Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Gospel Truth

On a recent trip to South Carolina, I happened to stumble upon this:

Ruins of former slave dwellings,
Baynard Plantation, Hilton Head Island, SC
As moving as this find was, what made it most remarkable was that I had just finished reading this:

It wasn't difficult for my mind to take the short journey from a former Sea Island cotton plantation in South Carolina to an 1858 Virginia tobacco plantation. To stand where over one hundred enslaved humans once lived and toiled, and to listen for their voices, was a very emotional experience for me.

Not that any of this was really necessary. Phoebe's voice came out loud and clear to me through the pages of Caroline Pignat's touching story. Although mute, Phoebe's strength and determination are infectious.

In addition to the heroine, The Gospel Truth is told from the viewpoint of five other characters. I almost hesitate to tell you that it is written in free verse, because when I have mentioned this to some, they have responded with: "Oh, I don't think I'd like that." Really? It is the poetic beauty of the spoken, as well as the unspoken word; the careful arrangement, and the cadence of the speech, that elevates The Gospel Truth from another good story about American slavery, to an amazing and poignant portrayal of the human spirit.

Words of a White Man

                                                                 I hand them what I've brought.
                                                                 Each man silent,
                                                                 as he stands in the moonlight considering what he holds:
                                                                 a compass
                                                                 a knife
                                                                 a pistol
                                                                 twenty dollars

                                                                 a chance for freedom.

                                                                 "I can give you the tools," I say,
                                                                 "to guide and protect you.
                                                                  I can show you the path,
                                                                  but in the end,
                                                                  it's you that must choose it
                                                                  and walk it.
                                                                  You alone that must risk it."

                                                                  I watch them weigh it.
                                                                  Each man wondering if he's willing
                                                                  to wager his life
                                                                  on the words of a white man
                                                                  in the woods at midnight.

I highly recommend this one!

The Gospel Truth, by Caroline Pignat. Red Deer Press, 2014.
327 p.
Ages 12+

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Let the New Year Begin - #MustReadin2015

So, last year I joined Carrie from There's a Book for That and others in compiling a list of books that I chose from my TBR pile to read in 2014. No biggie.

Or so I thought.

Even though I thought I was being very realistic - I only chose 10 titles for this particular challenge, I regret to say that I just didn't make it. 6/10 titles completed. Despite my good intentions, my reading was led astray.

I did; however, discover a few things. And this is a good thing. As 2014 wound down and I was trying to get through one of my adult fiction choices, I decided that perhaps I am trying to spread myself too thin. I have always had a very wide range of reading interests, but maybe I just don't have enough time to satisfy all my curiosities.  I love children's literature (as an elementary school librarian I would hope that that would be the case), and the many amazing children's books that have been published in recent years have fanned the flames of this love affair. I will always enjoy a good adult historical fiction or mystery book, and I get plenty of adult reading in with my book club. I can't get over the feeling though, that this reading is taking me away from kidlit and YAlit. And this is where I need to be now.

With that said, I turn to #MustReadin2015. A new year. A new list. A bigger mix of genres.

15 Must Reads for 2015. This year. For sure.

Picture Books

Baseball is ..... by Louise Borden. Illustrated by Raul Colon. I'm a sucker for a day at the ballpark. Looking forward to this one.

Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus. Illustrated by Evan Turk. I hope this is the inspirational biography I think it will be.

Hope Springs by Eric Walters. Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. EricWalters is visiting our school this spring - I want to make sure I'm ready. I've always loved the illustrations of Ms. Fernandes.

Mama built a little nest by Jennifer Ward. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. I've been hearing about this one a lot this year. And a recent Nerdy Book Club Award winner.

The Scraps book written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert. More non-fiction picture book love.

Shh! We have a plan written and illustrated by Chris Haughton.  Am I the only one who hasn't read this one yet? That's why it's a must-read.

Two written and illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi. I adore Zero and One. Can't wait for the next installment in a series that gets read all the time.

Middle Grade Fiction

Stella by starlight by Sharon M. Draper. I have been known to gush about Out of my mind to anyone who will listen. Looking forward to more from this author.

Middle Grade Memoir Poetry

Brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. This has been on my TBR list since its publication date and is not getting pushed off.

YA Fiction

If I stay by Gayle Forman. A huge YA hit series, and highly recommended by some of my students.

The Rule of thre3 by Eric Walters. As I said, Eric will be coming for an author visit. And it's an OLA Forest of Reading Red Maple nominee this year.

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner. I had this one on my summer reading last year. When I didn't get to it, I decided to wait until Summer 2015. It'll be my first read of the summer.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten. I'm not sure when Ms. Toten's novel first appeared on my radar, but the introduction it received at the TD Book Awards put it on my Must Read list.

Adult Fiction

Big little lies by Lianne Moriarty. I recently read Ms. Moriarty's The Husband's secret as a Book Club choice. I loved it. An Australian Maeve Binchy, in my opinion. One of my Club friends recommended Big little lies as an even better choice.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Drueger. I have no idea where I heard about this novel. It could be that it has turned up on some YA lists. It has me intrigued.

There you have it. Three updates are planned for this year: April 2, September 2, and December 31. Can I beat 60%? What do you think?