In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mirrors & windows 2

Dear Annie,

I think I may have oversimplified Mitali Perkins’ mirror/window analysis in my last post. You talked about a book being able to be both: a reflection of the reader with which s/he can identify, and a way to see new places and have new experiences. Which of course Perkins was intending with the concept too. I really want to read her Bamboo People. Here’s her May 27 post on that BEA breakfast. I love her description of how Cory Doctorow entertained himself while others were speaking.

I’m so glad Eleanor took to Babies Can't Eat Kimchee. It acknowledges the ways in which a newborn can be disappointing (can’t play yet, cries inexplicably, etc) while still celebrating the relationship between siblings – and reminding the older one of her many accomplishments. The window element of the book -- introducing three year-old Eleanor to little bits of Korean culture – is such a great thing to be able to do within the context of everyday reading.

You ask about Lizzie and Mona and the window/mirror stuff. At some point in their chapter book lives, they each gravitated to different kinds of books. Their reading wasn’t exclusively one kind. But Lizzie definitely got very involved in adventure and fantasy books. Treasure Island, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and The Hobbit were books that she revisited frequently. I think she loved worlds which were very different, yet at the same time she could imagine herself an adventurer in those worlds. Window?

Mona, a year and a half younger, grounded herself in what we referred to as “domestic fiction,” Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books being the best example. Real life for kids. As you know, they’re among my favorites for taking the trials and tribulations of growing up so seriously, while presenting them with such a gentle sense of humor. Mona has always been interested in the interpersonal dynamics around her, and many of the books she chose gave her more reflections of her world. It’s funny, the last books we read aloud with Mona, when she was a high school freshman, were The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. She was already a strong feminist, and I think the biggest attraction of those books was Mma Ramotswe’s perception of human relations, and Mma's own strong sense of self. So does that make it a mirror? Am I pushing this concept too far?


1 comment:

  1. Dear Annie & Aunt! On the subject of babies & kimchee... I would love your thoughts on best books about the young sibling relationship! Toddler-appropriate, to start. Hope identifies with "When I Was King" - especially a line where "Mama" says "look how you've grown - there's so much you can do alone!" - she puffs up, proudly and laughs every time.