Becoming a critical thinker: A “My Bookprint” guest post
By Guest Blogger on August 2nd, 2012
Today, Adrian Poole, one of the Scholastic Art & Writing Fellows, is sharing the five books that most influenced him. We call this a Bookprint, and we have hundreds of them from “names you know” right here on You Are What You Read. Thanks, Adrian!
These are five books that inspired me to become more of a critical thinker growing up. One theme is common in all of them, and that is that they see the extraordinary in ordinary things, as well as the ordinary in extraordinary things. I’ll try to start chronologically, but don’t trust my memory:
It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Cheney Neville: The fact that this book was written in the 1960’s didn’t make it any less relevant for me. The book centers on the relationship a cat and its owner, and this bond between them leads him to meet many other characters. One of these is a reclusive woman who lives with a lot of cats. At one point this woman is profiled in the news for some reason and her home becomes infested with news reporters. One of the reports unwittingly steps on a cat, injuring it. She tells everyone to leave, and they do.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster: Since this book is now such a standard, our teacher read the whole thing to us in class. I have to say that although Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz are great books, neither of them communicates the importance of fantasy to me quite as much as The Phantom Tollbooth. The main character begins the book completely bored with life, and he essentially goes on this spiritual quest designed to uncover to him—and us—the true, ongoing magic of the world around us. The book covers all aspects of intellect, from mathematics to language to sound to visual puns. It is about the joy of learning.
Even More Short and Shivery by San Souci: This book is one in a long line of horror anthologies that I read as a kid. I always felt that this particular collection was the most well-balanced of any I had ever read. Although it didn’t contain Steven Gammell’s famous illustrations from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, I felt that the writing was far more sophisticated, detailed, and much creepier. This book gave me a new perspective on folklore, showing me that in addition to classics there are many other stories with similar ideas that may have inspired or been inspired from the more well-known stories.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: It makes me nervous to think of what the film adaptation of this book will look like, because I feel that it will glorify all of the space action and laser fighting and won’t necessarily hold on to the quirkier elements. This is a much more thought-provoking book than one would expect from a plot summary of it, and in a lot of ways I see it as representing how high the expectations are for modern children. The imagery in this book is incredible.
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud: The biggest flaw with this novel is that it presents itself as being exclusively about comics. It isn’t. It’s actually about how we visually perceive the universe. There are a couple really great passages in this book, with some surprisingly rich practical advice. One that sticks out to me is a chapter discussing the five different levels of success for artists. It shows just how far artists can go in trying to attain an original, accomplished voice. A must-have for artists of any trade.
Which five books are in your Bookprints, readers? Leave ‘em in the comments!
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