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Middle-school librarians Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan prove that two heads are better than one when it comes to discussing YA and children's books

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Friday, August 30, 2013 6:58 am
Read Me a Story, Stella by Marie-Louise Gay
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

StellaCindy: Who says readers who always have their nose in a book miss out on the real world? Those cynics need to meet Stella. For that matter, everyone needs to meet Stella. If you have somehow missed the delightful Stella and Sam series, start here and now with Read Me a Story, Stella (Groundwood/House of Anansi 2013) and then be prepared to go scurrying to look for the rest of the books about this delightful pair.

Stella leaves her hammock (and her funny book that tells you how to make soup with stones) to help her younger brother build a doghouse, literary allusions to the Three Little Pigs included. They head to the pond where Stella reads about an old toad in a velvet jacket while Sam tries to catch a frog. Their day goes on as they enjoy nature, play, books and each other. I love the spread with Stella reading in a wheelbarrow as if it were a Barcalounger while Sam and the rabbits wait for carrots to grow.

“how long does it take for carrots to grow?” asked Sam
“When did you plant the seeds?” asked Stella.
“This morning. But the rabbits look hungry now.”

Stella’s answer? She’ll read them a poem. Watching her read a book about bats while hanging upside down from a tree branch by her knees, red hair a-flying is typical Stella. You will love her. You’ll also love Gay’s delightful watercolor illustrations. This is a book to keep close by for those long dark winter days…the summer scenes and Stella’s matter-of-fact and calm demeanor will get you through to warmer days.

Lynn:  I have only read two of the other Stella and Sam books but I’ve now got all the rest on my request list.  Gay, winner of many prestigious awards, has also been nominated for Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.  Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and Stella and Sam inspired a TV series and two theatrical productions!  It’s easy to see why from the first lovely and whimsical first page.  Gay’s illustrations are done in watercolor, pencil, pastels and collage.  The palette is warm pastels with Stella’s wild red hair a bright central focus.  Small details add humor and interest to every scene making this a book to linger over.  I love all the characters whose personalities pop from the pages and Fred, the little brown dog with distinctly sausage shape, is a special delight.  It is Fred, according to Sam, who can’t sleep and who needs a bedtime story at the end of the charming story and as they snuggle in together Stella begins, “  Once upon a time there was a little boy.”  These are a treat for any child and especially a book-loving one.


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