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, June 26, 2014

ELIZABETI'S DOLL by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen and COUNTING BY 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Almost everyone liked something about our picture book, Elizabeti's Doll, and there were also things that various folks weren't thrilled about. Most of us thought the last line was completely unnecessary and actually distracting. We liked the premise of the book, and thought it was a pleasant enough story about a little girl with a new baby brother who needed something to care for herself and decided on a 'baby-sized' rock (her 'doll') who never cried, kept clean diapers, and slept well every night. One person thought it was kind of 'old-fashioned' (published in 1998) and might not even be published today. Another member strongly objected to the use of the rock as the 'doll,' since, as the size of the rock was depicted, it would have been way too heavy for Elizabeti to even lift. We did feel it was a good read-aloud, and that young children could certainly relate to its premise and would probably like it a lot.
We all loved the beginning of the story of Willow Chase in Counting by 7s. We loved being 'in her head,' and learning who she was as a person. But -- as the story continued on, most of us were less and less thrilled. A couple of people couldn't even finish the book. Although we agreed that all of the characters were very unique and well-written, we just felt that the premise that this 12-year-old, although very brilliant and highly-gifted, could accomplish what she did to bring a group of very quirky people together on her behalf. We just found many of the plot points to be completely unbelievable. One person said it sort of worked as a fairy tale, but she wasn't crazy about it. Only one person loved everything about this book. She loved the characters, the story, and the fact that it was all wrapped up neatly in a happy ending, which, she said, is so rare in many of today's novels for young people. 
...and it is the differences of opinion that make our meetings so much fun!