Month: September 2017

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

Here are some cool links I shared on my TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr accounts in the last week:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

DiCamillo to return to Raymie Nightingale world in 2018 | The Bookseller

Why your kid should read banned books |

With Diverse BookFinder, Bates debuts a one-of-a-kind search engine for diverse children’s books. Find a book today:

LIBRARIES
By the Numbers: Stats to celebrate the most frequently challenged and banned books

TEEN LIT

16 Great 2017 YAs that Celebrate Bi Visibility: https://t.co/ner6iB1Hzp

‘The Hate U Give’ by is bringing ‘private, hidden’ conversations on race into the open. https://t.co/9Rc7Vls6Lr

4 Diverse Biographies of Women

Here are four of my top picks for picture book biographies. They just happen to be about exceptional diverse women.

Danza! by Duncan Tonatiuh

Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh (9781419725326)

When Amalia saw the dancers in her town square as a child, she knew that she wanted to be a dancer. She studied ballet and modern dance but always remembered those folk dancers from her childhood. Amalia traveled throughout Mexico, watching the different folk dances in different regions. She used her dancing and choreography skills to turn those dances into performances for the stage. Founding her own dance company, she became known throughout the world.

Tonatiuh uses his signature illustration style that is a delightful mix of folk images and modern edge. The illustrations are a match for the topic, each strengthening the other. He writes of the large amount of work and dedication that Hernández had as well as the vision she carried through her entire life of folk dance and its importance. Appropriate for ages 6-9. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown

Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra (9780735842694)

This picture book biography focuses on Frida Kahlo’s lifelong relationship with animals. As a child she had a blue parrot, the color of the home she grew up in. She also had a fawn and a cat. But when Frida was six, she got very ill and had to stay in bed for a long time. Her illness caused one of her legs to be different from the other, but once she was better it didn’t slow her down at all. Frida also had an eagle, two monkeys, two turkeys and three dogs. Her animals had a place in their garden to play, designed by Diego Rivera, Frida’s husband. As she painted, her animals stayed around her and appeared in her self portraits.

Brown uses the animals in Kahlo’s life to point out specific characteristics of her personality, each tied to a specific pet. This strengthens Kahlo’s already strong connection to her animals and makes it more clear for the reader as well. Parra’s illustrations are done on board. They have an appealing combination of organic feel, connection to nature and folk images. An appealing and unique look at Frida Kahlo. Appropriate for ages 6-9. (E-galley received from Netgalley and NorthSouth Books.)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Jonah Winter

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Stacy Innerst (9781419725593)

This picture book biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg shows her intelligence from childhood onward. With a mother who loved books and reading, Ruth was raised to go to college in a time when most women did not attend. Ruth’s mother passed away the day she graduated high school and never saw her daughter head to Cornell and then on to law school. Along the way, Ruth noticed all of the inequities around her, towards minorities and women. She experienced some of the directly: having her pay slashed when pregnant and being barred from the Law Library at Harvard because she was a woman. With the fight for equality for women, Ruth became the most important female attorney in the nation as she argued before the Supreme Court. Eventually, she would become the second female court justice and the author of some of the most powerful dissents in the Court’s history.

This picture book starts with Ruth’s childhood and the importance of her mother and also ends that way. Throughout it is a celebration of the power of women and the importance of their roles and their voices. Winter writes with a strong sense of history and shows both the possibilities there are in the world and also what hard work it takes to get there. The illustrations by Innerst have a quirky historical quality to them with watercolor but also a distinct modern twist as well. This is a strong biography of Ginsburg and her importance to the entire country. Appropriate for ages 7-9. (Reviewed from library copy.)

The World Is Not a Rectangle by Jeanette Winter

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter (9781481446693)

Growing up in Iraq, Zaha Hadid saw all of the natural features around her: rivers, marches, sand dunes, and more. As a child, she dreamed of creating her own cities. She designed her own clothes. In school in London, Hadid learned more about cities and architecture. She opened her own studio, designing buildings without corners that echoed the natural features of her homeland. Even after winning an architectural contest, her buildings don’t get built. But she refuses to change or stop designing. Eventually, her buildings gain attention and are built around the world. Her studio grows and gets busier. Even after she passes away, her ideas and designs and the work of her studio continue.

Winter has a gorgeous way with biographies, keeping them brief enough for even preschool audiences but detailed enough to intrigue and to speak to the individual and their life. Look in the back of the book for information on where her buildings are located in the world. The illustrations, also by Winters, capture the soaring spirit of Hadid’s designs and their unique vision. Appropriate for ages 5-7. (Review copy provided by Beach Lane.)

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (9780374304904)

Mothers and daughters fill the pages of this novel for teens that focuses on three generations of a Bengali family. Tara and Sonia are sisters born in India and who are moving to the United States from England with their parents. The two girls are very different from one another. Tara loves to act and works to figure out who she can pretend to be in this new environment. Sonia enjoys debate and falls for a boy whom her mother cannot accept. When their father dies unexpectedly, their family fractures even farther. As both sisters find men to love them for the modern women they are, they too have daughters. Chantal is a skilled dancer and athlete, who falls for a wealthy all-American boy. Anna grew up in India primarily, and finds herself in high school in America. She is like her Aunt Sonia and always willing to debate. As the women in this family come to accept one another and their life choices, Ranee grows older but still remains involved in everyone’s life even as she becomes more American herself.

This book is simply stellar. Nominated for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, this novel is exceptional in many ways. First, there is the writing by Perkins. It is writing of strength and knowledge, but amazingly unobtrusive too, allowing the story to unfold naturally for the reader. She ties repeating themes into the book: music and dance, diversity and romance. Perkins allows her characters to be racist and yet to learn, to change over the course of time, and to have their opinions and values change as well. This is a difficult thing to accomplish in a novel, giving characters a way forward rather than being villains or one-dimensional.

The five female characters are exceptionally well drawn. Readers will be enthralled with all of their stories, the tale of Ranee herself tying the entire book together in the end. The characteristics of family members are celebrated: passion, intelligence, caring and more. These create a wholeness for the family, a feeling of generations being different but also alike despite clothes, life styles and decisions they make. There is a solidity to this family, one that reads with clarity and honesty and feels like home.

A triumph of a novel for teens that celebrates family, diversity and love. Appropriate for ages 13-16.

(Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.)

3 Fun Fall Picture Books

The Bad Seed by Jory John

The Bad Seed by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald (9780062467768)

He is a very bad seed. He cuts in line, tells pointless lies, never washes his hands (or his feet), and is late to everything. He wasn’t always that way. Once he was happy with his family of seeds on top of a sunflower. But when the flower drooped, he was gathered and put into a bag of seeds. Darkness fell until he was almost eaten by a giant! After that, he was a bad seed. Everyone knew it. But what happens when a bad seed doesn’t want to be bad anymore? Can he become a good seed? This picture book looks at the power of choice and transformation. An interesting read aloud for gardening story times or autumn units. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Review copy provided by HarperCollins.)

Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre

Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre (9781481479844)

With vibrant photographs, this picture book celebrates the beauty and colors of autumn. Told in rhyme, the book focuses on the changing leaves. Different colors are shown clearly in the images, making this a great book to explore for colors too. The leaves go from bright colors on the trees, to falling down, to heaps on the ground and sinking into the water too. Finally, there is snow. This is a great addition to Sayre’s body of work on nature. It is simple enough to use with very young preschoolers and even toddlers all of whom will enjoy the vivid clarity of the photographs. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Wee Sister Strange by Holly Grant

Wee Sister Strange by Holly Grant, illustrated by K. G. Campbell

Wee Sister Strange is a girl who lives by herself by the woods in an old house. She spends time in the woods when others won’t be there. She enjoys the moon and the dark. She talks to the owls and buries the bones from their meals. She rides on the back of a ferocious bear. She climbs trees as wolves prowl below. She dives deep into the water of the bog looking at snail shells. Then a bright window beckons her closer. There is the reader, snug in bed reading this book! And Wee Sister Strange stays there, right outside, listening to the story and snuggling down in her own bed outside.

The poetry of this book immediately tells readers that they are in an odd world, one where a child merrily lives on her own. Wee Sister Strange is a beautiful and wild child; the language in the poem makes sure that children will see her as a welcome and safe part of the woods. Still, the bear is fierce and the wolves are about, so this is a wild woods, one where other may fear to explore. The bog is like that as well, cleverly not described as a lake and with the slime emphasized for good measure too. The art by Campbell is glowing and rich. The leaves on the trees are just about almost fallen entirely with a few stubborn yellow leaves lighting the branches like lanterns. The moon is full and throws shadows. The animals are strong and fanged. It’s a book with shivers and wonder galore. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Schwartz & Wade.)

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (9780316349000)

Suzette has been in New England at boarding school for the last school year. Now she has returned back home to her family in Los Angeles. She has missed the city itself, but even more so she has missed her stepbrother, Lionel. Lionel has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and during the summer decides to stop taking his medication. He starts dating a girl that Suzette also finds compelling and interesting, but Suzette worries that the girl isn’t good for Lionel. Meanwhile, Suzette is dealing with discovering that she is bisexual, having had her first relationship with a girl while at board school that did not end well. Back at home, she begins to date Emil, a longtime friend of her family. Suzette is the only one who knows of Lionel stopping his medication and the secret becomes a problem as Lionel reaches a crisis.

Colbert has created a beautiful novel that speaks to the complexities of mental illness. The reaction of friends is well drawn, showing how people pull away from those diagnosed with mental illness and yet want to talk about them too. Lionel is a great character, someone the reader and Suzette gravitates to and yet someone who is battling a mental illness profoundly and pushes people away. He is in turns riveting and maddening.

Suzette’s character is the center of the novel and she is wonderfully crafted. An African-American protagonist who has converted to Judaism when her mother married Lionel’s father, she is someone who has to make choices about what she shares about herself and what battles she decides to engage in. Suzette is just discovering her bisexuality and even hesitates to label herself that way at first. The depiction of sexuality in the book and sex is handled with honesty and without bias. It’s lovely to see it handled that way with both girls and boys.

A very special book for teens, this book is diverse and filled with moments of triumph and pain. Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

Here are some cool links I shared on my TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr accounts in the last week:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

7 questions we should ask about children’s literature | OUPblog

15 children’s books to read for Hispanic Heritage Month:

Congrats on being the first to be honored with the Pat Conroy award. via

Hurricane Irma badly damages the late poet and author Shel Silverstein’s former Key West house |

Lantana Publishing Breaks into U.S. Market

Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. to become TV series | The Bookseller

TV Alert: ‘Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library’

LIBRARIES

Books. Internet. Life-Saving Shelter? Libraries, You’ve Done It Again.

Check out current artist Trong Gia Nguyen and his “library” project that bends the concept of an ideal book.

Kansas City Libraries Defend Free Speech in Face of Arrests, Resignations

Opinion | Libraries Can Be More Than Just Books

TEEN LIT

10 of the Best New Young Adult Books In September 2017

Since its publication 80 years ago today, THE HOBBIT has inspired some tremendous artwork. Check out our gallery:

2017 Kirkus Prize Finalists

The Kirkus Prize offers a purse of $50,000 to the winner each year. The award is given in three categories: fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. Any book given a star by Kirkus and published between September 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017 are eligible. There are six finalists in the young reader’s category:

Bronze and Sunflower The Hate U Give

Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, illustrated by Meilo So

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

It All Comes Down to This The Marrow Thieves

It All Comes Down to This by Karen English

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Me Tall, You Small Walk with Me

Me Tall, You Small by Lilli L’Arronge

Walk with Me by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng