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). Two of our blogging friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have inspired us to join this vibrant meme.
Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts
We spent most of last week responding to the end-of-year-book survey and taking stock of the reading challenges we have joined in 2012. We also joined several reading challenges that we felt quite excited about. Speaking of challenges, we have just announced that we are continuing to host the Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. Do join us and sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles below to be taken to our blog posts.
Our current bimonthly theme in GatheringBooks is Crazy about Cybils where we give love to all the books that have been shortlisted and have won awards in the Cybils since 2006. I have a spread of picture books about books here. Among these four titles, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is the one that has been nominated for the Cybils Fiction Picture Book category in 2012.
Look! A Book! A Zany Seek-and-Find Adventure
Story By: Bob Staake
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2011.
Book borrowed from the public library.
This is a perfect example of an interactive book that most young kids would definitely love and enjoy. There are pages with differently-sized cut-holes that put a spotlight on certain objects, animals, or events from the previous wacky page that are brimming with so much life, movement, and splatters of colors: “Look! A wheel! A seal! A banana peel!”
In the following full-spread page, the author/illustrator challenges the reader to go find teeny-tiny elements such as a slice of toast, a honey bee or a vampire cape. The kids would most likely go wild over the bursts of colors, the funny tiny portraits and the absurd ways through which creatures are all assembled together. As a clinical psychologist, I often recommend picture books that would help develop a sharp eye for detail, and this one would be among those wondrous titles that would never get old. I found a lovely book trailer that would give you a teaser of what this book about book is about.
Look, a Book!
Story By: Libby Gleeson
Illustrations By: Freya Blackwood
Publisher: Little Hare Books, 2011
Book borrowed from the public library.
This is a heartwarming story about two kids who chanced upon a book outside their run-down, derelict, seemingly-handmade fence. While everything else in the next few pages look drab, shabby, and desolate with muted grayed colors – the book stands out in bright promising red, seemingly-filled with adventures and tales that would transport the children to someplace else, if only in their minds.
The text is sparse – four or five words per full-page spread, but the illustrations are brilliant as they direct the flow of the narrative in unexpected ways. It fills my heart as I see the children doing their darnedest to protect the book from harmful elements – blowing dust and splatters of inconvenient rains; and how they struggle to hold on to it, rescuing the red red book from the middle of a broken bottle or a dog that has excitedly chewed on it.
It was like they have found a wondrous treasure that is responsible for all the surreal and wondrous flights of fancies that transformed the commonplace and humdrum to something magical, dangerous, and exciting. Definitely a book to hold on to. Very lovely. For teachers who may wish to use this in their classroom, here is a downloadable pdf link created by Scholastic that includes discussion pointers and activities as well as an interview with both author and illustrator.
The Bored Book
Story By: David Michael Slater
Pictures By: Doug Keith
Publisher: Simply Read Books, 2009
Borrowed from the Public Library.
I have a special affinity with and a weakness for wordless picture books, which was actually one of our bimonthly themes back in 2011. I did not realize when I borrowed this ‘exciting-looking’ (not boring in the least) book that it was a wordless tale filled with fantabulous illustrations. The book begins with a black-and-white image of two siblings who are depicted to be at each other’s throats while at Grandfather’s house – the implication is that they are bored out of their wits. Until Grandpa opens a secret door that reveals a super-secret stairway that led them to an attic filled with books. And they chanced upon the bored book which magically transformed the entire page into living breathing color. It is very reminiscent of Van Allsburg’s Jumanji with the board game that flipped the entire universe on its own axis.
While the book could be enjoyed on its own with all its fantastical notions of stepping onto the page, as the siblings battle with snow monsters and pirates, belched out of the belly of sharp-tongued sharks, as they face fire-breathing dragons and watch knights astride their majestic steeds from behind a tree – one could also tease out other layers from the narrative for older children. One can look at the crisp metaphors of what opening a book can truly provide to fiercely-bored children (and there are so many of them these days).
It reminded me of a line from The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth as children begin to gradually realize that there is so much to do right here. Especially when they open the pages of a book and they run their fingers through the text or marvel at the wondrous colors and artwork found in each page.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Story By: William Joyce
Illustrated by: William Joyce & Joe Bluhm
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012
Borrowed the book from the Public Library.
I have to confess that I watched the short film before I read this book. I wanted to include this for our Books about Books theme a few months back, but this title just managed to slip through my fingers for some reason.
Unlike the movie which has no dialogue (if I remember correctly), the book is not wordless. There is lyrical text that provided the perfect match to the glorious illustrations. It is a book, though, that begs to be read slowly. The words need to be savored, the quiet voice permeating the pages, breathing soft life into each of the perfectly-crafted lines, as the reader’s captive audience marvel at the beautiful artwork in each page. One may even perceive this as a kind-of-dystopian futuristic book universe where the words can drop off a page like falling leaves and flying books can flit and dance and perform their own read-alouds.
It is a surreal universe where age, time, and space carry no meaning. Nothing exists but the colors that reading brings to the texture of a human being, where eternal stories write themselves, and young men and women live content and happy under the trees with nothing but books for company. It brings the notion of being a bibliophile to an entirely new level. For older readers, this would be a striking companion book to the award-winning young adult novel The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick. For teachers who may wish to use this in the classroom, here is a comprehensive reading group guide created by Simon and Schuster that may prove to be helpful.
Yes, I am back in Zamonia with a vengeance. Rumo is an epic novel written in two parts. I knew when I borrowed this book that it would entail a huge commitment on my part, so I’m in. As is my wont, I am alternating Walter Moers with a Ray Bradbury novel. It is way long overdue that I begin reading Dandelion Wine. I hope I finish it before I have to return this to our libraries. I also hope to finish Kazu Kibuishi’s Mystery Boxes this coming week. Since it is nominated for the graphic novel category this 2012, it is a perfect book to feature for our Crazy about Cybils bimonthly theme.
How about you, dear friends, what have you been reading this week?
Look, a Book! by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood is Shortlisted for the 2012 CBCA Book of the Year Awards
AWB Reading Challenge Update: 1 of 35
L: Look! A Book and Look, a Book
T: The Bored Book and The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore
A-Z Book Challenge Update: 2 of 26 (L, T)
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