So my Twitter friend Niki @daydreamreader started an initiative called #booksmiles. In her blog post, Niki shared Hooray for Hat, a delightful picture book by Brian Won. In this book, animals combat grumpiness by wearing a hat.
Lately, the books I've been reading have led to more tears than smiles. What benefits does a child get from reading sad books? It can be a source of therapy if a child has experienced something similar, and it teaches empathy. Also, crying can be cathartic. My favorite book as a child was Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.
I cried every time I got to the part where Charlotte died, even though I knew it was coming. Most sad children's books end on a hopeful note, and that is reflective of real life. Struggles and disappointments are inevitable, but they are balanced by hope and joy. Here are the #booktears I read this week.
Circa lives with her parents, who both are skilled in the area of photography. Mom takes pictures and Dad restores old photographs. A terrible tragedy changes Circa's life forever. To help her deal with the "ordeal," she has her best friend, Nat and Miles, a boy who turns up at her house with no memory of who he is. A unique feature of this book are photographs that have been "Shopt." Since Dad restores photographs, he uses Photoshop and on some pictures he adds a new detail and then makes up a story that goes with the new creation. I loved the writing and the lessons in this book, like when Circa says, "And now I know that even if God lets somebody life's be short, there could be still be one now that makes the coming and going of his soul totally worth it."
Reading this for my Newbery Challenge. May Amelia is growing up on the frontier in Oregon in 1899. She is the only daughter in a family with seven boys. She is a complete tomboy and always wants to tag along with her brothers. This gets her into trouble because Pappa says, "I am a Girl and because I am a girl I cannot be going what the boys are doing, that there is danger everywhere." May Amelia is spunky and I found her take on her surrounding to be so humorous. Perhaps, that is why the tragedy hit me so hard. Even though this book is 15 years old, I will not spoil it for you. The tragedy (and its aftermath) was one of the saddest things I have ever read. However, Jennifer Holm brings us back from the depths of despair, ending on a hopeful note. And, guess what? There's a sequel.