1.24.2011

Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins

Since I'm doing very little productive in my own reading, I'll provide a brief review of a children's audiobook we read/heard/listened to on our recent weekend trip.  Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins is utterly charming.  And the audio edition, which we got from our public library, is narrated flawlessly by Melanie Martinez.  This woman's reading made what was certainly an already wonderful piece of writing even better.  Click here for a sample of the story and of her reading style.

The story is about the favored toys of an unnamed little girl: Stingray, Lumphy, and Plastic.  They are believable and well-articulated characters, and I was immediately taken with them and with the narrative style that gave them such personalities.  It all carried this truly innocent feeling, as though we were actually able to meet the toys as the little girl saw them - but without the little girl being in the picture.  I've read other stories where we see something through a child's eyes, but this story doesn't really do that.  It shows us the toys as though her seeing them in this way has made it so.  But they also do things behind her back, so there is an element of independence in them as well.  I'm not explaining the charm of it well, but suffice it to say that for this reader/listener, it really worked.  Oh, and my kids loved it too.

I'm currently reading a book called Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard.  It was required of me to require it of my writing classes (something that has kept my underwear in a pinch for several weeks now), and I was really angry about it for awhile.  I didn't like being told I needed to read this book I wasn't interested in and assign it regardless of what I thought of it.  So, I made it work by simply not reading it in advance.  That's right.  I put a book on my syllabus I had not read, and then, I told my students I hadn't read it.  We're treating it kind of like a book club, where I'm reading along with them, and we'll share our thoughts on the rhetoric and other such things.  It is not a good book thus far, but I am interested to see where it takes us.  I'll post a full review at the conclusion of these experiment.  Think I'm crazy?  Know anything about this Shepard character and his book? 

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