It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen and Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts (and brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Our blogging friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have inspired us to join this Monday gathering of book-readers/bibliophiles. My post this week still has something to do with our current bimonthly theme on books about books.
Story By: Rita Marshall
Illustrated by: Etienne Delessert
Publisher: Creative Editions, 1992; Creative Editions, 2007
Borrowed from the public library.
The premise of these two books is quite straightforward. The young Victor Dickens is described to be a fairly good kid who unfortunately detests reading. He claims that he is a victim of the “I Hate to Read” syndrome and despite his family’s best intentions, he prefers his favorite TV shows over the reading materials that his parents continually buy for him. Things changed a little bit one evening when he was ‘pretending to read’ so that he could watch TV afterwards. Creatures started oozing out of the pages against his will: a crocodile in a white coat, a field mouse planting coins, and a parrot who appeared like a pirate in search of a hidden treasure, and exotic birds tap-tap-tapping at his window – among others. Before he knew it, he was at the end of his book, and he actually hated the feeling of reaching the end, knowing that he would miss the characters he has grown to love. The second book has a similar premise – only this time, Victor is depicted as a rebel who has multiple secret identities. He claims that he “still hates to read” – but truly, he is working [or reading] undercover, away from everyone’s appraising stare and his annoying little sister who loves poetry and enjoys looking up 5-syllable words in her dictionary.
While the books are fairly enjoyable, I had a hard time following the surreal plot that brought on quite a number of characters, some beloved, others unfamiliar, into the narrative. It really is more like fantastical imaginings run amok for a boy who claimed he hated reading. Some of the allusions (e.g. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven) may also be lost on a few younger kids – making me wonder what the target group for this book is. The illustrations are glorious though, and the books worth checking out.
Story and Illustrations By: Oliver Jeffers
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2006
Borrowed from the public library.
I fell in love with this book big time. I first discovered Oliver Jeffers through The Great Paper Caper then I was awed by the powerful metaphors in Stuck. He is one of those book artists who is not constrained by any type of boundaries as he works with seemingly different types of media, with illustrations that are deceptively-simple but plain brilliant. In this particular book, a part of the book cover is chewed off in one corner, and it has this scrapbook-vibe that reminded me a little bit of Saul Steinberg’s The Passport.
Henry, the book-eating boy, has taken his passion for books to a different level altogether as he munches, chomps, bites, literally eats books.
It all began quite by mistake one afternoon when he wasn’t paying attention. He wasn’t sure at first, and tried eating a single word, just to test. Next, he tried a whole sentence and then the whole page. Yes, Henry definitely liked them. By Wednesday, he had eaten a WHOLE book.
It does not seem surprising in the least, that the more he ate, the more he gained in knowledge. And he ate absolutely everything: from dictionaries, to atlases, to maths books, story books. He has a special weakness, though, for red books.
Before long, though, he got so high from eating all these books that he began eating three or four at a time – he wasn’t really fussy, anything would do, as he “wanted to know it all.” And what happens, dear friends, when you overeat? You get sick, of course! Which is exactly what happened to our dear Henry. And soon enough, everything that he ‘swallowed’ got all mixed up in his brain as “he didn’t have time to digest it properly.” How he solved this terrible dilemma, I shall leave for you to discover.
As an academic, I feel that this would also work with my own students in the university as it provides a powerful message of ‘digesting’ facts without thoroughly understanding them and their implications – these are things that could potentially make you sick to your stomach. Another thing that can be raised is the indiscriminate consumption of reading materials alongside a discussion of books that might make you sick in your head. While it may appear lighthearted and fun, the book does have multiple layers to it that deserve to be explored further.
I also found this short video clip that was inspired by the book – truly cute!
I have just finished reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and I fell in love with it. I will definitely be sharing my thoughts about this book before our bimonthly theme ends.
Currently, I am immersed in The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers – and there is just sooo much to love about this book, that I am at a loss for words. It’s that good.
How about you, dear friends, what have you been reading this week?
Incredible Book-eating Boy. 2007 Irish Book Awards (winner), 2007 Norfolk Libraries Children’s Book award (Bronze Award), 2007 Independent Bookseller’s Book of the Year (shortlist), 2007 British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year (shortlist), 2007 CBI Bisto Book of the Year Awards (Merit)
I Hate to Read. Winner of the 1993 Benjamin Franklin Award.
AWB Reading Challenge Update: 100-101 (35)