This weekend, I was finally able to read two books that everyone in the kidlit world has been raving about, and today I add my praises to theirs.
Sara Pennypacker’s Pax is one of those books which you know you must reread the moment you’ve finished reading it for the first time – because you are reluctant to part with the book, and because you know that you’ve missed many layers of meaning in that first read.
Peter is forced to abandon his pet fox in the woods when war approaches and he must live far away with his aged grandfather while his father enlists to serve. But, from the moment Peter leaves his beloved Pax behind, he knows that he must return, no matter what, to rescue Pax. And Pax, confused and bereft as he is, remains steadfast in his faith in his boy – Peter will be back, and Pax must wait. But their reunion is thwarted by encroaching war, natural dangers of life in the wild, and Peter’s own journey to understanding who he is and what he must do.
I loved that this story was told in the alternating perspectives of Peter and Pax, which was just masterfully done. I especially enjoyed the way in which the reader was able to enter into the way in which Pax communicated with the foxes he encountered in the woods, and his love for and bond with his boy. And I loved the way Pennypacker developed the relationship between Peter and Vola, a veteran soldier he meets along the way, and the journey to trust and kindness they must first make together. Jon Klassen’s delicate illustrations are such a lovely addition, too – especially in the way he is able to capture Pax.
Pax was an unforgettable book, one I can’t wait to share with my sixth graders.
Matt de la Peña’s Last Stop on Market Street won the 2016 Newbery Medal, is a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book, and a 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. And, from it’s very first page, I could see why this book has earned such praise and so many honors.
CJ and his grandma ride the bus home from church every Sunday, but one Sunday CJ is filled with questions about what he has and (most important to him) what he doesn’t have. Grandma answers each question with hope and love – each answer shows CJ the gifts he should see, the joys he is surrounded with. Christian Robinson’s glorious illustrations add warmth to the story.
This is a book to be shared in every classroom! Here’s a lovely video of the author reading from Last Stop On Market Street: