Posted tagged ‘Bagram Ibatoulline’

Sea Glass Summer

December 12, 2019

If you’re like many of us who have been inundated with snow, sleet, wind, and rain, this may be the book that will lift your winter spirits.

sea glass

Sea Glass Summer written by Michelle Houts and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline tells a story of how a young boy called Thomas spends the summer at his grandmother’s island cottage. She gifts Thomas with a magnifying glass that was his grandfather’s. Each day, Thomas and his grandmother search the beach for treasures left behind by the sea. His grandmother finds a piece of sea glass which she hands to Thomas, saying “…after being broken, tossed in the saltwater and sand, the pieces turn smooth and cloudy.” She adds, “…your grandfather used to say that each piece of sea glass has a story all its own.” That night, with his sea glass nearby, Thomas dreams of a ship from long ago as seen in Ibatoullines’ realistic illustrations. As the ship is christened with a bottle of champagne, pieces of the bottle fall into the ocean. Sea glass days and sea glass night dreams make up Thomas’ summer. At the end of the summer as Thomas and his grandmother are ferrying off the island, Thomas drops his grandfather’s magnifying glass and pieces fall into the sea. The story fast forwards to many years later when a young girl who is visiting a family island cottage shows her Papaw Tom a piece of sea glass she found. He carefully examines it and says, “…each piece of sea glass has a story of its own.” That night with her sea glass nearby, she dreams of a boy named Thomas.

I’m fascinated by this story because our family loves hunting for sea glass on the beaches of New England. Bagram Ibatoulline’s realistic illustrations are beautifully rendered, and Michelle Houts’ story inspires imaginative thinking. The author and illustrator weave a story of family, history, and the art of sea glass. Make sure to check this out!

New Books At My Door!

October 17, 2013

My cup bubble-ith over! The mail carrier delivered books I ordered for our school library. A very generous family made this all possible. Oh, joy!

The book I immediately connected with on an emotional level was The Matchbox Diary written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.

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Fleishman weaves a story of a little girl and her great-grandfather and how she learns about his past in a unique way. Unable to read and write as a young boy, her great-grandfather kept an unwritten diary by putting meaningful objects into matchboxes to chronicle his life. The girl learns about her great-grandfather’s home in Italy, his ship ride to America, and his fear of doctors at Ellis Island. The matchboxes tell the of difficult times he and his family had as transient workers in America, seeing his first baseball game, and his mother convincing his father to let him attend school to learn to read and write. Each matchbox is a peek into the happy and sad moments of her great-grandfather’s past.  Ibatoulline’s detailed illustrations done in acrylic gouache bring past and present together.

Paul Fleischman’s story touches the heart. It reminds me of my grandmother who came to America as a young woman from Czechoslovakia.

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As in The Matchbox Diary, my grandmother traveled  by ship and went through Ellis Island. She married and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My grandparents worked hard – sometimes two and three jobs at a time – in order to provide for themselves and my dad. They were able to buy a house, but my grandmother wanted more for her family. She insisted my dad attend a good school to learn to read and write properly. She saved money and sent him to Marquette High School and then to Marquette University where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. For her, it was a dream come true.

When I first read The Matchbox Diary I saw many parallels between the great-grandfather and my grandmother. Life was not always easy, but there was an unspoken work ethic to do your job and do it well to attain your goals. This book works on many levels and is well-worth taking time to enjoy a look into the past.

Stay tuned for more treasures the mail carrier delivered.


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