Alison McGhee is a very talented American author. She seems to write for all ages and in all forms, making her the perfect creative writing teacher which she is also an expert at. I haven't read any of her novels, but reading that she was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize I feel the need to rush out and find Shadow Baby .I first met her work in the picture book, Mrs Watson Wants Your Teeth. The subject of losing teeth is always very important with the age group of children I teach. They were fascinated by the concept of a teacher who was collecting baby teeth. Rumours abounded at school about how one of our Year 1 teachers was just like Mrs Watson. Then I twigged that the girl in this book was also in Countdown to Kindergarten, another book written by Alison and illustrated by Harry Bliss, so now I often put them on display together.
More recently I have followed her reflective titles that are illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, Someday (perfect for Mother's Day), Little Boy and Always. Her two most recent picture books have been illustrated by Taeeun Yoo, Only a Witch can Fly and So Many Days (every library needs a print from this of the child reading). The piece de resistance of her picture books has to be, Only A Witch Can Fly. Granted this is a beautiful book because of Taeeun Yoo's amazing linoleum block illustrations, but the poetic text combined with these illustrations makes it a very special book and it would be a shame if it was seen purely as a Halloween book. It is so much more. Make the unusual poetic stanzas accessible to young children by reading them aloud, probably more than once, talking about the words and pictures and then discussing the theme of determination and finding one's own way to do something.