Sunday, August 11, 2013

Crayons, Piranhas and Lies, Oh My!

This week I read two more of the books I received at BEA, both of them illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. The Day the Crayons Quit is written by  Drew Daywalt. I absolutely love this picture book! Duncan opens his desk one day to take out his crayons and finds instead a stack of letters. Each one is from a different color crayon and voices their reason for quitting. Red is overworked, purple is tired of straying outside the lines, pink wants to know if the reason she gets so little use is that she's too girly, and so on. This book is adorable. Love the way the text is presented as handwritten notes in varying crayon colors. This is a new favorite for me!



The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas is written by David Almond. This book is very quirky MG. I didn't love it. It rambles a bit too much for my taste. I was halfway in and came very close to giving up on it. I did end up picking it back up, and it did get a bit better - enough so that I finished. There were things I liked about it. It has bits of charming, rich description  The main character, Stan, is a sensitive boy. He's lost his parents and lives with an aunt and uncle. We see a tender side to him the day he goes to the fair and rescues the goldfish that are in tiny bags of water as prizes. We get to see him grow and discover himself. But the rest of the cast is so flat, so caricature-ish. At times the story felt like farce. Perhaps children will find Chief Envistigator Clarence P. Clapp and his fight against appallin' fishiness in the land of Rackanruwin funny. "Good afternoon, ossifer!" he says "My porpoise is to seek out daftness and destroy it." It felt cartoonish. Maybe kids find this funny. I just wanted to skim to the next scene and make it to the end of the book.



I also spent a few hours in the children's room of the library, where I grabbed a stack of picture books and settled in. Of them, my favorites were Donna Welch Earnhardt's Being Frank. This one is a lot of fun. It made me giggle out loud. Who can't relate to being in that spot between being honest and sparing someone's feelings?



Also, Audrey Vernick's Brothers At Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team. I'm not a sports fan. I'm not a regular reader of non-fiction, but I loved this book! What made it special for me was not just the surprising fact that there could be a baseball team comprised solely of brothers, but also it was refreshing to read about the bonds of family: siblings getting along, respecting each other, enjoying each other's company.



As I finish books, I'm filling a box for an under-funded school library in Texas. Maybe you have books to donate as well? Here's the announcement as posted by Larry on Verla Kay's Blueboards.

"Well, I recently accepted a position as principal/curriculum coordinator at a local charter school here in Texas. We are a PK-8th grade campus with approximately 300 students. Over 90% are at poverty level. Our library is coming along slowly. We are in need of lower level AR books (PK-2nd grade for sure). Our library budget is nonexistent. We could use new or gently used books. If anyone knows of publishers/bookstores/individuals who might be willing to donate some books, I'd greatly appreciate it. We are the Ehrhart School in Beaumont, TX. Thanks so much!"

If you'd like to help, send your gently used books to:

The Ehrhart School
Dr. Larry Haynes
3380 Fannin Street
Beaumont, Texas 77701



25 comments:

  1. Ruth, I heard about Oliver Jeffers' 'The Day the Crayons Quit' on his FB page and was thrilled to read your review. Hope to pick it up from the library soon. As for 'The Boy Who Swam with Pirahnas,' I read it some time ago. Like you, I didn't enjoy it and flip through the last pages because I couldn't wait to get on to another book. It was quirky but it was also perhaps trying a tad too hard at staying quirky.

    I'll tweet this post so folks know about the book donation. That's for a great cause. Thanks for letting us know about it!

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  2. If I was nearby I'd totally donate some books, but I definitely can't afford what it would cost in postage. ;) My mum sent my brother a little box maybe 20 cm wide and it cost $50 to send it.

    I haven't really read much MG at all, but I do want to explore it a bit more.

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  3. Great post. I wish I could help with donations, but it's impossible from here.

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  4. The Day the Crayons Quit looks adorable!! I have to get that one.

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  5. Mmm...you've got me in the mood for good picture books now. I think I need to make a trek over the library with my girls and bring home a bag!

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  6. Always enjoy your generous and thoughtful reviews, Ruth. You come from a place of kindness, but you tell the truth also.

    When it comes to MG books, it is hard to know what the age group really relates to. Because so many adults (like me) love reading these books, there may be a discrepancy between how third-graders see it and how it strikes their parents or teachers. I would never write the D. Almond way, but kids adore his books.
    Being Frank is a winner, I agree.

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  7. The children's books look awesome. Too bad about the Almond book since at first glance it seems interesting.

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  8. Great post, Ruth :) I love that you've jumped into my area today with all these picture books. So many wonderful ones! I haven't read The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas, but I did read Skellig which was a very strange but well-written book that I ended up liking more than I expected to. I'm not sure what "AR" books are (sorry - dumb!) but if you'd like any of my books for your library I'd be happy to donate. Just email me and let me know :)

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  9. Oh, the crayon book does sound adorable. I need to pick that one up! Sigh... So many books, so little money! =)

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  10. I love the Day the Crayons Quit -- what a cute idea. Will have to look for it. You picked up some really good books. Also liked the Brothers At Bat and Being Frank -- both excellent topics. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. The Day the Crayons quit sounds adorable. What a fun book and I can't wait to read the letters. :)

    The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas has a cute cover and I am glad it got better. I like that Stan saves goldfish. :)
    ~Jess

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  12. Thanks for the notice about the Texas library! I recently checked out a stack of picture books from the library--one was an art bio on Van Gogh and it was so surprisingly funny that I really enjoyed it!

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  13. Crayons were my best friends for years. Definitely want to read this! I love the Jeffers cover, but I have so little patience for books that 'try too hard', so I'm glad to have made it over here to read your review. I will admit to actually tossing books when I get fed up with such writing, but only further down on the bed or sofa!

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  14. I've got to get that Crayon book! It sounds so clever and one which I'll be so jealous that I didn't come up with the idea!

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  15. Aw, the Crayon book sounds so cute. What a clever idea!

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  16. Thanks so much for this list and the address. What a wonderful cause. Thanks also for checking out David's website! You'll appreciate this as a homeschool parent - he's entirely self taught. :)

    Have a great weekend!

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  17. That crayon book sounds excellent! I want one! You sure read a lot of books recently. It's good you could find so many at your local library. :-)

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  18. The Day the Crayons Quit sounds wonderful, I think I'll have to pick up a copy for my children. :)

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  19. Love what you're doing here, Ruth! Magical books!

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  20. Thanks for spotlighting these! That crayon book looks adorable. And I bet I'd share your opinion on the quirky MG. Quirky's not really my taste.

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  21. The crayon books sounds like something my kids would love!

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  22. I've been meaning to read more MG lately, and I really like the sound of the Crayon book:)

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  23. I'm sure I heard an editor or agent mention the CRAYON book at the recent SCBWI conference I went to. Sounds like a fun read.

    I'd like to read BEING FRANK. Even though I'm an adult, I'm very familiar with the feeling of wanting to be honest but considerate as well.

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  24. I hadn't heard of the book The Day the Crayons Quit, but it looks terrific! Thanks for featuring it, Ruth! (and also for your encouraging words on my blog!)

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