Title: The Wild Robot
Author & Illustrator: Peter Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
A middle grade book about nature triumphing over technology? Yes, please!
On the surface, The Wild Robot is a book set in the not-so-distant future where robots (or robot creators) rule everything but the small island where ROZZUM unit 7134 (aka Roz), gets stranded after her cargo ship sinks. Beyond that, it is a story of love, community, and the force of nature with layered themes that will resonate with a wide range of readers. The relationship Roz develops with an orphaned gosling, Brightbill, is so touching and full of humanity that it brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. Not your typical robot story, that’s for sure.
Although character development is paramount, Peter Brown does not sacrifice on plot. Essentially a survival story, the ending is shocking, sad and oddly satisfying (with more than a hint about the possibility of a sequel).
As another reviewer said, “This book will do for robots what Charlotte’s Web did for pigs”. Read it (or listen to the audiobook) – I promise it will make you re-think the future of Artificial Intelligence.
Title: Painting in the Dark: Esref Armagan, Blind Artist
Author: Rachelle Burk
Illustrator: Claudia Gadotti
Publisher: TumbleHome Learning
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
This nonfiction picture book, aimed at 8 to 12 year-olds, introduces readers to Esref Armagan, a blind artist from Turkey. In typical biography style, author Rachelle Burk outlines Esref’s life chronologically, which is well laid out and researched. What makes this book special is the focus on how the artist developed his ability to paint things he’d never actually seen.
Accompanying the text are a few samples of Esref’s work, incorporated into vibrant illustrations by Claudia Gadotti. Unfortunately, some of the text, which changes color to stand out against the corresponding background, is often obscured by the illustrations.
This will not in any way prevent readers from being touched by Esref’s story. Reading about all the obstacles he faced in becoming an artist will inspired people of all ages, regardless of the type of limitations they must personally overcome. Artists in particular will enjoy learning how he continually improved his paintings by learning to add elements like shadow and perspective.
Making Painting in the Dark even more powerful is the fact that Esref Armagan is still alive and he is not world famous or rich. He has struggled and continues to persevere. I could not think of a better person to feature in a biography for young readers. Highly recommended for the school library.
Addendum: According to the publisher and author, the text issue has been addressed in a new printing of the book. Good News!
The view of Thompson Rivers University from the window of my workshop classroom:
A great conference with so many creative and talented young writers. My thanks to the amazing organizers and wonderful participants. I hope to return to Kamloops soon!
I am thrilled to be participating in the Young Authors’ Conference hosted by School District No. 73 and held at the the Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.
I will be presenting a workshop titled He Said, She Said: It’s all about PERSPECTIVE. Using The Three Little Pigs as an example, we’ll discuss how telling a story from a different character’s perspective can change it entirely. From there, we will review different points of view and how to choose which one to use for your story. We will end with a fun writing exercise and leave with a better understanding of voice.
There will be lots of laughs (and funny videos) to get participants inspired. I’m really excited about this opportunity to meet with aspiring young authors from this part of the province. I am also thrilled to be working with six other talented authors who are also presenting workshops for grades 4-7 and three authors who are presenting workshops for grades 8-12.
I will be reporting back in early May and adding this workshop to my author visit page in hopes of bringing it to other schools and conferences in the future!
Tomorrow is Authors for Indies Day! Rossland’s fantastic independent locally owned bookstore, New Edition Café Books, is hosting local authors Almeda Glenn Miller (10:30-12:00), Jennifer Ellis (presenting a workshop on Indie and Hybrid Publishing from 1:30-3:00), and Rosa Jordan (3:00-5:00). Unfortunately, due to prior commitments I am not able to participate but I have donated some books for a door prize. Come out to talk books and support your local bookstore!
Road Block is now a google doc too.
Trouble in the Trees is now a google doc. Not sure about the significance of this but if you want to read it as a pdf, it’s out there in the public domain for downloading. Good or bad? You tell me.