Monday, February 8, 2016

A Time to Read

Dear Kim,

Thank you for the sweet cheer up video. Hearing all of the good fortune that our little region has experienced thanks to SCBWI did make me feel a bit better (though I think Dr. Man might like to take the credit).

I was spoiled with lots of uninterrupted reading time over the last week and I took full advantage. Call it research, call it recovery, whatever, it was good for the soul. I'll pass along two of the three books that I read (sorry the last, PAX, is promised to my favorite 8 year old.)

I started the week with Nicola Yoon's Everything, Everything. This beautifully designed book caught my eye in September and then promptly sat in my teetering TBR pile for months. 

I made up for those months in reader-purgatory because once I started Everything, Everything I couldn't stop. One night and done.

I loved the art design and feel of the pages (you get that, right?) Madeline's voice reminded me of other great contemporary teen voices that I love. A bunt cake commits suicide. Which, as you well know, is my kind of dessert-sacrifice. I was devouring page after page of light and lovely girl-falls-hopelessly while dealing-with-illness storylines and then BAM!

The plot twists. Not so much twists as goes on a Hawaiian vacation and explodes.

(This is a spoiler so I understand if you want to skip to the * below). Picture me lying in bed, flipping page by page by page and then I
m volcanic-style flung out of the story. In the distance I heard the Witch from Into the Woods, "Don't you know what's out there in the world? Someone has to shield you from the world. Stay with me..." Do you get what Im saying? MOM IS

Or at the very least a little Tangled?
Then everything in the story, every sub plot, every Le Petit Prince reference, came crashing together into the last few pages of the book. I'm still considering the ending. You must read Everything, Everything so that we can discuss. Hurry. Please.

*The next book, A Time To Dance felt similar at first. Just on the cover, of course. There was an illness/accident, there was a boy, there was a girl on a journey to find out how strong she really was. Then I opened the book and took in the first few pages. The hum of Padma Venkatraman's verse started on page one. And everything...everything changed.

"I once read an article about beauty in a magazine.
I measured my nose to see if it was long enough,
if my eyes were large enough,
if my lips were thick enough
to be beautiful.
They weren't."


I fell hard for Ms. Veda and when she told me about the accident (YES she was speaking directly to me) tears welled in my eyes. With spare text Veda’s story moved quickly, yet I felt each word, deeply. Veda’s struggle was dark at times and the author did not shy away from telling the truth about her recovery. She beautifully wove in Veda's family and friends, her culture, and dance.

"'Veda, onstage you sparkle with confidence.
But your body doesn't transform 
offstage.
Your curls are just as long,
your back just as straight,
your figure just as lovely.
Your hands flutter whenever you talk. And you
move so elegantly.
As delicately as a butterfly flitting between flowers.'
'Not on crutches, I don't.'
'All
the
time,' Paati says.

She's my grandmother.
No wonder she believes I'm always graceful.
Beauty, as the proverb says, I now understand,
is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder."

Kim, you'll have both books in your hand on Thursday. I'll try not to bug you on our car ride to NYC so that you can read. Which one do you think you will read first?

See you soon!
Love,

A