Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

Ooopsie, I'm a day late and a dollar....well, we won't talk about money...not here, not in the midst of such wonderful conversations about books. And speaking of books, have you read The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech yet? No....well, time for some more searching. This twister from expert author Creech caught me and made me slow down and do one thing at a time. Seriously no treadmill, no half-hearted listening to my partner while the pages were open, no eyes-half-closed attempts right before the lights go out for sleeping. Nope, not for this one.

Creech combines family, language, life stories, questioning, farm life, city life all in a not-so-tidy package here. A young boy "arrives" on a young couple's porch one morning. For some reason he won't/can't/doesn't  use verbal language to give them any information about him. A note waits in his pocket until he decides it is time to give it to the adults:

Plees taik kair of Jacob.
He is a god good boy.
Wil be bak wen we can.

So the young couple waits. And waits. And search. And listen. And fall in love with the youngster. And then they don't want him to leave. The story is kinda like a mystery within a mystery, a how-do-we-keep-this-boy-a-secret while searching for his parents and also deciding what it might be like for him to join our family. Ah, but maybe I spoil too much.

Or maybe I don't.

I will stop there. Find this one. As usual, Creech wins. A lovely book. And I still wonder: who is the boy on the porch...for the rest of us?  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Paperboy by Vince Vawter

I was wonderfully surprised by this book. The writing kind of held me in a gentle way; each time I put it down (to go get tea, to make dinner, to go to work), it called out to me, encouraging me to spend just a little more time in it. I really enjoyed its gentle but insistent pace, and the details of the story framed the boy's thinking quite effectively. Thumbs up for Paperboy.

But wait: what does it remind me of? Funny you should ask. While I read it, I searched out The King's Speech, a movie I loved, connecting two stutterers. And I searched out The Stuttering Foundation, an organization centering on supporting those who stutter, their families, and research. And I connected with John Green's book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, another stellar read that I reviewed earlier.

The main character takes over his friend's paper route for a month one summer. As he moves through the tasks connected with being a paperboy, he learns all sorts of details about his subscribers, his nanny, and his parents. I appreciated how he struggles to become both more independent as well as no longer childlike, both in respectful and thoughtful ways. I also appreciated the small town energy of this read, that slower, focused, important energy that comes with a read like this. Rich, definitely, worth reading for sure, and maybe even worth returning to for another read. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snowflakes Fall by Patricia MacLachlan

Patricia MacLachlan is doing some serious book writing these days, seeming to birth a new text frequently. This one emerged from the enormous tragedy that occurred in Sandy Hook a year ago. Steven Kellogg, the illustrator, actually has very deep roots in Sandy Hook, and according to his note at the front of the book, "the changing seasons in the woodlands, fields, and streams that surround Sandy Hook village" inspired his drawings. MacLachlan notes her deep sorrow at the loss from the tragedy and wrote this book to center our losses on memories and renewal.

The illustrations in this text are bright, vivid, and inspiring. The words on each page, sparse and engaging, draw the reader into winters bright and cold gifts. I love the double-page spreads, and I found myself wanting to seek out snow and play. I really enjoyed this read for its purpose of inspiring and celebrating. A portion of the proceeds of the text support the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

This Is the Rope: A Story From The Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson

Woodson brings a magnificent gift to her writing. Sometimes she moves me far beyond what I know in life, leaving me speechless. This Is the Rope does that to me.

While fiction, Woodson draws on her own inferences of growing up and making sense of the historical schema and living truths of her family in this book. She names indirectly and directly some of her family experiences dating back to the early 1900's. She leads her readers into these connections in gentle and authentic ways. I found myself wondering frequently what it must have been like for her to make sense of her family lineage, the history that has interrupted some of her family living, and the movement from down south to New York that has taken place in her lifetime and before. This Is the Rope leads readers into questions seemingly outside of their reach, inviting us to consider what it means to move within the United States, changing home spaces and questioning family establishment.

Woodson is beyond honest in her writing, and This Is the Rope invites us readers to dig deeper and wonder more fully about what metaphor of truth fills in some of the questions children grow up with regarding their family history.