It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? December 7, 2015

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? was initiated by Sheila at Book Journey, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus – perfect for a children’s librarian like me. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

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Title: Ask Me
Author: Bernard Waber / Illustrator: Suzy Lee
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher’s Summary: A father and daughter walk through their neighborhood, brimming with questions as they explore their world. With so many things to enjoy, and so many ways to ask—and talk—about them, it’s a snapshot of an ordinary day in a world that’s anything but. This story is a heartwarming and inviting picture book with a tenderly written story by Bernard Waber and glorious illustrations by Suzy Lee.

My Two Cents: Oh how I love this book. Growing up I spent a lot of time with my father (my mother tended to work evenings and weekends), and I’m always delighted to come across picture books featuring children and fathers or other male caregivers (mothers seem to dominate the picture book world).

I love Suzy Lee, and I love her illustrations in this book. The simple, lovely pencil illustrations with their rich, vibrant washes of colour just warm my heart.

I love the text. I was a nonstop chatterbox as a child, and my dad developed coping mechanisms to deal with the nonstop flow of pint-sized chatter, smiling and nodding and inserting comments every now and then, just like the patient dad in the story.

In short, I really, really love this book.

Title: The Table Where Rich People Sit
Author: Byrd Baylor / Illustrator: Peter Parnall
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Publication Date: 1994
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher’s Summary: As her family attempts to calculate the value of the desert hills, the colors of blooming cactus, and the calls of eagles and great horned owls, a young girl–who has been led astray by the family’s lack of material wealth–realizes what really matters. Color illustrations.

My Two Cents: I like to look through the recently-returned books to see what people in the community are borrowing, and this picture book in verse caught my eye. The illustrations are a bit dated, but the text is wonderful.

A young girl is frustrated by her parents’ apparent lack of ambition and their lack of material wealth. She is frustrated by the family’s hand-made dining room table, their beaten-up truck, their worn-out clothes. She doesn’t understand why her parents can’t be like everyone else, and she calls a family meeting to address her concerns.The girl’s parents gently remind her that wealth comes in all different forms, and that while they might not have material wealth, they are surrounded by the beauty of the natural world, and enjoy a freedom most people never experience.

I’m sure there are a lot of children out there who can relate to the young girl in this story, who wonder why they can’t have all the shiny new things that everyone else seems to have. Whether it’s because they have a struggling single parent, or unconventional parents like the ones in this story, hardworking immigrant parents or parents who live in an economically struggling area, there are countless children who are angry, confused or hurt by the inequality they see in their world. While the parents in this story appear to have chosen to live a less conventional life, their message of appreciating the countless free blessings in the world can apply to people everywhere.

The Table Where The Rich People Sit is definitely a bit dated, but it’s still a wonderful story that might offer some comfort to children who feel hurt by life’s inequalities. I remember having a very similar conversation with my parents as a child, when I was angry at them for not being doctors or lawyers like the parents of the rich children at my school, and hurt that they apparently didn’t love me enough to work harder so that we could have more material things. Sometimes it can be a great comfort to children just to realize that there are other children out there who feel the same way they do!

Something old, something new this week! What have you been reading?

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12 thoughts on “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? December 7, 2015

  1. All of Byrd Baylor’s books are lovely and thoughtful. You should see what else you might like, Jane. I liked Ask Me, such a sweet capture of a girl and her dad doing what they do. Thanks, Jane.

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    • I’m definitely going to try and find more by Baylor, I’d actually never read any of her works before, but I really enjoyed this one. While it’s wonderful to discover new titles like Ask Me, it’s also delightful to discover classic gems that you’d never known about before! 🙂

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    • I felt the same way, I actually only picked up the booked because it looked so out of date and I was surprised that it was circulating. I’m the worst for judging books primarily on their illustrations, so I was definitely surprised by this one. A good reminder for me to look beyond the cover! 🙂

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  2. Ask Me was already on my to read list, but I’ve just added The Table Where The Rich People Sit. I love that we can take a picture book and through an in depth analysis, students come to realizations and understandings all by themselves in ways much more powerful than if I or any adult had tried to tell then this. I want to see if this book will fit into my critical literacy through picture books collection.

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  3. The Table Where Rich People Sit was recommended by one of my librarian friends here – and was immediately drawn to the art – then remembered that Peter Parnall also illustrated Annie and the Old One – which won the Caldecott perhaps roughly the same time that this picturebook was published – have you read that one yet?

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    • I haven’t, I need to pick it up! This is why I love participating in blog communities like this one, I learn so much and find out about so many great books that I would probably never hear about otherwise. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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  4. I read The Table Where . . . a few years ago and ended up buying my own copy. LOVE that you LOVE Ask Me! I read it at the book store and was instantly smitten. It is picture book perfection in my opinion!

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