Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say. 1993.
I read this book for a children’s lit course way back in college (1997 or so). While I appreciate the family story and love the skilled watercolors, I’m not now and wasn’t then overly enthusiastic about this book.
Artistically, the pictures are very posed (stiff) and though lovely, do not create a sense of movement, an urgency to flip from one page to the next. I suppose they could be seen as poised (vs. posed), like pictures in an old photo album. But does that increase the sense of movement, or further distance the reader?
And although the story gives a sense of history and place, it’s so nostalgic that I wonder if it can really capture a child audience. A lovely tribute to a grandfather, a multicultural travel story, but Great Children’s Literature?
The book is stunningly illustrated, but perhaps one of those (growing number of) picture books more aimed at adults than children.
In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 14-year-old Arnold (Junior) Spirit fights racism and his tribe’s anger as he tries to escape the alcoholism, depression, and death of life as a reservation Native American. I can see why this book received so much attention.
Forged by Fire is gripping! And excruciatingly painful to read. A few thoughts: I’m not sure if I bought...
Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood crafted a moving introduction. The importance of keeping a family story alive. I wonder, though, if this story would have more power in a different format?
In We Are the Ship Nelson combines fabulous paintings with rich text full of voice for a truly interesting look at the Negro League of baseball. The paintings are gentle, respectful, full of love with absolutely amazing use of light.
Bronx Masquerade. I’m torn on this book. My first impression was that the voice was good but not as good as Tyrell by Coe Booth, and that the book was a yawner. I couldn’t get into the world, couldn’t “see” it. I had that first problem, the seeing, all the way through even though I later found that the book was not a yawner at after all.
Absolutely Positively Not is a book about being gay (or not). I absolutely loved the short chapters. Proof Cheryl Klein (at Levine) didn’t edit it since she snarked at me once about having short chapters. She’d never let these wee chaps make it to publication.
Monster has an interesting form, but I’m not sure it worked for me. This book was told in a combination of diary and screenplay, both supposedly written by the protagonist, Steve. I bought that a kid could be on trial for something he maybe didn’t do...
Esperanza Rising is a moving story that opens a world seldom seen with authenticity, and without seeming politically motivated. Real, not a soapbox.
Ok, time for a rant. I haven't ranted in a while, have I? Well, maybe. Even so, a rant is due so here it is:
The chapter on Du Bois: Do we have a reliable narrator? Du Bois is introduced as “one of the greatest scholars the world has ever known.” First we have the issue of a lose definition of scholar (what is a scholar, exactly?), and then the absurd grandiosity...
If a culturally rich adaptation of a classic tale is going to be on a required reading list for any MFAC program, I think it should be Yeh Shen.