Monday, September 11, 2017

It's Monday - Reading Recap



              Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love! Thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki who share so much from their own reading lives and support this meme, too.
          I am checking on Kellee on FB who lives in the Orlando area, and the last time she posted, they were waiting for the storm, bunking down in an inner hallway. Best wishes to Kellee and all those affected by Hurricane Irma.
                                
                      tweet #IMWAYR

        
          I've read this wonderful book by Neil Gaiman more than once in the past, and each time with smiles and sighs, along with some holding-my-breath moments. This time, I had the joy of seeing more than one illustrator respond to Gaiman's beautiful words. The following artists collaborated in this graphic novel:  P. Craig Russell--Adaptor & IllustratorKevin NowlanTony Harris, Scott HamptonGalen ShowmanJill ThompsonStephen B. Scott Illustrator , David Lafuente--all Illustrators, and Andrea Plazzi (translator). The book is published in two volumes, or combined into one, the one I read. Each volume has different parts, stories within stories really. It's wonderful to see the different ghosts that I only imagined before, to see Bod growing up and to have a visual of the graveyard itself in its kind, then frightening, beauty. If you haven't read this story, I do recommend it, but also if you can, get the graphic novel! Like all Gaiman books, it's a treat!

       I read lots of great picture books again this past week. Here are some favorites:


         In gorgeous paintings that remind me of the expressionists, a cat’s owner dies and he is taken with her belongings to her birthplace, but everyone forgets he’s there. He decides he must travel to the place he’s always called home, the one where he could “feel the softness of the bluegrass that grew behind the stone house by the edge of the sea.” One can spot certain landmarks as he travels, like the Eiffel Tower. There are other things he remembers, and as we follow this poignant journey, it’s wonderful to see the happy ending.



        For young children, Michael Leannah has written a story showing kids walking through an urban neighborhood, seeing all kinds of people, and some may look a little scary, but as he writes, “Most people are good people.” Children hear adults talk at home, out in the neighborhood and on tv about things that seem scary, and Leannah is trying to show that yes, sometimes there can be scary moments, but “Most people in the world know that…most people are very good.” Jennifer E. Morris illustrates the world Leannah tells about with compassion and truth. It’s a book that will be terrific to discuss with a child or a class. (I just read but haven't reviewed Come With Me by Holly McGhee and Pascal LeMaitre. It plus Most People would make a wonderful pair.)


      Seeing a little bit of how people in Cuba live is part of the delight in this book; another part is to see how inventive they can be in order to keep their family car running. Though I don’t have to do this anymore, I grew up with an uncle who could fix anything, ran a gas station and was a mechanic. He helped out with all of the family’s cars, was known as one who could take a few parts and work magic.
       In this happy story told by a young boy, his family is on their way to Havana to celebrate the birth of a new cousin. Before they start, a few things must be fixed in their blue car, named “Cara Cara”, and the boy and his father manage to get the car “clucking” as she should. Margarita Engle's words are poetic, as in this line when the boy talks about their beloved car: “I’m glad that Cara Cara is peacefully blue, like the clear sky above and the wide sea beyond.” The trip shows numerous scenes of Cuban countryside, the city, and all those wonderful cars from fifties America as they travel. Mike Curato traveled to Cuba to see the sights as this boy did in order to illustrate the trip that was taken by the family and fills full-color pages with an old-fashioned feel. I think my family had that Chevy that the family loves, that “Cara Cara”.  It’s a wonderful story, this window into Cuba.
        This wordless picture book comes at a perfect time because of the Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma disasters. Here is a sweet owl family preparing to slumber, and they wake up to find a bat family hanging from the same branch. One young owl goes upside down to meet and play with a young bat but is scolded and brought back to the family. However, a storm comes, and in the fight for survival and to care for the “kids”, both mothers appear to realize that they were in this challenge together, and needed to help however they could, regardless of differences. Could this be a lesson also taken by the people helping others in Texas or Florida?  We are all trying to help each other, no matter who she or he is. Simple pictures, a branch on a tree, and two families are all the illustrations need. Oh, and a storm! 

         Cell after cell fill the pages of this poetic book all about family, all about diversity and no matter what is happening, breakfast, illness, vacations or sleep, families are there with us. “We handle things together, we feel each other’s pain./Family is the silver lining, the sunshine after the rain.”






             In Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, one of the main characters is part of the group that is packing and sending art in London in order to save it from the coming war. And here is a poignant story that is written as a memory about Florence, Italy and their work to save the city’s art treasures. The boy, Renato, loves all the art and sculptures in his city, but especially the lion in the Piazza del Signoria. He greets it every morning and says goodnight every evening. Barbara diLorenzo writes it as a most special bond. When Renato learns that he and his family are leaving for America the next day, he runs to the lion, hides on its back when German soldiers walk near. Suddenly there is a magical turn as he and the lion travel around the city to favorite places, eventually home where his father waits. The lion disappears. Is it a dream, or did the lion really come alive? However the truth, like other beloved statues, on the next day, the beloved lion is protected by a brick “cover”. Renato doesn’t tell this until his granddaughter asks to pet a stone lion. He says: “I once knew a lion.” The ending satisfies and makes one want to know more about the art that was saved and the tragedy of the art that was lost. There is an author’s note where she shares her journey to this story that might have happened!

          Petra Brown offers a new wonderful story about moving, how change can happen but when we’re all together with family, it’s okay. Mama Bear and her young one wake up in the night to hear a storm, and Mama says the cave will protect them. When they wake again in the morning, they find that all the trees in the forest have been blown down, and they must move. Little Bear is not happy, but reassured that Mama will be with him and it will be okay. Illustrations with the background show the bears as so human-like in their quest that one forgets that these characters are bears! These plus the loving text are perfect to read aloud and to reassure children who may have a move coming. 

Now reading:   I am continuing Evicted by Matthew Desmond (a slow and oh, so illuminating book, about to finish Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho for my book club, and starting Brave Red, Smart Frog by Emily Jenkins, an arc for younger readers from Candlewick.

22 comments:

  1. I have been meaning to reread The Graveyard Book for awhile now, and I think I will try to get it in that graphic novel adaptation, which sounds like a treat. I am very excited about the The Cat Who Walked Across France and All the Way to Havana. (Also intrigued by the Chris Cleave novel, though I read very little fiction published for adults. Might seek this one out!)

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    1. I loved this new adaptation of The Graveyard Book, Elisabethl The books you mentioned are all terrific. I did think of you when I read the cat book. The story is wonderful and the illustrations are terrific! I do love Chris Cleave's books, so when you can, take a look at this one. Thanks!

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  2. Oh yes, isn't Margarita Engle's ALL THE WAY TO HAVANA a lovely book written in her wonderful lyrical way? Did you know that this past Spring she was named Young People’s Poet Laureate, the first Latino to receive the honor. Bravo!

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    1. Yes it is wonderful, & I do know about her being the Young People's Poet Laureate, quite an honor!

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  3. Most People was a book I needed to read just at the right time which was a few weeks ago when Hurricane Harvey hit. I talked up Come with Me to a teacher yesterday and she bought a copy for her class.

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    1. Both are good in that same trusting way, enjoying the goodness of people. Thanks, Earl!

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  4. Such a wonderful selection of books - I have been hearing a lot about Most People, it sounds like just the right book coming at just the right time.

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    1. Yes, it will be a good one to have, Jane. Thanks!

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  5. I'm really looking forward to reading All the way to Havana. I love Margarita Engle's books!

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    1. I'm sure you'll love it, Beth. It's a sweet story!

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  6. We just finished reading Katherine Patterson's newest book, My Brigadista Year. It is set in Cuba - Can't wait to read All the Way the Havana. Sounds like these books would be great to pair together

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    1. I just got a copy of Brigadista, will read it soon. Yes, they will be a nice pairing.

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  7. As I was reading your review for Most People, I had in the back of my mind Come With Me! I couldn't help but think of All the Way to Havana as I was watching Hurricane Irma this weekend. I'm sure there's quite a bit of rebuilding and clean up that has to be done there. I do think the book is beautiful. I'm contemplating adding it to my Mock Caldecott.

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    1. Yes Come With Me will be a good pairing with Most People, Michele. I am sorry about the devastation from Hurricane Irma, have seen little from Cuba except they were hit hard, along with St. Martin & the Keys. What a tough weekend for all those who live in that path. All The Way to Havana is a wonderful story & those illustrations are gorgeous, I agree!

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  8. All The Way to Havana is beautiful! So tough to see the damage wrought by Hurricane Irma in Cuba! Margarita Engle does a wonderful job painting such wonderful pictures of life in Cuba!

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    1. Yes, just commented to Michele about this, Jana. I'm so sorry for those affected by this hurricane, and then by Harvey, too.

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  9. I really want to read All the Way to Havana. I enjoyed Most People & Renato and the Lion. The Owl book is a cute one. :)

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    1. Enjoy Margarita's book when you can, Crystal. I did love Renato & The Lion, another one that's gorgeous!

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  10. Do I have to choose just one of these books to comment on? What a great list! I need to reread The Graveyard Book. I loved it the first time. Renato and the Lion was one of my favorites when I first read it. The author's note was very special.

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    1. I do adore The Graveyard Book, actually all Gaiman's books, and this is special because of the graphics, too. Hope you can find the time, Ricki. Yes, Barbara diLorenzo's note about her work for the book is fascinating. That's why I loved the connection with the Cleave book too. I know little about the protection of art during war, but it happens, or sadly, does not. Thanks, Ricki!

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  11. I have read the novel version of The Graveyard Book - and the two-volume graphic novel versions of this wonderfully-weird Gaiman novel. Thanks for highlighting it here, Linda. I am really looking forward to reading All The Way To Havana - but it's still not available in our library. :(

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  12. I purchased the graphic version of The Graveyard Book for the library, but never read it. The first page of the novel is just so stunning.
    All the Way to Havana is on my list. I'm looking forward to it especially because I've visited Cuba and driven to and from Cuba.
    I now want to read The Cat Who Walked Across France.

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