It was a strange reading week. Not bad, just unexpected. I had the week off from school so my expectations (and my “to read” pile) were high! As it turns out, I read one young adult novel, two excellent picture books, and lots of magazine articles that were beginning to collect dust.
Here are the highlights – and two paintings….
Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares
I work in a school library in Greater Boston so of course, this new picture book was on my list. Tavares’s new book is as much about the love between Pedro and his older brother, Ramon, as it is about baseball. The book opens in 1981 in the Dominican Republic where Pedro “sits in the shade and watches the older boys play.” It’s Ramon, a pitcher, who is the baseball star of the Martinez family, and when he moves to Los Angeles to play for the Dodgers, Pedro is motivated to practice harder and join his big brother. Of course, he does – and he gets to play alongside Ramon for a few seasons. But Pedro, becomes the bigger star – a member of the Hall of Fame, an eight-time All Star, and three-time winner of the Cy Young Award. This is a warm book about the love between two brothers with big dreams. My bet is that this one will be checked out within an hour of putting it on display!
The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc
This is a book with very few words – and it is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It’s about everything – the passage of time, the seasons and growth, and above all, the rewards of friendship. There is a page with nine words that made me feel genuinely heartbroken. As the title says, the story is about a lion and a bird. It’s a fall day and Lion is working in his garden when he sees a bird with a hurt wing. “Let’s bandage you up,” says Lion “That will help.” During the bird’s convalescence, his flock leaves, but the Lion invites him to stay for the winter. After one of the coziest picture book winters I’ve ever seen on the page, the birds return and that’s when the sad scene takes place. There is a happy ending so no worries about a sad child (or adult). But here’s the best part of Dubuc’s book – as spare as it is, it’s one to return to again and again. I definitely will.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
This is the young adult novel I read this week – and although I didn’t read as many books as I planned, I picked the right one. Wow – this one will stick with me. Mosquitoland is a road trip novel. The traveler is sixteen-year-old Mary Iris Malone who goes by Mim. She is traveling from her father’s house in Mississippi (Mosquitoland) to her mother in Cleveland. Mim is convinced that her father and stepmother are keeping something important from her so she hits the road. Of course, there are bumps along the way and some shady characters. There is also humor, a bit of romance – and life lessons. To be clear, there are some serious issues addressed here: sexual assault, intellectual disabilities, depression and violence. Overall, Arnold’s novel is bighearted and generous and Mim’s journey is one of self discovery, but I recommend it to mature teens.
And the art….
I took these pictures at the Cape Ann Museum. They are both by Charles Hopkinson, a Boston painter who lived between 1869 and 1962.
This one looks like the cover of a Henry James novel….
And this one could be the cover of a Louisa May Alcott book…