Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Book Review

Friday Book Review

For some reason I feel like a Haitian theme today. I've been to Hispaniola (the island Haiti is on) to visit the Dominican Republic, but did not go to Haiti while I was there which I regret. I hope I get a chance to go to Haiti sometime in the future.

Children's Books:

Tap-Tap by Karen L. Williams, Illustrated by Catherine Stock
This is one of my kids' favorite books. About a young Haitian girl going with her mother to the market to sell their produce for the fist time. She is growing up, given more responsibility, and some money to spend anyway she chooses and she decided to treat her mother and herself to a ride home on the tap-tap. The boys love the story and the illustrations. *For vegan readers out there, the market also has live animals discussed. The people are selling animals and taking animals on the bus with them. There is no discussion of eating the animals, but Parker just pointed out today (after reading it for years) that there is one picture with a small image which looks like meat for sale.

Painted Dreams by Karen L. Williams, Illustrated by Catherine Stock
Another book Williams and Stock. We also have a couple of her other books based in Africa, but I will leave them for another day. Painted Dreams is special to Parker as he is very interested in art. The young Haitian girl in the book has to find makeshift brushes and paints from things she finds in the garbage and in nature to let all the pictures she has inside her out. Her mother doesn't think art is productive use of her time until it draws a crowd to their produce stall at the market. *For vegan readers, there is mention of fishing and a pig big enough to feed the town.

Older Children/Adult Books:

The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
Years ago, this book caught my interest since it was set in the Dominican Republic. I bought it, but it sat on the shelf for a while before I finally picked it up to read it. I was hooked on Danticat's writing immediately. The book is sad, as most of her books are and I will never be able to eat sugar again without thinking of the people involved. While I was in the DR, I saw my first sugar cane and tasted sugar right from the plant. My sister spent two years in the Peace Corps there and was my guide. It is a beautiful country with an interesting past. It was hard for me to read this book from the Haitian point of view, but it was so hard to put down as well. I highly recommend this book which has stayed with me even though it has been years since I read it.

I also recommend Danticat's other works which I've read; Krik? Krak!, Breath, Eyes, and Memory, The Dew Breaker, and

Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
This is the latest book by Danticat which I read on our Thanksgiving trip to North Carolina. Rob's brother and sister-in-law sweetly gave me a gift card to a bookstore we usually go to when we visit Charlotte. I couldn't find anything for the kids and was going to give the gift card to Rob to buy one of our favorite magazines which is a luxury to buy and read these days (Harper's), but then I noticed this book. I'd heard an NPR piece on Danticat's latest book and I knew I had to read it. Unlike her earlier works, this book is nonfiction and about her childhood and about her relationship with her father and her uncle (a second father in many ways). As well as their relationship with each other and unrest in Haiti and life in America. Again, it is a sad story, but with a hopeful ending looking toward the future. I couldn't put it down and finished it on the drive back to Illinois.

I have not shared any of Danticat's work with the children yet, but look forward to reading them together when they are older.

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