I have several short books that I thought I’d put them all in one Mini’s post but then that would defeat my purpose of the Minis feature because I’m supposed to not write long posts for that. So watch out for several Mini reviews soon!
Anyway, I haven’t read many children’s picture books lately — in fact, I can’t remember when was the last time I read one. Ever since Filipino ReaderCon, though, and being a part of the Readers’ Choice Awards committee, I’ve been curious, so I thought I’d start reading them every now and then. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being kids every now and then, right? :)
Brightest by Johann de Venecia and Joanne Crisner
Isshin Dream Publishing, 50 pages
A story about a lost firefly catcher, trying to find his way home… and a broken firefly that had long lost himself. And how friendship and being there for each other made a difference in their lives.
I received a copy of Brightest during our 7th Face to Face discussion for our book club, where Jho, from Isshin Dream Publishing, gave away copies. I was curious, and I have a soft spot for local, self-published books, so I got one and read it immediately the next day after the event (when I’ve caught up on sleep, that is). :) Brightest is the story of a firefly catcher who got lost trying to find his way home. As he went through the forest, he runs into a broken firefly who was also lost — lost long ago, and has given up on finding himself again.
I liked it. The illustrations were gorgeous, as well as the printing — it was such a pretty book that I almost didn’t want it to end. It felt like a good bed time story, something that parents would read to kids who don’t feel like sleeping, or at least, to read to kids who have trouble sleeping in fear of nightmares. I guess the older reader in me just started questioning some things, like why exactly was the firefly broken? I didn’t quite get that, but maybe that’s me over thinking it.
Overall, though, Brightest was a lovely book, and it’s one that I would probably give to my brother and sister-in-law once they have kids. :)
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Harper Collins, 64 pages
‘Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.’
So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.
Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk…and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.
This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.
The Giving Tree was one of the books lined up for our book club’s December discussion. It lost the face to face voting last Saturday, and one of my co-moderators said that this book is relevant reading now, especially to what has been happening with the floods and all that in our country in the past week. So yesterday when I got home, I decided to read it (the shortness of the book is also a factor why I decided to do that).
The Giving Tree is about a tree and a boy, and the tree loved the boy. So much that the tree gave him everything he asked for, even if the boy (who grew up to be a man) didn’t seem to return the same kind of love that the tree has for him. This book is both heartwarming and sad, because there is such truth in this book. I didn’t know if I would be happy or sad when I was done — I was pretty sure I felt both.
It’s interesting how a book can sum up what loving really means in less than 100 pages, and with simple words and illustrations. Yes, I think The Giving Tree is relevant to us as far as the environment goes, but I think the book is more relevant because it just shows one of the many, many aspects of true love: giving without expecting anything in return.
I think we all need a reminder of that every now and then. I know I do.