Monday November 12th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Join Kellee and Jen’s meme to share all of your reading from picture books to young adult selections! It is always a wonderful way to learn about new titles!

In this past week, I read a number of books on the theme of war and peace. Some I shared with my class as read alouds. Others I read as I worked on a book recommendations page on this theme (peace and war).

When I grow Up, I will win the Nobel Peace Prize by Isabel Pin

A very interesting read. The message is very clear: peace begins with each tiny step that is right in front of us and around us always. The time to begin is now if we are really going to change the world.

The Silver Path by Christine Harris and illustrated by Helen Ong

This book is written as a letter from Niko to his penpal Penny. Niko tells Penny about what is going on in his world after he has fled his village in an unidentified land from a conflict not named.  A very powerful little story that reminds us that children in many parts of the world do not experience peace like children somewhere else might. Lots of unanswered questions make it an ideal story to discuss. A springboard to talk about what war steals from children: their families, their security, their right to play and sometimes, their ability to go to school.

Feathers and Fools written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Nicholas Wilton

Really a book for older children but could be done with younger primary students with lots of guided discussion. Raises questions about how battles start and that the wish to hate and the feeling of being threatened is something that is created more than something that is natural. Rich colours in the illustrations and serious text.

The Conquerors by David McKee

This is a new favourite of mine. A modern fable that points to the ridiculous nature of war in the most clever of ways. A general marches his army about conquering every country around. Eventually, there is just one small country left. When the soldiers arrive to once again conquer a people, this little nation offers no resistance. They welcome the soldiers to their tables, to play their games, to sing their songs and to listen to their stories. When the soldiers return to their own ruling nation, they continue singing the songs, cooking the food and telling the stories of this little nation. Just who had conquered who?

Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by James Proimos

Is it possible for a child to achieve world peace? Yes, if he realizes his world is all around him and simply starts to perform acts of kindness both random/deliberate and simple or creative. Imagine if everyone set out each day to be kind, compassionate and loving? We can all model peaceful ways and make a difference. I love the idea of this book more than the book itself. When I read it aloud I found the casualness of some of the humour took away slightly from the book’s message. Still, I like the discussions it sparks.

Other picture books I enjoyed this week:

Frank ‘n’ Stan by M.P. Robertson

I think books by M.P. Robertson are brilliant often just because of the detailed and creative illustrations. This title has more humour than his usual titles and when it was shared in my class by a guest reader, the children were hooked. Frank wishes for a sibling and when it seems like there will be no little brother or sister in his near future, he sets out to build one. Stan is a robot: huge, helpful and lots of fun. Children loved how he had to plug in and get his oil topped up frequently. When a new little sister really does come on the scene, Stan begins to feel unloved and leaves. The rescue scene when Stan is found in the freezing snow, uncharged and alone is both touching and exhilarating (imagine travelling down snowy hills on a robot’s shoulder). One of the most unique new sibling stories out there – a touch of fantasy, humour, invention and robot building! This is going to be my new go to gift book for young children who love adventure.

The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska

I first heard about this book last week on another Monday Reads post and was thrilled to come across it. Gentle images of the holiday season full of all of the emotions children experience: anticipation, joy, excitement, wonder . . . Perfect for cozy reads in front of a fireplace surrounded by family and happiness. I want my own copy of this book for our holiday collection.

I did not get a lot of time to read any novels this week but am about a third of the way into Sharon Creech‘s The Great Unexpected. Oh, this book. So many wonderful words and quirky characters. A book to slowly savour except you cannot help rushing through it. Perhaps a future read aloud . . . I think reading a lot of the names of people and places aloud would tickle my tongue. Really enjoying this story.