Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsburg at Unleashing Readers cohost It's Monday! What Are You Reading weekly on their blogs.   To see what others are reading and recommending each Monday, or to participate, be sure to head over to these blogs. Some of my very best reading recommendations come from this pathway!

I actually read several books this week--my daughter had a meeting at the library and I sat and read while I waited for her. However, I am not going to share any of those books because there was one that I loved way too much to water it down.

Several months ago, The Cello of Mr. O. by Jane Cutler was mentioned in a post--I'm so sorry that I can't remember whose! I immediately put it into my Amazon cart, but did not buy it because it is rare, out of print, and expensive. When I saw it in a bookshelf of one of the classrooms I visited this week, I asked to borrow it. What an incredible book!

The story focuses on a girl who is living in a war zone. Because of the date of publication, we can assume that she lives in Sarajevo, but the hardships that she faces could be in many places in today's world. Reading this book reminds us of the impact of bombs and strikes on children and civilians. We see pictures in the papers and on the news, but I'm not sure that many of us think beyond the initial strike that is featured in the story. What about their food, their water, their plumbing, their school, their entertainment, their daily fear? "I am angry almost all the time," the narrator relays.

There incredible messages and themes woven throughout this book. The challenges of life in nations at war are integrated into a beautiful story, reminding us all of what all humans value and cherish with powerful language and incredible craft.  The cello is a powerful symbol of peace: "People all over the world had to cooperate to make the cello of Mr. O," the narrator's father explained to her when he told her where all of the parts had come from. *** Spoiler alert*** When the cello is destroyed, the power of music is emphasized, as Mr. O. finds away to continue to provide music to the people.

As I write this post and revisit the text, I am overwhelmed at how much there is to talk about as so many strong emotions weave their way in and out of the pages--anger, guilt, love, fear, respect... And then there are the human characteristics that we all value that appear, as well--loyalty, resilience, hope, courage, resourcefulness, empathy, morality...they all live in this powerful picture book.

If you are fortunate enough to own a copy of The Cello of Mr. O., treasure it and share it. If you can find one, read it--you won't be disappointed.

Happy Reading,


  1. This on sounds so interesting. I just checked my public library catalog and our tri-county libraries have two copies! I've already put a hold on it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This sounds like a powerful book, Melanie - and the message is one we,alas, seem to need to be reminded of time and time again. So much never seems to change....

  3. I too found it at the library Melanie! Thank you for sharing about this book-sounds like a book we will treasure.

  4. Thank you for sharing about this lovely title Melanie. In fact, I just read about this title in one of my professional development text for the course I'm teaching. It came highly recommended. Unfortunately our libraries don't carry this title any longer. :(

  5. this book sounds good and your comments make me feel like i need to go look for this right now.. will add it to my TBR..

  6. So excited to see this post! I own a copy of this book and LOVE it. I often read it when I discuss themes of peace and war and even included this title on my list of picture books of Peace and War: Like I mention in the post - find the adult novel The Cellist of Sarajevo!

  7. This sounds like a terrific book, Melanie. My library doesn't own it, but now I'll be on the lookout for it. Thanks for sharing!