Friday, January 12, 2018

Newbery Reading Challenge continues! Pairing # 2

Pair two is already completed, there was one fantastic book and one that was at least short. It's only January 12th, so staying fantastically ahead of a schedule. I had from January 11th thru January 22nd to read this pairing. I've already finished both The Girl Who Drank the Moon and my short read, The Cat Who Went to Heaven. 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
I really enjoyed The Girl Who Drank the Moon. It was such an excellent children's book. Now, I've had it pointed out to me that this book really resembles Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett. I have not read that book, so can't confirm whether or not that's true. Let's face it though, there have just been so many books written over the span of time that finding a book that doesn't share some characteristics with another book is nearly impossible. I really liked that his book had emotional depth but was still pretty kid safe. There isn't much to object to at all if you don't take issue with magic. Usually when the book is really kid safe it isn't much fun for an adult to read. This is an excellent choice for a kid who likes fantasy. I will say that adults will identify a lot more with the swamp monster and grandmother and I feel that a lot of kids will like the little dragon best. 

This was the 2017 Newbery winner. While I haven't read every book that was considered, I will say I feel like this one was a great choice. 

The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth
I'm not really sure what to say about this book. Elizabeth Coatsworth was born in Buffalo, NY and visited Japan in the early 1900's and it was this travel that inspired her stories from this region. From what I've heard, earlier editions of this book stated that it was inspired by a Buddhist folktale but did not name the specific tale. Now, the 2008 edition I read did not state that anywhere in the book. It doesn't state that it was derived from anything in particular. However, when you search for 'death of Buddha' and 'cat' you do eventually come across references to an artist named Cho Densu who included a cat in his painting. Cho Densu died around 1431. The details about the cat varied depending on source, so I have not included those here, but, it seems likely that this book is inspired by that story of Cho Densu.

Also throughout the book are mentions and paraphrasing of some the Jataka Tales.

I don't know. There's always the potential for issues when you are writing about a culture that is not your own. While I didn't note anything specifically problematic, I do wish that the works that inspired this were mentioned. The 2008 version I read had beautiful illustrations by Raoul Vitale.

The book isn't especially fun to read and the ending may be upsetting for some.

On the bright side though, this did make me spend a lot of time with Google trying to hunt down the original source material and thus I did learn something from this book.

On to pairing three!

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