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.

imwayr

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?

Five Finds – Wordless Picture Books

I first came across wordless picture books several years ago while working as an ESL teacher. I was looking for ways to add variety to my students’ writing exercises, and stumbled across Shaun Tan’s beautiful, brilliant wordless picture book (and all-around work of art) The Arrival.

arrival

Wordless picture books come in a wide range of styles and formats, and there are titles perfect for just about all audiences. While I might not use these texts in my story times, I don’t hesitate to recommend them to patrons, as they can encourage children’s expressions of creativity and imagination. Working through a wordless picture book together is a wonderful experience for children and caregivers, and the level of detail in many of these texts allows for repeat re-tellings and new interpretations. For educators, wordless picture books can lend themselves to exciting writing assignments, and can be used individually or in group settings, as children work together to analyze the images and collectively decide on a logical (at least to the readers….) series of events.

daisy

Flora and the Penguin / Molly Schaar Idle

In this wordless, lift-the-flap picture book, Flora and her new friend, the penguin, dance on the ice together and learn to treat each other with respect and kindness. In this wordless, lift-the-flap picture book, Flora and her new friend, the penguin, dance on the ice together and learn to treat each other with respect and kindness.

Mr. Wuffles / David Wiesner

Mr. Wuffles ignores all his cat toys but one, which turns out to be a spaceship piloted by small green aliens. When Mr. Wuffles plays rough with the little ship, the aliens must venture into the cat’s territory to make emergency repairs.

Journey / Aaron Becker

Using a red marker, a young girl draws a door on her bedroom wall and through it enters another world where she experiences many adventures, including being captured by an evil emperor.

 A Ball for Daisy / Chris Raschka

A wordless picture book showing the fun a dog has with her ball, and what happens when it is lost.

Wave / Suzy Lee

A wordless picture book that shows a little girl’s first experiences at the beach, as she goes from being afraid of the roaring waves to playing on the shore while gulls soar overhead.

What do you think about wordless picture books? Any favourites that I missed?