Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge 2008 (The End!)

Well, we did it, though time nearly ran away with us at the end. We’ve had so many extra things going on this month that apart from anything else, I wasn’t quite organised enough to go out and track down books we didn’t already have somewhere around the house… Older Brother had already set his sights a while ago on Arctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists by Raquel Rivera and illustrated by Jirina Martin (Groundwood, 2007); but we realised that our choice of books for the geographical area encompassing Southeast Asia on our PaperTigers map was somewhat limited. Asian Children’s Favorite Stories In the end, we revisited Asian Children’s Favorite Stories, retold by David Conger, Kay Lyons, Liana Romolo, Joan Suyenaga and Marian Davies Toth, and illustrated by Patrick Yee (Tuttle, 2006): Little Brother read the two stories from Thailand; and I read one from the Philippines and one from Indonesia as our official readaloud… of course, we did go on and read some of the others too – but it did serve as a reminder of the enjoyment you can get from just dipping into an anthology, rather than wading through the whole thing in one fell swoop, which is what I often tend to get carried away and do…

The two stories we read together, “The Mousedeer Becomes a Judge” and “The Golden Ring” both provoked quite a lot of discussion – the first because it had a strong moral which dealt efficiently with the nasty crocodile after he had tried to take a bite out of Buffalo, who had just saved his life; and the second because it is a folktale that explains why hawks and hens do not get on, and why hens scratch the ground, which we all enjoyed, even if we knew it wasn’t true. You can read a fuller review of the book here.

Of the two he read, Little Brother says:

I liked reading these folktales. The Fake Gem was about a person from Thailand called Phra who had a fake gem of glass and he was tempted to sell it to the Chinese Emperor Lao. Then Phra walked out and saw the bad thing he had almost done and in the end it turned out Lao wasn’t really a Chinese emperor anyway. “The Lucky Farmer Becomes King” was really cool because Lek was only a farmer but he managed to scare off invaders of Thailand but he didn’t have to fight them. Everyone thought he was brave but actually he was a scaredy-cat, except for when he fought a snake. The pictures are really funny, especially the snake one and the crocodile one where he’s cowering at the back of the boat.

Arctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists, by Raquel Rivera, illustrated by Jirina MartinArctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists is a stunning book and, as Older Brother himself noticed, it is remarkable because the stories are all true and were not the experiences of adventurers but people who grew up to become artists. I’m not sure how much he took in this time round of the actual biographies of the four artists featured but I think it is the kind of book that will be read many times, and which will grow with its readers. Jirina Martin’s palette reflects the far northern setting with its glacial blues and greens and varied shades of grey and brown, and her style complements the examples provided of the actual artists’ work. I think this is a great book for boys who are themselves creative but also love adventure: it just proves you can be both. Here’s what Older Brother wrote:

My favourite story was about a boy and a girl who went out hunting and made a tent on some ice. Then in the morning there was a cracking noise and the tent and the children and all their dogs had broken away and they were stuck on an ice floe. In the end, they managed to get home but it was quite scary for me to think that this was a true story. In fact, all the stories are adventure stories and they’re all true. And I thought when I was reading it that it was amazing to think that all the stories were from artists because I want to be an artist when I grow up.

And so we come to the end of our Reading Challenge for this year. We’ve all really enjoyed it and if I had reservations at the beginning that I might have to cajole my two into keeping going, I needn’t have worried as, after each mini review, I was nagged into helping them find their next choice; and they have been quite thrilled at the possibility of their reviews spreading their wings and being read from anywhere around the world…

So if you took part, do let us know how you got on; and we look forward to you maybe joining us next year, when our challenge too will spread its wings and be even more global…

3 Responses to “Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge 2008 (The End!)”

  1. Corinne Robson Says:

    Marjorie – Congratulations on your accomplishment! We were able to find some good books from Southeast Asia and I will pass the titles onto you when I get back from holidays. Arctic Adventures sounds most interesting! I will have to try and track that one down for my two to read.

  2. Janet Says:

    Many thanks to the two brothers for such wonderful reviews! I especially loved the final ones since I’ve lived in both Alaska and Thailand–and I will look for the books you’ve recommended here. Have a splendid summer and please keep writing!