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
I am inviting fellow teachers, teacher educators, writers, librarians, authors, artists, parents, fellow book enthusiasts to share their own experiences and ideas about the AR program.
These two beautiful picture books celebrate female strengths, legacies of love, and moonlit heavens.
Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales and True Tales
Written by: Virginia Hamilton Illustrated by: Leo & Diane Dillon
Published by: The Blue Sky Press: An Imprint of Scholastic, Inc. 1995.
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
Virginia Hamilton describes this book to be a compilation of female narratives culled from a vast and far-reaching repository of African American folklore. Hamilton also shares her creative process of transforming what was once part of oral tradition (described as soundings of a tale) which generally differ from one retelling to the next, to a written transcript that is now ingeniously fashioned for “younger readers and their older allies.” As the author noted:
They are composed anew in my own written-down style of telling from the forms in which they were told in the past by other tellers and collectors. I have stayed as close as possible to the style of stories told in a particular region.
The book is divided into five sections in all. Her Animal Tales has four stories which include a prince turning into a fish in Marie and Redfish and a mean old tiger who turned himself into a young man to give the vainglorious Lena a lesson in Lena and Big One Tiger.
Her Fairy Tales include African-American retellings of Cinderella in the strange tale of Catskinella
There is also a story of faeries as could be seen in Mom Bett and the Little Ones A-Glowing.
What is particularly interesting about this book is that it also comes with an author commentary after each story. In the story above, Hamilton related that “tales of fairies are few and mostly fragmentary in black folklore.” Even this tale is said to be lacking in evidence. What is usually more common in African American stories would be Her Supernatural where Hamilton shared stories of boo hags, and little devils.
In the section Her Folkways and Legends, I was intrigued by the portrayal of The Mer-Woman out of the Sea
and a female John Lester in the presence of Annie Christmas, also believed to be legendary and “larger than life.”
Her True Tales is a celebration of real-life narratives of African American women who have left an indelible mark in history through their wisdom, courageous spirit, and womanity. The lyrical text of Hamilton is matched by portrait-like paintings of the Dillons in a no-frill golden-brown frame. This is such a gorgeous book, well-researched, beautifully illustrated, and with the linguistic nuances captured perfectly. Such a treasure.
Written and Illustrated By: Yuyi Morales
Published by: A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Book Press, 2007
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
This is a book that has made me gasp aloud in all its dark beauty. The expansive nature of a mother’s love and a little child’s gleeful mischief have been painted in shades of pink amidst a blue-violet-starry-night background echoing with clouds of sheer joy.
What is amazing about this book is how everyday things between Mother Sky and Little Night have been carefully narrated with a poetic eye and a taste for exquisite grandeur that simply knows no boundaries. This is a book that fills the senses. Even Little Night’s bath tub is filled with falling stars:
Little Night’s sparkling white dress is crocheted from clouds, her tiny hairpins plucked from the stars, and a moon ball tossed high into the air to play with. Mother Sky was ever patient as Little Night would mischievously hide from her, in a never-ending play of peekaboo that begins with “Where could my little night be?” and ends with “I found you, I found my Little Night.”
The images show the tenderness in which Mother Sky attends to radiant Little Night, the comfort in each towel spread and face scrub, and the gentle hum of mother’s cooking. And while Little Night hides in little nooks and crannies, Mother Sky’s love is ever-present and reaches into hidden corners of the earth to always hold Little Night in Mother Sky’s adoring gaze. Yuyi Morales has captured something otherworldly in this book, and it shall live and breathe on in these pages.
For those who wish to know more about Yuyi Morales and her creative process in crafting this gorgeous book, here is a downloadable pdf file from teachingbooks.net which contains an in-depth interview with the author-illustrator not only about Little Night but her other published picture books as well.
This is the book that I need to be reading for our adult book club (Saturday Night Out for Book-Geeks). I’ve read the first few chapters – it’s slow going for me, it has quite a distinctive voice, there’s a sense of build-up, but I haven’t gotten to where the narrator is supposedly taking me yet.
Her Stories: Coretta Scott King Award Winner, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Children, Storytelling World Award
Little Night: 2008 ALA Notable Children’s Book
AWB Reading Challenge Update: 55, 56 (35)
Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 246, 247 (150)