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