Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge (Update 1!)

In case you didn’t catch it in January, check out here what the PaperTigers reading Challenge 2008 entails: there’s still plenty of time to join in!

We are running three in parallel in our household as my boys decided they wanted to complete it on their own, as well as do one as a bed-time readaloud… so here are our comments about Book Number One!

Back in October, I wrote a post about I Am Jack by Susanne Gervay - the time to iamjack.jpgread it came at the end of January when Older Brother had a few issues with bullying (now, I’m glad to say, resolved). As usual, I turned to stories as a springboard for discussion and we read it all together as our first Reading Challenge readaloud. Older Brother’s situation had been squashed very early on and certainly never got anywhere near what poor Jack has to endure but reading the book opened up comparisons and empathy. It brought home the importance of talking – and being available to listen. A couple of bedtimes were prolonged to read an extra chapter; and we had a very late night as we arrived at the end – we couldn’t possibly have left it hanging. Once again, I really recommend this book…

Meanwhile, Older Brother* (aged 9) chose Mga Kuwentong Bayan: Folk Stories from The Philippines edited by Alice Lucas and illustrated by Carl Angel. It is published by Many Cultures Publishing, a division of the nonprofit San Francisco Study Center. The book contains three stories: A Creation Story, The Monkey and the Turtle and Aponitolou and the Star Maiden. Here’s what Big Brother has to say about it:

mgakuwentongbayan.jpgI thought it was brilliant – especially the story where all the stars came onto the ground. It was about a star woman and a human man who fell in love with each other and the husband already had a wife on earth so he had to spend half a year in the sky and half a year down on the ground. I thought it was quite fun to have a different kind of book to read, with almost black and white pictures. I tried reading the Tagalog version but I didn’t get very far!

Little Brother (aged 6) had chosen The Birdman by Veronika Martenova Charles and illustrated by Annouchka Gravel Galouchko and Stéphan Daigle. It is the poignant true story of a Calcutta tailor who buys and sets thebirdman.jpgfree the sickly birds that are left at the end of a day’s trading at the market. You can read PaperTigers’ review of the book here, and here are Little Brother’s comments:

I really liked the pictures because they looked very artistic with lots of bright colours and dots on them. I really liked Noor Nobi’s idea of making a flock of poor birds. He set them free and they didn’t go far away because they loved him. I liked that it was a true story because something like that is very good and kind.

We will keep you posted on Number 2 of our Reading Challenge selections. In the meantime, do let us know how you’re getting on, if you’re already on board; or let us know your book choices, if you’re just starting.

* I have Here and There Japan to thank for helping me finally to come up with what to call my children in my blog postings: other possibilities had been commented upon and others were too much of a mouthful… I think this now works?!? So thank you, Annie!

10 Responses to “Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge (Update 1!)”

  1. annie Says:

    Thanks, Marjorie! I like that you put their ages in ()s. I think I’ll start doing that. I may even go back to add it! Wish I had thought of it 2 years ago!

  2. Janet Brown Says:

    Marjorie, your sons’ reviews are quite wonderful! Thank you for letting us read them.

  3. Marjorie Says:

    Thank you, Annie – and if I’ve given you an idea too, I’m delighted!

    Janet, thank you for your kind comments. I now have two beaming boys at this end! And it would be great to hear from other young story-time readers / listeners too…

  4. Corinne Says:

    Marjorie – great post and a good idea of putting ages in ()! Picture book highlights from the month of February that my daughter (7) and I have read together:

    Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales (Mexico)

    Seven Chinese Sisters by Kathy Tucker, illustrated by Grace Lin (China)

    Two of Everything – retold and illustrated by Lily Toy Hang (China)

    The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Kazumi Wilds (Japan, USA)

  5. Marjorie Says:

    Corinne, this is a wonderful selection of books! Anything in particular your daughter especially loves about any of them? We’ll be featuring a review of The Wakame Gatherers in this month’s update, by the way…

  6. Susanne Gervay Says:

    I was touched by Marjorie reading I AM JACK to her children at night. I AM JACK was such a personal journey when my son was bullied at school. I often feel the underlying truth of I AM JACK is what has made it a rite-of-passage ‘fiction’ in Australia. It is now in 17th (?) reprint in Australia – I have lost count. Bullying is so insidious and kids don’t understand how it happens and how to get out of it. JACK opens discussion and udnerstanding. Unresolved bullying has such a devastating impact on the bullied, bully and kids who watch powerlessly. The healing power of the story journey in I AM JACK can act against bullying.

    I AM JACK is being adapted into a play by Australia’s premiere children’s theatre company MONKEYBAA THEATRE ( and will premiere at a Sydney Theatre in August 2008 before it starts touring. It is part of MONKEYBAA’s international programme for 2009.

    I AM JACK has been made a core study by some US schools, but it isn’t available in North America. However in fall 2009, Tricycle Press (Ten Speed Press) USA is publishing I AM JACK in hard cover. It is wonderful and I look forward to JACK finding a home in the USA and Canada.

  7. Marjorie Says:

    Thank you for your comments, Susanne. It’s interesting to hear I Am Jack referred to as a ‘rite-of-passage’ fiction. It is a good way of describing it – it provides so much food for thought to bully/victim/bystander/teacher/parent alike. It is great news to hear it will be published in the US – and the play sounds fantastic. You must feel very proud – congratulations.