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[Monday Reading] Of Story Machines and Reading Nooks in Picturebooks by British Author-Illustrators

"Are You Sitting Comfortably?" by Leigh Hodgkinson | "The Story Machine" by Tom McLaughlin.


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. 

These two picturebooks by author-illustrators coming from the UK both have reading and stories as their central theme – accidentally discovered via Overdrive, and absolutely perfect for our current reading theme.

The Story Machine [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Tom McLaughlin
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books (2014)
ISBN: 1408839334 (ISBN13: 9781408839331). Borrowed from Singapore National Library Board Overdrive. Book photos taken by me. 

A young boy named Elliott accidentally discovered what is now considered an ancient… ok fine.. old-fashioned contraption whose name and function he did not even know. It has no on-off button, nor does it bleep, buzz, or swipe.

“Boomers” such as myself would naturally find this to be a comforting, familiar sight. I remember my younger days when I would spend hours on end just typing The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog as fast I could.

Elliott discovered what the machine does by accident. However, he is not much of a word kind of boy, he is more into pictures and art. Elliott was thrilled to discover that this machine can actually create those patterns that when put together make up a story.

However, just like overused machines, this contraption eventually broke down. Elliott is justifiably worried that the stories would naturally be gone without the machine. How Elliott dealt with this conundrum I shall leave for you to discover. This is a lovely, empowering book about the stories that live within each person: be it depicted through art or words.

Are You Sitting Comfortably? [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books (2016)
ISBN: 1408864827 (ISBN13: 9781408864821). Borrowed from Singapore’s National Library Board Overdrive. Book photos taken by me. 

Readers everywhere would be able to resonate with this question, because hey, #TheStruggleIsReal. The book begins with a list of places that are not considered comfy, no, not at all.

A closer reading of the story would show that this young boy is actually trying different types of chairs. What makes this book work for me is the unique typography that is thoughtfully crafted to match the spirit of each page, and the way the art bleeds into the next page – even in the ebook version that I read, this is fairly apparent.

What did not particularly work for me, and long-time friends who have been following our blog would know this, is the rhyming text, that I felt was not especially necessary.

Regardless, I enjoyed the various nooks and crannies that the boy had experimented on before realizing something significant at the very end of the story – what that is, I shall leave for you to discover. And to celebrate this spirit of sitting comfortably, here is me sharing my favourite reading corner in our home here at the United Arab Emirates:

What is your comfy reading corner?

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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).

3 comments on “[Monday Reading] Of Story Machines and Reading Nooks in Picturebooks by British Author-Illustrators

  1. Those picture books look so delightful! I”ll have to see if I can find an ebook library copy


  2. The Story Machine by Tom McLaughlin caught my eye. I never got to read this one, so I’m going to see if I can hunt it down in a local library. Thanks for sharing, Myra!


  3. What a wonderful reading nook! I need both of these books too.


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