Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happiness is...a good book.

It's been a busy week, full of work and church commitments, dentist appointments and fillings, Mexican food and Real Steel (gotta love me some Hugh Jackman), writing (!) and books. I gave a short presentation in my women's church group all about the powers of reading and literacy and sharing some of my favorite reads and figured I'd better share a couple of my latest faves with you all. (All, I say that as if there are so many of you out there. Are we even up to 8 readers yet? I think my goal should be to make it to the double digits by the end of the year. That shouldn't be too hard, should it? Come on, recruit your friends!) Okay, back to the books.

First up is a clever little gem sure to please young and old alike. Notice the subtitle. It’s an alphabet story set in pre-historic times and uses just one word per letter to tell its story in halting caveman-esque speech. An unwitting caveman falls into a series of humorous (albeit life threatening) situations beginning with his quest for an acorn. He gets chased by a bear and a dinosaur, frees an unidentifiable animal from a block of ice, gets struck by lightning and eventually falls into a well-deserved sleep. Clever and full of slapstick humor, fans of Ice Age will eat it up.

Caveman: A B.C. Story
Author: Jane Trassler
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-7
Published: 2011
Genre: Picture book/concept book (alphabet)
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG (some comic violence/peril)

Next: Told completely in dialogue and with richly simple illustrations this story is subtly subversive and wickedly irreverent, perfect for older readers who are honing their complex thinking skills. Bear has lost his hat. He goes calmly about the forest asking all of the creatures he meets if they’ve seen his hat but all deny any knowledge of it. (Though attentive readers will notice the rabbit is wearing a hat as he adamantly does so.) When questioned, the deer begins to ask questions of his own (what does it look like, where was it last seen) that spark the bear’s memory and he returns to question the rabbit again. The final spread shows the bear wearing his hat again while taking his own turn at being questioned. “Rabbit? I would never eat a rabbit,” he declares! Younger readers may not catch the implication of his final statement and more sensitive readers may cringe, but those who like a bit of dark reality will most likely be amused.

I Want My Hat Back
Author: Jon Klassen
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-7
Published: 2011
Genre: Picture book
Cover Score: ***
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG (allusions to violence)

And finally this is lovely little story. Ten year old Ha begins her new year in Saigon, her beloved homeland which is torn by vicious war. Her father has been missing in action for months and her older brothers and mother argue about whether it’s better to stay and remain true to their heritage and wait for their father or leave and try to make a new go at life. Eventually their uncle convinces them that life will be better in America and the family leaves nearly all of their posessions and makes the perilous journey out of Vietnam hidden in the hold of a ship and find safety with a sponsor family in Alabama. But here Ha finds cruelty and discrimination and a sea of unknowns where nothing at all is familiar. By the next new year she has come to understand herself, her family and the world around her just a little bit better and finds hope and friendship in unlikely places. Told in spare verse, the story focuses on Ha’s feelings and the emotions surrounding her circumstances more than the circumstances and events themselves, making it simple yet powerful and appropriate for a younger audience but still valid for older readers. And just a shout-out to the gorgeousness that is the cover, so beautiful! I would have picked this up based on that alone (and would not have been disappointed!)

Inside Out and Back Again
Author: Thanhha Lai
Pages: 262
Age Range: 10-12
Published: 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction/novels in verse
Cover Score: *****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG (violence and intense situations)

Give them all a try. They are definitely worth your time. (And then don't forget to tell me what you think!)

Now for a quick update on my WFMAD progress. Here are my contributions so far:
October 3: 15 min
October 4: 30 min
October 5: nothing
October 6: 25 min
October 7: 15 min
October 8: 45 min

Not too shabby if I do say so myself. I've gotten into the spirit of things and it's definitely easier to focus for a specified time period than to try and reach a goal of a specific word or page number. Which brings me to my moment of panic for next month. I decided to do the math and see how my efforts were comparing and preparing me for what was to order to write 50,000 words in the month I'll need to get down an average of 1666 words/day, which comes down to about 2 1/2 pages of writing (Times New Roman 12, single spaced.) Today's efforts produced about 1/3 of that. Which means I'm looking at about 3 hours of writing a day! Yikes! So, trying not to psych myself out too much just yet I need to remember that there's not supposed to be a lot of pre-planning, editing or polishing going on. The goal is to get it on the paper. It also helps that my current WIP (work in progress) requires some background knowledge and historical research and that's where most of my snags come in...not having done the research yet. The idea I have mulling for next month is pure fantasy and will require very little of that sort of writing so hopefully I'll be able to just get the story out and worry about the technical details later. We'll see!

Anyone decide to join me for either challenge? I'd love to hear how your work is progressing this month. I'd also love to have a buddy to check in with every now and then next month. Let me know! Until then, keep reading, writing and finding happiness in all you do!

No comments:

Post a Comment