January in the School Library – and at Home

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A 3rd grade girl walked in to the Library today and said:

“I’ve been dreaming that it would take 15 minutes to read all of the books in the school library!”

And she looked kind of serious, as if she knew it was impossible but was keeping the door open just in case. And this morning a boy told me that he started reading Varjak Paw by S.F. Said (a British novel about a Mesopotamian Blue cat) yesterday morning and kept reading “between stuff” until he finished it.

It was a busy day in the school library. I kept thinking it was Monday so expected different classes all day – which led to confusion when the Tuesday groups actually arrived!  On top of that, the 4th, 5th and 6th grade students were checking out books by foreign authors. As part of this year’s focus on world cultures, the Upper Elementary students are each reading a book by an author who is not American.  To help them out, I displayed novels by authors like Eva Ibbotson, Roald Dahl, Astrid Lindgren, and Cornelia Funke. Of course, many of the kids asked to read Harry Potter, but we encouraged them to stretch a bit further. It was eye-opening for them to realize how many of the Library’s books are written by Americans, and they were curious about why most of the displayed books were by United Kingdom authors which led to a discussion of shared language and translations and who decides what is translated. There were also questions about Grace Lin and Linda Sue Park – authors who were born in America to immigrant parents. The effort was worth it for the discussions and questions!

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At home I’m reading Funny Girl by Nick Hornby. As regular readers know, Hornby is one of my favorites – and his new novel confirms my fan club status. Funny Girl is about Barbara Parker, a working class girl from Blackpool, who becomes the star of a 1960’s British TV sitcom. Barbara grows up wanting to become Lucille Ball and, after a funny and abrupt exit from Blackpool, it doesn’t take long for Barbara to change her name to Sophie Straw and become a glamorous star. What I like most about Funny Girl is the supporting cast: Dennis, the show’s producer; Tony and Bill, the writing partners; and Clive, her co-star. It’s their lives – both on and off screen – that I really care about.  I also like the novel’s bittersweet tone. It’s funny, but also a little bit sad.

The picture above is of both the British (the one on the left) and American covers. What do you think?  My vote is for the British cover….

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