On the blog:
I’m reading a zillion different books right now and finishing nothing. So this will be a very short post. Here’s what I managed to complete last week.
The Coretta Scott King Awards 1970-2014: Fifth Edition is a resource guide probably most suitable for librarians. It includes an annotated entry for each Coretta Scott King award winner and honor book since the award’s inception in 1970. The annotations mostly focus on plot summary with some evaluative judgment. Since the award website lists all of the books and it’s just a quick skip to Google to check the title and figure out what the book is about, I’m not entirely sure why a $50 book is necessary. But it is nice to have descriptions of all the books in one place. I have read far more of these books than I realized, but there are still a number that have eluded me, so I used the book to add to my TBR list.
Rukhsana Khan’s King for a Day is a picture book I picked up at NCTE. Set in Lahore, Pakistan, where Khan herself was born, it takes place on Basant, a festival to celebrate spring. The centerpiece of the festival is a kite flying competition, and the main character, Malik, is sure he has created a kite that will beat all his competitors so that he can be king for a day. I loved that the main character is in a wheelchair, but his disability is not the focus of the story. (In fact, it isn’t mentioned at all and I didn’t notice that he was in a wheelchair until about halfway through the book.) There is a second plot about a local bully who terrorizes a young girl and steals her kite. Malik makes a surprising sacrifice at the end of the story to make the girl feel better. I like everything that’s going on in this book, but the sentence-level writing was a bit flat for me. The art was the real star for me. Christiane Kromer’s mixed-media collage is fabulous.
In My People, Charles R. Smith Jr illustrates Langston Hughes’s powerful short poem, “My People,” with gorgeous sepia photographs. I needed to read this book this week. I could imagine that young children would pour over these photos and look at this book repeatedly. It’s one I’ll be purchasing to share in my Children’s Lit class.
I also reread The Negro Speaks of Rivers. It’s one of my very favorite picture book reads of 2014. So gorgeous. So powerful. I need two copies–one to read and one to cut up and frame. It is still difficult for me to wrap my mind around a world where this didn’t get at least a Caldecott Honor. One of my reading challenges for 2015 is going to be to read all 65 of the books E.B. Lewis has illustrated.
I finally got my hands on Jason Chin’s Gravity. This book fulfills a need for engaging nonfiction for the very youngest readers. There is often only one word per page, and the concept of gravity is explained in the simplest possible terms. The illustrations cleverly tell the story of what would happen if we didn’t have gravity. The form a secondary narrative that supports and extends the narrative of the text. I enjoyed going back and rereading the book to follow the story of the objects more carefully and piece together their puzzle. The reading experience reminded me a bit of David Wiesner’s Flotsam.
When I reviewed my reading goals and numbers last week, I discovered that I have to finish 28 books in December to reach my goals: 11 YA and 8 Newberys. I’ve made a library trip and fortified my stacks. Now I just need more time to read!