This work by Maya Angelou, first read at the White House tree lighting ceremony in 2005, becomes an illustrated children’s book that expresses the true meaning behind the concept of the holidays; a time where people of different ages, religions (believers and non-believers), and classes come together and celebrate communal peace. While this specific publication is illustrated more for the interpretation and enjoyment of children, these pictures illicit a beautiful representation of different individuals within the community coming away from rancor, and reveling in the abundant sound of peace which brings comfort, security, and harmony. What’s most interesting about this work, is the way in which although the word “Christmas” is used to describe this celebratory time of the year, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslims, etc., revel in this time of holiday celebration and peace. Christmas, here, I believe is being used as a word to denote a time of year, rather than being used as a sort of “religious umbrella”.
Thong, Roseanne. (2015). Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
Written by the author of Round is a Moon Pie, this multicultural children’s book encourages there reader to find shapes in the different portrayals of food and objects of Hispanic origin. Not only is it great for children in learning shapes, but this book allows children to learn Spanish words such as paletas, masa, and sandia–encouraging an early learning of a second language. Scenes featuring different Latino traditions and cultural objects allow children to gain a greater understanding of the different cultures that not only are present within America, but all over the world. Bonus to this? There’s a glossary located within the back of the book that parents and children can utilize in order to look up the Spanish terms that occur throughout this bilingual piece of literature.
Velde, Vivian (2002) Heir Apparent Boston: HMH Books for Young Readers A sequel in the Rasmussem Corporation series, Heir Apparent is a novel about a young girl named Giannine who finds herself in a roundabout within a medieval themed, virtual reality game. While playing at the virtual reality gaming center with the gift certificate she received for her birthday, the center is then bombarded by an anti-fantasy fundamentalist group who destroys a great deal of gaming paraphernalia–resulting in Giannine being trapped in the game until she wins or time runs out, resulting in her death. Making various blunders throughout the course of the game–in which the game starts over at the beginning, and so on and so forth–Giannine finally finds herself making daring and brave choices that result in her winning the game. In regards to the exploration of science fiction, Heir Apparent challenges the young adult reader to expand their imagination–so as to think about the world that is presented in the novel in comparison to the world they live in now. What is interesting about Heir Apparent is that at the time that it was written, it took a greater deal of thought and creative vision when reading, since it did not seem as plausible that technology could advance to producing virtual reality role-playing games such as this one. When reading any type of fiction, one does have to rely on their imagination and how much they believe in the possibility of something so that they may understand concepts of external objects that are not exactly present to the senses. What this novel does is, yields a way for a young reader to broaden their sense of possibility to future worlds, and analyze the extent to which science and technology are accurately reflected in comparison to the present day.
When you go to college for four years and come out of it with a degree in library science, you’re almost obligated to love any book with the words “library” or “librarian” in the description. This is why when I went into Barnes and Noble, gift card in hand, Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner was the first thing that actually made me want to spend half of the thirty bucks I’d been gifted. (No offense to B&B, but some of their paperbacks are seriously overpriced. In my opinion anyway).
This novel tells the story of twenty-nine year old librarian, Nina Redmond, whose life in a tiny, book/ridden townhouse with her roommate Surinder crumbles around her when the library decides to downsize and head in a more technological direction. Faced with this, Nina decides to pack up her books, purchase a van to store them, and head from Birmingham, England to a tiny village in Scotland where she opens up a mobile bookshop called the Little Shop of Happy Ever After.
I gave this book four stars on Goodreads because the setting of the countryside and the way the characters interacted and were portrayed in this setting gave me this pleasant sense of warmth. I would equate this Jenny Colgan novel to curling up on the sofa and sipping a hot cup of tea. Or, one of those cute and comforting stories you see presented in television, where the narrator’s voice is that of a whispery, old man or woman and the camera zooms in through the window on to the main character and then pans out into the story.
Books like these are dear to me because I feel as though they give me a break from contemporary books that take on serious topics such as suicide, disease, heartbreak, etc. They also bring me back to some type of positive reality when I’ve read one to many dystopia novels–which with the growing popularity of that genre, is too many to count. If you’re in need of comfort food for the mind, The Bookshop on the Corner is the way to go.
First off, I would like to say that I haven’t read a book within the fantasy genre in SO LONG. I think if I were to check my Goodreads TBR list it would be maybe anywhere between six months to a year since I’ve read something of the sort. That being said, I was super excited to read this novel as the cover and summary were giving me vibes reminiscent of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern–which you should totally also read by the way. So, here’s the breakdown:
Jules Maroni, a sixteen year old high-wire walker, and her family have been known for their dazzling acts within the circus community–so much so they have earned the name of the Amazing Maronis. However, when her father turns down their opportunity to work the Cirque American–a new touring production aimed at vintage glamour and dangerous feats–Jules runs away to Florida in an attempt to force her family’s hand in accepting the offer.
While she is successful in this endeavor, there are other forces at play that despite her focus on following in her father’s footsteps as an illustrious high-wire walker, Jules cannot possibly ignore: talismans of bad luck placed strategically on her costume, her Nan’s ominous silence as to what has caused the decades of family rival between the Maronis and their traveling trapeze companions the Flying Garcias, and the forbidden budding romance between her and Remy Garcia, who she enlists to help her discover the meaning behind it all.
I honestly really liked this book. Usually the amount I love a book goes in tandem with how fast the storyline has me turning the pages, which for this novel, was rather quickly. This shocked me because while I am a fan of fantasy novels, I’m not too big on mystery because I can usually guess “who done it” early on in the novel and the rest of the set up is all just fluff to me. (This is due in part to the excessive amount of reading I do and television I watch). With Girl on a Wire however, I relished every magical aspect of this story while enjoying the process it took to get to the stunning finale.
All in all, I enjoyed this book. I’m very curious to know if circus culture is actually like this in terms of competitions between families. Side note: I’ve never been to a circus show, vintage glamour or not, which may be why I like stories such as these. Fortunately for me, this is the first in Gwenda Bond’s Cirque Americain series, which I am excited to continue reading.