Saturday, June 19, 2010

Three new favourite books

B had another US trip and brought back a good pile of books for the boys. He chose well as there have been some instant hits. A couple were ones I had suggested because I keep seeing them discussed online as classics but had never read: The Giving Tree (Shel Silverstein) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Judi Barrett*). They're quite different-The Giving Tree superficially tells about a series of things a tree can provide (fruit, shade, wood...) but is really a story of unconditional love: the tree gives each of these items to the boy, until the tree is reduced to a stump on which the now-elderly boy can sit. For a picture book, it's a really touching story.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, on the other hand, is ridiculously funny- the tale of the far-off town of Chewandswallow, where food falls from the sky, for better or for worse. It's probably the first book that Big Bro and I have both had a genuine belly-laugh from.

B also chose another book, Flotsam (David Wiesner), because of its Caldecott Medal, which we find is a reliable sign of a good book (we've also enjoyed Madeleine's Rescue, The House of the Night, The Snowy Day, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat and My Friend Rabbit amongst others). It's a wordless book (Big Bro was quite puzzled by this!) about a boy who develops the photos from an underwater camera he finds on the beach, to discover pictures of mechanical fish, octopuses at home in their deep-sea living rooms reading by the light of angler fish lamps, and the previous human finders of the camera. The illustrations are amazing, and the fantasy of the story is made even more real by the wordless stand-alone pictures. I'm already planning which upcoming birthday children will be receiving Flotsam from us!

*Judi Barrett's books were brought to my attention by a reference to Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House in The Bean Trees. One good book leads to another...

1 comment:

ilipilli said...

Thanks for this post V - I remember coming across Flotsam in a bookshop once and loving it but failing to write down the title. It is beautiful, isn't it! and what a wonderful concept.

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