Saturday, March 2, 2024

Books, Books, Books!!!

It's been much too long since I've blogged about the good books I've read, so without further ado, I'll begin with the most recent. Kids' books first :) I do try to post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads but I'm woefully behind on that as well. What are some of the best books you've read recently? Go ahead and add to my TBR pile!

Picture Books

A Hole is to Dig: A First Book of Definitions by Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak is simply delightful. See for yourself.

A Single Pearl by one of my favorite authors, Donna Jo Napoli, and Jim LaMarche's illustrations bring to life this retelling of a Persian folktale. A grain of sand feels hopelessly small and unimportant. But we get to see what occurs layer by layer as it is transformed into a pearl. Her book we are Starlings, written with her son, Robert Furrow, is another gorgeous book that delves into murmuration, beautifully illustrated by Marc Martin. I still remember the wonderful advice she gave at Chautauqua--write what you're interested in. It holds true, especially now, where there's so much emphasis of "staying in your lane." She inspires me with the depth and breadth of her work and I'm just tickled that she collaborates with her children. I hope to make more books with my kids too.

Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall, another favorite author-illustrator, captures the joy and jumble of a large family. It's bittersweet--children grow up, move away. How I wish it could've been kept in the family somehow. But I'm glad Sophie did and made a book out of it. A treasure! At the end, she writes about how she made the book. Check out Hello Lighthouse too. I wouldn't mind making a retreat in one.

Wally the World's Greatest Piano-Playing Wombat by Ratha Tep and Camilla Pintonato is such a great book about what a competitive spirit can do for you--strive for excellence. Plus it's over the top funny. I gave this to my barbershop leaders because we are preparing for the Regional contest in May... 

Hum and Swish by Matt Myers is a lovely book about creativity, not knowing what you're making yet, trusting the process.

Middle Grade

Mind Over Anti-Matter by Rose Green starts out with a bang and just keeps getting better. We have kid inventors, an aging inventor, and the bad guys who'll do anything to get their hands on the Infinite Storage Device. I loved how real the kids were, how smart, how much heart they had. Rose Green is a very talented writer and illustrator and I was smitten by the cover and delighted by the interior illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. I look forward to more stories from her. 

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman is a gorgeous book with reproductions of Merian's drawings and paintings. She was a mere child, doing what children do best, which is to observe the world around them and be in a state of wonder. She took it a step further--drawing what she saw. When she drew plants, she also drew the insects on the plants.

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate diCamillo and Sophie Blackall (two of my favorites) is a beautifully illustrated story about a girl, a boy, a monk, and a goat. The gentle girl and the fierce goat stole my heart. 

Bazriel and the Frozen Bells of Noël: A Reluctant Angel’s Rescue Mission into France by local author Pringle Franklin is an imaginative Christmas story for the whole family with over 90 works of classic art. It perfectly captures the idea that each of us has a unique mission to fulfill in this world and we have our guardian angel beside us to help guide us. It speaks to the power of love, of music, and of hope. I remember reading the first chapter during critique group and how enchanted I was. I didn't read anything more until Pringle asked me to read a proof copy. I made a few corrections but hated parting with it because it is such a beautiful book. But a year later--I have my own! 

Christmas Blossoms by Priscilla Smith McCafferey and illustrated by Gwyneth Thompson-Briggs is a luminous story about a Chinese artist who makes Christmas ornaments for people in the West. When he makes these little masterpieces, he remembers the joyful times with his family going to the Midnight Mass before the cultural revolution, what they suffered for choosing the Christ Child, and the Hope that remains. Now in his old age, Christmas has returned to China once again. Overcome with emotion, he paints one last glass ornament after he returns home from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This bittersweet gem of a book lends itself to contemplating the meaning of Christmas.

I've bought multiple copies of the last two Christmas books to give away as gifts. They are timeless. It just so happens that all my favorite children's books were illustrated. But visual beauty draws me in more deeply into the story. I still sit and just look at the pictures. I guess I never grew up. But I'll focus on adult books in my next monster book post. 


Mirka Breen said...

Amazing post, which I marked for reference. You read much more than I have been able to <3

Vijaya said...

Oh Mirka, I just love picture books with all the art. They fill me with such delight!

Sue said...

Thanks for the post. I ordered a couple from my library. Unfortunately, they didn't have some of the others I wanted.