Tuesday, June 9, 2015

In Our Book Basket: Luba and the Wren

Many, if not most, of the books in our library book basket are ones that have been recommended to me. Blogs such as Hope is the Word or Little Book, Big Story regularly draw my attention to excellent children's books. In response, I go online and reserve them at my library if they are available in our provincial library system. I get an email when they come in, and I drop into the library on my next errand day to pick them up. We have discovered and enjoyed countless books using this method.

However, there is still something to be said for going into the library and browsing the shelves. Some of our very favourite books have been discovered this way. Flute's JourneyLynne Cherry's remarkable biography of a wood thrush, also Jonathan Bean's wonderful book Building Our House and Robert McCloskey's Time of Wonder fall into this category. With my family of three little boys and a baby, library visits happen less often than I would like, but we did manage to go one morning about two weeks ago. This time, I discovered Patrica Polacco.

Patricia Polacco is a prolific author and illustrator who actually did not begin to write children's books until she was forty-one years old! There is a wide variety in the type of stories she tells. There are legends and folk tales, poignant stories from history, and stories drawn from her own life and her Ukrainian/Russian heritage. Despite the diversity of her themes, Polacco's beautiful illustrations make her books instantly recognizable and unite them all.

Our (very small) library has quite a few of Polacco's books on its shelves, and we have just begun to explore them. John Philip Duck, Appelemando's Dreams, and Thunder Cake are three that we've really enjoyed. But our very favourite so far, and one that SA(6) has already asked to hear approximately ten times, is Luba and the Wren.

This is a Ukrainian version of the classic tale of the Fisherman and the Flounder. Instead of the fisherman, there is Luba, a sweet, gentle girl. Instead of the flounder, there is a wren. Instead of the fisherman's wife, there are Luba's discontented and demanding parents. I won't spoil the ending for you, but just tell you that I think the ending to this tale is much more satisfyingly thought-provoking than the original.

At our house, our 6-year-old enjoyed this book more than the younger children, and I do think it is best for children of his age and older. This is a library book that's so good that it's going on my to-buy list (a very select list, by the way...).

Go, check it out!

I'd also love to hear what wonderful books you've discovered on the shelves of your library.