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MTYT: The Bridge Home

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By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH and Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ

When asked about the concept of home, many of us might conjure up visions of family together at a dinner-table or of vacation. We often think of a physical location, like a house, a street, a neighborhood or a city. But is that home? Or is home something more elusive, maybe harder to grasp or explain, especially if our idea of home is not of a house, or yard or neighborhood? This month, we look at books that address the concept of home and how that concept might be different from the typical or stereotypical. In The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman, we start with a group of orphans living under a bridge in Chennai, India, and then move to a young girl who understands home is where her dog is. We then discuss a longer migration that involves moving from Syria to the U.S. and end with the concept of home perhaps being an object of hope we can hold in our hands, keep in our hearts or imagine with our minds.

My Take header with bibliographic information on The Bridge Home, which is also listed at the end of this post. Continue reading

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MTYT: I Just Ate My Friend

Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

HOLLY: We end our discussion this month on a lighter note with the picturebook, I Just Ate My Friend (2017) by Heidi McKinnon. Turning our theme, “connections across differences creates community,” on its head, this charming picturebook is about looking for a sense of belonging but such connection involves a huge risk. Noting that not only has the character eaten his friend, he admits that his friend was a good friend, but now is gone. The play on words just made me laugh! In search of another friend, he is dissuaded from becoming friendly with others who offer a variety of reasons for why they cannot be friends. Finally, he meets someone who says they will be his friend, ultimately in a way similar to how he was a friend. I mean, really, one can expect no less! I found myself thinking, “Yep, cannot eat your cake and have it, too!” What did you think of this, Jean?

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MTYT: Lubna and Pebble

Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

HOLLY: So, after Angel Thieves and The Season of Styx Malone, I can’t help but think about other relationships that might be considered strange on the surface, but on second glance create connection and hope. Another such narrative is the picturebook, Lubna and Pebble (2019) by Wendy Meddour and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus. Lubna, a young refugee, has a friendship with a pebble. She talks to it, carries it with her and finds comfort in its presence. There are profound concepts in this book that include a sense of human connection to the earth as well as the concept of the solidity of a rock, or in this case a pebble, which is appropriate for so young a child. The earth gives us our footing. We are, after all, earthlings! Lubna finds Pebble when she and her father arrive on the beach of a new country. I think of Syrian refugees crossing from Turkey to Greece and finding themselves in “a World of Tents.” Lubna is lost in thinking about her homeland, the war, and her brothers. Pebble becomes a connection and is Lubna’s best friend. Then one day, Amir, another young refugee, arrives at the camp. Amir and Lubna become friends until the day Lubna leaves because she and her father have found a new place to live. Suddenly, Pebble’s role in Lubna’s life shifts. I cannot help but think of how some relationships are strong but only temporary, yet in that limited time and space, connections and hope still form. What did you think of Lubna and Pebble, Jean?

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MTYT: The Season of Styx Malone

Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

We all know of particular relationships that make others wonder how they work. This month we will explore four books that feature unusual relationships that make us scratch our heads and ask how on earth they work. But somehow they do, and when they do intriguing communities come into being giving us hope. Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson continue their discussion of these relationships through books that highlight them.

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MTYT: Angel Thieves

Jean Schroeder, The IDEA School, Tucson, AZ and Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

MTYT November 2019

We all know of particular relationships that make others wonder how they work. The republican married to the democrat or the cat whose two best friends are ducks. This month we will explore four books that feature unusual relationships that make us scratch our heads and ask how on earth they work. But somehow they do, and when they do intriguing communities come into being giving us hope. Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss these relationships through books that highlight them.

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MTYT: When the Rain Comes

In September’s MTYT, Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss the last of four books that topped USBBY’s Outstanding International Books list. The common theme between these books is the need to escape. In When the Rain Comes, the main character needs to escape a natural disaster. This story shows how a young girl must deal with the immediate crisis and do what she can to save her own life and the livelihood her village.

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MTYT: Escape from Syria

In the second installment of September’s MTYT, Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss the second of four books that topped USBBY’s Outstanding International Books list. The common theme between these books is the need to escape. In Escape from Syria, a young girl and her family desperately try to escape the Syrian civil war. This story shows how they escape and how they adapt to living in a new country as refugees.

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MTYT: Peter in Peril: Courage and Hope in WWII

In the second installment of September’s MTYT, Jean Schroeder and Holly Johnson discuss the second of four books that topped USBBY’s Outstanding International Books list. The common theme between these books is the need to escape. In Peter in Peril: Courage and Hope in WWII, the main character needs to escape persecution as a result of a world war. This story shows how young Peter is able to survive and stay hopeful against insurmountable odds.

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MTYT: Drum Dream Girl

By Jean Schroeder, Holly Johnson, Prisca Martens, Mary Fahrenbruck, Tracy Smiles, Jeanne Fain, Rebecca Ballenger, and Celeste Trimble

This year, the Tucson Festival of Books celebrates its 10th anniversary. In a short period of time, the festival rose to become the third largest book festival in the U.S. drawing crowds in excess of 130,000. Each year the festival hosts 60-70 authors and illustrators of books for children and adolescents. This month My Take/Your Take features four books by this year’s festival authors to provide a personal take, starting with Jean and Holly on Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael López.

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