18 May 2011 Leave a Comment
As I unpack and peruse my new arrivals, I’m encountering some real treasures.
This book begs to be read aloud. When Mom brings home a stray cat, Dad emphatically refuses to allow it to stay:
“There’s no use begging. Don’t say please.
I don’t like cats. They scratch my knees.
They carry fleas. They make me sneeze.
They’re always getting stuck in trees.
I want it gone. Send it away.
I’m telling you, that cat can’t stay.”
When Mom, who could win an award for diplomacy, agrees with her spouse (throwing in a comment about the dangers the poor kitty faces in the outside world), Dad relents. This scene repeats itself again and again, and each time Dad’s objections grow lengthier–and each time another feline is added to the family. Kids and grownups alike will delight in this very funny book–and are sure to giggle over the surprise ending. Ages 4-7
One day, 13-year-old Ben’s mother brings home a baby chimpanzee. The little primate is to be the subject of a research study conducted by Ben’s psychology professor father: to determine whether he can be raised as a human and taught to communicate via American Sign Language. The eighth-grader has mixed feelings at first. Not only is he unhappy that he was uprooted from his home and friends and moved across the country so his parents could become involved in this project, but now he has to treat a chimpanzee as his little brother! However, as Zan grows, he works his way into Ben’s heart–to the extent that he is willing to risk everything for the little chimp’s welfare. Ages 13-17
Luis Soriano is a schoolteacher in Colombia, and his house is full of books. When his wife makes a comment about this, he decides to share his treasure with those not fortunate enough to have books of their own. So, every weekend, Luis takes two burros laden with books to remote villages where he lends them to the local children and reads stories as well. This true, vibrantly illustrated story is as much a treasure as Luis’ books. Ages 4-8
10 May 2011 Leave a Comment
Our family has been caught up in the happy whirlwind of wedding plans. The first step on the ladder to The Big Event was taken last week when we celebrated my daughter Sarah’s engagement. The occasion is more than a party: according to Jewish tradition, the couple symbolically affirms their intention to marry by taking hold of an object (such as a belt) and, according to some customs, making a verbal declaration.
In the midst of the flurry of wedding preparations, our married daughter and her husband arrived from Florida with their three young children. Sights and sounds abound that have not been a regular part of our lives for many years. Not only is there the pitter-patter of little feet, we have been privy to squeals of laughter, childlike wonder at “ordinary” phenomena, and unexpected displays of ingenuity and creativity. An everyday skylight, which some “genius” painted before the house became ours, in the eyes of a three-year-old was transformed into clouds. There is nothing more precious than a little girl of two spontaneously kissing a bandage on her grandmother’s arm or a child’s delight upon discovering that Grandpa and Grandma are awake. And the baby, endeavoring to master the art of crawling, hoisted himself onto his hands and knees–only to plop down onto his little chin. After a brief crying spell, the persistent little tyke was at it again.
If only we could throw off our adult inhibitions and mindsets and view the world with the freshness and enthusiasm of the child. These are qualities we would do well to emulate. Perhaps this is why I take such delight in children’s literature: it allows me to experience books, and our surroundings, from a kid’s-eye view.
Speaking of the delight of children’s books, here is one that is a perfect example. Mo Willems has performed an incredible feat: producing yet one more outstanding book that will resonate with kids and adults alike. When City Dog relocates to the country, he meets a frog who teaches him how to have fun in his new environment. As spring turns into summer, the friends also enjoy city games. When autumn arrives, Country Frog suggests they remember the good times they had earlier in the year. And, during the snowy days of winter, City Dog waits for spring to come so he can again play with his good friend. This touching story does not have the rollicking humor of the Pigeon books, but it will strike a chord with readers of all ages. Memorable.
I think I hear more books calling me…
02 May 2011 Leave a Comment
Be on the lookout.
She’s lurking in the hallways..behind doors..around the corner…where you least expect her…
This is the season of the advent of the Booktographer. Every May, she takes camera in hand and seeks out individuals who are involved in that most lofty of pastimes–reading–and records their actions. This individual, and her counterparts around the globe, have the goal of demonstrating to the world the inestimable value of occupying oneself with books. Numerous illustrious persons have been observed reading in past years, and it is hoped that people everywhere will be inspired by their example.
So begin a book today—and be prepared when the Booktographer appears.