Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Graphic Novel?

Babymouse Queen of the World!

By:  Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm 

This class is already introduced me to many books that I never would have known existed or taken the time to read  before.  I have to admit until a few weeks ago I did not know what a Graphic Novel was.  If you had asked me before I probably would not have said something that was appropriate for children to read! But Babymouse has opened my eyes to the Graphic Novel world.  

Babymouse is a very believable character.  She is what I imagine most young girls are like just one with a heightened imagination.  Her imagination is what I believe is one thing that keeps her from "fitting in" as she seems to do some silly things in real life while she is imagining her pretend life.  Her daydreams, however, I think are also a way for her to make her life seem very exciting.  For example when she is passing a note in her class she imagines she is a detective with a secret. Babymouse struggles in the book because she wants to be apart of the "in crowd" which is led by Felicia Furrypaws.   She has what I believe many young girl has is feelings of being left out or inadequacy.  Babymouse does many things that she should not do to get the attention of Felicia and to ultimately get invited to her sleepover, including giving Felicia her own book report and getting in trouble with her teacher.  She also ignores her best friend, Wilson, who seems to stand by her no matter what.  In the end however she sees that Felicia is not a good friend and is not worth her spending time with and she makes it up to Wilson.  

This story is one that I believe most young teenagers or tweens can identify with.  I know I myself at that age had many insecurities and also felt like I was not apart of the cool group and struggled with that through Middle school.  Although Babymouse makes some bad choices she eventually sees the error of her ways and feels as though she is the Queen of the World with all that she already has, which is a valuable lesson for children and young teens to learn. 

This book does make me have one question about Babymouse.  She herself is very bossy to Wilson.  In the one page where she says they have been friends forever the illustrations show her making him do all of these things such as holding her up to reach a cupcake or swinging her higher and higher.  It is almost as if she is the same way to Wilson as Felicia is to her.  I would like to see if after deciding that Felicia is not nice if she herself changed the way she acted as well.  There are many more Babymouse books and I would be curious to see if she was bossy in all of the books.  It does lead me to wanting to read more to see how the character changes and evolves.  

The illustrations in Babymouse are black and white cartoon sketches with a hint of pink because well Babymouse is a girl and  she seems to love her pink heart that adorns her dress.  The illustrations keep the story going.  Most of them are framed just as a cartoon would be but some span the entire page and go to the end of the page.  Those illustrations are usually when Babymouse is having one of her many wildly imaginative daydreams.  The authors also use speech bubbles, which makes the story move very quickly.  I believe this is also a great tool in appealing to children.  They do not see it as reading a book but more like a comic strip, which I can imagine makes it wildly popular with the children.  The only drawback I can see is that the main character is a girl and that would probably not appeal to boys but I believe young girls would be excited to read it.  All in all I enjoyed the book and would recommend this book if I were in the upper grades, especially if I had a child who was not so excited about reading.  This might change their outlook on books and get them reading more, which as a teacher is something to always be excited about!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers 

by Mordicai Gerstein 

I have to be honest at first glance of this book, I was not excited to read it.  I usually am drawn to bright illustrations and this cover looked a little dark to me.  I was very pleased that it was an assigned reading to help me broaden my interest and to remind myself to literally not judge a book by it's cover.  

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers is a biography about an aerialists, Philippe Petit and his tightrope walk between New York City's Twin Towers.  Gerstein does a wonderful job of leading the reader step by step through Petit's journey.  I felt as though I were right there along side Petit as he was planning and completing his journey.  I personally find reading books about actual events interesting, especially when set to picture! This book leads itself to evoking interest about Petit's life to young adventurous children.  I imagine a child reading this book and being fascinated about his life and maybe even doing more research or an in depth study about him.  

Even though I myself was not drawn to the illustrations in this book, I do think they also did a great job of making the reader feel as though you are apart of the actual event.  Each picture draws you into the book and makes you see what it would be like if you were right there with Petit.  I can imagine the awe and terrifying feeling of looking at Petit way up high in the air as he glides along the wire effortlessly and although the illustrations are not as colorful as I normally like they are very beautifully drawn.

"Now the towers are gone," is a very powerful line in the story.  It reminds us about September 11th and I am so glad that this book was written to not only capture the daring Petit's journey in the air but also to remember that the Twin Tower's were there.  This will be something to always read to children as not only a great story but also as a way to remember what happened that day.  Some may be fearful of the conversations that children will have discussing why the Towers are no longer there but I believe that it is and will always be a large part of our history.  

Interrupting Chicken

Interrupting Chicken 

by David Ezra Stein 

Interrupting Chicken, a Caldecott Award winner is a children's book that I believe all young children should be exposed to for a variety of reasons.   The illustrations in his book are very vivid and jump off the page making the story come to life.  The story is a very easy read with simple vocabulary.  The character, while being a chicken is still someone that  many children can relate too. The plot behind the story is probably one that many parents can relate to as well.  I picture myself with my little girl and trying to get her not so sleepy self to sleep one day and I can picture a scenario much like the one that Stein paints with Little Chicken and his Papa.   Little Chicken is an excited little chicken that seems to love stories and needs a good bedtime story before he can go to sleep and as Papa pulls out many classics to read Little Chicken interrupts those stories with his own version of what happened.  

Every time I read this story, I think of the many times I have read books to my classroom of bright eyed five year olds and how excited they get when they can relate to the story in some way.  Little Chicken reminds me of those children and the many times I have asked children not to interrupt just as Papa Chicken said "You interrupted the story.  Try not to get so involved."  It made me stop and think, don't get so involved!  Isn't that what we hope children do when they read, get involved!   I want children to think about stories and get excited.  Usually when children interrupted my reading, I got the best thoughts about the literature we were reading because they were so passionate about it.  So instead of asking children not to interrupt maybe teach them of the right way to respond to literature and give them many times even during reading to express their thoughts or write their own ending to the story.  

I also love how the author wrote/illustrated part of the story in Little Chicken's handwriting and drawings.  Little Chicken decides to tell Papa a story and in turn tried to write his own book.  This is another way to excite little children while reading and another reason this book is fabulous to read to children.  This can be a great story to read to make children feel like they too can write and illustrate their own stories and maybe even make a book just like Little Chicken.  

I will read this story many times in the future and on the surface any teacher/parent might pick it up as I once did thinking, "this will be great to help teach children not to interrupt."  However, after reading it and really thinking about it I hope they decide to use it for many other reasons and think that sometimes interrupting might not be so just as I did after reading it.  It is a great read for all in my opinion! 

My first blog!

So this is my first blog and I have to say I am excited and nervous about it!  I love reading books and am excited to dive in to many great ones during my Children's Lit class.  However, I am not really one to put things out there especially my opinions for others to read so blogging about those stories makes me nervous but here goes nothing.... happy reading!