I never stop looking for art on the subject of reading, and I was a bit surprised to realize it’s been over a year since I did one of these posts!
The third one focused on children being read to; this time around, I chose paintings of young girls reading by themselves.
Oh, the magical world of books!
What I like about all these paintings is that they all seem relax, like they’re enjoying their reading and not forced to study. I relate to these children with a sweet touch of nostalgia; books were a wonderful comfort to me as a kid and they still are to this day.
Can you pick a favorite? I think mine are the first two.
To see the previous “Beauty of Reading” posts :
I have made no secret of my love for paintings representing books and reading, and time has come for another selection of beautiful art.
To see part I, click here.
To see part II, click here.
I find that portraits of family reading together are just adorable, but they also bring me back in time to when loved ones read all those beautiful stories to me. They enchant me and make me feel nostalgic all at the same time.
Renoir, The Children of Martial Caillebotte, 1895
William Sergeant Kendall, An Interlude, 1907
Auguste Toumouche, Reading Lesson, 1865
Frederick Warren Freer, Mother and Child reading
James Sant, The Fairy Tale, 1845-1870
Joseph Seymour Guy, Small Story of Golden Locks, 1870
I love, love, love the kid’s expression in the last one. He (she?) looks kinda surprised-scare. I remember exactly that feeling of fear when one of your characters is in danger, and you just want your mom/sister/father to get to the end so they can be safe again! For me, it was the Little Red Riding Hood : that mean wolf, he scared me every single time.
I sincerely can’t pick a favorite though – can you?
I’m gonna be an aunt for the first time in November, and I’m already looking forward to living these moments on the other side of the book 😀
The Girl who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
Pages : 328
Genre : YA-Children, Fantasy
My Rating :
What it’s about, in my words :
There’s a good reason why Piper has been home-schooled for all of her life : her parents don’t want anyone in conventional Lowland County to discover that their daughter has a special ability to fly. When Piper’s secret unfortunately comes out, she is swept away by the government and sent to a special school for kids who, like her, are gifted with an exceptional talent.
At first, Piper is ecstatic with the fantastic food and the proximity of other children, but her curiosity quickly leads her to ask more and more questions. After all, it seems that her secret school might be the most dangerous place for her to be…
The Girl who Could Fly is a deliciously written fantasy tale with an adorable protagonist. From the first words, I was hooked by Forester’s narration, sweet and tinted with humor :
Piper decided to jump off the roof. It wasn’t a rash decision on her part. This was her plan – climb to the top of the roof, pick up speed by running from one end all the way to the other. Jump off.
Finally, and most importantly, don’ t fall.
She didn’t make plans in the event that she did fall, because if you jump off of the roof of your house and land on your head, you really don’t need any plans from that point on. Even Piper knew that. (p. 1)
Or again :
For one blissful moment she hung in the air, like an angel.
Then, just as quickly, the moment passed and that same young girl fell headfirst, like a freight train, toward the ground below.
The cows had never seen a human do such a thing before and they watched in moo-less astonishment. Not much ever changed on the farm and even cows can do with a bit of excitement. (p. 15-16)
Don’t get the impression that the book is all sugar and fun though; once Piper discovers that her new school isn’t as nice as she first thought, the story takes a darker turn. The truth is hard and cold and the writing changes a little for the occasion. The twist is interesting, although quite predictable, but I liked what the author did with it.
Piper is such an adorable character, all I wanted to do was to cuddle her! The cast of gifted students surrounding her is entertaining, and I wished we could have had the chance to know them more. At 328 pages, the book isn’t long, specially when you consider how big the font is. Because of that, I felt at times the story rushed over the details. It could easily have been a little longer or done in two books. That being said, it was still a great stand alone story, refreshing and light. This is a story I would happily re-read or imagine sharing later with my future-kids.
A few notes before I conclude : as you can see, I wasn’t sure where to categorize this book. It’s younger than YA and older than children’s. Is that middle grade? I’m really not sure. I’d say somewhere in the 9-12 category, but still enjoyable for grown-ups like me. I would completely have embraced the magic of the story when I was 10, and absolutely loved it as an adult, too!
Also, how pretty is that cover? I love, love, love it, and love it even more for how well it corresponds to the story. Not only to the story, but to a specific scene of it! It’s fun to have a cover that has an actual link to what you’ll be reading.
I normally don’t review (or even read, for that matter) picture books, but then I stumbled on Chester at the bookstore and couldn’t resist! These two stories are short – about 30 pages each – but they are absolutely cute and hilarious!
Chester by Mélanie Watt Chester
Genre : For Kids and Cats
My Rating :
You see, it’s a mouse story told by the narrator, the author; except that Chester has a huge ego, and wants the story to be told HIS way. To make it so, he uses his huge red marker and corrects the story where it pleases him – or completely re-writes it when necessary.
Hey! A cat’s got to do what a cat’s got to do!
Chester’s Back! by Mélanie Watt Chester
Genre : For Kids and Cats
My Rating :
It’s not about big life lessons or teaching kids to brush their teeth – although Chester’s story doesn’t necessary turns well for him 😛 The plot is very thin, but the images are cute and easy on the eye. Most importantly, it’s fun! Even the dust jacket, the dedication and the author’s quick portrait have notes from the Very Important Chester. I read both books when I received them, and then the Man read them, and then friends came home and read them. They’re really good for the soul 😀
You might already be familiar with Mélanie Watt for her excellent series of Scaredy Squirrel. If you happen to pass by the children section of your favorite bookstore, stop by and take a look at Chester. He’s worth it!
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Pages : 162
Genre : children, fantasy, horror
My Rating :
Coraline was my first read for the 24 hours read-a-thon, and what a read! Well written, original, scary, amusing, magical, are all words I could use to describe this book. There are few modern tales I could compare to the classical ones that I lived for as a kid, but Coraline certainly is one of those. It’s one of those stories I’ll read again and again… and again.
When Coraline explores her new home, she steps through a door and into another house just like her own… except that it’s different. It’s a marvelous adventure until Coraline discovers that there’s also another mother and another father in the house. They want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to keep her forever!
Coraline is great on many aspects; one of them was the strenght of the characters, numerous for such a short book. Gaiman needs very few words to create portraits of them that are interesting, by using a rule many authors seem to, sadly, ignore : show, don’t tell. In their actions and in their words, the characters reveal their personnality. From the two ladies living downstair to the cat, each of them jumps off the page, incredibly real. Coraline is no exception. She is very child-like, curious and intelligent; all great qualities for a little girl who likes to explore.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the “message”, and how subtle it was. Again, Gaiman shows rather than tells, making the message part of the story. For me, it was a beautiful tale of how life is beautiful, the good as well as the bad. Coraline discovers, through her adventure, that a perfect life would only be boring, and that she likes to keep it surprising. I also loved how she went to save not only her parents, but also the soulless children she had just met.
It’s creepy, surprising, a little scary. The writing is simple, but the story isn’t, making it a fun read even for older readers. I’m not surprised this story was made into a movie, and I regret not seing it when it came out in theatres. I will certainly watch it as soon as I can get my hand on the DVD!