On the blog:
- Some curated online reads about teaching and learning
Ozge Samanci’s graphic novel memoir, Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey, covers Ozge’s life from childhood through finishing college. It’s a long time frame for a short graphic novel, but it does have a fairly tight focus: Ozge’s quest to find herself, to figure out what she loves to do and what she’s best at, and to make peace with disappointing her parents if she chooses a non-academic (even non-engineering) path. It’s a wonderful fit for a diversity study, because so much is shared of Turkish culture and history. Samanci has a wonderful eye for detail, and her drawings are charming and often humorous and the limited color palette is very effective.
Magic Marks the Spot, the first novel in Caroline Carlson’s Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series, gets off to a slow start. I will confess: I wanted to abandon it in the first 75 pages or so. It was well written enough, but BORING. I suspect my son was enjoying being contradictory more than anything else, because I KNOW he was bored too, but he pressed us ever onwards and I capitulated. And I was glad I did because around page 125, it suddenly got very good. All the different plot threads that are ever so slowly put in place in the first third to half of the book finally begin moving, and we rushed through to the conclusion. A very satisfying read, in the end. I promptly ordered Book 2.
And I made a discovery about myself as a reader. I try to do accents when I read aloud to my son. They’re hard for me to do consistently. One night I’ll have that British governess voice down pat, and the next night I can’t find my accent to save my life. But I’m a natural with pirate accents! I was even able to do DIFFERENT pirate accents for the different pirate characters. And now all I want to do is read pirate stories so I can channel my inner Captain Jack Sparrow. I was trying on a Guyanese accent for some of the parts in our current read-aloud, Kinda Like Brothers, but had to stop when I realized I sounded more pirate than South American.
I read Bob Shea’s Dance! Dance! Underpants! aloud to my Children’s Lit class this week, and it’s SUCH a delight. This is my 4th or 5th time reading this book, and I love it more every time I read it. There are some very funny moments; this is a hard one for me to get through with a straight face. I love Ballet Cat’s single-minded dedication to her craft–and her single-minded belief that everyone else is as single-minded as she is. Butter Bear manages to thwart her at every turn, but never fear: in the end, Ballet Cat gets her way. She always does!
I read Jonathan Fenske’s A Pig, a Fox, and a Box as part of a Geisel Challenge (an award I always think I’m finished with–and then I discover yet another book I’ve somehow missed!). It was also a slow start for me, because there’s RHYME. And we know how I feel about rhyme. But this book is hilarious–huge kid appeal. Fox reminds me a bit of Coyote from the cartoons. A must-have for beginning readers.
I adored Liniers’s Written and Drawn by Henrietta. It’s one of the best children’s books I’ve seen about writing and the creative process. A must-have for writing workshop classrooms at every level (I’m planning to read it aloud on the first day in my college writing courses in the fall.) It’s also one of those stories that works equally well for child and adult readers. And that color palette: eye-popping!