It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts
Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.
As we play around with our current bimonthly theme, I thought of sharing with you two books that show those things which lurk and prowl patiently in the corners of one’s mind: darkness and shadows. These books also demonstrate how children can shine a beam of light through those cobwebbed, musty fears – dusting them off with a flashlight, outscaring the fear.
Story and Illustrations By: Donna Diamond
Published by: Candlewick Press, 2010
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
I grabbed this book from our library shelves on a lark – not really knowing what to expect as Donna Diamond is an unfamiliar book artist. The book cover caught my eye, though, with the shadowy creature behind the young girl.
As I opened the book, I was delighted to find out that this a wordless picture book. Some of you might know that we did a wordless book theme in 2011 and even came up with a list of wordless picture books here.
I love how lifelike the illustrations are here, almost like photographs. Donna Diamond also allows the creepiness to gradually take shape as the girl plays around with sketches in her bedroom. The build-up escalates until the girl is confronted with the shadowy contours of her fear and how it can grow bigger, the dimensions seemingly altered out-of-proportions and taking a life of its own.
How this girl confronted this skulking creature, I shall leave for you to discover. Suffice it to say, that the book deals with confronting one’s own demons and demonstrates how staring shadows in the face can prove to be a transformative experience. This could also be paired quite beautifully with the wordless picture books of Suzy Lee: Mirror and Shadow.
Story By: Lemony Snicket
Artwork by: Jon Klassen
Published by: Orchard books, 2013. Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
I have not come across a Lemony Snicket book that I did not enjoy. Jon Klassen is a hit-and-miss with his I Want my Hat Back and This is not my Hat not making so much an impression on me as much as House Held Up by Trees and Extra Yarn.
This book though is an absolute hands-down favourite. It talks about things most children are scared of but may be too proud to admit as they grow older. I think even adults are scared of this but they make use of bedside lamps and other fancy adult gadgets and dim lighting to obscure the truth of their fears.
In this book, Laszlo, the young boy who is unabashedly afraid of the dark, finds out that ‘The Dark’ has a voice. And while it sometimes scurries off in forgotten corners, like the cupboard or behind the shower curtains, it lives in the basement. Klassen, I believe, has outdone himself in his ingenious use of black spaces – allowing the darkness to breathe through the pages:
While the darkness did give a brief borderline-lecture in the end, the seduction of shadows and the inviting voice of darkness are perfectly captured here, so much so that I gave a little shriek somewhere in the middle and slammed the book close before opening it up again to Laszlo’s surprisingly-steadfast demeanour notwithstanding (or maybe even because of) his fears and anxieties. One question that I shall leave for you, dear friends: if the darkness beckons “Come closer” – will you come?
The missing characters from the previous book have a parallel story going on in this tome of a novel, hence the timeline is a little screwy as reading the first part of this book takes me back to the earlier part of the last novel I read. There are even a few repetitive sections as the same scene is being rehashed, except that it is now perceived from another character’s eye (e.g. Samwell Tarly’s account in A Feast for Crows paralleled to Jon Snow’s account in this novel). It’s an acquired taste, admittedly. Reading this series requires a great deal of commitment indeed.
Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 192/193 (150)