Monday, December 17, 2012

Books Are Precious

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  There are lots of great books to learn about.    There is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS that offers reviews of all kinds of books, adult and children.  Enjoy the visit!

         At this sad time, I found a quote that touched me.  I hope it gives some comfort to all of you:  “Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.”
             -- Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux
         And-As I was reading other's posts, go to Gregory Pincus' GottaBook.  He shared a poem that you will love!

If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Don’t Feed The Boy – Irene Latham, illus. by Stephanie Graegin

        I love middle grade books.  Although they can be serious, as this book is, there is usually a good resolution because of certain actions of the main characters.  In Don’t Feed The Boy, the main character Whit is being raised in a zoo with a personal tutor instead of school because his parents are the zoo managers and feel that this situation for their son is the best possible.  They believe that his world is exciting because they love it so much, but unfortunately Whit has other wishes. 
        At 11, Whit has no friends, is quite lonely.  Irene Latham shows this so well as she describes Whit’s early thinking when he begins observing a young girl for a summer assignment, and struggles with carrying on the conversation, not feeling quite sure he is doing it right. She sits at one spot every day sketching the flamingos, eventually the pigeons.  Whit calls her the “Bird Girl”.  Eventually, they talk, and have fun, and then the adventures, and the sharing of problems begins. 
         Irene treats these 11 year olds so respectfully as she writes about their problems, Whit wanting to do more in the world than be at the zoo, and Stella (the Bird Girl’s real name) wishing her abusive father would change, or that she had a different home.  Children’s wishes can often be taken lightly by adults because they believe that children don’t have enough experience to understand what is really best.   Irene shows so well that children really do understand what’s important in their individual lives, and the scenes between Whit and Stella are both realistic and poignant.  This is a good story, with such tension in the writing that I worried about the resolution from the beginning.  Many will enjoy this book.  I hope Adults will learn from it, and children will feel supported. 

The Best Christmas Ever – Chih-Yuan Chen – This book was published a few years ago but I just discovered it at the library.  It is a sweetly simple picture book about a family who may not have Christmas gifts because Father Bear has been out of work and there is not enough money to buy both gifts and food.  I couldn’t figure out myself exactly what happened (a good mystery for little ones), but they did manage to have some gifts and have the best Christmas ever!  The story holds some nice surprises and the illustrations are simple and gorgeous, with what seems to be collage, along with the color, subdued and calming.  It’s a lovely picture book for young children.

The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween – Ruth Sawyer – illustrated by Max Grafe
I've wanted this book for a while and finally found it at my library.  It's a beautiful old Irish story by Ruth Sawyer, but now is illustrated gorgeously by Max Grafe.  The tale is about Oona, a tinker's child abandoned at a doorstep & taken in by an Irish family, but no one eventually will want to marry one of her 'kind'.  Oona gives her life, then, to be a helper, a healer, a substitute mother when needed, yet she constantly dreams about having her own cabin.  Because of the drought and famine, after many years of service, Oona is put out, and it is  Christmas eve, .  She ends up discovering that kindness to fairies (the wee folk) ends in a good reward, her own cabin.  But it's a magical story and I'll let you figure out what more the magic holds.

Next: Book Love, by Penny Kittle, Borrowed Names by Jeannette Atkins and some more picture books of course. 

                                                Happy Holidays to everyone!


  1. Don't Feed the Boy sounds like a worthwhile read, so I must seek it out.

  2. Linda, thank you so much for your review of DON'T FEED THE BOY! One of my author-heroes is Katherine Paterson, partly because she gives kids credit for the depth and breadth of their emotional landscapes. It's something I strive for in my own writing. Thank you for reading - and in the midst of your move and everything! xo

    1. You are welcome, Irene. I really was please at the care you gave these young characters. That respect is so important to our school's mission. And I believe that authors should "know" about this too. Not all do, but you did! Thank you!

  3. Thanks, Linda, for that quote from The Tale of Desperaux. I'll share it tomorrow with my sixth graders along with Greg's poem. Your review of Don't Feed the Boy convinced me to request it for my break.

    1. It's a sweet vision in the words, isn't it, Ramona. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Wow... I haven't heard of Don't Feed the Boy. Looks like a great read!

  5. I am so impressed that you are managing to keep up with your reading and posting even while you move and unpack!! You are amazing. Thanks for telling us about these great books.

    1. Thanks Tabatha. I think I'm going to need a break, though. Happy Christmas to you!

  6. I agree with Tabatha, you are truly amazing, Linda. And the fact that you even manage to find the time to reply to comments here, it's just so inspiring. I hope I can find Irene's book here in our libraries. Been meaning to find that for the longest time. The Best Christmas Ever also looks like something that I would hold close to me. So many beautiful books! :)


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