On the blog: Many slices!
- A list of Small Gratitudes
- A description of what my teacher desk held
- 3 rules all sports parents should live by
- What sitting down to read looks like when reading is hard
- When a piece of writing just won’t click
- Finding a slice in preparing Ethiopian food
- A description of writing at my local coffee shop
I rarely read books that I think every person needs to read, but Being Mortal is one of those books. Gawande, a surgeon, tackles a subject many of us don’t want to talk about–end-of-life care for ourselves and our loved ones–and fully acknowledges that the difficulty of having the conversation is a huge part of the problem in the way we treat the terminally ill and the elderly. A few heroes emerge–hospice workers, a couple of innovative nursing home directors–but for the most part, this is a book about the failures of a culture and a medical system to do what’s right and what’s best. Gawande argues that many patients lose what quality of life they might have at the end of their lives due to invasive medical treatments by doctors who have been trained to preserve life at any cost. He has many suggestions for how we can begin to change the conversation and understand the goals that people truly have for the end of their lives. Beautifully written, thought-provoking, always wise, sometimes sad, ultimately hopeful. A must read.
For a rhyming book, I liked Billions of Bricks, written and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. Little kids who are into building are going to love this book. Does it really work as a counting book? Well, there’s precious little counting that happens, and we don’t come close to billions of anything. So expectations may need to be adjusted. Illustrations are detailed and engaging.
Feathered Dinosaurs, written by Brenda Guiberson and illustrated by William Low, profiles a number of dinosaur species that scientists now know for sure had feathers. Guiberson shares the facts about each species and Low contributes large paintings that place the dinosaurs in their natural habitat. It will be hard to look at birds the same after reading this book! (They’re mini-dinosaurs roaming the planet!)
I think I have a new favorite picture book: Ooko by Esme Shapiro. This one was on hold at the library for someone else, and I felt like I was doing something just a little bit illicit in taking it off someone else’s hold shelf and reading it. Perhaps that added to the charm. Regardless, this is a very funny picture book for those who like their picture books just a little weird. I laughed out loud numerous times–though I did try to stifle the laughter because (1) I was in the library and (2) I was reading someone else’s book. This is one I’ll be purchasing for my own collection.
A strong story by David McPhail that takes the lost teddy bear trope in a different direction, a direction sure to spark plenty of discussion and empathy in readers.
The Storm has a simple story–a child misses out on a much-anticipated trip to the beach because of a storm–with magnificent illustrations.
Their Great Gift is a good addition to my growing shelf of picture books about refugees and immigrants. The text is broad, general, and celebrates the sacrifices and achievements of immigrants. The photos by Wing Young Huie were not taken specifically for this book; rather, they span three decades of his career. He searched his archives for images that would fit the book, and the resulting collage of images is powerful and engaging.
All I could think as I was reading The Biggest Bear is that picture books sure have changed since 1952, and thank goodness. Lynd Ward’s illustrations in this Caldecott Honor might be worth a look, but the story isn’t appropriate anymore. I live in hunting country, but even my students would be traumatized by the image of the son setting off into the forest with a gun and his giant pesky pet bear, with the instructions from Dad to make sure the bear doesn’t come back home again. And the “happy ending” of being trapped by zookeepers is problematic at best. This book has a bizarre number of four and five-star reviews on GoodReads.
Wee Gillis, on the other hand, is an old Caldecott Honor book (from 1939, the second year of the award!) that holds up remarkably well. Munro Leaf’s text is engaging and spritely, and Robert Lawson’s illustrations still look great.