Tuesday, December 6, 2016

One Day, The End: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich; illustrated by Fred Koehler

The first story begins…and ends.

One day…
I went to school.
I came home.
The end.

This Boston Globe-Horn Honor book is a compilation of 2-4 page stories of 10-12 words each. The meat of each story is told through illustrations in a beautiful melding of text and art. While the words are simple, the illustrations depict an imaginary adventure.

One day…
I lost my dog.
I found him!
The end.

The word “found” is written in muddy paw prints, clues to where her dog has disappeared. The girl examines the “f” with a magnifying glass, takes copious notes from within the center of the “o,” measures the “n” with a ruler and then finally finds her lost pup sleeping inside the curves of the “d.”

“One Day, the end” gets better each time you read it. The illustrations are so fun and detailed, on repeat readings you may choose to follow the cat’s story arc or the dog’s, or even the squirrels.

If I were to sum up this book in one short story, it would read:

One day…
I read book.
It was good.
The end. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

When Roz the Robot find herself ship-wrecked on an island (and accidentally activated by a group of otters), she has to use her abilities of observation and reason to learn how to survive.  Although she doesn't have any emotions (she's a robot, after all), she has been programmed for kindness.

Initially, the animals inhabiting the island are fearful and mistrustful of Roz, but by learning from them about the ways they live, she is eventually able to gain their trust.  When she adopts an orphaned gosling, she needs the help of the other animals to provide for and protect her son.

The Wild Robot is a very sweet book about overcoming adversity and showing kindness and perseverance.  It's an interesting take on the classic "fish-out-of-water" tale, and is told in short chapters which are sometimes quiet and meditative, other times exciting and punchy.  Overall, a very emotional and affecting read.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ada is an abused 11 year old girl living in London just before the outbreak of World War II.  Her hateful mother keeps her imprisoned in the apartment, falsely telling neighbors that Ada is trouble and unfit for social interaction.  Ada's younger brother Jamie freely roams the neighborhood knowing that Ada's only problem is that she has a "bad" foot..  Ada manages to teach herself to walk though terribly painful.  When London children are being evacuated to the country to avoid anticipated German bombs, the plan is to leave Ada behind.  Instead she secretly joins Jamie on the train load of evacuated children.  As children are selected by reluctant villagers Ada and Jamie manage to stay together and remain unchosen.  The woman in charge forces them on the recluse Susan Smith.  Though at first reluctant to care for Ada and Jamie, Susan is clearly a kind person and is greatly troubled by Ada's constant flinching every time Ada makes a mistake.  Ada is slowly transformed by the kindness she receives.  Her love of horses helps her to meet new people and experience new confidence. Though understandably prickly, readers can't help to warm to Ada, a clever, loving, girl despite the damage her mother has inflicted upon her.  You'll want to know what happens to Ada and Jamie as the war develops and begins to reach not only London but the countryside.