Monday, February 17, 2014

To read or not to that's a silly question

Quote of the Day:
                    "No two persons ever read the same book."
                                             -Edmund Wilson

Title: The Reader
Author: Amy Hest
Illustrator: Lauren Castillo
Ages 4-8

The illustrations on the cover drew me in right away.  I loved the woodcut like ink-and-watercolour pictures with a vintage feel that is so endearing to my taste.  Any story with a cute little boy and his friendly dog has already won my heart before I even read the book.

This adventurous twosome strike out on a very snowy day pulling a red sled.  The little boy has a satchel slung over his shoulder and a curious suitcase in his hand.  Together they climb up a huge snowy hill, play a bit in the snow, making snow "angels, snowballs, more angels...and a snow dog for the dog." They picnic on "warm drinks and crunchy toast for two" and then the boy opens up the suitcase.  He reveals a book....probably his favourite book in the whole wide world, ( he can see that world atop his hill perch) and he begins to read to his beloved companion who wags his tail in  ecstatic agreement that this is indeed a splendid thing to do.  The book is entitled, "Two Good Friends" and at the end of the read aloud the boy hugs his dog in his arms and exclaims, "Just like us!"  The clever little boy packs up and both he and his canine best friend mount the sled and off they sail down the hill and home.  This book depicts a true celebration of reading - anytime, anywhere!!!  Longues livers vivants!

About the author:

Amy Hest secretly aspired to be a writer from an early age, but, she says, "I never thought my life was exciting enough for a writer. I didn't have any fantastic adventures. I didn't run away from home. I actually got along with my parents. I was such a goody two-shoes that I couldn't help but wonder what other kid would want to read anything I wrote."
But her passion for books must have been apparent to all who knew her. Born in New York City and raised on Long Island, she worked in a library as a page from the age of sixteen. "I wanted the job so badly that I went to the director's office every single day after school to tell him so," she says. "Finally one day he called me to say that he had moved my application to the top of the pile and would keep it there if that meant I wouldn't come by to bother him the next day." Later, Amy Hest worked as a children's librarian in the New York Public Library system in the early 1970s, and then for years in children's book publishing. She wrote all during this time, still not sharing her ambition with the world, not even with her publishing co-workers!
Today, Amy Hest is the highly versatile author of more than thirty books for young readers, many of which affectionately address family and intergenerational themes. MR. GEORGE BAKER is the tender tale of an elderly man and a young boy linked by the common pursuit of learning to read. Also among Amy Hest's books are the beloved Baby Duck stories, illustrated by Jill Barton, including GUESS WHO, BABY DUCK!, a sweet depiction of the special bond between Baby Duck and her Grampa. Of IN THE RAIN WITH BABY DUCK--which received a BOSTON GLOBE-HORN BOOK Award--the author says, "It's about things that I love: pancakes and rainy days and children (like mine) who pout, and parents (like me) who have their own agenda, and grandparents (like my own) who have a way of making problems go away."
Another series of picture books by Amy Hest were inspired by the author's son, Sam. "When Sam was small he knew countless ways to keep me in his room at bedtime," she says of her inspiration for NEW YORK TIMES bestseller KISS GOOD NIGHT. Its follow-up, DON'T YOU FEEL WELL, SAM? came from memories of "some long-ago nights . . . when things weren't quite right. There were many hugs, of course. And occasionally, a dose of terrible-tasting medicine." In YOU CAN DO IT, SAM, the third of these endearing tales (all illustrated by Anita Jeram), Sam, with gentle encouragement from his mother, ventures out of the house to deliver homemade treats to his neighbors, "all by myself."
Amy Hest claims to be "a very moody person," noting that "what I write depends on my mood." These changeable moods have produced not just picture books but also novels for middle-graders, including I LOVE YOU, SOLDIER and its sequel, THE PRIVATE NOTEBOOK OF KATIE ROBERTS, AGE 11--both of which were named BOOKLIST Editors' Choices--as well as THE GREAT GREEN NOTEBOOK OF KATIE ROBERTS, AGE 12, and her most recent work, REMEMBERING MRS. ROSSI. These moods have also earned the author a host of awards, including the prestigious Christopher Medal, twice--for the highly acclaimed WHEN JESSIE CAME ACROSS THE SEA, illustrated by P.J. Lynch, and for KISS GOOD NIGHT.
Most of Amy Hest's books take place close to home, in New York, where she and her husband live. "One of the things I love about working at home is the proximity to the refrigerator," she says. "If you are going to be a writer, you need to have a lot of ice cream. When I have a bad writer's day--and that happens a lot--a spoonful of ice cream perks me up. And when you have a good writer's day, you need a reward."

About the Illustrator:

Lauren Castillo is the author/illustrator of numerous books for young readers. She most recently illustrated “The Reader.” The following is a complete transcript of her interview with Cracking the Cover.
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Definitely. According to my parents, I’ve been drawing since I was teeny tiny. (My first ever piece of art was a drawing that I supposedly made while sitting in my high chair— a scribble in the shape of a stick figure on a small block of wood). But my first memories of creating art are from elementary school when my brother and I would pause Disney movies and draw the characters from the television screen in our living room. This was how we spent the large part of our weekends. Back then I dreamed of being an animator. Then in high school I was extremely fortunate to have the most wonderful art teacher, Kurt Bittle. Kurt was a successful working illustrator (and the first illustrator I’d ever met!). I learned so much about the field from him, and realized that an illustrator was what I wanted to be when I grew up.

                 Book review rating:  8 ( Fantastic!)

Read on and read always!  Have an awesome day!

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