This book cover does not need a name on it for us to know whose work it is. Which is actually kind of amazing when you think about it. I mean, it’s a big brown triangle with crazy eyes. But you know it’s Jon Klassen’s work. Triangle is another very fine and slightly off-kilter-in-a-good-way collaboration between Klassen and Mac Barnett. I read it quickly at the bookstore so will need a second reading to really absorb it, but it’s got a triangle and a square chasing each other across a Klassenesque landscape and playing pranks on each other.
Beaver Steals Fire is a traditional tale from the Salish tribe about how humans first got fire. This is a good addition to my shelf of Native American literature and traditional stories.
I especially loved the art in Tokyo Digs a Garden–so much to wonder over and enjoy in each spread. But the story is a charmer too: Tokyo plants a seed in his urban backyard and is shocked when it sprouts overnight and quickly grows into a forest that takes over the city. I also got a kick out of Tokyo’s pet cat, whose name is Kevin.
I very rarely abandon read-alouds with my son unless he specifically says he’s bored and he never said he was bored by this book, but I certainly was. It’s the first in a series about a space-traveling group of young teens charged with saving the world from its energy crisis; each volume is written by a different author. Perhaps some of the later volumes are more interesting, but the first book just isn’t written very well. Characters are under-developed, plot takes forever to get going and is highly predictable once it does; and the sentence-level writing is flat.
My son has started to chafe against our nightly routine of bedtime stories, and I have become acutely aware that each book we read might be our last. I’ve decided to make every book really count, to make sure that when bedtime stories do end, they end on a high note. He’s been intrigued by the movie trailers for the new Beauty and the Beast movie, so when we abandoned Project Alpha, I decided to read Robin McKinley’s lush retelling, Beauty, to him. It’s one of my favorite fairy tale retellings, a book I read again and again when I was a teenager, and it was delightful to revisit it so many years later. It’s by far the most descriptive and least action-packed book we’ve ever read aloud, but it kept his attention throughout.
The Rain in Portugal is Billy Collins’s newest collection of poetry, and it just might be my favorite, though it would be hard to pick a favorite Collins collection, since they’re all wonderful. There were just so many poems that I loved here. I read the book very slowly, two or three poems a day.
Abigail Thomas’s Thinking About Memoir was another reread for me. It’s a very slim volume that does exactly what the title promises–thinks through some of the questions, problems, and rewards of writing memoir, using memoir-like snippets of narrative that are punctuated by Thomas’s favorite memoir writing assignment, “Write two pages about…” Nearly every page of this book had me wanting to write, which was a problem as I was reading before bed with no notebook handy.