The Adventures of Beekle – 2015 Caldecott Winner

9780316199988_p0_v4_s260x420His baby son’s mispronunciation of “bicycle” was the inspiration for the title of Dan Santat’s 2015 Caldecott winning picture book – The Adventures of Beekle.  Beekle is an imaginary friend who has yet to be imagined by a real child.

Rather than wait on his island for his special someone to appear, Beekle sets off to find her.  Santat floats him through a series of adventurous illustrations, with Beekle travelling through dark starry nights, reminiscent of Chris van Allsburg’s designs, to encounters with colorful dragons and double-page drawings of whales and harbors that mirror Maurice Sendak’s wild ones, until he finally reaches the real world.  Searching for his friend takes him through busy streets and subways, to fantastic playgrounds, and finally to the top of an amazing tree.

When Beekle does find his friend, Alice, the relationship slowly blossoms from shyness to perfection, and the story ends with a frame of Alice and Beekle connecting with a real boy and his imaginary friend,  happily proclaiming – “The world began to feel a little less strange.”  Friends can give you the courage to face the world – both the real and the imagined.

A lovely book to share and read aloud, as the pictures evolve in color and excitement to the final happy ending.



The Boston Girl

9781439199350_p0_v3_s260x420Anita Diamant uses legacy writing as her vehicle for telling the story of The Boston Girl. As she tells her granddaughter about her life from 1915 to 1985, Addie Baum, a young Jewish girl growing up in the North End of Boston, could be any first generation girl from immigrant parents. As Addie slowly recounts the milestones in her life, the story takes a while to pick up steam, but her determination to overcome the low expectations for women in the early twentieth century, and her subsequent experiences, offer an insider history lesson worth reviewing.

Like most bright women of that era, Addie has to fight for opportunities to learn and work in traditionally male-dominated venues. But the value of her telling her life story to her granddaughter has more to do with revealing who she is and preserving a legacy for future generations. Addie’s friends and mentors would be invisible otherwise, and her story lost when she dies. When Addie’s granddaughter expresses surprise that her mother was the valedictorian at her college graduation, the incident clearly demonstrates how little children and grandchildren know us – unless we tell them.

Just like the Biblical heroines in her book The Red Tent, Diamant uses women as the storytellers who are preserving history. The Boston Girl is an easy, comfortable book and it offers a familiar perspective on women’s history, but perhaps the underlying directive to tell your unique story before it is lost is the greater message to readers.

Have you participated in legacy writing as the listener/recorder or the story teller?

Related ArticleLegacy Writing

Big Little Lies

9780399167065_p0_v3_s260x420Liane Moriarty tells a satisfying tale in her latest book, now on the bestseller list – Big Little Lies.  Like her popular The Husband’s Secret, this story has the compelling characters, twisted lives, horrible villains, and lovable heroines. Best of all, the ending punishes the wicked and rewards the good – nothing like a happy ending, especially when the villain is destroyed.

The book opens with a murder, and Moriarty cleverly keeps the reader guessing on the identity, as she weaves the tale around the heroine and her entourage. It would spoil all the fun to tell you too much, but this fast light read is another success on Moriarty’s growing list of winners.

the untethered soul by Michael Singer

9781572245372_p0_v2_s260x420Sometimes a book finds you.   When The New York Times “By the Book” recently interviewed Robin Roberts, she mentioned Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul as the book that “taught me how to gently calm my thoughts and emotions.”  Seems like a skill everyone could use, so I looked for the book.  Although I’ve just started this slim volume, the tone is similar to  others I’ve read – Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Miracle of Mindedness and Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You, Go There You Are, or any by Deepak Chpra –  books on meditation with suggestions for well-being and self-realization.  Unfortunately, I forget their message and return to my own cynical view of the world soon after reading.  Perhaps reading another could motivate my inner self to shape up – again.

Although Singer’s book made the best seller list and was touted by Oprah, I missed its debut (or ignored it).  The chapter titles offer a mix of possibilities – a few appealing; others I many skip, but the opener – “The Voice Inside Your Head” – has me already talking to myself – but then I always did.

Have you read it?

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Divergent and Insurgent

For fans of teenage adventure and bravery, twenty-two year old author, Veronica Roth renews the fervor of The Hunger Games with her Divergent trilogy – a fantasy young adult thriller based in the not too distant future. With Insurgent, the second book now on the New York Times best seller list, Divergent – the first book – is already in paperback. Those predictable cliffhangers are torture, so I bought the paperback, placed it on my shelf, and waited patiently for my number to come up on the library waitlist for Insurgent. After reading the two books in less than two days, I was rewarded with yet another hanging element – to be published Fall, 2013. Maybe the intermittent movies will sustain the momentum.

Beatrice Prior, aka Tris, lives in a world of the future with limited choices at sixteen years old. When her aptitude test fails to designate a “faction,” one of several adult living options with names defining the group, she defies tradition by leaving her home in the selfless, community-oriented Abnegation group, and opts for the challenge of the exciting warrior Dauntless clan. Through her harrowing training, she connects with other teens, vying for acceptance, and meets her true love, an eighteen year old instructor, Tobias, nicknamed Four.

The story follows the formula of a coming of age exploration, with futuristic omens and narrow escapes from both internal insecurities and jealous friends. The plot is fast-paced, easy reading, and Tris is a match for Katniss, and a fun beginning to Roth’s futuristic rebel cause.

Insurgent continues the quest for a better world that will use the talents of the five factions: Erudite (the brainy ones), Amity (peace and love for all), Candor (mostly honest), Dauntless (brave), and the idealistic Abnegation (selfless). Tris, with her brother Caleb and true love Tobias, along with foils Peter and Marcus, find the factionless – the future version of homeless – who have banned together to form a rebel army.

The action in this book has more romance and violence, with references to teen jealousies and clicks, and not as satisfying as the first book. The ending is the requisite cliffhanger, but the dystopian world view seems hopeless.