It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at BookDate, and was adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.
Title: Battle Bunny
Author: Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett / Illustrator: Matt Myers
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2013
My Two Cents: In this ridiculously entertaining tale, a kid named Alex takes his pencil to a syrupy kids reader called “Birthday Bunny”, and turns a boring old story about a little bunny into an action-packed tale of mayhem and destruction entitled “Battle Bunny”. The text is a little hard to follow at times because of the level of detail and the hand-written font, but the illustrations are hilarious (Battle Bunny wear an eye-patch like the most adorably-evil pirate you’ve ever seen), and I’m sure kids will get a kick out watching cute little forest animals duke it out with cannons, rockets and laser guns. This book would lend itself so well to a creative kids’ activity, and would really help get kids’ creative juices flowing – plus it would be a nice way to give one last hurrah to discarded books headed for the recycle.
Author: Charlotte Belliere / Illustrator: Ian De Haes
Publication Date: 2014
Genre/Format: Picture Book
My Two Cents: Here in on the West Coast it’s easy to forget sometimes that Canada does indeed have two official languages – thankfully we have beautiful French-language picture books, like this stunning entry from Quebec, to remind us of our French-speaking fellow citizens (well, that and all the French on our cereal boxes). Oriele and her beloved stuffed hippopotamus have always been inseparable, going on all sorts of wonderful imaginary adventures together. One day, when Oriele is a little older, her beloved hippo simply stops “coming alive” – he’s become just a plain old stuffed toy, without any spark or life. Distraught, Oriele searches high and low for a way to bring her hippo back to life, and to recreate the adventures they once enjoyed together. Her mother and father simply don’t understand – stuffed toys are never alive to begin with, they tell her, so how could she expect this one to talk? Oriele crosses fields and plains, asking the moon and even a real hippopotamus for help. When all hope seems lost, and Oriele’s hippo seems destined to be silent forever, an elderly man at the park teaches Oriele an important lesson about the imagination, and helps her bring her hippo to life in an entirely new way. The simple text is accessible even for beginner French readers, and the illustrations are absolutely incredible. If you can somehow find this picture book at your library, it is well worth picking up for the illustrations alone, even if you don’t read a word of French.
Title: The Story of Kalkalilh / The Great Sasquatch / The Little People
Creators: Brambleberry Tales
Genre/Format: Picture book app
My Two Cents: These stunning picture book apps by Canadian app developers Rival Schools are a lovely way to incorporate Indigenous content into your e-collection. Three short stories feature Indigenous sister and brother team Lily and Thomas, who explore the mysterious woods around their Mooshum (grandfather) and Kookum’s (grandmother’s) cabin. The children encounter creatures from Indigenous legend, and their grandparents provide background information and explain the meaning and significance of the different creatures they meet. This is more of an e-picture book than a storybook game – there’s limited interactivity, which places the emphasis on the story, rather than on any extra bells and whistles. The illustrations are beautiful, and the text is available in multiple languages, including Cree.
Much of the Indigenous-themed children’s literature available in Canada tends to be set in the ancient past or a land of legend or deals with the aftermath of the Residential Schools. While these are important, it’s vital that Indigenous children see themselves portrayed in contemporary literature as well, and that Indigenous culture not be portrayed only as something from a distant past. The one comment I have is that there isn’t much information available about the source material the creative team relied. It would be helpful to have additional information on the cultures from which the legends are drawn – I would assume that the legends are based in Cree mythology simply because the stories are available in that language, but it would be nice to have more definitive information. Still, these are lovely e-picture books for indigenous and non-indigenous children alike.
Title: Wild, Wild East
Author: Bobby Chinn
Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series
Publication Date: 2008
My Two Cents: I don’t often talk about cookbooks on my blog, but I am actually a big reader of them in my everyday life, particularly those with beautiful photography and interesting information about the cultures behind the dishes. One cookbook I’ve been really enjoying recently is Wild, Wild East by Bobby Chinn, a half-Chinese, half-Egyptian, British-educated chef based in Vietnam. While I’ll probably never make any of the delicious-looking recipes in the book (my culinary skills are woefully lacking), I’m fascinated by the stories Chinn shares about his new home. You can learn so much about a country and its history by exploring its cuisine – in the case of Vietnam you can detect the influences of various neighbors and conquerors, with elements of Thai, Chinese, Indian, and French culture mingling with regional preferences and differences to create a complex and meaningful cuisine. Chinn intersperses his recipes with humorous annecdotes about adapting to life in a new culture, and fills the pages with stunning photographs of everyday Vietnamese life. Cookbooks – not just for cooks anymore!
So there you have it, a few titles I’ve been reading this week. What have you been reading?