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, December 10, 2015

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen and The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant

We had a delicious holiday dinner at our December meeting -- good dishes provided by all of the attendees. Big YUMS all around!
We discussed Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen first. Even though it won the SCBWI 2015 Sid Fleischman Award for Humor, each and every one of us kept asking, "...but what was actually funny in this book?" We'd love to have an answer from -- someone. Needless to say, we didn't love the book. We mainly felt that the story was very contrived, and that the main characters, Cyn and Ryan, were pretty much stick figures -- sort of like those that Annie might draw. We felt that we knew very little about them or their inner feelings, and it was just all very flat. Some folks said they got tired of Cyn's 'gaga over Ryan' narrative. We did actually feel that the portrayal of Annie may have been the strongest in the book. A couple of people said that they thought the descriptions of the supernatural occurrences were well written, and a strength of the book -- if the book had any strengths at all. Several people said that they couldn't even finish it. We also discussed why the author chose to have a school librarian (an endangered species!) be the 'bad guy'. Perhaps because this author also wrote Library Lion?....or -- was it purely an editor/publisher's marketing decision? If anyone who reads this blog can give some examples of humor in this book, we'd love to know!
As for our picture book, The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus, everyone liked it a lot; some of us loved it. We had quite a discussion about the illustrations (by Melissa Sweet), with some folks stating that the illustrations completely overpowered the text because of their details and power, while others felt that the text was very strong and stood up on its own as it described Roget's obsession with words and organizing them throughout his life. We liked the 'end matter,' and were amazed to learn of all of the other things Roget accomplished in his life. We agreed that it would be a great read-aloud in a school setting, to introduce students to the Thesaurus. We also felt that it would be a perfect companion to Jeri Chase Farris' Noah and his Words, which we discussed in February 2013 and unanimously loved. We all agreed that it was a neat book, and a great addition to the children's literature field. (Note: No Thesauri were killed in the writing of this re-cap!)