I went book shopping in Delhi with my favourite group – Tibetan Librarians whom I mentor on a Library Empowerment Program for the Tibetan Board of Education ( Government in Exile ).
My colleague and friend Usha Mukunda and I used a book shopping experience as a site for building discernment and gathering fine books for a library collection and in the process I ended up buying some treasures.
There are two books with ‘tiger’ in the title both very good , very different and in some way use the tiger as a symbol for power, freedom, hope and life.
Mitali Perkins’ much loved by us at Bookworm for Rickshaw Girl has this new book The Tiger Boy published in India by Duckbill books that brings to us a context of the Sunderbans and underbelly of development that includes tiger-cub hunting. We learn about the complexities of life in the village, ambitions and hope from the protagonist who is being primed to leave the community for Kolkata and an educational opportunity he is not sure he wants. The ebb and flood of emotions of Neel as his relationship with his land, his family and his own aspirations emerge in the text, draw us deep into the mangroves and the beauty of the Sunderbans with the threats always on the edge. A fine book, this one. A must read.
Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo is best left to the reader to discover. Suffice to say, Kate uses language in such a powerful way that she grabs you into the story from the very start and my only complaint is that this is a novella and it feels like the end came swift and sharp. But perhaps in doing that, Kate makes the story sharper and more poignant. This is a darker book than the others we have at Bookworm by this author ( Because of Winn -Dixie, The tale of Desperaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) but so poetic in its text quality and such a powerful book. Here is an excerpt from page 1,
Rob had a way of not-thinking about things. He imagined himself as a suitcase that was too full, like the one that he had packed when they left Jacksonville after the funeral. He made all his feelings go inside the suitcase; he stuffed them in tight and then sat on the suitcase and locked it shut. That was the way he not-thought about things. Sometimes it was hard to keep the suitcase shut. But now he had something to put on top of it. The tiger.
And we hope that brings you to the library to borrow and read !
I also bought 2 books by David Almond and if you have not read him, tsk .. you are in the wrong book shop or library or wrong reading lane in life ! David Almond says that he had a childhood, like many childhoods filled with sadness and joy but that his childhood and his aspiration to be a writer, illuminates and informs everything he writes. This is evident in everything that David Almond writes, this quality of illumination and hope. In My Dads a Birdman, you are drawn into Lizzie’s home almost immediately as you realise young Lizzie is caring for her dad who has turned barmy. The story is filled with humour and layers of sensitivity that balance the story out beautifully.
In the Boy who Swam with Piranhas, perhaps the favouring of characters who are off-key, not ‘normal’ but very human swim through. The style in this book is different and perhaps may miss its mark with a younger reader or perhaps not. There is humour and a big ride on every page and sometimes the fantasy and reality of the story move rather quickly but in the end David Almond brings it all home in a very humane way. A lovely feature of this book is the ink illustrations by Oliver Jeffers whom we have a growing collection of, at the library. So come !
Michael Morpugo needs no introduction to the readers that all of you are.. or does he ? No, you would have probably stumbled across the shelf we have ear marked for this fine author whose themes resound long after the book is closed. Michael Morpugo affects us in very powerful ways with his constant thematic undertone of war which informs us about the desperate need for peace. Half a Man is a Picture Book, simple in format and telling but complex and layered. The book is beautifully illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan and is a powerful introduction to the genre of historical fiction and the relationship between a Grand pa and his Grand son.
But in my reading of this week, The Year of Billy Miller, was the most endearing. This is Kevin Henkes, you know him from the very popular picture books we have at the library. This book is a Newberry Honor Book and on reading it, the reason is very evident. Billy is worried about not being smart enough for second grade and finds his own space and place therein on his own, navigating 8 year old concerns about hurting the teacher, choosing one parent over the other and being fair to his younger sister. A lovely, precious book – a must read. If you drop into Bookworm and borrow this book you can also share in The Year of Billy Miller and never be the same again.
More books await me and thousands await you at the library, so come ! Do come and read awhile.