On the blog:
- A curation of online reading that made an impact
- A celebration of my new Saturday initiative, Screen-Free Saturdays
- A reflection on my year of reading in 2015
I don’t know if I’ve ever had a week where I only read one picture book, but that’s what happened this week. Just one! But it was a fine one. The illustrations were the real draw for me in Julia Sarconne-Roach’s The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, though the twist at the end will appeal to many readers. An excellent writing mentor text and an engaging tall tale.
James Burks’s second graphic novel about the adventures of Bird & Squirrel does not disappoint. In Bird & Squirrel on Ice, our somewhat hapless friends crash land in the South Pole only to discover that their arrival has been foretold by the local penguin fortune-teller. Bird, in fact, is The Chosen One, a legendary hero who will free the penguins from the Killer Whale who demands regular sacrifices. Bird basks in the attention, but Squirrel suspects a plot twist. And he’s right! Poor Bird is going to be the next sacrifice! Of course things work out for the pair in the end, thanks to Squirrel’s suspicions and the clever plotting of a penguin named Sakari. Basically everything is to love about this series–huge kid appeal and I laughed out loud numerous times too.
And then there is Adam Johnson’s National Book Award winning collection of short stories, Fortune Smiles. This is a book I’m going to be mulling over for awhile. There are six longish stories in the collection. I thought that two were absolutely brilliant, two were very good, and two didn’t entirely work for me though I still admired both. Johnson tackles some disturbing, even brutal material–my favorite story, “Dark Meadow,” is about child pornography–yet somehow even though the stories disturb, there is still something light about Johnson’s writing. He reminds me of Raymond Carver in that way–such bleak stories and such effortless sentences. There is quite a bit of humor here as well, but it’s a dark humor. A good collection for fans of George Saunders. I still haven’t read Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, but will certainly pick it up now.