Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.
Now: IntoThe Woods, Tana French, for my book group.
Soon: that new book Last Day On Mars, thanks to Kellee.
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I took a long time reading this book, one by James Herriot I'd never read. I've read all the others a long time ago but needed something sweet and gentle from the past to offer some respite from today's news. This fit my wishes beautifully, stories by Herriot about his early days as a vet and the days of courtship with his future wife, Helen. If you need a bit of a pick me up, this is one that will help.
It’s amazing that this book has arrived this year. Did they know how much the story is needed? Be careful what you wish for is one message, but the other shows the courage of one, standing for all and speaking up, regardless of the outcome, the punishment. There is that town of La Paz and happy people were so noisy, singing and gadding about talking and laughing. They could hardly think or sleep. They wanted peace and quiet. So they voted out their mayor and voted in someone who promised “peace and quiet”. Law by law was passed, until “Even the teapots were afraid to whistle.” But then, a saucy gallito (a rooster) came to town and roosts in a mango tree. He wakes up singing “Kee-kee-ree-KEE!” Unfortunately, that tree is right under the window of Don Pepe (the mayor), who yelled that it was against the law to sing. That merry gallito said he would sing anyway, that it was a silly law. And he did, even after that mango tree was cut down! Eugene Yelchin’s illustrations brighten the pages with color and broad emotion and action. I adored the expressions on people and animals. You might guess how this story will go, but you must read till almost the end where it says: “But a song is louder than one noisy little rooster and stronger than one bully of a mayor,” said the gallito. “And it will never die -- so long as there is someone to sing it.”
May Alcott (Borrowed Names), Maria Merian, Mary Anning, Maria Mitchell (Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science) Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madame C.j. Walker, Marie Curie &Their Daughters (Borrowed Names)
The books above are not all of Jeannine Atkin's stories of women. But they are my favorites, at least they were until I read her most recent telling titled Stone Mirrors about Edmonia Lewis, well known (in the art world?) sculptor from the 19th century. Jeannine's ability to soak the character into us immediately satisfies, and we read on. This story is backed by research, the beginning shows Edmonia, a young woman of color, as a student at Oberlin College that had first begun a program of accepting students of color considered worthy of being educated. There are touches of goodness in those early pages, a chance encounter in the woods with one of the white male students, a supportive roommate, and hints of Edmonia’s love of art. The tension is immediate in these lines describing the true atmosphere of lines drawn at the school between “the good and the better-be-grateful”. Sadly, Edmonia’s “friendship” with two white girls on another floor where she lives becomes her undoing. She thinks of them as friends, but really she’s doing their hair, helping with dressing, “serving them”. One evening, visiting, they ask her to give them tea that’s been brewed. She does and is later accused of poisoning them after they become ill.
There is a trial, and it is thrown out for lack of evidence, but she is not declared innocent and must leave. And there, though tragic, the story really begins, with a sad departure on the train to a connection she was given. She must do chores at Mrs. Child’s home, but she has a room and meals, and Mrs. Child is kind with her demeanor and her advice. And, she helps Edmonia with connections. “Stones live often in the story, showing feelings, offering images, connecting the story to the path Edmonia follows. After a while Mrs. Child urges Edmonia to leave the house, to discover something she might want to do with her life. She says: ‘No one can tell what may happen.’ Edmonia thinks, “’I know’” Memory traps and snares words spoken over teacups, and warns/about the future she means to keep small,/like a stone in her hands.” It takes weeks for her to find work, to find a place of safety and she does with an artist who guides her into her passion, sculpture. One time her voice is tentative, but strong, too: “Can she trust her own two palms/and ten fingers, even through mistakes?” Jeannine weaves the racism, the struggle, and the triumph through this amazing story, as she has done with her others about inspiring women who do not quit.
I would hope others will be sure that this book is read by their children and/or students. It’s a story meant to be applauded.
It's hard to resist a fox on a beautiful cover with words inside like "Trickle dribble" "gurgle burble" "babble bubble" on more glorious pages with swirls of water. It really is a water song with some bits of science on an added page explaining some of the concepts included. A fox is hurrying through woods to find shelter, and encounters many small creatures in and out of the water, needing water, sheltering from the water. The expressions on all including one little snail are marvelous. Beautiful book out this year!
Another book from 2017! The inside of the cover shows a library card, signed "Bunny, Bear, Porcupine, and Raccoon". How can this be? It's just that Bunny loves to read so, so much. He learned by listening to the librarian reading to children outside in summer time. But then colder weather came, and he had no more books. Bunny searched and searched for a way in, and discovered the bookdrop! And the rest of the story shows dear Bunny gorging on books, hauling them home until a knock on the door, and there was Porcupine asking "Where have you been?" When Bunny replies "reading", the secret is out! What a lovely book about the love of reading, sharing with friends, and figuring out the right thing to do. It's a cute story where one gets to suspend belief and enjoy every part.