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, May 28, 2015

A FINE DESSERT by Emily Jenkins and A TALE DARK AND GRIMM by Adam Gidwitz

We discussed the picture book first: A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins. We all liked it for various reasons, although one of our members felt the writing was somewhat flat, and lacked spark. We liked the illustrations, but we had some discussion of the little black horse that was shown on a shelf in each of the four households. Some people didn't notice it all, one person thought it would have been more effective in a more subtle color. We wondered whether the four families in the book were in any way related, since this little horse seemed to be passed town from generation to generation. Sadly, neither the author nor the illustrator made mention of this in their ending notes. We all agreed that it would be a great book in a school setting, since it delineated so many historical issues related to food preparation, slavery, and ways of living in the different eras and it could lead to good discussions and further research, but we didn't think that a kid reading it alone would enjoy it so much.
As for the novel, A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, we also had mixed feelings. Some were annoyed at first by the interjections by the author in between the tales, but said that as the book went on they appreciated the comments. One person noted Freudian and Shakespearian undertones, which came as a surprise to us, but totally made sense. A couple of people were worried that some of the tales were just too gory, while others felt that kids would love that. We also agreed that the author gave sufficient warning when gore was approaching, so the reader could stop right there if they so desired. We agreed that it was a quite clever construction by the author to aggregate a group of tales about Hansel and Gretel, using the usual fairy tale elements, and that it followed the usual quest in fairy tales, ending with 'coming home and living happily ever after.'