Day 90 (Week 13, Day 6) - Friday 31st March 2017With the end of today, we're a quarter of the way through the Picture Book Challenge, and our grand total of 175 shows us to be wayyyyyyyyyy down on our target of 1000 books - we must improve!
Of course, the most important factor here is that we're reading together as a family, and that's what I really want to help promote. Reaching the 1000 book goal and helping to raise money for charity will be a very worthy addition to it, but spending time reading as a family is one of my favourite past-times, and to have a record of everything we've done together over the last three months is lovely to look back on.
Thank you for anyone who has commented on either this blog, Twitter, or Facebook, and thank you to the wonderful authors, illustrators, editors, agents, librarians etc. who have made it possible for us to read all these wonderful stories!
Our final three books of the first quarter of 2017 are as follows:
1) The Tree - Neal Layton (Author & Illustrator)
Sometime you read something that seems to hit a whole host of different levels, each of which strikes a proper chord with you, and The Tree is such a fine example of this. It's a very quick read if you take the word count at face value, but you can actually spend as long (if not longer) reading this than any 1000-word book. It's a brilliantly-realised story about the effects we can have on the natural world, and the way we can change our plans to try and live in harmony with it, to share it, and not destroy it.
The story revolves around a woman and a man coming to chop down a tree to make way for a new house, but discovering that their plans will dislodge a host of wildlife from where various species live in this same tree. It's clear from the sorrowful expressions on the faces of the two main characters that they deeply regret their actions shortly after beginning the process of sawing away at the tree when they accidentally dislodge a birds nest, and the two of them set about reworking their plans to find a new solution so that everyone can have a place to live with the tree at the centre.
What I thought quite striking was the fact that it appears the couple simply didn't realise that their actions could result in several species of animal losing their own homes, which would be true of most folk, I imagine. There's no malice at all, just that lack of awareness. It's incredibly heartwarming then to see their change of plans and how they rebuild all the others animals' homes so that they can live together in peace, which is a topic that the children and myself discussed immediately following this story.
It's such a simple story with a powerful message behind it, drawn in beautiful fashion by Neal Layton, and I really felt a warm glow inside after reading it. Utterly worth your time, and utterly worth reading over and over again.
Josh says: I like that they could all live together.
Xander says: I like trees!
2) Norton and Alpha - Kristyna Litten (Author & Illustrator)
This book is BEAUTIFUL! Both illustrations-wise and story-wise. It almost feels like three different tales in one: one is about the fun of being inventive, one is about friendship, and one is about the wonder of nature, and they all add up to make such a delightful whole!
Josh particularly has often said he wants to be an inventor (as well as a builder, rock star, and princess), so this appealed to him enormously. It made both of them laugh at the thought of Alpha (the dog) being used in an invention, and there were certainly some strange ideas for future inventions being thrown around.
Books like this have so much going on to inspire our children's imaginations and creativity that it's impossible not to be taken with them. Particularly, as I've already mentioned, when the illustrations are so wonderfully beautiful like these!
Wonderful fun to read together before bedtime!
Chris says: This was just glorious fun in so many ways! I loved the quirky illustrations and the way it felt like several types of story in one, and of course the way the kids liked to start thinking about their own inventions again!
Josh says: I would like to be an inventor when I grow up.
Xander says: Woof woof!
Boy oh boy have we learned to look forward to Rob Biddulph's stories! It's the return of Penguin Blue from Blown Away as well, so that's a double bonus!
It's a glorious swashbuckling adventure this time round, as Penguin Blue and friends head off in search of treasure, only to find their ship sinking and things turning a bit more troublesome than they'd expected. A sunken boat on the seafloor provides a ray of hope, if only they could find a way to raise it...
It's such good fun (in perfect rhyme) to sail with this crew one more time (see what I did there?). It's bright and colourful as usual from Rob Biddulph, with those oh-so-fantastic expressions on Penguin Blue and friends. There's humour and excitement thrown in to the mix in equal measure, and we simply can't wait to see what this immensely talented author and illustrator throws together for us next!
Chris says: There are a few authors that we've really taken to with the Picture Book Challenge so far, and Rob Biddulph is definitely one of them. Everyone should be looking out for his stories the next time they go to the library or a bookshop as they're always such fun and so well illustrated!
Josh says: I like how they found the boat at the bottom of the sea
Xander says: Arrrrrrr!
So, to summarise Day 90...
What a fantastic evening of reading! I really do think that this is one of the best sessions of reading that we've had so far for the Picture Book Challenge. The Tree brought us incredible emotional depth and got us thinking about the environment and our impact on it; Norton and Alpha has several different strands of story going on at once that made us smile all the way through; and Sunk! took us on a swashbuckling adventure which saw a sunken ship rescued from the bottom of the sea.
Fun, fun fun, all the way through!