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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Literary Device Noted

It's Sunday morning. Lily is reading Naylor's The Girls Get Even, the follow-up title to The Boys Start the War. She stopped reading for a minute to share with me this observation, "Mom, it's like you can see inside Caroline's head and inside Wally's head. But they can only guess at other characters' thoughts. So Caroline and Wally are like the main characters." I was tempted to explain the third person limited omniscient point of view and then move on to how even if they are the "narrative minds," they are not necessarily the main characters. (Although often they would be.) Then I stopped myself. She has turned back to the story. Let her read. The literary vocabulary can come later.

What gave me the tingles of delight was the fact that she noticed the narrative voices and device all by herself. I wonder if it makes her happy to make this one discovery...


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Materialistic and Physical

There seems to be a general perception that readers are non-materialistic and care more about the intellectual and the spiritual world, since we tend to be lost in stories and thoughts once the words start playing in our heads. But, it is not so, at least not for this reader. I am a lover of BOOKS -- the entire physicality of these beautiful objects. When done right, or done brilliantly, all of these elements please me: the colors and designs of the covers, the thickness (or thinness) of the volumes, the various trim sizes, the choices of paper (glossy or pseudo-antique, smooth or coarse,) the smell of the new ink, the interior designs: the balanced amount of white space, the size and style of the font, decorative drawings, illustrations, and any other design elements.

Of course, if it doesn't matter what the book LOOKS or FEELS like to you, what matters to you is only the content that lies in between the covers, then, you won't understand my relationship with books. You will not understand why I will NEVER ever pick up the paperback edition of Dealing with Dragons and was so sad when the hardcover edition went out of stock for a while. You also wouldn't understand the sense of ecstasy coursing through me when looking at pages with the pleasing text to margin ratio and the non-annoying or distracting font choice. You also probably won't believe the degree of annoyance when I encounter a poorly designed book with the "wrong" font choices, terrible interior decorations, low quality paper, sloppy illustrations, etc.

I am confessing here: I have sinned! I am a materialistic and physical book lover.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

Author: Lynne Jonell
Reading Level: 4th - 6th grade

Pages: 352
Publisher: Henry Holt
Edition: Hardcover, 2007

It's impressive how Jonell manages to inform the readers of all characters' personalities, feelings, and actions without ever straying away from Emmy's perspective: readers only know what she sees, hears, and thinks. The outlandish circumstances with all the super(magical?)-powers of the rodents are accompanied by a gentle tale of friendship, longing for parental love, and the essence of stable families. I mentally applauded the several jabs at the absurdity of the over-scheduling of our children.

The illustration with the flip-book margin of Rat falling and Emmy catching him ceases being a gimmick when it visually sums up the spirit of the story: "Don't worry. We're friends. I will catch you if you fall."

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