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, October 13, 2016

BROTHERS AT BAT by Audrey Vernick and PAPERBOY by Vince Vawter

We discussed our picture book, Brothers at Bat by Audrey Vernick first, and thought it was an OK story (based on fact) of the 1930s New Jersey family of the 12 Acerra brothers who had their own winning family baseball team, and were ultimately recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1997. Someone had said that the underlying unifying theme of this story was Baseball, but we all disagreed, and instead felt that it was Family. We thought it was well-told, in a semi-journalistic fashion, and that the illustrations mostly fit the story well. There was one problem, however, with a double-page spread of the brothers in a large airliner flying over the '1939 World's Fair' in New York. It showed a plane that was waaaayyy later than 1939 as well as a globe image from the World's Fair which actually was from 1964, not 1939. Some liked the book more than others....but we all felt it was well-done.

We were once again unanimous with varying degrees of positive thoughts and feelings about Paperboy by Vince Vawter. We all loved the voice of 'the paperboy' (whose name we did not know until almost the end) who loved words but had a severe stuttering problem, and was therefore typing his 1959 story on a typewriter -- with no commas and no quotation marks! We thought that all of the characters were very vividly described by the boy as he told about his day-to-day activities when he took over his best friend's paper route for a week. We liked the way he seriously thought things through, and his reactions to different characters, even though some of his decisions led to very dangerous experiences. We liked the relationship between him and 'Mam,' the African-American housekeeper who took care of him since his parents, though loving and supportive, were always busy doing other things. One person objected to his parents' lack of input into his life and daily activities. A few of us had a problem with the dialect that was attributed to 'Mam' and thought the book would have been better without it. One person was thrown off each time the boy was forced to talk because it was written as "s-s-s-s...word...s-s-s-s" and she felt that it interrupted the story. Others didn't mind that at all. We all agreed that it was a good read that really explained what a stutterer experiences, as well as an accurate picture of 1959 Memphis, TN and we liked the Author's Note at the end where he explained that this was his own memoir, but with some fictional additions, and he provided resources for those who wanted to know more about stuttering.

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