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, April 27, 2017

SOME WRITER! by Melissa Sweet and I DISSENT by Debbie Levy

We read two biographies for our last meeting, and we liked them both. We discussed Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet first. We all liked it, but we had varying opinions on the format and layout, where Sweet combined original art, photos, facsimiles of E.B.White's works, artifacts, and other design elements. Some people loved this and felt that the format was almost like a scrapbook, and was a perfect complement to the text. Others felt it was confusing and distracting. One reader thought it was almost like a website, and that maybe this could entice young readers who might be intimidated by pages containing only text. One reader, a longtime E.B.White fan who had read everything he had ever written, felt that the writing in this book, although accessible and well done, wasn't eloquent enough in discussing this esteemed subject. We liked most of the 'back matter' of the book, which included statements from the author and from White's granddaughter, plus a timeline, notes, and bibliographies, but we felt that all of that was probably more interesting to adults than it would be to kids. We felt that young readers would probably not pick this book on their own, but that if they were fans of Stuart Little or Charlotte's Web, they might be interested in knowing more about the author of these classics.

As for the picture biography, I Dissent by Debbie Levy, we all liked it. Some readers were put off by the many examples of dissent, disagreement, etc., shown in huge letters in the illustrations, which they felt presented a view that portrayed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as always being negative. Others didn't mind that aspect of the art, but didn't love the way Ginsburg was visually portrayed as a child and a young woman -- sort of cartoonish, and not very pretty -- although photos of her showed that she was in fact quite attractive. We all liked how the story of her life showed the incidents and social issues that helped to shape her thinking and made her confident that a young woman could become anything she wanted to, and could fight for justice. We thought that the writing, although not exceptional, was adequately accessible for young readers, and we hoped the book would be inspiring for young girls and could show boys that "girls CAN do anything!"

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