Reading the World Challenge 2011 – Update 1

It’s not too late to join this year’s Reading the World Challenge if you haven’t already – just take a look at this post for details.

In our family we have all joined together and read picture books set in Mongolia, which is our current focus on PaperTigers. I had to hunt around a bit but we came up with a good selection. I’m not going to go into a great deal of detail here as they are all gathered up in my Personal View, Taking a step into children’s books about Mongolia. We have really enjoyed delving into the culture and heritage of Mongolia and these picture books have been read all together and individually.

One bedtime Older Brother read Horse Song: the Naadam of Mongolia by Ted and Betsy Lewin (Lee and Low, 2008) to Little Brother – quite a long read and they were both engrossed. Watching them from the outside, as it were, I came to an added appreciation of the dynamics of Ted and Betsy’s collaboration, both in the energy of their shared enthusiasm and participation in the events surrounding the famous horse-race, and also of being struck by a busy, crowded scene one page and then giggling at the turn of expression on an individual study’s face the next.

And I’ll just share with you Little Brother’s reaction to Suho’s White Horse, which you can read about in a bit more detail in my Books at Bedtime post earlier this week:

It was a moving story. The governor made me angry because he broke his word and was cruel to Suho and his horse.
[Listening to the musical version played on the Mongolian horsehead fiddle, the morin khuur] Once you know the story, you can tell which part of the music is telling which part of the story. How do they make that music with just two strings? It fills me with awe.

I also read The Horse Boy: A Father’s Miraculous Journey to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson (Viking, 2009), an amazing story of a family’s journey to Mongolia in search of horses and shamans to seek healing for the torments that were gripping their five-year-old autistic son’s life: as Isaacson puts it with great dignity, his “emotional and physical incontinence”. If you have already read this humbling, inspiring book (and even if you haven’t), take a look at this recent interview three years on from their adventurous journey. Now I need to see the film!

And talking of films (which we don’t very often on PaperTigers, but I can’t resist mentioning this one), The Story of the Weeping Camel is a beautiful, gentle film that takes you right to the heart of Mongolian life on the steppe. Who would have thought a documentary film about a camel could be so like watching a fairy tale? Don’t be put off by the subtitles – our boys love this film. Take a look at the trailer –

But now it’s time to leave Mongolia and find out what everyone else has been reading…

Sandhya, who blogs eloquently at My Handful of the Sky has re-read Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl for the first time since she was a teenager – and her post makes me think I should do the same.

Sandhya is also doing the Challenge with her daughter A. and together they have read two books. Firstly The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean, a formidable partnership: read Sandhya’s great post here. And secondly, from India and as their non-fiction book, Aajoba – My Grandfather by Taruja Parande (Tulika Books, 2010): read her beautiful review here, following on from her celebrating fifteen years of Tulika Books.

Myra at Gathering Books, who was raring to go with the Challenge is already nearly half way through reading the world (well on the PaperTigers Challenge anyway!) – she started off, during Black History Month, with Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou and illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat, as a poetry book from North America. Although I have read Maya Angelou’s autobiographies, I didn’t know about this book and wow – I have to get hold of it! The art-work, some of which you can see in Myra’s wonderful post is astonishing.

Book Number 2 is actually two books reviewed together in her post Of Vanishing Villages and Round and Square Houses: A 2-in-1 Ann Grifalconi Special – and again, I have to thank Myra for introducing me to two very special picture books, both written (and the second one illustrated) by Ann Grifalconi, which she says embrace “the magic of storytelling and weaving words together that makes one’s eyes close and one’s heart open”: The Village that Vanished illustrated by Kadir Nelson (set among the Yao people, east of Lake Malawi) and The Village of Round and Square Houses (set in the Cameroons).

And Book Number 3 is a gorgeous, wordless picture book by Chilean author/illustrator Fernando Krahn – The Self-Made Snowman – read Myra’s in-dpeth review here.

Zarah over at School Librarian in Action has read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – read her insightful review here.

Amy at Delightful Children’s Books has posted lists of 10 Books About Children From Around the World and her children’s top 10 books about South America – if you’re looking for inspiration, you’ll definitely find it there, especially non-fiction; and she has also just posted a list of educational resources for reading around the world…

If you haven’t joined us yet, then please do – it’s so great to be joined by friends around the world. Remember there’s no time limit in this year’s Reading the World Challenge, apart from completing it by the end of the year – and that’s lots of books away yet! I’ve also tried to make it so that it could fit in with school programs – so how about getting your class involved if your in school? If any children would like to contribute their responses to books, we’d love to feature it too. For details, read this year’s introductory post

Now on to the next book – Happy Reading!

One Response to “Reading the World Challenge 2011 – Update 1”

  1. Sally Says:

    Oh, thanks for putting in the vid clip of the film. Our priest mentioned this story in his sermon one Lent, and I wrote a poem about it. Such a moving tale!