Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Right Stuff

I probably should have written about this book about a month ago, as it might have been a bit timelier. But just having come across it, thought it still worthwhile to note.

So Many Days by Alison McGhee is one of those seemingly simplistic picture books that look like they’re for young children but in reality are more for adults, maybe young adults.

THE BOOK: A poem of sorts that asks the ‘big’ questions about life.
The refrain in repeated throughout the text. The text is filled with metaphors that characterize qualities about hope, strength, growth, bravery, spirit, and love. An adult narrator speaks to the child (girl or boy) in the text about life’s opportunities, the qualities they need and have to get through good times and bad times, and that they are deeply loved.

THE ILLUSTRATIONS: Digitally manipulated linocuts add to the appearance of simplicity. They too contribute to the lyrical styling of the book with softly muted colouring with a limited palette. Soft and gentle.

THE AUDIENCE: Most worthy for new graduates who are just setting off in new directions. I don’t think young children would get much from this book as it’s a bit too esoteric and maybe a bit sleepy. I think it would take work to get kids at the elementary level interested enough to make connections.

I would be very interested to hear from any teachers who’ve used this in the classroom and what the students thought. Drop me a line.

If you are looking for a book that takes a lyrical approach to asking the big questions, a personal favorite is  Stormy Night by Michele Lemieux.  I think that younger children might get more out of this one, too. They'd see themselves as this young girl who lets her imagination soar, wondering about the future, confronting fears, asking ,

Is there only one of me in the world?
Where does infinity end?
Am I nice looking?
Does Fido think he's good looking?
When I dream at night where am I?
Can we each see our own soul?
--and many more questions besides these ones.  And the line drawings are brillant.  This little book is well worth checking out.

So many doors in all your days,
so much to wonder about.
Who will you be and where will you go?
And how will you know?


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