Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bookscope Scopes out HOPE AND TEARS

Great news.

What’s Bookscope?

It’s a regular feature--taking a close look at previously published books for young readers--on the Children’s Literature Network.

Well, if you haven’t visited this website yet, you’re missing out. CLN showcases all types of books for children and their creators, both the authors (like me) and the illustrators.

It’s a great place to see what’s new and feel a part of the larger community of people who love children’s books.

Oh, and if you check out Bookscope, just one feature in CLN’s magazine, you’ll get to know more about Hope and Tears, and how it came to be a book.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Get Unbored: Summer Reading, Part V

Every summer reading list needs some nonfiction. Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun (Bloomsbury, 2012) by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen fits the bill. I checked this book out thinking I might buy a copy for my kids. But after reading for awhile, I realized I wanted a copy…for me.

Unbored is a compendium of random information, how-tos, lists, and mini-reviews, illustrated with line drawings that show kids in a state of un-bored-ness. This is not a book to sit down and read, cover to cover. Instead, it’s a hefty encyclopedia to dip into when bored.

A sampler of what you’ll find inside:

·      Instructions on how to short-sheet a bed

·      Easy home-alone recipes to make for yourself

·      A short (gross) history of your bathroom

·      An annotated list of banned books you should read (including my favorite, the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey)

·      A primer on making stop-motion movies, followed by a listing of great stop-motion animation films

Short essays from guest writers young and old fill out the text, giving readers everything from a kid’s tips on taking a first solo mass-transit bus ride to an adult movie critic’s advice on “How to Criticize Everything.”

I read the latter, but, really, I’m still having a hard time criticizing Unbored.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stitches: Summer Reading, Part 4

This week, as part of an on-going series covering not-your-average-summer-reads, I’m reviewing Stitches (2003) from Canadian author Glen Huser.

Travis is only gradually becoming aware of the many ways in which he’s a square peg in a round hole. He puts up with a daily barrage of anti-gay slurs and works hard to stay clear of class bully Shon in small-town Alberta, Canada.

What helps him survive the transition to middle school? He takes refuge in a puppet  theater adaptation of Midsummer Night’s Dream and grabs onto the notion of being a “changeling.”

His best friend, Chantelle, is the first to think of it. She’s disabled and has been disfigured by surgeries.

“I think sometimes I’m a changeling,” she said. “Left by accident, or by fairies doing mischief.”

At first, Travis isn’t so sure the same applies to him: “I didn’t know what to say. I wondered sometimes why…I was the way I was. Liking to play with puppets, liking to sew costumes for them and playing with them instead of playing hockey.”

It’s Travis’s first, tentative step on the way to embracing his differences and seeing how his life can be different. Author Glen Huser doesn’t make the journey easy. Violent scenes of abuse alternate with those of creating a beautiful puppet drama.

Stitches is an interesting and thought-provoking mix for young adults who aren’t afraid of branching out and taking on a challenging summertime read. More than a gay coming of age novel, it’s a story about not fitting in—and learning not to mind.