Quote of the Month
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Sunday, October 1, 2023
Very early this morning, before daylight, as thunder rumbled for hours, I finished Louder Than Hunger (Candlewick Press, March 4, 2024) written by John Schu. Stretched beside me was my loving and loyal canine companion, Mulan. I was grateful for her calming presence as my soul struggled with Jake’s (and John’s) story. I wonder what she thought of my crying off and on for hours.
|Honored to receive this galley, now filled|
with markers of powerful poetic words.
Before this novel-in-verse begins, a letter addressed to Dear Readers is written to us by Kate DiCamillo. She speaks of thirteen-year-old Jake and his heart and his eating disorder. She is right when she says reading this story will change you. Jake’s story is John’s story. John knows the power of story. He opened his heart so others can live their best lives. For this, we readers are grateful.
Jake is struggling with who he is and where he fits into his world and the world as a whole. His middle school years have been horrible due to unrelenting bullying. Now during his eighth grade year the VOICE that started in seventh grade reiterates the verbal abuse of those bullies. It tells him one negative statement after another. He wishes he could disappear, so the VOICE helps him to stop eating. Then, he can fade away.
Spending the weekends with his Grandma is the thin thread which tethers Jake to this world. They are soulmates, sharing a love of television shows, broadway musicals and driving in her red car. There are visits to the public library and the statue in the park Jake names Frieden, a welcoming woman with an outstretched hand, guarding four cherubs. Jakes’s grandmother does notice his thinness and reminds him to take care of her boy.
As part of a school community service project, Jake provides company and reads aloud to residents at a nursing home. One of those residents, Ms. Burns, a blind woman and former teacher of thirty-five years, asks to hold Jake’s hand one day as he is reading. She instinctively knows something is not right despite Jake’s denials. A phone call changes everything.
For nearly a year Jake is in more than out of therapy at Whispering Pines where his eating disorder can be treated. We are there with him every step of the way as John writes these poems with exquisite pacing and placement of words and letters. We experience the struggles of Jake as he navigates relationships with other patients, dietitians, therapists and a strictly regimented lifestyle. It is heart wrenching to witness and share this journey, but his courage to continue is a shared triumph.
In Louder Than Hunger John Schu, through the character Jake, allows us to see how a teen can descend into a disorder due to bullying without the necessary parental support. We are given an inside look at therapy. This removes any perceived stigma attached to the word therapy. I believe you will find yourselves deeply moved by John’s letter to readers at the close of the book. Resources and acknowledgements follow that letter.
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Monday, July 31, 2023
To begin, I wish to apologize for the long lapse in blogging here. After my May 9, 2023 post about the delightful One Small Thing (Beaming Books, May 9, 2023) written by Marsha Diane Arnold with artwork by Laura Watkins, my writing mojo took a long vacation. Major blogger block has been haunting me. I have a thematic post partially completed honoring five titles. My stacks of books, especially picture books, are growing. I have many titles to share with you before the upcoming school year.
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Each morning Mulan, my canine companion, and I take the same route on our morning walk. More than half of the route is without sidewalks and when there are sidewalks, we tend to stick to the edge of the roadway due to other walkers, runners, and dogs. Without fail, there is one driver each day who not only ignores the posted speed limit, but comes so close to us that we have to move off the road or jump aside. They drive as if their hair is on fire and they are the only person on the planet.
Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Friday, April 14, 2023
On January 6, 2023, in an attempt to provide readers with 2022 publications related to our beautiful planet and its protection prior to the ALA Youth Media Awards, I compiled a post of seventeen books, including early readers through middle grade titles. During the course of 2022 I talked about other climate crisis and earth-friendly books, but these were books I categorize as too-good-too-miss tomes.
I am setting up this post in the same manner as the previous post. Author, illustrator, and publisher links, when available, are provided. Social media accounts will be included. Passages from the books are shown. Short summaries, observations, are supplied. If there are other valuable resources about these books, links will be attached. These six titles are listed in order of release date.
There are warning labels on plastic bags for a reason, usually involving children. To me, it seems as though our planet is in the same situation. We are suffocating under an overabundance of plastic. Titles like One Earth by Eileen Spinelli with art by Rogerio Coelho, Ocean! Waves for All by Stacy McAnulty with art by David Litchfield and Washed Ashore: Making Art From Ocean Plastic written and illustrated by Kelly Crull draw our attention to this dilemma and offer solutions.
Over five thousand years ago, the ancient Sumerians had a problem.