Here’s what I read out loud to my five year old:
First, we finished up a graphic novel that we started while on vacation last week, Frozen: Breaking Boundaries. I found this book at Walmart before our trip. All the Frozen II merchandise came out just in time, so I picked up some new items to take along in our airplane bag. In Breaking Boundaries, Anna questions what her purpose is. Elsa makes all the important decisions for the kingdom, so what does Arendelle need a princess for? Anna meets a girl named Mari who is also questioning what her purpose is. Together, they try out different jobs in Arendelle, but they always seem to cause trouble. Luckily, because of Mari’s knowledge of animals and animal behavior, she’s able to fix many of the problems. Meanwhile, Elsa is trying to figure out why trees are being cut down in the forest. Olaf makes an appearance, of course, as does Kristoff and Sven. The artwork is just like the movies. We enjoyed the book and would read another one of these Disney graphic novels.
Next, we started another chapter book. This time, an Amelia Bedelia book from a four-book collection my daughter received at her fifth birthday party from a great-aunt. Amelia Bedelia has been revamped for the next generation of readers (the newer stories are all written by the original author’s nephew). Instead of a maid in a blue dress and white apron who needs specific instructions to “undust” the furniture, she is a young kid. In Amelia Bedelia Means Business, the titular character sees a classmate’s shiny new bike and decides she needs a fancy new bike, too. Her parents tell her that if she can earn half of the money, they’ll pay for the other half. “Which half costs more?” she asks. Amelia Bedelia tries to earn money, but she obviously struggles with the turns of phrase people use. For instance, when a customer asks her to bring a piece of cake, “And step on it!” Amelia Bedelia doesn’t understand that the customer is in a hurry, and literally steps on the cake. These word plays are sometimes tricky to explain to a five year old, who – much like Amelia Bedelia – takes words at their literal meaning. However, my daughter sat and listened to the story (while also breaking in to tell me lots of other things she was thinking about!), and we made it through four chapters before stopping. While reading, I was also reminded of my mom, who has told me that Amelia Bedelia books are some of the hardest to read out loud because of the tongue-twistery name! I would have to agree. Amelia Bedelia always goes by her full, first and last name, so the book definitely gave my tongue a work out!
And here’s what I read on my own:
I’ve been reading Girls of Paper and Fire, a young adult fantasy series by author Natasha Ngan. Forwarded by James Patterson (and published by JIMMY Patterson Books), the series has gained quite a lot of hype and positive reviews. The author has a multicultural background, which influenced her storytelling, as did her own experience as a sexual abuse survivor.
In this series, there are three castes of people: Paper, Steel, and Moon. Paper caste is at the bottom and they are lowly humans. Steel is in the middle, and they are humans with animal characteristics, like fur and tails. Moon caste is the highest and they are animal demons. The kingdom is ruled by the Demon Bull King. Each year, eight Paper girls are brought to him as concubines – which is supposed to be an honor to their families. Main character Lei is ripped from her country home and taken to the king as a gift because of her stunning eyes. She must go along with being a Paper Girl in order to keep her family safe. She is given beautiful clothes and lessons to make her civilized, but when the king calls for her, Lei can’t submit. When he tries to force himself on her, she runs away. She is punished for her disobedience, which only solidifies her distaste for the Paper Girls tradition. Along the way, she also falls in love – but that love could prove dangerous in more ways than one.
While some of the girls in the story view Paper Girls as an honorable job, it clearly isn’t. At best it’s sex slavery and at it’s worst, rape. It’s rather disturbing. To me, this is not a young adult book at all. On the Goodreads page, the author responds to a reader’s question about how vivid the sexual abuse is in the book, saying that she “tried to write it as delicately and respectfully as possible, so the scenes are…not graphic, but the characters do talk and think about what happened afterwards. [She] didn’t write it with the intention to distress or shock readers – it’s written with love and care.” However, when a 16 and 17 year old girl are expected to sleep with a man/bull/whatever he is, despite their fear and own desires, we’ve tipped into some heavy stuff. I haven’t read any of the reviews yet on Goodreads (I wait until after I finish a book so I don’t accidentally see spoilers) to see what other readers thought, but I’ll be quite shocked if other readers didn’t have an issue with the maturity level of the book. Will I keep reading it? Yes, because I want to see where the author takes this and find out what the lesson will be, but this is really more of an adult book with the fast pacing of a young adult novel.
What did you read today?