I almost didn’t post this week because I’m nearly-but-not-quite finished with several novels and memoirs. There isn’t much to share. But blogging routine is important, and I did read a handful of picture books.
Luke’s Way of Looking is a smart and superbly illustrated story about an artistic boy who simply doesn’t see the world like everyone else sees it. He is constantly in trouble with his cruel art teacher for not drawing realistically. Unable to take the constant criticism anymore, he skips school one day and heads to the art museum, where he falls in love with abstract modern art and discovers that other artists see the world the same way he does. Armed with newfound confidence, he returns to art class, determined to paint the world as he sees it.
I just can’t do the David books anymore. When I first read them many years ago–long before I became a parent–I thought they were funny and clever, innocent good fun. But now, while my students laugh at David’s naughty antics, I cringe at the adult response to him. Kids aren’t “naughty” for no reason: misbehavior always expresses some kind of anxiety, fear, or need. My heart breaks for David every time he gets yelled at and punished rather than brought in close and questioned about what he’s feeling and experiencing. Literally every time he receives unconditional love, empathy, and acceptance, literally every time the adult seeks connection rather than correction, David is able to regulate himself and make better choices. And yet the adults never, ever learn.
I had the treat of listening to students read aloud picture books to the class this week. I’ve read Waiting several times, but is not one that I had tried yet as a read-aloud. I think I appreciated it even more as a read-aloud. I couldn’t see the pictures very well from where I was standing in the classroom, so I really concentrated on the pacing, simplicity, and elegance of the language. Just a beautiful book.
The student who read The Pigeon Needs a Bath! did a marvelous job channeling his inner toddler as well as his inner actor and really brought Pigeon to life for us. This happens to be my favorite Pigeon story anyway, and I loved hearing it read aloud by an enthusiastic reader.
Dodsworth in London takes a few pages to really get going, but once it does, this comical case of mistaken identity and getting lost in London had me amused to the end. This is the first Dodsworth book I’ve read, and I’m looking to reading the others.
Little Monkey gets separated from her father and must save herself from a host of predators who’d like to eat her for lunch, including an ocelot and a tree boa. Luckily, she remembers Papa Monkey’s lessons and is able to use them to fend for herself. Thomson’s text is fast-paced and engaging, and Lita Judge’s illustrations are gorgeous. There is a rescue and a happy ending, and an interesting author’s note at the end about pygmy marmoset monkeys. I’m guessing this is a book that will send many readers straight to the Internet for more information.