While following the blog at: http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/afuse8production, I came across a post about the “forgotten gems” in recent children’s literature. The books on the list could have been only a few years old, but perhaps they didn’t receive any recognition or awards, and the author wanted to bring them forward so they wouldn’t become left behind.
A few books on the list really stood out to me, (like a board book for toddlers of the poem The Swing), but the list was long. It wasn’t until I saw a copy of The True Story of Stellina by Matteo Pericoli that I remembered it, that the blog had said it was a favorite that was no longer in print. I figured I should check it out, while it was available.
So I ended up taking the story of the little bird and the couple that became her family home. And I loved it. The story is sweet and simple, the illustrations are just as simple. The words, although not necessarily predictable, become familiar as you read it through. Read out loud, it’s a delight to relax into and really enjoy.
I had a hard time writing about it, because I couldn’t think of a way to neatly fit it into a lesson plan. I couldn’t fit it into the “box” of ideas I have in my head about what a children’s book should look like. I was unsure about what kind of situation you would use such a book in—yes, it was nonfiction. But it was mainly a story. It had no clear “message,” and I couldn’t think of a way to tie in math or science or intense questioning. As a creative thinker, that really bothered me.
And then I thought more about it—why does it have to fit into any of those categories? Of everything I’ve read for pleasure as an adult, where does it fit in?
Answer? It doesn’t. But that’s okay. Sometimes reading just for the joy of a story is enough. That’s what this book is.