I brought a stack of books home with me from NCTE, and I’ve had fun making my way through those over the past few weeks. Today I’m highlighting two of my favorites.
Although I was overwhelmed by the Exhibition Hall at the Hynes center, this immediately caught my eye at the Clarion booth:
I love teaching with wordless picture books because they are accessible to all students, and David Wiesner is a genius of the form. The level of sophistication in his wordless picture books make them especially appealing to older students. Mr. Wuffles (Clarion, 2013) is one of his best. At first I was surprised by the slightly cartoony quality of the cover. But, after reading the first few pages, my notion that this might be a departure from Wiesner’s usual photographic style was gone.
Mr. Wuffles can’t be bothered with the many toys his human has tried to lure him with. Nestled in amongst the stuffed mice and jingle balls is what at first glance might be a tea infuser or some other forgotten mid-20th century kitchen gadget. Mr. Wuffles ignores this too, until something about this curious little silver ball catches his attention. Then the fun begins. Priceless facial expressions tell much of the story, and Wiesner plays with point of view throughout the book. Rich with details, Mr. Wuffles is a treat for picture book lovers of all ages.
Meet the model for Mr. Wuffles and learn more about Wiesner’s creative process in the book trailer:
Another highlight of my visit to the Exhibition Hall was meeting Gae Polisner and getting a signed ARC of The Summer of Letting Go. (Algonquin, publication date: March 18, 2014) Gae is one of the forces behind Teachers Write! and her kind and generous feedback about my writing was a real boost to me last summer. This may make me biased, but if I hadn’t liked this book, I just wouldn’t have written about it.
And actually I didn’t like it. I loved it. I wish my 14 or 15 year old self could have read this book. It would have been such a relief to know that other girls were insecure about their looks or felt like they couldn’t do anything right. Francesca, aka Frankie, worries about all this and more. She feels responsible for the drowning death of her younger brother four years earlier, and she worries about her parents, who are each coping with this tragedy in their own way. The Summer of Letting Go is the story of Frankie’s journey to forgiveness and acceptance; to understanding that “not even the ocean can drown our souls.”