It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/7/13


Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to participate in this weekly kidlit-focused meme.

game for swallows game for swallows 1

This week, I read A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return, a superb graphic novel/memoir by Zeina Abirached, which I’m considering adding to the syllabus of one of my courses next semester. It would fit in Contemporary Literature, Children’s Literature, or Adolescent Literature and definitely in the Global Diversity in Graphic Novels course I’ll be teaching next year. Abirached grew up in Beirut during the period of Lebanon’s civil war, and her book tells the story of one evening when her parents went across the city to visit her grandmother and couldn’t return home until the shelling and bombing stopped. Their family has already closed off all of the rooms in their home and lives in the foyer, the safest space. On this evening, neighbors from the building gather in Zeina’s foyer to pass the evening with the two children as they wait for their parents’ return. It’s a fascinating story, beautifully illustrated in black-and-white panels, and fully conveys the horror and absurdity of living in a city under siege.

mary and lou

I have no idea why I picked up Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted at the library, but I’m glad I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed this history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It’s a quick and engaging read that makes a much bigger argument about social history and the forces of change. Armstrong is especially good writing about gender issues.

miss hickory

I’ll be blogging about Miss Hickory, which won the 1948 Newbery Medal, later in the week. What a bizarre little book!

the little tiny rooster little tiny rooster1

We also read a bunch of Caldecott winners this week, which I’ll also blog about later in the week. My new obsession with Will and Nicolas continued this week with The Little Tiny Rooster. Too small to have much of a role in the barnyard, the little tiny rooster ends up saving the day. There is a lot of gorgeous art to enjoy, and the writing is fine too. I have now exhausted my library’s holdings of Will & Nicolas, so it’s time to turn to interlibrary loan.

a little house of your own little house of own1

I wish these photos did justice to A Little House of Your Own, a quirky little book written by Beatrice Schenk De Regniers and illustrated by Irene Haas. The story is simple: everyone needs a little house, some kind of space where they can disconnect from the world and be quiet within themselves. I thought the book was a tad too long, but we all enjoyed it.

rooster prince


One of my kids adored The Rooster Prince of Breslov, written by Ann Redisch Stampler and colorfully illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, and the other hated it. I myself enjoyed it quite a bit. It tells the story of a spoiled prince who decides he wants to give up his life and luxury and be a rooster. Why? Who knows? He strips off his clothes, starts pecking at corn, and crows and clucks instead of talks. The king and queen bring in doctors and magicians to cure him, but nothing works until a wise old man strips down and tells the prince that he, too, is a rooster.

old henry

My kids are currently obsessed with Stephen Gammell, so I’ve been grabbing every book I see by him. His art is so amazing!

the mitten


Apparently The Mitten, written by Alvin Tresselt and illustrated by Yaroslava, is an older version of the same folk tale adapted by Jan Brett in her picture book of the same title. We liked Tresselt’s version and especially Yaroslava’s illustrations and coloring.

5 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/7/13

  1. Sounds like I have to know more of Stephen Gammell’s works – haven’t read any of his picture books yet, thank you for introducing me to a new artist. A Game for Swallows caught my eye, I’m also in the process of collecting new multicultural titles for a course that I’d also be teaching in January – and we have it in our library! Just placed a hold on it. A Little House of Our Own looks really charming too. I love vintage books. 🙂

    • Gammell’s books always look like rainbows exploded all over the page. My kids are also really intrigued by his use of pencil with all that color. We read Song & Dance Man, his Caldecott winner, last week too, but I’m going to write about that in a different post. What’s the course you’ll be teaching in Jan? I love hearing about other people’s courses! I’m trying to add more multicultural titles to Children’s Lit and Adolescent Lit next semester. I think you’ll enjoy Game for Swallows.

      • Hi Elisabeth, I’d be teaching The Use of Multicultural Children’s Books to promote Socio-Emotional Learning in the Classroom. It would be offered to teachers who are taking their Masters of Education (by coursework and research) and those doing their PhDs as well here in Singapore. I’m pretty excited about it and I’m reading up a lot about the history of children’s literature and book love and the polemical nuances of what it means to be “multicultural.” It’s good that you mentioned Song and Dance Man in connection with Gammell, I actually own a copy of the book (bought it years back) and didn’t realize it was his. Will look for it again. Thanks!

  2. Love the look of this version of The Mitten. Just gorgeous. The colours in The Little Tiny Rooster are the same as The Mitten story. Also looks interesting. Thanks for sharing these!

    • I wish I knew more about publishing and printing in the 50s and 60s. I’ve noticed that many of these children’s books use 4 colors only, so the real brilliance seems to come in how those 4 colors are varied throughout so the book doesn’t look too monochromatic. I need to find an expert to interview!

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