Sunday, February 07, 2016

When Your Reader Grows Up and Blesses You With Books

Life continues to narrow down to pretty much one focus (or one focus with a dual lens): healing as well as I can while staying as calm and peaceful as I can in the face of unknown diagnoses that potentially look quite hard.

Pain, discomfort, struggles to sleep, keeping up my mental, spiritual, and emotional health: these have all been on the agenda this week, and not much else.

In the midst of all this, I am finding that I need books (of course) but that I have very little energy for heavy lifting when it comes to reading. My precious sweet girl has come to my rescue, providing me with a supply of mostly mid-grade books that have been wonderful. As I messaged to a friend checking in on me this morning, I feel I am reaping the benefits of raising a really good reader! The books she has passed on have been lovely.

Yesterday I finished the novel The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. For a mid-grade book, this one had complexity in spades, but it also had some lovely writing, and my daughter especially enjoyed the way it played with narrative voices -- moving back and forth between the protagonist's thoughts (she is going through a time of intense grief and doesn't talk for much of the book) and her memories of the friend she lost. Those memories are written in second person as though she was speaking to the friend. It's a challenging back and forth and a story that doesn't have a completely neat resolution, though it ended more happily than I thought it might.

Since then, Jedi Teen has passed another book on to me. This one is called Enchanted Air. It's a memoir in verse penned by Cuban-American author Margarita Engle, who is recalling her childhood in two places. Really beautiful poetry so far -- I am enjoying this one a lot.

With the recent Newbery and Caldecott books out, the sweet girl and I have been plunging into book lists again. We've even checked out some picture books (I have so missed picture books). Matt de la Pena's Last Stop on Market Street was the first picture book to win the Newbery in years. We enjoyed both its lyrical writing and its colorful, detailed pictures by Christian Robinson, who brought the urban landscape to exciting life. Another gorgeous picture book we've enjoyed recently is Kate Messner's Over and Under the Snow. Christopher Silas Neal uses mixed media in the beautiful illustrations of woodland animals who have creative ways of surviving the winter.

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