It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
I browsed my school library this week, and found there are books there that should be off the shelf and into the classrooms. You may be familiar with some, but I hope you find a new one here, too.
These first two books give some views of different cultures, and the way small differences really don’t matter, that people have the same needs no matter what culture: the need to love, to be needed and to eat! The next two are true stories of the persistence of the human spirit in personal passions. The final one is a story teaching the lesson of liking oneself.
Eating styles and habits separate people. This is a sweet story told by a little girl about how her parents fall in love and try so hard to please each other by learning the ways the other one eats. It’s one of the early books illustrated by Allen Say.
Arctic Son by Jean Craighead George illustrated with paintings by Wendell Minor
Jean Craighead George, author of Julie of The Wolves, My Side of The Mountain, and my favorite, The Talking Earth, takes us to a new culture, showing her usual love for both the culture and the environment. The story is that of Ms. George's grandson, Luke, who lives in Barrow, Alaska, near the top of the world. This is a lovely tribute to the Arctic, particularly the Inupiat Eskimo way of life, and includes some of their language also. The illustrations are beautiful.
Dave the Potter – Artist, poet, slave by Laban Carrick Hill illustrated by Bryan Collier
There is a good review of this by Andi Sibley at A Wrung Sponge. It’s a true story of a slave who became one of the most important potters of the 19th Century and he was also a poet, inscribing some of his poems into the pots. Some of his pots are still in existence. A link here to a South Carolina history site tells more about Dave and his work. The book is both beautiful to see and to hear for it is written in verse.
It’s always wonderful to find a book that celebrates books! And this is one, a history of those persistent enough to travel by horseback to remote areas to bring books to families, especially children. Here is one link to what is titled Packhorse Librarians in Kentucky during the W.P.A. era. I discovered one other book about them, titled Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky. I could find no reference to this any other place in the US. It’s a fascinating story.
Cabbage Rose by M.C. Helldorfer, illustrated by Julie Downing is another book with a strong and independent young woman whose life changes when she is given a ‘magic paintbrush’ where everything she paints becomes real. It’s a story that includes the family that doesn’t treat Rose so well, and the young woman who makes life good anyway and is rewarded with magic. But, it also gets more complicated with the love of a prince, of course, and the challenge to Rose’s self-esteem, a theme of liking oneself no matter what. In today’s society of ‘looking good’, the book could spark a good conversation about personal values.
Last week I spoke about the first book I read by John Green, An Abundance of Katherines, and this week I read his latest, The Fault In Our Stars. Two weeks ago I finished and wrote about A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. You may hear about these books and feel they have dealt with topics too sad to read about, but the stories are not only about loss because of the premature death of a loved one, but they are also stories of teens choosing to live life as beautifully as can be lived even when one learns firsthand that it can be so fleeting. They were both powerfully sad and equally inspirational. A personal tragedy recently happened in my own family, and these books touched me even more because of it.
I loved meeting the characters in The Fault In Our Stars, Augustus and Hazel. They are lovingly drawn teens who are smart, quirky, silly, impetuous and thoughtful, kind and loving. They are ill, and honest about their illness, learning that life and pain are partners in each of their lives. One revelation to me about those living with imminent death was that they take risks because they must, but also think of friends and family “after death” as often as they think of themselves. It is genuinely a pleasure to live for a while with these two young teenagers.
There are often passages that I find poignant and memorable in books. There were those here in John Green’s book, too. I found this truth in the book, as I found others, and hope you will read to find your own. The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.
What's Next? I've started The Blood Lie, by Shirley Reva Vernick and it will be an interesting read! And, I think I'll be returning to my own school library searching for other picture books, plus I'm going to the Colorado Chapter of the International Reading Association Conference this coming Thursday and on. I'm so excited to see what books I do discover.