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.
Before I share my reviews this week, a few updates! We are hosting a Literary Voyage Around the World Reading Challenge for 2018. Do join us and sign up here in our Announcement Page which also contains detailed guidelines if you so decide to participate.
We will be giving away book prizes quarterly (with special thanks to Pansing) for those who have committed to reading the world along with us!
I’ve been meaning to find these two picturebooks as I know that they are exactly the kind of books that young children now should begin reading, to have an appreciation of what is happening to the larger world around them. If we are committed to helping children develop compassion and empathy, stories like these mediate the development of such prosocial traits, as young readers begin seeing themselves in what has always been perceived as ‘the others.’
Written By: Nicola Davies Illustrated by: Laura Carlin
Published by: Candlewick Press, 2017
ISBN: 0763695688 (ISBN13: 9780763695682). Borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
This is the second book from this author and illustrator tandem that just spoke to me so powerfully (the first one being The Promise). Here, a young boy from Italy who just moved to the Welsh countryside feels a distinct sense of alienation as everything around him showed how he clearly does not belong here.
Until he met an old man who was training pigeons for an upcoming race, and his unswerving faith that the birds, upon being set free, will be able to find their way back home to where they belong.
It is a beautiful story of unlikely friendship, and the sense of freedom embraced in flying free in the skies, as the pigeons, despite the distance, unerringly find their way back.
Carlin’s art captures the ephemeral, fleeting quality of melancholia for things long gone, the faded colours evocative of that which is there but isn’t anymore. Somehow, this young boy’s yearning for that which is so far away has been tempered somewhat with the pigeons’ flight, bringing with it the winds of home, the tastes of familiar streets in their beaks, and the courage to roam the skies with the knowledge that they belong neither here nor there, but everywhere their wings gather air.
Written and Created By: Suzanne Del Rizzo
Published by: Pajama Press, Inc. 2017
ISBN: 1772780103 (ISBN13: 9781772780109). Borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
With so many stories recently depicting refugees, a jaded reader may think that she has seen them all. This gorgeous book by Suzanne del Rizzo is hardly more of the same. It stands apart with such detailed art, created with polymer clay and acrylic, making the illustrations seemingly stand-out like a bas-relief of sorts, begging for your hands to run through the pages, expecting feathery creases, soft textures, and fluttering wings.
While the story is about young Sami’s family and how they have escaped from the bombing of their neighbourhood in Syria, it is so much more than just a ‘refugee experience.’ The story revolves around Sami’s longing for his beloved pet pigeons, a representation of the comforts of home and of his capacity to care for something more vulnerable than he is.
While the gritty, everyday realities of Sami and his family are depicted, as could be seen above, it is secondary to Sami’s anxieties over his pet pigeons and how helpless they must be without him to take care of them. For a young boy who has lost practically everything, clinging on to something familiar that provides a sense of empowerment may be the only thing that keeps him breathing.
This type of healing came in the form of a dove, canary, pigeon, a rose finch – fleeting, flying creatures who sought refuge in Sami’s longing to nurture and care for beings that are even worse off than he is. Somehow, his furry friends repaired something that is fractured within him, allowing him to transcend his own pain, and reach out to another in need. This one is definitely a keeper.