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Anna Grossnickle Hines not only wrote the poems and illustrated them but created the quilts that became part of the beautiful pages. In the backmatter, she writes about the importance of light in the deep winter months, including the holidays that are celebrated with some kind of light and ending with the light we all share, the moon. And she gives detailed instructions for creating the quilts. The quilts are exceptionally gorgeous, glowing brightly in a sea of dark, just like the candles of Chanukah and Kwanza, or the lights on the Christmas tree. There are poems for each special time and they glow too, like the one about farolitos, lines of paper bag lanterns symbolically lighting the way for Mary and Joseph. The book will delight everyone in this season where light is needed and celebrated and might inspire quilters too.
What if you were a middle-school boy who loved space, and wished that your father wasn't always wanting you to play football? What kind of journey can you make this year with an old friend who supports you through and through and a new friend who says: "Choose the name you answer to. No one can do that but you." It's a huge journey for Garvey. Nikki Grimes writes it all down in Garvey's words, in tankas, a short poetry form. The beauty of it is that she manages to show joy and sorrow in these brief poems, and beautifully create the thread of Garvey growing into who he wants to be. I read and nod "yes", that must be how kids feel who have found a passion, in this case, Garvey sings, yet rarely find they've pleased a parent. Garvey's courage to keep on with his own goals may help another child find strength. too. After that friend's advice, Garvey says: "I carry his words/in the pocket of my mind./A few times a day, they remind me to ignore/the kids who don't know my name." There are numerous sweet moments and some harsh ones. I enjoyed the story of Garvey's Choice very much.
This book was published in Australia a couple of years ago. I placed this in middle grade too because it would make such a wonderful mentor text for illustrating poetry or a short story. The title itself must have been an inspiration for this author who also illustrated this magical city. With spare text, the detail in pen and ink is mesmerizing. You can look and look and still miss some small delight in each spread. Two children wander this city with their mother, riding buses that are fish and driven by bears.
If I had any "regret" after reading this book about Nanette's first trip to the bakery for the family's baguette, it would be that it was over all too soon, which made me "fret". Mo Willems has created another laugh-out-loud book that all readers must "get". Well, you see how the story will go, with Willem's rhyming telling the story of Nanette eating the baguette just a bite at a time until it's gone! Yes, she does "fret", but you need to get the book so you can discover what happens when she arrives home. It's funny and sweet and clever. I hope you won't forget to meet this darling Nanette!
It is one of my favorite stories to read at Christmas, magical and surprising. It's time to count our blessings!
Here is one more book that I want to thank Candlewick Press for. It is fabulous!
What serendipity that I just discovered Norman Messenger's Imagine last week, and now this new book by him is a trip of imagination through the alphabet. Each letter, upper and lower case, is created with gorgeous renderings of nature's animals and plants and man-made, curious structures. One of my favorites, my own name's initial L is a capital letter quite tall boot, and a package of laces for that boot for the lower case. On these pages are serpents and trees, tools and chains, and quite tall rabbit ears. It's an alphabet of dreams, will be a marvelous gift and mentor text for art projects.
Now Reading: Still more Cybil's poetry nominees and Ghost by Jason Reynolds.