WELCOME

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, March 20, 2014

NINO WRESTLES THE WORLD by Yuyi Morales and THE THING ABOUT LUCK by Cynthia Kadohata

At our last meeting we discussed the picture book, Nino Wrestles the World  by Yuyi Morales first. Only one person really liked it a lot. Everyone else -- not so much. Some folks thought that kids who had no experience or knowledge of Lucha Libre wrestling wouldn't have much interest in this book, even though they agreed that there was a good explanation at the end and detailed descriptions in the end papers of the various 'characters' that Nino vanquished. Most people liked the illustrations, but thought that there wasn't really a story. The lone dissenter felt that it was a good depiction of a little boy participating in imaginary play, winning his bouts with all of the bigger, stronger, 'wrestlers,' and then deciding that even though his two little sisters kind of scared him, things would be better if the three of them took on the world together.

There was no unanimity in our discussion of the novel, The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata. Although we all agreed that the author had done excellent research regarding wheat farming, (she actually had spent a great deal of time on a Kansas wheat farm) we weren't thrilled with her Michener-like detailed explanations of the whole process, and hoped we would never again meet another combine or thresher in a book! A few people loved the quietness and introspection of Summer, the main character. Others weren't so impressed with it. Some thought that she had knowledge beyond her twelve years, although at other times she appeared to be very young. Someone pointed out that this is pretty normal behavior for 12-year-old girls. We agreed that as a member of a migrant farm working family she had a very hard life. We also had a hard time figuring out what the character of Jaz, her brother, actually added to the story. Everyone loved Summer's grandparents, although some of us weren't so happy with the way their pidgin-English dialog was written. But we thought the fact that they both really loved Summer came through clearly. We also liked the fact that Summer accomplished the seemingly impossible task of driving a combine (or was it a thresher??) and that the young man Mick, whom she didn't like at first, actually came to her aid and became a friend -- one that she could relate to as an older brother. Finally, we couldn't figure out why the book A Separate Peace was so important to Summer as she tried to figure out her place in life.