Draft No. 4 is a collection of John McPhee’s writing about writing. He analyzes many of his own pieces (his essay on structure is especially fascinating) and shares anecdotes and insights about craft. There is quite a bit about the editing process at The New Yorker as well. I don’t know how this book would fare with a reader who hasn’t read anything else by McPhee and doesn’t read The New Yorker. Some context in both seems like essential background knowledge to be able to appreciate and take something away from these essays. I had just enough context to get by, but I often reading these pieces wishing I knew more, had read more. But I never mind a book that sends me to other books, and this one sent me straight to my bookshelves to find more books, and that’s what this one did.
Phenomenal graphic novel portrait of Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide, written by Isabel Quintero, who wrote Gabi: A Girl in Pieces, one of my favorite YA novels, and illustrated by Zeke Pena. It’s really the portrait of an artist and has so many wise and beautiful things to say about pursuing the artist’s life. Some of Iturbide’s photographs are also included in the text, and the combination of Quintero’s gorgeous text with Pena’s careful drawings and Iturbide’s moving, provocative images makes for a powerful reading experience.
An interesting little book about water and conservation efforts illustrated by Subash Vyam. The text is a transcription and translation of Vyam’s oral storytelling of how the people in the village where he grew up acquired their water and how development and “progress” (and greed!) now threaten an ecosystem and way of life. At the core is a traditional Gond tale that confused him as a child but now makes sense in the context of the very human propensity to take more than we need and destroy the environment in the process. His illustrations are beautiful, and the whole book is well-designed and attractive.
I shared The Man with the Violin for one of our #classroombookaday read-alouds last week. It’s a story I never, ever tire of.
Bark, George was another #classroombookaday read-aloud. Such a funny book.
How to Code a Sandcastle is my new favorite Josh Funk title. I appreciate that Funk explained coding in a way that even I can understand! This is a clever and comprehensible look at how coders identify problems and use code to solve them. This is a book that every K-5 classroom needs.
Be Our Guest! is worth a look for Gray Malin’s photographs of exotic animals on the grounds of the Parker Palm Springs hotel. The premise of the story is a bit thin: come stay at this unusual hotel staffed by monkeys, tigers, giraffes, etc. The text isn’t very engaging, but the photos are quite interesting.
Teddy’s Favorite Toy is a hoot. Teddy has a lot of great toys, but his doll, Bren-Da, is his favorite. When his mother mistakenly throws her away, she must have her own Bren-Da-like heroic adventure to get the doll back. A great–and funny–story about the awesomeness of moms and the imagination of kids.