Wow, I haven't posted since April, but I haven't read much either, except thousands of words in Washington D.C. Museums! Most of the following books were read before my class trip. Lately I've had the pleasure of a NetGalley copy of Rebecca Stead's new book, Goodbye Stranger and am enjoying it very much.
Here's what I want to share:
All The Bright Places - written by Jennifer Niven
Two characters traveling in different high school circles, Violet and Finch, are thrown together by an unlikely occurrence. They both stand on the edge of the school’s bell tower, unable to move, ready to jump? And then we the reader are thrown into the story of this pair, each taking a turn at sharing their lives, with all the joy and hurt that happens to high school seniors, and a bit more tragedy than most. Bullying and death of a sibling enter the mix, too, along with a geography teacher whose assignment offers a beautiful backdrop to Violet’s and Finch’s lives and relationship. The discoveries made about life and about each other bring tears. The families juxtaposed against one another seem to be reflections of our society’s challenges in facing death and mental illness. It’s a book hard to read and equally hard to leave. One quote: “The air is already heavy with summer.”
From a little girl, named Goldilocks, running madly home after having climbed out of another house’s window, to a boy named Jack, the one with the hen, and then another one (who usually goes with Jill), Allan Allberg has written a hilarious story--backwards. I think those who are reading this will enjoy it most if they are familiar with quite a few fairy tales and Mother Goose rhymes, but it is a clever tale of all those events that happened “previously”. The illustrations are colorful, whimsical, and filled with hints of the stories.
Voice from Afar: Poems of Peace - written by Tony Johnston and paintings by Susan Guevara
My words seem small when trying to describe the beauty of these poems and illustrations in this book. Most of the poems appear to be about people in the middle east, but most could be from anywhere there is turmoil, lately in the U.S. too. In the title, opening poem, Johnston writes: “Child on the other side of the world. . . I am calling. Can you hear my voice? . . . I dream you a safe shore.” And in the middle, a poem titled “Overheard in a War Zone”: Give us this day our daily bread/and please, Lord, give us tomorrow.” The final poem speaks of weaving together, ALL of us, and “A world/with peaks of kindness.” It is a thoughtful, urgent book, hoping for something good to happen in a torn world.
Yard Sale - written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Little Callie’s family is having a yard sale. They’re moving to a smaller place, an apartment, and need to get rid of quite a few things. The underlying message is that they’ve lost their home. There’s a little bit of money talk between Callie and her next-door neighbor friend. Neither really understand, but stay helpless as they watch the belongings sold, including Callie’s bicycle. Lauren Castillo’s helps tell the story with her wonderful kid-friendly illustrations, simple and colorful. At the end, the real lesson comes through. The belongings don’t matter, and what does is that “they” are together. This will be a sweet book to share and discuss that will touch some children’s lives who are moving, and need to say goodbye to some beloved things.
For all you book lovers! At the National Gallery, I discovered a beautiful painting by an artist I didn't previously know, John Frederick Peto, who died in 1907. Here's a picture: