November 15, 2019

Sky Color by Peter Reynolds

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 5:14 pm by suebe2

Sky Color
by Peter Reynolds
Candlewick Press

Marisol has turned the family refrigerator into her own art gallery and she loves to share her art with her friends.  So she is beyond excited when her teacher announces that the class is painting a mural for the library.

Together they sketched the long drawing and one by one her classmates announce which part they want to paint – fish and ocean.  Marisol gladly accepts the broad expanse of the sky, but then she realizes that there is no blue paint left for her to use.

On the way home from school, she stares out the bus window.  The sun approached the horizon.  At home, she watched the sky as day turned to night.  The next morning she smiled into the drizzle.  She was fully ready to paint in sky color.

You definitely have to see Reynold’s art work to see how Marisol works this out.  You can find the book read on Youtube but I hope you will read it yourself.

For those of you who have yet to experience a book written and illustrated by Reynolds, this one is a must read.  Sure, Marisol could have talked to her classmates about sharing the blue paint.  Or she could have asked her teacher for more. But that isn’t the story that Reynolds chooses to share.  Yet again, Reynolds has created a story about creativity and thinking outside the boxes that we create for ourselves.

This book is a short read – only 305 words but it tells a powerful story.  Reynolds art work begins with pen and ink to which he adds watercolor and even tea.  Share this book in your classroom or at reading time.  It is sure to inspire both discussion and also art work. But it would also make a good quiet read to share one on one.

Marisol is a character who truly sees.  Then she finds a way to share her vision with her friends.  But should we be surprised?  Probably not.  Because as Reynolds already told us.  Marisol is an artist.


November 6, 2019

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:32 pm by suebe2

Patron Saints of Nothing
by Randy Ribay

For years Jay and his cousin Jun wrote each other — not e-mails, not texts but real paper letters.  Jay was born in the Philippines but raised in the US while Jun remained in the island nation, growing up in an exclusive gated community.

Jay has started to hear back from colleges when he learns that his cousin has been killed.  Although his Filipino father refuses to tell him anything, his mother reveals that Jun had been using drugs.  His death was one of many sanctioned by Philippine President Duterte in the nation’s war against drugs.

Jay knows this can’t be true.  Jun was ridiculously smart and often at odds with his father, a high ranking police official who rules the family with an iron fist.  Jay decides to give up his spring break to travel to the Philippines and find out what really happened.

I’m not going to spoil the plot. If you want to know what happened, you will have to read the book. Suffice it to say that Jay’s eyes are opened when he returns to the country of his birth.

Author Randy Ribay has done an excellent job in creating a complex situation that is not as simple or straight forward as many people would believe.  In Jay, he has also created a character that defies stereotype.  Readers will realize just how little they know about the Philippines, both historically and in terms of the geography and culture.

What authority does Ribay have to write this book?  Like his character, he was born in the Philippines but grew up in the Midwest.

One thing that would have helped me was a Tagalog glossary since phrases in this Filipino language pepper the text.  Then again, the omission of a glossary may have been intentional since its absence left my floundering alongside the main character.

While mature middle school readers could deal with the content, I’m not sure they would find Jay’s concern about his college applications interesting or relatable.   This book is definitely worth sharing in the classroom as it is sure to spark discussions on diversity, media, and more.   An excellent choice for book club reading.


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