Archive for the ‘Reading the World Challenge 2008’ Category

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

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

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…

Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge (Update 4!)

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

I Am a Taxi by Deborah EllisOur fourth geographical area for our readaloud PaperTigers Reading Challenge book this month is the Americas and we chose Deborah Ellis’ I Am a Taxi. I was slightly concerned that it might prove too much for Little Brother (aged 7): but by making sure that we read the last few chapters during week-end morning “book sessions” rather than at bedtime, we had plenty of discussion time (drugs…) and no nightmares! Diego, the book’s 11-year-old hero, became a real person to my two boys. They absorbed details about Bolivia; they compared details of Diego’s life with their own; and they goggled at the encounters with nature in the jungle. It was salutary for me to observe that they did not really pick up on the sinister side to Smith until it was completely obvious, but trusted him as someone who was kind to Diego, which in the immediacy of dealing with jungle beasties, he was. This did, however, make the climax particularly shocking for them. It is a book that I think they will both pick up and read for themselves in a few years’ time – for now, it has been a very exciting readaloud for us all.

For more, take a look at what Shelf Elf and Elisabeth thought about it too.

Little Brother’s book also came from the Americas – Napí by Antonio Ramírez and illustrated by Domi. Here’s what he has to say about it:

Napi by Antonio Ramirez and Domi

Napí is about a little girl called Napí who loves to dream. She is a Mazateca Indian from Mexico. She likes herons and I think it’s beautiful when it says the trees bloomed with herons and it’s also quite funny. Napí often dreams she’s become a heron. The river dresses itself in different colours. The river smiles up at her and the rocks on the riverbank form teeth. In her dream she was followed by the moon and carried by the river and the moon had a face and the river had hands. The pictures had all the colours I know and some I didn’t. They are so spectacular! I give it 10/10!

La Bloga and Gina MarySol Ruiz have both published reviews in the past too…

Meanwhile, Older Brother (9) travelled to the other side of the world and read Kakadu Calling by Jane Garlil Christophersen, an elder of the Bunitj clan in Kakadu National Park, Australia:

Kakadu Calling by Jane Garlil Christophersen

These adventure stories are all set in the Australian Bush. I liked the book because all the stories had animals in them – a snake, a dingo and a hermit crab – as I love animals and it’s wonderful to me to be reading about wild animals in Australia. My favourite story was about a young boy who had to wait four full moons until his parents came to pick him up from his grandparents but he decides he wants to get home sooner and runs away. On his way he meets some buffalos and he wakes up to find a snake slithering across his chest. He wanted to run but he heard his father’s voice telling him to stay really still.

So, we have but one more book to go in our Reading Challenge 2008… We’ve been taking it gently but I would say there’s still time to leap in there; and at the end of the month, be ready to tell us your final booklists. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge (Update 3!)

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Our selection last month once again had us travelling all over the world and this time included poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

tapdancingonroof1.gifFirst of all, in honor of Poetry Month in the US, we chose Linda Sue Park’s Tap Dancing on the Roof as our reading-together book. We’ve all had great fun dipping into it and taking it in turns to choose and read the poems to each other. There were some gem moments like Older Brother discovering the sijo about how annoying it is to be summoned out of bed to go and clean your teeth – minutes after being subjected to the same treatment himself! The more we explored the poems, the more I marvelled at Linda Sue’s knack for getting the words just right – whether she’s describing a very ordinary, every day event or taking off on a flight of whimsy and metaphor. I’ve already blogged about Tap Dancing on the Roof so I won’t say any more here, but pass on to…

… Older Brother’s choice, which was Grandpa Chatterji by Jamila Gavin, illustrated by Peter Bailey. Here’s what he (aged 9 1/2) has to say:Grandpa Chatterji by Jamila Gavin

I really enjoyed Grandpa Chatterji and I thought it was very funny sometimes, especially the part at the fair when Grandpa and Sanjay went on the rockets and they flew up into the air – when they came off they were green! Then in the evening Sanjay said, “Shall we have another go next time?” and Grandpa replied, “Maybe.”

I learned that in India some people pray standing on one foot and then when they pray they say, “Om” and the O is like the shape of the sun. People think of God as the sun because he is bright and the light of the world.

I would recommend reading it because I think people would enjoy it. Now I want to read the other two Grandpa Chatterji books.

In the meantime, Little Brother has enjoyed dipping into and absorbing the Australian Creatures of the Rainforest:Two artists explore Djabugay country by creaturesoftherainforest.jpgWarren Brim and Anna Eglitis:

I love books, especially encyclopaedia books about animals. This book has some animals in that I love, like echidnas and kookaburras and bandicoots. I learned that some ants are edible (the green ants) and I learned some words in Djabugay like gurrina, which means echidna, and badil, which is a zamia palm tree. Luckily at the end there is a guide to how you say their letters.

The book is by two artists – first there are lino cuts then there are original aboriginal pictures. It is very good.

So, as you can see, we are very much enjoying the PaperTigers Reading Challenge and I know my boys are finding the books they’ve chosen to be fun and enriching. Do let us know how you are getting on – only a couple more months to go!

Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge (Update 2!)

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

It’s hard to believe that a month has gone by since my first update on our rising to the PaperTigers Reading Challenge but it has and we are just about managing to keep up! Our three books this month are all very different and once again Big Brother and Little Brother have prepared their own reviews. It is quite coincidental that both their ‘solo’ books are illustrated by Ed Young – and that they both feature piercing eyes on their front covers!

The Select Nonsense of Sukumar RayMeanwhile our joint choice has been The Select Nonsense of Sukumar Ray. We still have quite a long way to go and I suspect we’ll be dipping into it right to the end of the Challenge: you can’t rush Nonsense Poetry! Each poem has to be savored and the sounds enjoyed. Sukanta Chaudhuri’s translations from the original Bengali are truly amazing – lots of delightful rhymes and rhythms; and nonsense that is both nonsensical and convincingly English. Sukumar Ray’s own sketches and silhouettes sometimes give a visual lead into the poems and it hasn’t worried my two that some of the language is archaic: they expect to be baffled because it is, after all, nonsense! I think the word porcochard from “Hotch Potch” is set to become a new family word. But of course this is a translation – and here is another version, equally virtuoso, of the same poem, this time translated by Sukumar Ray’s son, Satyajit Ray. Here the extraordinary combination of a pochard/duck and a porcupine has become a “Porcuduck”…. Which of course leads into all sort of questions about translations… but that’s for a later date!

SadakoBig Brother’s book was Sadako in the picture book version by Eleanor Coerr, illustrated, as I said, by Ed Young. I said how much I was looking forward to seeing this book in a post for World Peace Day; here’s what Big Brother (aged 9 ½ exactly!) has to say: (more…)

Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge (Update 1!)

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

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!

Books at Bedtime: Reading Challenge 2008

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

PaperTigers’ Books at Bedtime section of our blog is now a part of the new, exciting Tiger’s Bookshelf, which was launched this week. We welcome Janet, our new blogger, who is encouraging young people to join our virtual book-club – see her introductory post for background and details. Books at Bedtime will continue to recommend books for reading aloud (not just at bedtime!) and to celebrate this new development, we are launching our PaperTigers’ Reading Challenge to carry us through to the end of the year.

So here’s the deal:

Choose one book from or about each one of the five geographical areas shown on the PaperTigers map and …

have them read aloud to you,
or read them aloud to your children/class/bookgroup,
or read them yourself

between now and 30th June.

The books can be picture-books, poetry, fiction, non-fiction… the choice is yours.

Let us know your list and then what you thought of them when you’ve completed the challenge.

You can find lots of ideas in the PaperTigers Reviews section and here are some links to other reading lists that might help you – or pop into your local library for some inspiration. Then, when you’ve made a note of the many books you’d like to choose, there’s always the sticking-a-pin-in method… and of course there’s no reason why you can’t start all over again with another five books when you’ve finished!

We’ve decided on three different challenges in our household: one family readaloud then each of the boys will choose their own reading list… Deciding on the logistics was the easy part; I’ll let you know soon which books we actually whittle our lists down to. And we look forward to hearing about your adventures on the PaperTigers Reading Challenge too!