I finished reading a book that blew me away. (Readers of this blog know that happens to me from time to time.) It started me thinking about an earlier post on the same topic as this one. If I were on the committee of any award given to high-quality children’s and young adult literature, there are a few that would get my vote. So, without further ado, here are the winners of the Bookloving Grandma Award for Excellence in Literature for Young People.
The title of this masterpiece describes it better than I ever could. This book (the one I referred to at the beginning of this post) tells the story of Auggie (short for August) Pullman. The ten-year-old has been homeschooled until now for good reason: he was born with a rare genetic disorder that caused his face to be severely malformed and a host of other health issues, necessitating twenty-seven surgeries. However, his parents believe the time has come for Auggie to attend school. So, despite strong misgivings, the fifth-grader enters Beecher Prep, a private school with a beyond-understanding middle school director. However, Auggie discovers that his fears are not baseless. Other students’ reactions to his appearance range from disgust to teasing to a game called The Plague (resulting in many avoiding touching him). With only a couple of kids willing to even have anything to do with him, how will Auggie make it through a whole school year? His story is full of everything that makes a novel great. It is truly a wonder.
At the beginning of this marvelous picture book, Ella introduces herself and informs the reader that this is her book. It has all the things she believes a good story should include: pretty things like princesses, funny things, exciting things, and scary things. One thing a book does not need is BEARS. That’s why, Ella tell us, there are none in her book. However, as the little girl begins her story, a bear wearing a flowered dress makes an appearance. Not only that, but as the young storyteller tells the tale, the bruin becomes the behind-the-scenes heroine. Readers and listeners will relish pointing out the bear’s presence, and giggle with delight at Ella’s obliviousness to what is really happening in “her” story. The piece de resistance? The bear’s recounting the tale to a group of well-known fairy-tale characters.