Sunday, April 21, 2013

A little of this, a little of that

Ooops, I've been reading, but forgetting to blog about it!  I finished a book a couple of weeks ago, and read a picture book right after...and immediately began thinking of connections between the two.  (We ask students to do this all the time--try and make connections between books they've read.)

The "grownup" book I finished is called Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Indulgent Introvert's Search for Spiritual Community, by Enuma Okoro.  It's about a well-educated, well-traveled, deeply spiritual woman looking for a church community to call home.  I'm fascinated with people's spiritual journeys, particularly those of women, and this book called to me with her story.  It wasn't a fast read for me, but it was enjoyable and thought-provoking.  Ms. Okoro and I share similar religious backgrounds, so I was able to connect with the book in many ways.  

After I finished Reluctant Pilgrim, I read one of my latest purchases, Lemony Snicket's   The Dark, illustrated by the award-winning Jon Klassen.  Laszlo is afraid of the dark, and tries to keep it at bay...until one night, it visits him in his room.  What happens next is an explanation of why we need the dark, and an unusual way it helps Laszlo.  With Klassen's trademark spare illustrations, the story opens the door for lots of discussion about the dark and other scary things that trouble children.

Both Reluctant Pilgrim and The Dark talk about the light and dark; the former, in the spiritual sense, and the latter, the stuff that hides behind doors and curtains.  In both books, knowledge comes from darkness, and we know what light is because of the dark.  Both Okoro and Laszlo come to terms with the dark, whether it's the dark night of the soul that Okoro finds herself in at times, or Laszlo's literal darkness; both don't seem so scary anymore, since the light is always a step, or night, away.  

I didn't plan to read these books together, but I'm glad I did.  It was like reading the Cliff Notes on a tough classic novel after poring over the unabridged edition; the picture book put the grownup book into perspective.  What a lovely coincidence!