So I made a book store trip to see what’s available. It was a nice surprise to find a display of reprints of old favorites—lots of Newbury Award books that have stood the test of time.
Because a friend, Noa Nimrodi, has written a picture book titled BIRDS CAN FLY, AND SO CAN I: A Giraffe Soars from Dream to Reality (Grassroots Publishing Group, 2011), my eye was drawn to another picture book starring a giraffe.
GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE, written by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees, and published by Orchard Books in 2001, reveals Gerald’s problem on the cover. The other animals tango, waltz, and cha-cha with rhythm and pizzaz . . . in rhyme. A wise cricket tells Gerald that he has to find the right music for him and then he will be able to dance.
All the elements in this book swirl into a concoction for primary children. Remember
dancing on your dad’s feet or trying to find a way to transform your tennis shoes into something you could use for tap dancing? The rollicking language in GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE engages very young children also. In 2012, Scholastic, Cartwheel Books printed it as a baby board book.
The illustrations for a picture book on a more mature theme also caught my eye. THE LIBRARIAN OF BASRA, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter, published by HMH Books for Young Readers in 2005, is the true story of Alia Mohammed Baker, the librarian who moved the books out of the library before the library burned down in the war. She first moved them to a restaurant and then stored the 30,000 volumes in her home and the homes of friends to await the return of peace to Iraq.
It’s an inspiring story of quiet courage and a reminder of how much value the written words hold. This small book begins with a quote from Alia Mohammed Baker, “In the Koran, the first thing God said to Mohammed was “Read.””
Something old and something new for older readers: I pulled out Cynthia Voight’s SEVENTEEN AGAINST THE DEALER, published by Ballantine Books 1989, from my stash of books to reread. Apparently I’m starting at the end of the seven books in the Tillerman Cycle.
The Tillermans are a family of four children held together by Dicey, the oldest, after their mother abandons them . Dicey is thirteen years old in HOMECOMING, the first book in the series. DICEY’S SONG won the Newbery Award and others have been honor books .In SEVENTEEN AGAINST THE DEALER, Dicey is 21 years old and dreams of building a boat.
Dicey knows how to work hard. She is honest, responsible, and driven to get her business going. Although she is practical, she has painful lessons to learn about the grown-up world. And her concentration on pursuing her dream almost causes her to lose what is more important to her.
This almost twenty-five year old story moves at a pace that feels slow today. I wasn’t sure I was going to finish the book. But it pulled me in as I recognized some of Dicey’s battles as my own.
If you’ve ever watched a survivor show and felt skeptical about just how much danger, discomfort, disorientation, and disgusting dietary dishes the wilderness expert actually faces, you will most likely enjoy this light read and it’s mostly appealing characters, including an alligator named Alice.
Jane Yolen has long been one of my favorite authors. She defies categorization since she writes in so many genres. But when I saw that she’s written a graphic novel, I stopped in my tracks. I don’t usually read graphic novels, but, hey, this is Jane Yolen we’re talking about. So I bought CURSES! FOILED AGAIN. I’ve barely started it, but already her masterful use of language has grabbed me and I will be able to tell you more in a few days. At this point, I’ll just say it has the most memorable table of contents I’ve ever seen.