Ten: With Their Own Two Hands

When we make things, we participate in shaping our own environments, as well as the world in which others will live. We take ownership of our places in our communities in a creative and unique way — what we create reflects who we are and how we see ourselves contributing to the people around us. This week’s Ten is full of characters whose diverse creative gifts impact their worlds in big and small ways.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Kira’s twisted leg makes her an outcast in a community that values usefulness above all else. However, a special gift for creating pictures with coloured threads makes her invaluable in preserving the past and shaping the future of her village. This is the second book in Lowry’s Giver quartet.

Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath
Primrose is convinced that her parents survived their disappearance at sea last year, but she’s the only one. As she is moved from guardian to guardian–first the ancient Miss Perfidy, then her Uncle Jack, and finally a foster home in another town, Primrose keeps herself busy preparing her mother’s recipes and collecting others to share when her mother returns.

Harold’s Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Harold, a small child in footie pyjamas, needs only his purple crayon to create worlds and populate them. As he travels through his imaginary landscape, Harold’s crayon helps him to overcome all sorts of obstacles, from hunger pangs to great falls, and finally the longing to find home again.

From Anna by Jean Little
Anna Solden has been called clumsy and worse all her life. When a medical exam reveals that the problem is her vision, Anna is placed in a special class intended to provide her with tools to help her to manage the limitations her poor vision imposes. With the support and guidance of her teacher and classmates, Anna finds that she is capable of much more than she thought. The story culminates in Anna’s presentation of a handmade Christmas gift for her parents, evidence not only of her ability, but also of inherent strengths that had too often been dismissed.

Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
Desperate to earn enough money to pay off her father’s debts and reclaim her family’s farm, Lyddie takes a weaving job in a cloth factory. Despite its initial glamour, the work proves far more costly than expected.

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
Foster McKee, on the run with her mom, lands in Culpepper, a small town full of big dreams. Exploring her own dream to become a famous chef, Foster discovers as unexpected place for herself in her new town through her passion for baking cupcakes.

Extra Yarn written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen
A girl discovers a seemingly bottomless box of yarn and sets to work bringing life to her colourless town with sweaters, hats and slipcovers. A pirate’s attempt to steal the magic for himself is foiled by his own selfishness.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Teenaged Sam abandons city life to build a home for himself in the wilderness. With determination, creativity, and a bit of guidance (mostly from books), he procures sufficient food and shelter to sustain himself comfortably for a year. This is the first in a trilogy.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
When he isn’t maintaining the clocks in the train station — he’s been filling in for his uncle, who disappeared months ago — Hugo works on restoring the automaton that obsessed his father before the latter’s tragic death in a fire at work. Convinced that, once fixed, the automaton will give him a message from his father, Hugo will do anything to make it work again — a commitment that gets him into trouble, and tangles him in the painful history of another family.

The Hueys in The New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers
The stable sameness of life as a Huey is thrown into disarray when one Huey knits himself a sweater that doesn’t quite follow the pattern.

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3 thoughts on “Ten: With Their Own Two Hands

    • I think Gathering Blue is my favourite of the four, but they’re all well worth reading. I’ve been wishing, lately, that Lois Lowry would write an adult companion that tells the life stories of the Giver from book 1 and the Singer from book 2. I bet it’d be amazing!

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