Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two Children's Books

Though I have finished The Game of Thrones (finally!), I will talk about that in a later post. Instead, I wanted to discuss two books that I read for my children's lit class, The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan and Smile by Raina Telgemeier. Each of these books are probably something that I wouldn't have picked up on my own, but they were definitely wonderful reads, each for their own reasons.



The Dreamer is a fictionalized biography about the childhood of Pablo Neruda, a famous, Nobel-prize winning Chilean poet. Ryan tells the story of how Neruda grew up, in a household where his father was very controlling, and abusive at times, virtually forcing the creativity out of his children. The father wants his sons to become doctors, or dentists, or something along those lines. However, all Neftali (Neruda when he was younger) wants to do is write. He loves words, he loves nature, and he finds, as he grows up and through his Uncle, that these things could change the world. It is a wonderful story, wonderfully written and wonderfully crafted.

The interesting thing about this book is that it is printed in green ink. The reason behind this is that Neruda himself used to write in green ink, believing that it was the color of hope. I thought that this was brilliant on Ryan's part, adding in aspects of Neruda's own writing into her own story and giving it an even more authentic voice. Even though the book is written in prose, it almost feels like poetry, the way the words are lyrical and just seem to float off the page. This is a book that I definitely will keep in my library.


Smile is of a totally different grain. First of all, it's a graphic novel, which is something I don't really read much of. I've read a few, but I enjoy the words on a page a lot more (not that I don't enjoy pictures! They're lovely! I just love words a little more). Anyway, Smile tells the true story of how Raina had an accident where she lost her front teeth in middle school, and all of the stuff she had to go through to make her teeth normal again, all the while going through the awkwardness of middle school. Definitely a very relatable book, I find this book would be perfect for any middle-schooler going through the same things as Raina (which I believe is virtually everyone).

Again, I liked this book because I think many readers will be able to see themselves in Raina's story. The awkwardness of middle school is such a universal story that there is some aspect of her story that people will relate to, whether it be the braces, the awkwardness between genders, finding where you fit in, or trying to become comfortable with yourself. I also really enjoyed the pictures in this book, they were really well drawn and also really helped to tell the story. There were a lot of aspects in the images that would have been lost if the whole story would have just been told in prose, and I think the mode of storytelling for this particular story fit perfectly.

Well, I guess I should be getting back to my homework. Since I finished The Game of Thrones (again, finally! That is such a long book), that is what I will post about next. Until then, happy reading! :)

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