WELCOME! Once a month, usually on a Thursday evening, a group of writers, illustrators, teachers and librarians meets in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles to discuss children's books. Usually we talk about one picture book and one middle grade or YA novel. After the meeting, Sandy Schuckett, a retired LAUSD librarian, summarizes our discussion. Here are her reports of our thoughts about the books we have read. We'd love to have your comments too!
Thanks to Nancy Hayashi for our wonderful title art! Our group has been meeting since 2007. It was organized under the auspices of the Children's Literature Council of Southern California (CLCSC).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray and ART AND MAX by David Wiesner

The Diviners by Libba Bray: 
It seems that some people really like horror/occult/supernatural stories and others don’t. So it was with our group. One of our members likes that sort of story, but didn’t love The Diviners. She felt it was too long, included too much extraneous stuff, that the events of the first chapter were never addressed again in the story, and that the ending was “like a belly flop in a pool.” One person thought the characterizations were excellent, but a few others felt that the opposite was true…that they didn’t really care about Evie or some of the other main characters. We all agreed that from a historical point of view it was very accurate and enlightening as to the “Flapper” era in New York, and all of the political and social issues that were occurring there at that time. We all felt that there was a great deal of unnecessary gore, and wondered what that was supposed to add to the total story. Many of us felt that a lot of the story seemed contrived, and since it seems to be the beginning of a trilogy or maybe even a series, the author could have held off on her expositions on a lot of issues. It was a looonnnnnngggg book!

Art and Max by David Wiesner:
Our picture book, Art and Max, brought up a good discussion on the purpose of picture books. We all agreed that this book would not be thrilling for a group of wiggly four-year-olds sitting cross-legged on a carpet for a library story hour. We also determined that it is the sort of book that needs to be looked at very carefully and also thoroughly discussed…since the real premise seems to be ‘What is art and who gets to make it?’ which might be a bit nebulous for younger children to recognize, much less understand, without some guidance from an adult. It would be a great book to introduce concepts of art to older kids…even in high school, and it would certainly fit into the ‘Picture Books for Older Readers’ category. We agreed that the illustrations were excellent, and that the more you look at it, the more you notice interesting details…which is always a big plus for a picture book.

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