Wonder

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“You are never the same person when you finish a book—even one that is read purely for escape or entertainment. A conviction may take root or deepen, the imagination may be sparked, a new perspective may dawn.” –Philip Yancey

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a must read. It is the touching story of a young boy, who feels ordinary, but whose face causes him to stand out. Born with dramatic facial differences, 10-year old August faces more than the typical ups and downs of middle school. 

Although this book is written for the 8-12 year old age group, it’s readers do and should span all ages. Broken up into sections, we hear not only from August, but also from his sister, friends, and others, over the course of one year. 

First time author Palacio masterfully depicts the inner-workings of each character in Wonder, providing many sides to the story, while skillfully avoiding the traps of repetitiveness. 

Wonder simply and elegantly portrays complex emotions in a book that is heartwarming overall, but occasionally brings you close to tears. I would highly recommend giving this book the few hours of your time that it would take to read. 

Why I picked it up: It was recommended to me by my aunt, who had read it with her young daughter. 

Why I finished it: It oxymoronically is a light read with a deep and thought-provoking plot. 

Who I’d recommend it to: Everyone. I think there are very few books that fall in the everyone category, but this is definitely one of them. 

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Otis

otis

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” -Emilie Buchwald

Otis by Loren Long is my absolute favorite children’s book that I discovered this summer. It is a very sweet story with well-drawn illustrations and a great message; well suited for both boys and girls. 

Seriously though, this is a book I enjoyed even having read it for the first time as an adult. From what I’ve heard from kids that have read it, Otis has been big hit amongst the intended age group as well. 

The story revolves around Otis, a playful and friendly tractor, who befriends a calf. He is soon replaced on the farm he works at by a newer and bigger tractor, but comes to the rescue when his friend gets stuck in the mud!

There’s something about this book that distinguishes it from other run-of-the-mill picture books. Maybe it’s the appealing, old-fashioned images. Maybe it’s the post-read good feeling that lingers. Maybe it’s the character of Otis himself. Whatever it is, it is well worth the time to check it out in a library or buy it from a bookstore. 

Why I picked it up: I noticed it sitting on the transportation-themed table in the bookstore I worked at and like the illustration on the cover.

Why I finished it: It’s a children’s book, so it’s really not that hard to finish. But I did read two more in the series that we had in stock because each was adorable and well-done. 

Who I’d recommend it to: Children, maybe 7 and under, and anyone who likes a short, feel good story.

3-D Printing and Storybooks Colliding

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Last year, McKinsey Global Institute named what they predict will be the 12 most disruptive technologies that will “transform life, business, and the global economy” by 2025 (Business Insider article). 3-D printing was included on that list. What’s fascinating is that 3-D printing and books are being used together to allow visually-impaired children to experience the magic of illustrated storybooks. 

I’ve always taken for granted the illustrations in children’s books that play such a huge role in developing a love of reading at a young age. Those laugh out loud moments at an absurd picture that even little ones can understand and the role that those pictures playing in developing language are incredibly important. 

A recent blog post by 101 Books caught my eye, titled “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…But What if You Couldn’t See It?” This post discusses the Tactile Picture Books Project that is creating versions of children’s books like Goodnight Moon and Harold and the Purple Crayon with 3-D images in place of typical illustrations. 

This work is designed to allow kids with visual-impairments to feel the pictures and get the full experience of picture books. I haven’t actually heard much about other life-changing uses of 3-D printers, but tactile books seems like a worthwhile endeavor.

The ultimate goal of the group of researchers who started this project is to enable parents to take pictures of pages from books and send them to a 3-D printer, ending up with a tactile books for their kids. As 3-D printers continue to improve, and the price of them continues to drop, I hope this vision becomes a reality. 

This article goes into more detail on the project if you are interested!

The Day The Crayons Quit

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A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
-C.S. Lewis

Thumbs up for sure. This hilarious picture book by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers offers a good read for both kids and the adults that are reading it to them. The books has a clever concept- each crayon sends a letter to Duncan, a little boy that loves to color, explaining their grievances to him. These range from the gray crayon being worked to hard to fill in giant elephants and hippos to the orange and yellow crayons fighting over which one is actually the color of the sun. I don’t have any little siblings or cousins, but I was tempted to buy it anyway. Well worth a read.

Why I picked it up: I worked in a bookstore this past summer, and a coworker recommended I read it when I had a spare moment in the children’s annex.

Why I finished it: It is a fast, easy read for adults obviously, and I couldn’t wait to hear each new entertaining complaint the next crayon would present to Duncan.

I’d recommend it to: Kids under eight and adults who never lost their love for funny, sweet children’s books.