Sunday, March 20, 2011

More blogs to come soon!

I've been pretty distracted this past week, both with an upcoming couple of projects and my teaching application (yay!), but I'll be back up and blogging very soon :) I finished a couple of fun reads this past week, and I'm pumped to talk about them.

Thanks for hanging with me. Check back this week!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace

"Once upon a branch, there was a fellow named Little Hoot. Little Hoot was a happy little owl."

When I read about Little Oink, the pig who loved to be neat and hated making messes, I thought, "There is nothing cuter than this little pig!" Boy, was I wrong!

Little Hoot is an owl who likes to go to school, play hide and seek, and practice "pondering." Like many little ones we all know and love, Little Hoot does not like Bedtime. His parents make him stay up late, playing on the jungle gym, playing swords, and jumping on his bed of leaves. This little sleepyhead wants nothing more than to get a night's rest, but his parents want him to grow up and be a wise old owl; once bedtime finally rolls around, he doesn't even have the energy for a bedtime story and a glass of water. It's pretty stinkin' adorable.

So, I'm basically in love with these clever little stories from Rosenthal and Corace. The quirky little characters teach great lessons for children and I find myself giggling at the sweet little illustrations and the irony of animals who are trying to defy their inherent nature. Little Pea is the third of Rosenthal and Corace's stories, and I'm sure I'm going to thoroughly enjoy it. I probably won't blog about it for fear of being to predictable or redundant, so just assume I would rave about it. :)

5Q: Once again, I'm super impressed by the simplicity and meaning that the words bring to the reader, paired with illustrations that are meticulous and eye-catching.
5P: I think this book is equally as admired among children as it (and the other two books like it) is among adults.

2011 Alex Award winner: Room by Emma Donoghue

"Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra."

The Alex Awards are an award given to titles written for adults that appeal to young adults. Ten titles are chosen each year, and my goal this semester was to read one 2011 winner and review it. After skimming through the premises of each one, I found Emma Donoghue's Room to be the most intriguing synopsis, due in part to its mysteriously cryptic plot description.

In Room, we meet Jack on his fifth birthday. Ma is making Jack his birthday cake, marking his height on the wall, and talking about the day God sent him to her from Heaven. On the surface, the day seems like a normal day between a stay-at-home mom and her son; but something ominous lurks beneath the surface of their story.

I do not plan on giving any of the plot away because I would not dare take the experience of discovering Jack and Ma's harrowing story away from any of you. However, I will divulge my favorite aspect of the novel: perspective. Here goes...

This is the first for-adults novel I've ever read where the entire story is narrated by a young child, and Donoghue definitely knew what she was doing. We see every moment of the day, every interaction between the characters through Jack's mind. Donoghue said that in order to create a believable narrator without confusing readers, she created a dictionary of her own son's speech, noting the words he used for ideas he didn't understand and the syntax of his sentences. Jack's language, his way of associating and learning in his everyday environment is wonderfully imaginative, honest, entertaining, and poignant.

I will warn you that this novel is a hot pick right now and is in high demand at the St. Charles and St. Louis area libraries; I reserved a copy at City-County and started out at #81! But it was well worth the wait. This original, stirring story will be sticking with me for a very long time.

5Q: Amazing plot, realistic and thoughtful characterization, and an impressive point of view that is not often used well.
3P: I think young adults would enjoy reading this novel, but I think it would take a teacher/librarian/parent to encourage them to pick it up. It would be a great example for a lesson on point of view, setting, and characterization in an educational setting.