Quirky, Weird and Wonderful:

These are books that I have discovered over the years and want to celebrate.
Some are out of print, some are new, but most of them have fallen through the cracks for some reason
or another and are not on the general must read lists of books for children.
This does not mean I do not love award winners and best sellers,
but I have a soft spot for the unappreciated and misunderstood.
Please understand that my taste is eclectic, slightly warped and a bit dark.
I like books that make me laugh, books that make me cry, and books that make me think.

I welcome suggestions. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

June 29, 1999 by David Wiesner

OK, I've recognized a pattern. I am posting books of award winning authors, but the books I like are not the ones that won the awards. So, am I just ornery or is there a logic behind my preferences? Hmmm... could be ornery.

But, it may be that these talented authors have created many really good books and the ones that have won awards may not necessarily be their best. They might just be the ones that were the right books at the right time or the ones that appeal to the most people. Or maybe I'm just ornery. Having never been on a children's Literature award committe, I can only speculate, but I do know that every year is different. Sort of like wine.

David Wiesner has won three, yes three Caldecotts, and specializes in amazing wordless picture books. Yet, my favorite of his works is not an award winner. Instead I adore June 29,1999. Yes, I love Tuesday and always read it early in the year for Kindergarteners. I talk about "reading" pictures and telling your own story. We even add dialog together!

But still, June 29th has my heart. Instead of flying frogs, it has beautiful flying vegetables. (Arugula in Ashtabula). It also has words and a plot with an arc that is more complex then visiting town and finding your way home or seeing pictures within pictures. It has characters with names and relationships and conflict, even geographical puns! This is a story that children of various ages can relate to in many different ways.

A science experiment gone awry and its intersection with an alien tourist cruise ship, the plot of June 29th is wonderfully inventive! Holly Evens sends vegetables up in the air for a science experiment and, then, is surprised when giant vegetables descend all over the country. It's a mystery; it's an invasion; it's science, and headlines from the tabloids.

As much I admire Wiesner's illustrations, I'm afraid his Caldecott award winning works lack this complexity of plot and character. The Caldecott is an award for illustration and, in my opinion, Wiesner does deserve all of them, but I wish he would write a story again as good as June 29th, 1999.

June 29th, 1999
ISBN-10: 0395727677
ISBN-13: 978-0395727676

Teacher Notes: I love having a map when reading this and finding places like Ashtabula. Read this when the class plants seeds in the spring and then see what sort of stories your kids write!

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