparse, so brief, that one is able to focus more on the details of the art and the colours, the smokes and smells, the turrets and towers, the walls and woodworks:


The typography is what got to me and the book design, and the overall feel of the page which invites the reader to run her hands over the book to touch the moss or see through the window pane. There is also an attempt to engage the reader in a conversation as can be seen in the last page:


While all the types of home can not be fully represented in a 36-paged picturebook, I like how it includes both businessmen and Norse gods, tree houses and underwater homes, Kenyan blacksmiths and Slovakian duchesses – all so gloriously random and otherworldly and real.

IMG_8246Yard Sale

Written by: Eve Bunting Illustrated by: Lauren Castillo
Published byCandlewick Press, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This is a re-read for me as anything Eve Bunting I immediately try to hunt down to devour and savor again and again – this is one such book. I can not believe how I teared up YET AGAIN after reading it a second or third time.


For anyone who knows what it’s like to move to another place, to downsize, to put your pre-loved things on sale – or even if you don’t and would like to know how it feels like to sell your red bike, your books displayed on your garage for rent (which I did, one summer when I was a teenager to earn money), Bunting captures it all with the littlest gesture, the crayon marks on a headboard, and a friend wearing her pyjamas willing to trade her younger brother just to get you to stay.


A beautiful reminder of the value of people over things, of warm hugs over big spaces, of simplicity versus acquisition, and that invisible unspoken thing which fits nicely into one’s arms. Read this and hug your loved ones close to you – and don’t let go.

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious
IMG_8253 Treat

Written by: Emily Jenkins Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall
Published bySchwartz & Wade Books, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I would not even want to add to the controversy that is this book – a lot has already been said about it: lines have been drawn, apologies have been publicly acknowledged, and enough feathers ruffled, sufficient ire raised to make this book a subject of academic scrutiny for years to come.


That being said, I can not help but marvel at the craftsmanship of this book – almost epic-like in proportion – spanning centuries with the evolution of families and homes, the changes in food preparation with all its subtle intricacies and transformed cultural practices.


Yet the one thing that remains constant is the finger-tasting, bowl-licking, delectable blackberry fool – its purple juice used to paint the endpapers of the book as can be seen in Sophie Blackall’s Illustrator’s Note found at the end of the page. Emily Jenkins also writes a fairly-detailed Author’s Note that indicates the arguable amount of research poured into the making of this picturebook. What struck me as particularly special though was the depiction of the modern family in San Diego –


– this resonates with me as we have family living in that state and we make it a point to visit every other year since 2009. The image of the family dining outdoors under the stars touched me and my 14 year old daughter deeply as we read this together: definitely a book to treasure and discuss with your own children.

IMG_8258Lenny & Lucy

Written by: Philip C. Stead Illustrated by: Erin E. Stead
Published by: A Neal Porter Book. Roaring Book Press, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Much love has been shared about this book – all well-deserved. As is the trademark quiet style of the Steads, this book depicts transition; the pain of moving that is borne silently alone, or at the very least shared with a canine companion; and the comfort derived from friends – whether make-believe, hand-crafted, or actual flesh-and-blood bearing binoculars and marshmallows.


While it may be easy to dismiss this as a book of coping, overcoming and moving on, well yes it is that, but it goes beyond it as well. The art and narrative portray the subtle mastering of one’s self with pillows (lots of them), and dried leaves and blankets (big ones), and a loyal companion that remains, and is present, always. The narrative quietly soothes and provides comfort through scarves, earmuffs, and being rooted, steadfast, staring out into the bridge to make sure the woods stay where they are.


Currently Reading…

I managed to finish two books but not the ones I originally intended to read last week:


Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life edited by Graydon Carter and illustrated by Risko.


I also finished reading Tyler Knott Gregson’s All The Words Are Yours: Haiku On Love which I will be featuring for Poetry Friday in the coming weeks.

This week, I am hoping to finish reading the following novels:

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Lumberjanes, Volume 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen (Illustrator), and Maarta Laiho

22 comments on “[Monday Reading] Favourite PictureBooks from the CYBILS-Eliminated List

  1. I love seeing all the illustrations in those books.

    Theresa (The Truth About Books)
    Here is my Monday read


  2. Oh what luscious picture books. I’m pretty sure some of these were my favourites from last year. I hope you enjoy All The Light We Cannot See as much as I did. Lumberjanes is on my list to read too. I’ll look forward to reading what you think of it next week.


  3. You’ve got a terrific list of picture books this week! Loved Float, My Pen, This Is Sadie, Yard Sale and Lenny & Lucy! Those are all very popular in my classroom library. I’ll be interested to see what you think about the Vanity Fair Questionnaire Book. There was an impressive list of names on the cover.


  4. I loved revisiting several of my fave PBs from last year through your post!


  5. So many beautifully illustrated books – I’ve added a couple of these to my wishlist. Thanks for sharing. I hope you enjoy your upcoming reads.


  6. I did love every one of these, Myra, purchased This Is Sadie for a granddaughter who reminds me of Sadie, My Pen for me, but my real favorite is Lenny & Lucy. For some reason that book really touched me. I loved the look of it, the story, the imagination. I hope you’re enjoying Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See. I thought it was exceptional, enjoyed the connections although it seemed inevitable.


  7. Thank you for sharing these! I’m off to place some holds that will hopefully be in when my daughter and I head to the library later this week. 🙂


  8. Gorgeous illustrations in the picture books…Sadie looks like a lovable character.

    I also have heard good things about All the Light We Cannot See. Enjoy your week, and thanks for visiting my blog.


  9. So much to think about here. I really want to look at My Pen. I don’t know this title at all. Thanks for all the books to go find and read. I loved All the Light you Can Not See. I am thinking of re reading it soon. Have a good week!


  10. I wish My Pen had gotten more buzz. I really enjoyed it.


  11. I love looking at illustrations in children’s books. Hope you finish the wonderful All The Light We Cannot See.


  12. How fun to review picture books. They can really take artwork to new levels and territories.


  13. You’ve covered so many great picture books this week, wasn’t 2015 a spectacular year for children’s books?! I actually loved using wordless picture books with adults when I was an ESL instructor years ago, we would practice our writing and speaking skills by creating different narratives about the scenes in the illustrations. You can really do so much with wordless picture books – practice vocabulary, verb conjugations, grammar, tenses, creative writing, the possibilities are nearly endless!


  14. My Pen looks amazing…as do the other books in your post, Myra – as usual. I do love using wordless picture books with my sixth graders – such a great experience for us all!


  15. I do love those picture books. I’m hoping to use Sadie for something this spring. She has not gotten enough love from me this year, time to bring her out!


  16. I loved many of these picture books. My Pen has so much to be appreciated. Sadie stole my heart. Float is amazing. My students agreed that the pictures tell the story and didn’t require a single word. I have Lumberjanes on deck. It looks super fun.


  17. I see a book by Shaun Tan in that collage. I read The Arrival by him a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I grabbed Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast and read it while standing in a book store a few months ago. It was adorable! Enjoy your week!


  18. There are some awesome books on this list of cut books! I am excited to see what remains 🙂
    Enjoy Lumberjanes–they are super fun! I liked #2 also.

    Happy reading this week! 🙂


  19. Such a wonderful selection! I think Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast sounds fun too!


  20. Thanks so much for this, Myra. What a beautiful selection of books and how lovely to see our Sadie amongst them.


  21. Love the illustrations.

    Thanks for sharing, and I hope you are having a good week.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My It’s Monday, What Are You Reading


  22. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Journeys Far From Home and Back in Picturebooks “That Neighbor Kid” and “Life Without Nico” – Gathering Books

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