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[Monday Reading] Exploring the Origins of Memories and What Came Before in Books for Children


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


I like how books for children nowadays explore abstractions and philosophical ruminations – deceptively simplified through innocent queries and articulations of deep-seated fears.

IMG_0474Once Upon A Memory

Written by: Nina Laden Illustrated by: Renata Liwska
Published by: Little, Brown and Company, 2013. ISBN: 0316208167 (ISBN13: 9780316208161). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

Reminiscent of Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questionseach full-page spread in this book contains a lyrical question that would make any reader – both adult and child alike – sigh in remembrance: of things that came before – of the composition of a statue, a poem, a feather, a garden, a book.


It is a quiet whisper reminding us of how we are all a part of something:


and that we are all deeply interconnected in one way or another; no matter how alone we feel, we remain part of something bigger than ourselves. My favourite, though is this one below:


As I was reading this book, I felt a tugging sensation that tells me I know this art – then I recalled The Quiet Book and The Loud Book. Hah. I am fast becoming a huge fan of Renata Liwska’s art – it calms the soul.

What There Is Before There Is Anything There (A IMG_0479Scary Story)

Written and Illustrated by: Liniers Translated by: Elisa Amado
Published by: Groundwood Books: House of Anansi Press, 2006 Book Awards: Cámara Argentina de Publicaciones, Asociación del Libro Infantil y Juvenil de la Argentina. ISBN: 1554983851 (ISBN13: 9781554983858). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

This is a strange little story from Argentina about a young boy who is afraid of the dark. Every night, after his parents tuck him in, and there is absolute darkness in his room, something happens:


I like how delightfully odd his imagined creatures are. It reminded me a little bit of Shaun Tan’s Eric, but with a slightly frightening twist:


While these ones appear relatively innocuous, it is the darkness that speaks which brings the chills to this young boy – as it claims: “I am what there is before there is anything there.”


Somehow, its entire vibe reminded me of Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls. While this book has been rightfully critiqued for lacking any kind of resolution or even a discernible growth in the end for the character, I was simply taken by the unique art of Liniers. And for some reason, I understood why it didn’t need to have any kind of resolution – in fact, there is strength about its being open-ended. It invites young readers to imagine what may happen next; it leaves spaces for one to develop their own closure to fears of a primeval darkness – one that claims to come before anything else.

Currently Reading…

Finally! I am glad to share that I finished reading these two novels: The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and The Game Of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia, Jr., and Linda Antonsson; and In The Country: Stories by Mia Alvar.

I also finished reading Maybe A Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee – will be posting a very short review in the coming months.



I have also started reading The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell and with a measure of relief, I am glad to share that I am enjoying it tremendously.


15 comments on “[Monday Reading] Exploring the Origins of Memories and What Came Before in Books for Children

  1. Both of these picture books are so enchanting.I adored The Wolf Wilder and hope to get to Maybe a Fox sometime soon….


  2. The fact that The Wolf Wilder has a rec from Philip Pullman on the cover would draw me to it and the cover says “read me” too. Glad you are enjoying it.


  3. What There Is Before There Is Anything There looks so spooky and scary! I would’ve loved to read that as a kid. Would love to read it now even, haha.

    My It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? post.


  4. cmargocs

    I now want a copy of Once Upon a Memory, and will have to get You Are Stardust after reading Star Stuff to my students. Thanks for the post!


  5. My daughter and I adore Kevin Henkes! We are going to see Stephen King do a reading next month. We can’t wait! Enjoy your week


  6. I was going to comment that “What There Is. . .” reminded me of A Monster Calls, and then you did! What a book! I just wrote about scary books about the dark recently, & this needs to be added. I’m glad you’re enjoying Wolf Wilder. I loved it, was sad when it ended. Have a great week, Myra.


  7. I think you’ll really enjoy Wolf Wilder. It took me by surprise! I have Maybe a Fox to read. I’ll be looking forward to your thoughts on it!


  8. I loved The Wolf Wilder and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it greatly. Aren’t the illustrations just beautiful?!


  9. I had never heard of Neruda’s The Book of Questions. Will be checking that out at the library very soon! I love any book that Renata Liwska illustrates.


  10. I hope you liked Maybe a Fox! It was so sad but beautiful!
    I really liked your review of RED. It is one of my favorite picture books.

    Happy reading this week 🙂


  11. Both these picture books are gorgeous. I like that they are unafraid to raise questions that don’t have definite answers.


  12. Gorgeous illustrations.

    Have a wonderful book week.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


  13. As I was looking at the illustrations and reading your comments about What There is… I was also reminded of A Monster Calls. I had to giggle when I scrolled down and saw you mention it. I may have to find that one.


  14. Great art in the books you selected. I forgot I was in a fox-book-strike but picked up a beautiful picture book called The Fox and the Star. Happy reading week!


  15. Pingback: The Beauty Of Lost Things And Those That Once Were… – Gathering Books

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