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, August 17, 2017

THE GIRL IN THE WELL IS ME by Karen Rivers and CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG by Mo Willems, illus. by Jon Muth

We had very interesting discussions at our last meeting, starting with our novel, The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers. We all marvelled at the fact that a novel that almost totally takes place in a well where Kammie has fallen could even get published. We had varying opinions of the story however. Many readers said the whole thing made them feel very claustrophobic and therefore difficult to read. We basically liked how Kammie's story developed as she told about how her father had been sent to prison for embezzlement, why she and her mother and brother had to move to Texas, and how she had so much wanted to be accepted by the 'cool girls' -- who actually turned out to be mean girls, since they did little to help her after she fell in the well, and may have even caused her fall. Many of us felt that they didn't receive proper comeuppance at the end after Kammie was rescued. Although we liked Kammie's descriptions of the various details of her life, several of us felt that when she started describing what was going on in her mind, after she became delirious, it just went on for too long. A couple of readers skipped thru that part quickly. We also felt that there were a few things that just weren't plausible, even though they made for a good story. Mixed opinions all around.
We mostly all liked our picture book, City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems; illus. by Jon. J. Muth. We all loved the illustrations, which revealed new details each time one re-looked at them, and beautifully depicted the year as the seasons passed. Most of us liked the development of the friendship betwen the two animals as they taught each other new things each season, but a couple of readers felt that the friendship actually became too dispensable, since it appeared so easy for Dog to make a new friend at the end when Frog wasn't there waiting for him when Spring returned. We felt it could be a good story to read to a small child to help deal with the death of someone near and dear, OR to explain why a good friend had left. At first we all felt that Frog had certainly died, but as we talked more, we learned from one reader that frogs hibernate, so Frog could have just left for that reason. It's amazing how knowing one additional piece of information can affect one's perception of a story. . . which is why reading, and the thinking it creates, are wonderful things!