Tag Archives: children’s literature

Maurice Sendak: 3 Picturebooks

Bumble-ArdyBumble-Ardy by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Layers of awesomeness that push the genre of picturebooks. Children will enjoy the rhymes and the distinctive Sendak illustrations. Adults will enjoy the innuendo. A great final send-off by the single greatest picturebook author/illustrator who ever lived.

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In the Night KitchenIn the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A recent re-reading to my storytime group: this book is amazing. It demonstrates childhood imagination, adult colonization on children’s imagination and still harkens to historical picturebook art history.

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Where the Wild Things AreWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I also read this to my storytime group today. Seriously, this must be the single greatest picturebook of all time. The layers of meaning, of implication, of suggestion are just so dense, so deep and yet so simple that this book appeals to EVERYONE. The three year olds love it (especially gnashing teeth and EAT YOU UP!), the parents love it, the children’s lit scholars love it (the perfectly balanced word to illustration ratio expanding as Max travels to the Wild Things, three full page spreads that bleed off the page and then the same opposing ratio to the final page “it was still hot” with only words gives me shivers). It has been analyzed to death, but it cannot be loved to death.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an awesome book. Unexpected, a little bit creepy, but impossible to put down. The photographs inspired a fantastic story that stays with me weeks later. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Definitely one of the best books I have read in recent memory.

After the strange death of Jacob’s grandfather, Jacob visits a small British island where his grandfather sought refuge as a child after his parents were killed in the Holocaust. Here Jacob searches for clues to his grandfather’s past that he hopes will help him recover from his grief.

This novel offers the unexpected constantly; it is peculiar, and mysterious, slightly creepy and yet heart-warming. You should probably read it.

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Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

WonderstruckWonderstruck by Brian Selznick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the man who brought us the Caldecott-Medal-winning novel Hugo Cabret (incidentially which translated wonderfully to the big screen), this graphic novel about deaf culture crosses two generations; one story told first in pictures and one told in words. The two characters become intertwined into a beautifully crafted story of illustrations and words that emphasizes family, acceptance and how one grows and changes over a lifetime.

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Nancy Lamb’s The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children

Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children (Write for Kids Library)Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nancy Lamb’s The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children provided me with some great insights and tips. She suggests writing in a journal–unrelated to your current project–to keep track of ideas and memories that might be useful for recreating authenticity later. I really like this idea and have taken to carrying a journal with me just to write down things as they come to me or to note something that has happened. Writing a full “dear diary” entry never works for me, but always having that paper and nice pen with me definitely helps.

Lamb also suggests (among other ideas) creating a charted horizontal diagram to visualize the structure, plots and characters in the story. As a notorious color-coder (you should see my Google Calendar), this idea is amazing to me. Color-coding characters, plots, and subplots and tracking them by chapter would not only be helpful in seeing inconsistencies and structural gaps, it would be such a project to create that the immersion would help editing, too!

Throughout the book, Lamb offers various rules and suggestions. I took away several rules that seemed most appropriate or brilliant to me. Lamb’s endings rule states “you must always play out your ending onstage” (86)—with which I completely agree. I know as a reader I feel cheated when in the last pages the story is advanced ten years and everything is tied up in a neat little bow (cough-Jenna Fox-cough). This is something that I am going to actively attempt to do in my own writing—whenever it is that I actually get to an ending.

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Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

Birthmarked (Birthmarked, #1)Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this dystopian novel. I snuck it in between Victorian children’s books by leaving early for school and taking the long way on the T.

Gaia’s society “advances” three babies a month from her sector to the Enclave where they are raised with every advantage, technology, money and society. The divide between the walls has a long established history. Gaia’s mother and father are taken by the Enclave for questioning, and Gaia is left to take on her mother role as midwife, while also keeping a secret safe. Uncertain as to what the secret means, Gaia enters the Enclave by stealth in order to find her parents and finds that the coveted world inside the wall is a lot darker than she expected.

With a plenitude of dystopias hitting the teen market, this one offered something new. There were several moments that took me by surprise.Gaia’s strong character is tinged with a strong sense of right and wrong that does not necessarily correspond with the law of the Enclave.

If you are looking for another book to fill the gap from Hunger Games, Matched or Delirium, Birthmarked is the next title you should read.

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Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure IslandTreasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this classic quite enjoyable. It was everything it promised to be. I am glad that I was finally officially introduced to Long John Silver, original badass “gentleman of fortune”.

There is a lot of rum in this book. It is good for the soul.

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Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little Lord FauntleroyLittle Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since I am also doing extensive research on LLF for my Victorian Literature for Children class, my review may be more biased than usual.

I love this book. I love its cultural significance and its pacing, romantic notions of aristocracy, contrast with British and American life, and the simplicity of the conflicts. The story is adequately summed up and not concluded in the final page or paragraph (see MacDonald’s Princess and Curdie for my full disgust at this phenomenon.)

Cedric is the perfect miniature adult as child, feminized, delightful and intelligence. So wholly unrealistic that you can’t help but love him. The story itself is just delightful, but when you pull back and look at its greater implications and cultural impacts, it becomes a lot more interesting. I promise to post (in my blog) the full bibliography that will be generated from this project so that those interested, all three of my subscribers, may wish to see an overview of the impact of this seemingly gentle, innocuous text.

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