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.
These three delightful picturebooks feature unique characters who, while seemingly-ordinary, are actually more than what they initially appear to be. It is this mysterious, existential conundrum that ties these narratives together.
A Toon Book Written and Illustrated by Lilli Carré
Published by Toon Books (2014)
ISBN: 1935179578 (ISBN13: 9781935179573). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
The first few pages introduce the reader to a messy Tippy whose room seems like a jungle of sorts with varied animals hiding in the blanket, under the beds, or poking their heads in her bedroom window, not to mention the assortment of odds and ends including shells and leaves scattered here and there.
Tippy’s mother helps her clear out the mess, and eventually tucks her neatly into bed. Yet, Tippy claims that she has no recollection whatsoever as to what or who made the mess in her room. She claimed that all she could remember is falling deeply asleep.
As the story progresses, it appears that our mysterious Tippy may just be a sleepwalker. As she hops across lily pads, tumbles through trees, and slips into holes, creatures seem to follow her around until she circles back into her own bedroom.
I love the panels in this toon book – an early introduction to comics for young children. I also like the ethereal, mysterious quality of Tippy, the dream-walker, whose messy bedroom, I am sure most kids will be able to identify with. Who knows? They may be little sleepwalkers, too!
Written and Illustrated by Tom Percival
Published by Bloomsbury (2017)
ISBN: 1408880962 (ISBN13: 9781408880968). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
The first thing that struck me about this picturebook was the brilliant and vivid colours, and the initial monochromatic hues when Norman still did not know that there was something special inside of him, waiting for just the right moment, to appear on his back.
This is a story of a young boy who, when he discovered that he was different, embraced it and flew into the heavens in glee:
However, as he faced the prospect of telling his parents and his friends about this new, multi-coloured thing that grew on his back, he felt very apprehensive. So, he decided to hide his true self by wearing a yellow coat wherever he goes.
He wears this coat everywhere – be it at the swimming pool, rain or shine, or while having meals with his family. He never takes it off. Everyone is now puzzled as to why the once-vibrant Norman seemed elusive, secretive, and mysterious, forever huddled in his jacket. Until he realized something very important:
It was not really his wings that was the problem; it was the cumbersome yellow jacket that he felt compelled to wear wherever he went. I love how this story can be pulled into different dimensions and interpreted in a variety of ways, depending on who is reading it. It is a powerfully allegorical tale of shedding off appearances, and embracing one’s rainbow-coloured self, while flying off into the heavens in joy.
Written and Illustrated by Marianna Coppo
Published by Tundra Books NY (2018)
ISBN: 0735262675 (ISBN13: 9780735262676). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
This picturebook begins with Petra’s seeming-impenetrability and immovability:
The blank spaces in this book suggest the creator’s attention to detail and design. There seems to be a definitive quality to Petra, an assurance of a clear identity that is not really questioned. This certainty, however, is questioned when out of the blue, a dog appears and takes Petra into his mouth, while fetching his stick:
Petra then becomes transformed into a disposable rock, a pebble, an egg, an island:
Yet, instead of being depressed and catastrophizing, Petra learns to adjust, taking these twists and turns in stride:
There are a lot of potential philosophical and existential questions that can be raised through this picturebook in the hands of a skilled teacher, parent, facilitator. Do you stop being who you think you are if those around you perceive you differently? The tension between being and becoming is fully captured in this deceptively-simple tale of a rock, that is clearly more than just one.
#LitWorld2018GB Update: Lilli Carré is based in the US, Tom Percival is from the UK, and Marianna Coppo is from Italy.