Monday, January 25, 2010

Would I Trade my Parents?

The last book I read this week was Would I trade my Parents? Written by James Bernadin. I thought this was a really cute story about a boy who ponders the thought of trading his parents in by comparing them to the rest of his friends parents. He goes over everything that he likes best about the parents that he knows, but then eventually concludes that although his parents don't let him do all the things his friends might, they still are his parents and he wouldn't trade them for anything. I thought that this book had a nice message, about finding the best in every family, even in your own. I remember being younger and always being jealous of certain things in my friend's lives and this story probably would have been nice for me to read so that I could understand that my family has it's good qualities as well. I also enjoyed the illustrations and the actual story itself. The other families in the story were enjoyable and each very unique. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

Tess's Tree

This book, Tess's Tree, was my favorite book this week. Written by Jess M. Brallier and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, this book was a lovely story about loss and grief all in terms of a tree. Tess is a young girl whose best friend is a tree. She spends all different times of the year with her tree, laying under it, climbing on it, and just watching out onto it from her bedroom window. When a storm destroys her tree, Tess decides to hold a funeral for her tree and invites neighbors to come. At the service, Tess gets to meet former friends of the tree and learns about life, love and loss. I thought that this story was a great way to help a child learn about death. Death is a hard concept, at any age, but this book somehow shed a nice light upon it. The illustrations were light and colorful, and the story told the reader that it is okay to grieve when something is lost, even if it's something like a tree. I could see this book as being a great help when a grandparent or somebody close to the child passes away, for the parents to use as a reference point for what happens when someone or something dies. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely remember it.

Henry in Love

Henry in Love written by Peter McCarty is a cute book written about a boy named Henry who is in love with a girl in his class named Chloe and a day in school when he finally realizes his love. Another book that has really interesting and beautiful illustrations, I thought that this book lacked as much of a rich story as the other books that I read this week. While it was cute, it also is a story that I'm not sure will capture a child and hold them to every page. It also didn't really have a message about anything, maybe just a nice story about liking someone when you are younger. My favorite part was definitely the illustrations and while I didn't love this book, I think that it would still be something to read with my children in the future.

The Duchess of Whimsy

Another book I read this week was The Duchess of Whimsy: An Absolutely Delicious Fairytale by Randall de Seve and Peter de Seve. This book was a "delicious fairytale". It begins with the Duchess of Whimsy whose father desperately wishes would love the Earl of Norm. Their names hold a lot of truth for their characters, for the Duchess of Whimsy likes everything to be extravagant, marvelous and wonderful while the Earl of Norm prefers things to be...normal. Only when they meet over something seemingly so ordinary, a grilled cheese sandwich, does the Duchess of Whimsy realize just how extraordinary ordinary can be and the two seemingly opposites fall in love.
I loved this book. It was gorgeous to look at, with bold illustrations that had so much color. Also, it was a cute story with lots of different vocabulary in it that I think could be a good teaching moment for a child reading it. The message it sends is also a good one, don't count something (or someone) out just because it may seem ordinary. Something that may look one way, may actually be something completely different.

The Mitten

The first children's book that I read was The Mitten. I chose this book mainly because I remembered it being one of my favorites as a kid. This is a fun story about a child who desperately wants his grandmother to make him white mittens, much to her argument that he will lose them in the white snow. She makes them and sure enough, he loses one of them. When his mitten is lost, numerous animals come across this comfortable and cozy mitten and decide to make it their new home. Eventually by the end of the book, every animal that you can imagine living in the woods has found their new habitat. This book is a really fun read, especially in the wintertime. The illustrations are also beautiful and from the writer's note at the beginning of the book I learned that this is based on a folktale. So not only is this book something enjoyable to read but it also has a bit of history to it as well.

Once Was Lost

For my first novel for this class, I chose the book Once Was Lost written by Sara Zarr. It is a story about a girl who is trying to come to terms with her life as a daughter of a preacher and an alcoholic while at the same time reeling from the news of a missing girl from her town. After reading this book, I decided that it would be much too mature for anyone younger than 8th grade. The suggested reading age is for 12 year olds, but I think that the topic material is rather strong. Although I thought it was a little age inappropriate, I did think that it was a well written novel. The main character Sam is fighting for attention from her father while at the same time realizing who she is. When I was younger, I used to love reading books like this so I can see what it would be like when I would finally be a teenager. In this case, I wouldn't have looked forward to it as much. Sam is going through a large identity crisis while at the same time experience alcoholism and child abduction. Overall, a well written but rather heavy novel.