Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I know today's book is not necessarily a new title but I just finished reading it and wanted to share my thoughts.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is considered a Teen Novel.  I think it is much more than that.  I had heard about it but never read it.  Most recently learned that there is a sequel which I hope to read soon.  There is also a film being made with Tim Burton directing.  I stumbled across it in the library and at the last minute added it to my stack of books to check out.

I loved this book.  This is the kind of book I would have read and loved when I was a child/teenager.  The story starts out like any other teenage angst kind of story but quickly develops into the best kind fantasy story.  The kind that makes a reader feel that it could be true.  The characters are wonderful, I really loved the main character Jacob because he sounded like a typical teenage boy.

A long time ago I was part of a panel for the Children's Book Council called Not Just For Children Anymore.  As part of the panel we had to read a selection of children's books ~mostly young readers and Teen novels.  Once we were finished we then set out to decide whether or not "grown-ups" would enjoy them as well as children.  This book would have been on top of my list.  I really loved how Mr Riggs wove his story around an array of old photographs.  The photographs themselves are so interesting to look at that I  too would have wondered how they were made and if they were real.

I used to know someone who loved to take photographs.  He had rigged his own darkroom in a small bathroom in the house.  He also liked to experiment with his photos.  I remember one photo of what appeared to be  a young girl with a small person standing on her hand.  To create this illusion he said was all in the development. When I saw the photos in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children I was reminded of the photos I saw when I was young.  Like I said I have always been fascinated by old photos.....they are glimpse into the past.  I wish this book had been around when I was young because it would have been one of my favorites.  I can't wait to read the sequel Hollow City.  These are must have books for anyone who loves a bit of fantasy tinged with spookiness....

Thursday, March 5, 2015

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

Today is another really snowy day in the North East.  Personally the white stuff lost it's appeal for me in February.  I thought since we are all longing for good weather I would recommend a new book about the hope of spring.

If You Plant a Seed written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, a two time Caldecott Honor Award recipient, that is the perfect book for another snowy day.  I am a big fan of Mr Nelson's illustrations and books.  This new book which was published this week is a perfect way to teach children what happens when they plant a little tiny seed.  The sparse text and beautiful paintings make this book a joy to read aloud.  What is also wonderful is that it isn't just about planting a carrot seed or a tomato seed but it is about planting the seeds of kindness and compassion.  While the carrot seed becomes a carrot,  Mr Nelson is also  teaching the youngest among that planting a seed of kindness begets something even sweeter.  Of course the animals (or children) don't learn this at first.  At first the little gardeners are selfish and won't share with the other animals who come begging.  Only after an enormous fight that nearly destroys everything does one small act of final kindness and sharing that in the end produces the biggest reward.  This book has many lessons to teach the young and the old.