Saturday, December 22, 2012

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo enters winter with presence and realism in this lovely picture book published last year. Illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline muted his masterpieces with care and intent, making me want to turn the pages faster. The story of a young girl refusing the settle with the distances we adults create with and without awareness offers readers a sweet chance to enter the world of change during a season when cold and darkness can overpower each of us. Set over one hundred years ago, young Frances notices a man with a monkey on the snowy street corner one day. She watches and inquires about him, only to be rebuffed by her mother and not-so-gentle reminders of how the man is a stranger and not one to approach. Frances and her mother walk by the organ grinder and his monkey, and she quickly invites him to the church to see her performance....I can't tell you more or I will spoil it, but this lovely book is one to seek out. You will really understand the ending. And then you will read it to your children and your students and your friends, and you will find ways to teach with it get the picture. Great Joy truly is a book of the season.

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