Travel the world from the comfort of your own home, no passport required.
I’m excited to bring you the Armchair Travel edition of the Adult Summer Reads, the entire 15-item list of which you can find on this list on Bibliocommons: VaughanPL: Adult Summer Reads: Armchair Travel.
This installment is the Armchair Travel edition, which will take you around the world from Antarctica to Scotland to… well, around the world, all from the comfort of your very own armchair (armchair not included – you’ll have to provide your own). You don’t have to worry about packing, or the dollar, or your passport, or anything else, which frees you up to simply enjoy the vacation-of-sorts in its entirety. Hurrah!
When Bertolt popped up in my periphery, I knew I had to read it, especially in the wake of The Giving Tree. (In case you missed it, you can see my thoughts about Silverstein’s book here.) Like The Giving Tree, Bertolt also features a relationship between a (nameless) boy and the titular tree – I hesitate to say his tree, even though he has named it, because although I think he feels an affinity with it and identifies it as his own, it’s less a matter of belonging or ownership so much as the fact that it is with this particular tree and not another that he has a special connection – but veers into a completely different direction altogether, and it’s both heartwarming and sad because no sooner do we feel the complete love of this boy for the tree do we learn that the tree can no longer give him what his memories hold: Bertolt is dead.
In light of this, the boy meditates upon the death of his friend, Bertolt, the big oak tree, and is thrown into a sort of controlled turmoil: were Bertolt to have been struck by lightning or cut down, at the very least, the boy says, he would know for sure. His excitement during the winter served to sadden him even further once spring came around, and the fact that he never realized when exactly it was that Bertolt’s life quietly ended only compounds the realization that this year, this spring, will be different from all the springs past. The little boy thinks about what he can do to remember Bertolt and all the fun times they had together – getting to know the inhabitants of the big tree, climbing up to people-watch the inhabitants of the city – and comes up with a beautiful idea to give the tree its foliage once more.
OK, now we’re starting to get into more specific ocean inhabitants. We’ll be focusing on cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) this week before moving on to molluscs in the next installation. And while we’re on this topic, something exciting’s going to be coming to FYL on Mondays for the next few weeks throughout the summer, so this series is going to be coming in slightly more sporadic spurts as a result. Now, onto cetaceans! I’m going to be highlighting a few different types of books so that hopefully everyone will be able to find something that suits their reading needs, from those who absolutely adore reading scholarly articles to those who are interested in something with a bit more narrative, whether it be fiction or memoir.
Starting off with something that probably has the greatest appeal in terms of how broad its audience might be, The Stranded Whale by Jane Yolen is a great book with which to complement the ROM’s whale exhibit! Yolen & Cataldo have done a wonderful job in depicting the little girl and her experience with a beached whale, continuing to explore how this event has affected the girl and her community. The Stranded Whale tugs at your heartstrings while providing some facts about stranding at the end after the story, which I think is a great way to start discussion about strandings as well as about whales in general. Going to the ROM would be great either before or after this book, as you’ll learn all about one of the possible futures for the whale that got stranded in this book: having its bones live at a museum.
A great follow-up for an older audience would be The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins, which I’ll discuss in more detail below, where you will learn that some whales actually beach on purpose. (No, they’re not trying to commit suicide… or are they?)