Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (4/5/2021-4/11/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: Fewer book read this week–a combination of less holds coming in from my library, wrapping up or moving forward with various projects, and starting to slow down my planned reading. My second vaccine dose is coming soon, and I have a long list of things I want to do when my two weeks of post-vaccine time are up. I’m anticipating more audiobook listening but less reading of physical books.

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 15 Books Read This Week
    • 11 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (73%)
    • 9 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (60%)
    • 8 Books by Own Voices Authors (53%)

Favorites of the Week:

Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

Ana & Andrew by Christine Platt (first chapter books)
Gr. 2-3. Some great new additions to this fantastic own voices beginning reader/first chapter book series featuring an African American family living in Washington, D.C.

Home Run: Ana and Andrew each pick out a team sport this year. Just as Ana’s basketball season wraps up, it is time for Andrew to try out for the baseball team! Before his first game, Andrew gets nervous, and his family reminds him of an amazing baseball player who was probably also a bit nervous before his first game–Jackie Robinson.

Honoring Heroes: Ana and Andrew’s parents are going to take them to someplace they have never been before in Washington, D.C. — the African American Civil War Memorial. On the way, they learn about their ancestor, a soldier honored at the memorial.

Martin’s Dream: Ana and Andrew are excited to learn about a Black historical figure for Black History Month. They are assigned Martin Luther King, Jr. They already know a bit about him–but there is plenty more to learn. Their parents help them expand their learning through a family trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C.

Planting Peanuts: Ana and Andrew are excited to select a plant to grow. After selecting peanuts, they learn about the history of the peanut and its connection to cotton.

A Walk in Harlem: Papa takes Ana and Andrew on a surprise trip, all the way from Washington, D.C. to Harlem. In addition to getting some great slices of pizza, they learn about the Harlem Renaissance and get inspired to make their own creations based on what they saw and did in New York City.

Ballet Bunnies by Swapna Reddy (first chapter books)
Gr. 2-3. This was fun! It doesn’t flow quite as well as I would like, but it will be well loved by young dancers and the bunnies help it earn so many cute points.

1. The New Class: Millie absolutely cannot wait for her first ballet class! But when she arrives, she realizes that most of her classmates have been dancing for years. They know the steps, and Millie doesn’t. And classmate Amber is determined to make sure Millie knows she doesn’t belong.

Just as Millie is about to quit, she discovers something a little magical about her ballet studio: it is the home to four tiny, talking bunnies that love ballet just as much as the students. The ballet bunnies will help Millie learn her dance steps–but she has to make sure to keep their secret.

2. Let’s Dance: The Ballet Bunnies helped Millie learn the basics of ballet, but now Millie has a lot more to learn as she and the other young dancers prepare for the upcoming performance in front of a full theater of people. Can Millie learn to dance with a prop? She will practice and practice until she gets her steps perfect–but what happens when everything still goes wrong on performance day?

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Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz (biography)
Gr. 4-7. Learn about picture book creator Uri Shulevitz’s childhood fleeing Nazi-inhabited Poland for the Soviet Union. His family survived impossible and terrifying circumstances that are relayed in an almost matter-of-fact manner in this biography. Large print text and scattered illustrations keep the book moving, even as it sometimes drags as Shulevitz delves into favorite books and movies that he remembers from the time.

This is an important story, though I’m not 100% sure the audience for it. For classroom use, this could be a good addition to balance the more commonly used concentration-camp-focused holocaust survival stories. (And preferably also paired with something highlighting the Jewish experience that is a bit more modern–similar to how so many African American stories are regulated to slavery, so many Jewish stories are regulated to the holocaust. Both are important, but modern Jewish Joy and Black Joy books are extremely important too.)

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Shaking Up the House by Yamile Saied Méndez
Gr. 4-6. Ingrid and Winnie Lopez are about to leave the White House. Their father is ending his second term as President of the United States, and it is time to make way for the next first family. Typically, the new family doesn’t move in until inauguration day, but that would mean that new first daughters, Skyler and Zora Williams, wouldn’t be settled in before their new school year begins. So, for the first time in history, President Lopez invites incoming President-Elect Williams (and her family) to move into the White House early.

Two first families–and four first daughters–means that the house feels a little more cramped than usual. The Lopez sisters decide to welcome the Williams twins with a White House tradition: a friendly prank to help them let go of their nerves.

But friendly pranks are one thing when the prank-creators have moved out before their pranks play out, and a whole other thing when the prank’s victims have a chance to seek revenge. The Williams twins don’t appreciate the Lopez girls’ joke–and soon an all-out prank war ensues (all kept a secret from their parents, of course).

But soon, pranks are no longer light fun as a ferret and later people start to get hurt. Can the girls learn to rekindle their old friendship–or will they all go down in history for their destructive pranks?

I liked this–I enjoy political stories and the White House backdrop was nice–but the pranks did seem to take a mean and expensive turn fairly quickly. And they were quite elaborate–did these girls ever go to school? How did they have so much time to come up with and execute these plans? And was it really that simple to get pranking supplies? I would imagine that, while pretty much anything is available to them, they would still have to ask someone for it (they can’t just run to the store for a massive batch of glitter or powder to make green Jello–and requesting either of those things would raise suspicion). I wish their friendship had been examined a bit more–I kept feeling like we would get a touch of character depth before we were swept off into the repercussions of another elaborate prank. Overall, this will have plenty of audience appeal, and I love the representation, but I think it could have benefited from a slight shift in direction.

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Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake (first chapter book)
Gr. 3. Badger absolutely does not want a roommate–he has important rock work to do. But since he is staying in his aunt’s brownstone rent free, he doesn’t really have a choice when she invites Skunk to live with him. After some awkward roommate relations, Badger realizes that his life can be more than what it is if he just lets Skunk (and friendship) in.

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this book, but I really don’t think it was for me. It was fine, but it didn’t have the Hundred Acre Woods whimsy of Our Friend Hedgehog or the appealing humor of Mercy Watson. I’m really not sure who I would give this book to–the illustrations are fun and the audiobook is cute, but the story feels a bit lofty and sly for lower elementary readers and yet too simple to interest older readers.

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Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler (picture book)
Gr. K-2. Highlights all the hard work done by the people not often highlighted–the people who build the dream houses, the bridges, the architectural marvels–even the people who make the physical books.

After a year of reading many picture book biographies highlighting the dreamers, this is a refreshing look and reminder that while an architect and an engineer may design a bridge, there are hundreds and thousands of people who pour the concrete, drive the rucks, and contribute to the actual building of all of the incredible things we have in the world. Even a book is touched by many more hands than just the named author and illustrator.

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Super Detectives by Cale Atkinson (graphic novel)
Gr. 2-4. Simon and Chester are best friends, even though Simon is a ghost that haunts Chester’s grandmother. Chester is just SO BORED, and after digging through his grandmother’s old belongings, he discovers some clothing that inspires Simon and Chester to become a team of crime-fighting detectives!

Soon a case falls right into their lap–a mysterious pug appears in the kitchen! How did it get there? (WAS IT ALIENS?) Who does it belong to? (ROYALTY?) The two friends are soon on the case, ready to discover the secret of the lost dog.

This was adorable, and just so much fun. Chester and Simon have a great dynamic and the illustrations are cute enough to appeal to even younger readers (making this a good family read aloud too). Looking forward to more!

We Are Little Feminists by Little Feminist (board books)
Gr. 2-3. Such an amazing book series!

Families: The text is simple–reflecting the joy of family and the support a family can bring–but these stand above and beyond so many other board books because of the diversity depicted in the photography. The photos depict all kinds of representation–families with two moms, two dads, gender creative kids, and a pregnant transgender man. Very well done.

Hair: The text is simple–reflecting the joy of different hairstyles–but these stand above and beyond so many other board books because of the diversity depicted in the photography. The photos depict all kinds of families and kids from a variety of backgrounds with all kinds of hairstyles–and sometimes even hair in more unexpected places. Very well done.

On-the-Go: The text is simple–reflecting the actions taking place on each page–but these stand above and beyond so many other board books because of the diversity depicted in the photography. This might be the only board book that I have seen that has real photos of kids with walkers, crutches, and artificial limbs–and the book isn’t about those disabilities–it is about moving. Very well done.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (3/29/2021-4/5/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books:

Picture Books and Readers:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: More books, as always. I’m trying my best to wrap up at least a few projects on my never-ending to-do list. Some of that is finally trickling to blog posts–I’m going to start a two or three part series on our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program this week! Back in reading news, I read a lot this week, though there wasn’t anything (except the We Are Little Feminists board books) that I was overly excited about. I’m hoping one of my upcoming audiobooks is as engaging as City of the Plague God or Amari and the Night Brothers.

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 40 Books Read This Week
    • 25 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (63%)
    • 16 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (40%)
    • 13 Books by Own Voices Authors (33%)

Favorites of the Week:

Virtual Reader’s Advisory Part 2

A lot can change in a few months! I last blogged about Virtual Reader’s Advisory and my video book talks in September. Since then, we’ve tried other methods of virtual reader’s advisory, including the Virtual Book Displays I shared a few months back and even a few Virtual Book Talks directly to classrooms.

But the biggest change since any of those previous posts is that–like many of you I imagine–my library is now open to the public! Real displays are once again a regular part of our service, and it feels like our patrons want them more than ever before, with displays quickly being emptied and a few requests last week for more face out picture book options.

However, many people still aren’t coming into the library, so we are continuing to look for ways to virtually promote books. Read on for some information on Overdrive Curated Collections and new video book talks.

OverDrive Curated Collections

Our OverDrive system (part of the larger Ohio Digital Library collection) lets us create collections of books to highlight on the Libby app and Overdrive website.

The backend looks a little drab, and the process for adding books to the list isn’t my favorite:

To add books to your list, you need to search for them one at a time in Overdrive Marketplace (or search for subject headings and filter).

Adding to the frustration of that system, many kids books, especially picture books, aren’t available as ebooks (or we don’t own them, and since I am not in charge of purchasing, I can’t add them).

But even with those struggles, I had a lot of fun making lists for this service. I use Libby a lot personally, and it feels great to see something I created front and center on a service like this.

From what I can tell, you should be able to see these collections through the links below, even without an account at my library. The exact books you see will be randomized, with available titles showing up first. Check out some of the collections I’ve made:

Video Book Talks

And of course, video book talks continue on our YouTube channel. I’ve streamlined this process a bit, but these still have a similar vibe to the ones shared in my original video book talk post as well as my virtual reader’s advisory post.

Find some of my newest highlighted titles below (and subscribe to my library’s YouTube channel for at least one additional video book talk each week!).

13th Street: Battle of the Bad Breath Bats by David Bowles

American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar

Becoming Muhammad Ali by Kwame Alexander and James Patterson

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

Best Babysitters Ever by Caroline Cala

The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj

Craftily Ever After by Martha Maker

Dave the Unicorn by Pip Bird

Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol by Andres Miedoso

Diana and the Island of No Return by Aisha Saeed

Dramatic Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith

Farah Rocks Summer Break by Susan Muaddi Darraj

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

Keep It Together Keiko Carter by Debbie Michiko Florence

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat by Johnny Marciano

The Land of Cranes by Aida Salazar

The Little Mermaid by Jerry Pinkney

Locker 37: The Rewindable Clock by Aaron Starmer

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

Magnificent Makers: How to Test a Friendship by Theanne Griffith

Max Meow: Cat Crusader by John Gallagher

Measuring Up by Lily Lamotte

Mellybean and the Giant Monster by Mike White

Mia Mayhem is a Superhero! by Kara West

Not Your All-American Girl by Wendy Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Meija

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai

Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Museum by Renee Treml

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz

Sparkleton: The Magic Day by Calliope Glass

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Guillain

A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi

Twins by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright

Ty’s Travels: Zip, Zoom by Kelly Starling Lyons

Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse

Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker

Zoey & Sassafras: Dragons & Marshmallows by Asia Citro

Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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Agent 9: Flood-A-Geddon! by James Burks (graphic novel)
Gr. 2-3. Agent 9 has been put on probation for some reckless choices while on missions for the Super-Secret Spy Service (completing a mission probably shouldn’t come at the price of an avalanche that destroys a town). But when the rest of the Spy Service team is taken hostage, Nine is the only one left to battle the evil King Crab and stop his plans to take over the world.

Lots of fun, fast-paced action, and laughs. This will be perfect for fans of Dog Man and InvestiGATORS, feeling ideal for those 2nd-3rd graders. Looking forward to more.

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Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd (graphic novel)
Gr. 3-5. Maggie is so, so excited for a puppy to call her own. Her parents have the new baby to worry about, and her twin brothers always have each other. It’s Maggie’s birthday, the shelter has the perfect puppy, and Maggie is about to bring it home–when she passes out.

Turns out, Maggie is allergic to everything with fur and feathers. While she can get allergy shots to help long term, she will never be able to own her own dog. Terribly disappointed, Maggie creates a list of pets she could have, determined to find the perfect one for her. But pet after pet simply doesn’t work out, and soon her allergies start to affect other parts of her life too. Her new class at her new school has a pet guinea pig that they have to give to another room because of Maggie’s allergies. No one wants to be friends with the new girl who cost them a class pet, and Maggie is feeling lonelier than ever. Can she find the perfect pet and also make a friend or two?

Sweet, fun, and a little heart wrenching, this is sure to be a winner with all readers looking for readalikes to Raina Telgemeier, Shannon Hale, Baby-Sitters Club, and the other assortment of realistic fiction friendship and family graphic novels. Perhaps because this is based on the author’s own experiences, this feels a little deeper and more nuanced than some other recent additions to the realistic fiction graphic novel genre, managing to still be funny while also balancing real feelings of sadness, frustration, and loneliness. This will be hard to keep on the shelves.

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Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
Gr. 4-7. Amari Peters just wants to find her brother. Quinton Peters was the favorite child of their local community, with perfect grades, involved in all the right clubs, and he even ran a local tutoring group for younger kids. When he vanishes, the police don’t seem to really care. No one is looking hard enough. Everyone is out of leads…until Amari discovers a briefcase left for her in her brother’s closet.

The briefcase opens Amari’s eyes to a magical world she never knew existed. Amari’s brother nominated her for a special summer training program for the secret Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is swept into a world filled with all kinds of amazing and incredible things, but she also knows that this place has to hold the secret of what happened to her brother.

So, in between getting to know her weredragon roommate (and best friend), studying for her training exams, and dodging the racist and classist remarks of the “legacy” kids whose rich families have always been a part of the supernatural crime fighting force, Amari does everything she can to find information about her brother’s last case before he disappeared. That isn’t particularly easy when she is revealed to be a magician–an illegal type of supernatural being that is known for harming and killing Bureau agents–including Amari’s own brother.

THIS BOOK THIS BOOK THIS BOOK! This is going to be my go-to fantasy series recommendation from now on. The world building is fantastic, with so much here to explore that many series could easily be spun off of this one title. The plot is fast-paced, giving the reader just enough time to get comfortable before moving on to the next twist–but not in a way that feels overwhelming or too unrealistic. And of course there is Amari–spunky, cunning, sarcastic, amazing Amari. Where is the sequel? The movie adaptation? Add this to your library, throw it at every child, and someone buy the film or TV rights to this series now because this is going to be big.

(This is going to get compared heavily to Harry Potter–as any magical school book does–but I think this book deserves better. If you must compare it to something, Lockwood and Company has the fast-paced supernatural mystery and Rick Riordan’s mythology worlds have the summer-experience and the talking inanimate objects. But really–let this shine on its own.)

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InvestiGators: Off the Hook by John Patrick Green (graphic novel)
Gr. 2-4. Gators Mango and Brash are on another crime-fighting spree. This time they are determined to track down the missing snake-armed-plumber all while trying to figure out who could have robbed a local bank. Costume changes, travel by sewer, and fantastic spy tech help our heroes prevail. But when it comes to saving their partner or capturing the villain–which will the InvetiGATORS choose?

More InvetGATORs fun. This series continues to be ideal for Dog Man fans, capturing the humor, puns, and sometimes non-sensical combination of mystery, adventure, and action. I appreciate how even the villains show character development through the Dog Man series; that hasn’t happened yet here, but I hope it does soon so these books don’t begin to feel too repetitive.

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The Leak by Kate Reed Petty (graphic novel)
Gr. 4-5. Ruth Keller might be twelve, but she is already a passionate journalist, running her own email newsletter sharing fun rumors and stories about her community. When she runs into something very real–and very strange–at the local lake, she knows she has a story to find. This shiny black slime surely doesn’t belong here (and really it probably isn’t from aliens, as she first assumed). After she tells some adults about it, she finds a mysterious clean-up crew at the lake removing all traces of the strange sludge.

Ruth’s mind jumps to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but surely nothing like that could happen here. Her endless cavities might be a mystery (since Ruth brushes AND flosses every single day), but this water issue can’t be related…right? Soon Ruth is forced to take matters into her own hands when the adults around her try to bury any controversy and avoid her questions. Ruth is on the brink of something big–she just needs to find the evidence to make everyone believe her.

This was good–really good. The mystery leaves clues in the words and the illustrations, with the reader spotting clues along with the main character. The comparison to the Flint water crisis (and the cover up) was on point. And I love a strong, smart heroine who isn’t about to let anyone bully her into silence. Really well done!

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Quincredible Vol. 1: Quest to Be the Best! by Rodney Barnes (graphic novel)
Gr. 5-8. Meet Quin. After a meteor shower, he (and many other people in New Orleans) were given special powers–the powers of superheroes. Quin is invulnerable–but that doesn’t feel very useful when you can’t run fast or throw a punch (it just means you can take a lot of punches from a lot of bullies and get back up again afterwards).

But after catching the eye of another local superhero, Quin decides he wants to use his super talent and his brains to try to be an actual hero. But where there are heroes, there are always villains, and Quin finds himself trying to keep his identity hidden while figuring out who the real villains are as racial tensions mount after more and more disasters strike his hometown.

This doesn’t hold up quite as strongly as some other recent superhero comics, but it feels like a realistic origin story that makes me want to dig more into this character. I want to read Vol. 2–I feel like this story has created a setup that gives it plenty of room to develop and stand on its own as more issues are released.

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Welcome to Wagmire by Melody Mews (first chapter)
Gr. 2-3. Itty is so excited to visit her friend Prince Pip in his kingdom of Wagmire! Itty wants to spend time with her friend, but things sure are different in Wagmire: there are dog toys everywhere, a giant castle that touches the sky, and everyone travels by dragon (instead of cloud). When Itty and her new friends get stuck in a treehouse, can Itty figure out a way to help them get down?

Another cute Itty Bitty adventure! This series is sure to please with its friendship-filled stories, messages about kindness, and kitty, unicorn, fairy, and glitter-filled illustrations. Lots of puppy love in the newest addition!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (3/22/2021-3/28/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books:

Picture Books and Readers:

Graphic Novels:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS! I will be singing about this book from all the library rooftops forevermore. Weekly posts are going to be focusing on some non-“programming” content for a while, as I don’t have as many programs to talk about since my work time is currently consumed by a bunch of other projects (but never fear, weekly book posts will continue, and there are some more program posts planned for a few weeks from now).

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 42 Books Read This Week
    • 19 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (45%)
    • 10 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (24%)
    • 7 Books by Own Voices Authors (16%)

Favorites of the Week:

Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda
Gr. 4-7. Sik thinks its just another night at his parents’ deli–but everything changes when a couple of demons crash the place. Literally–they destroy the building, demanding a mystery item from Sik that he simply doesn’t have. Suddenly Sik’s parents are in the hospital with a strange illness, one of Sik’s classmates is behaving particularly strangely, and Sik is pulled into a world of gods, demons, and monsters from his family’s old stories. Sik isn’t alone–he has Ishtar, the goddess of love and war; Ishtar’s adopted daughter and all-around awesome warrior, Belet; and former hero Gilgamesh all on his side. To save his parents and all of New York, Sik just needs to travel to the realm of the dead, find his brother, and bring back the Flower of Immortality. Should be easy since Sik is apparently, somehow, already immortal…right?

Squee! I go through phases with the quality of the Rick Riordan presents books, but wow this imprint is on a roll lately. This is in my top three favorites (with Tristan Strong and Paola Santiago). A fantastic, fast-paced fantasy entrenched in Mesopotamian myth that masterfully captures the humor and snark of the Percy Jackson books. I’m going to be recommending this book to everyone and anyone. So much fun–I just need to know that there will be a sequel.

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Home Is In Between by Mitali Perkins (picture book)
Gr. 1-3. Shanti and her family move from India to the United States, and Shanti suddenly finds herself caught between two homes: her old village, stories in Bangali, delicious luchi, and her life in her family’s apartment; but also her life in her new town at her new school, with trick or treating, ballet, and snowball fights. Shanti feels caught in between–trying to figure out which one is really home.

Ohhhhh this book! I’ve heard great things, and boy does this deliver. Great, fun illustrations, and an excellent glimpse into the life of a child adjusting to immigrating to a new place and figuring out how cultures blend together. Pick this one up!

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Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand (picture book)
Gr. K-2. Laxmi has a mooch (Hindi for “mustache”). She’s never really thought about it until her classmates tell her that her “whiskers” make her a perfect pretend cat. Laxmi gets upset, suddenly noticing the hair all over her body. When she talks to her parents, she is reminded that she is beautiful–and she realizes that everyone has something that makes them unique (and some girls’ “mooch” is easier to see than others).

So much body positivity here and a reminder to love who you are. I wasn’t personally quite as enticed by the part where Laxmi draws a mooch on kids who don’t have one (with their permission)–I sort of wish we would have had a kid who was okay without having a mooch, real or fake. But as a kid who was teased for dark hair on her arms–I definitely think this is a much needed book that needs to be shared in classrooms everywhere.

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Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor (picture book)
Gr. PreS-K. Baby bird Mel is ready to fly! But rather than flying, Mel seems to fall…and fall…and fall.

Don’t worry, this book doesn’t end in the disaster you might think–it actually has a great lesson about kingfisher birds in the end, making this pair well with a science storytime. Author Corey R. Tabor gets creative with orientation here, which I think will also appeal to kids, changing the direction of the book depending what is happening on the page.

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The Sea in Winter by Christine Day
Gr. 4-5. Maisie lives for ballet, dreaming of being a ballerina someday…until a torn ligament means her dancing is put on hold. Now that Maisie doesn’t go to ballet practice, she doesn’t really see her friends anymore. She feels alone all the time, and Maisie is not very thrilled for the forced family bonding during a road trip to the coast near the Makah community where her mom grew up. As the pain in her leg seems to get worse, Maisie’s moods do too–will she ever dance again? And if she doesn’t, what does that mean for all of Maisie’s dreams?

A quiet, slice of life story. I appreciate that this blends Maisie’s Makah culture into the plot with stories, family history, and connections to the land–but it lets Maisie’s mental health take the forefront of the book. Great family dynamics, particularly Maisie’s relationship with her stepdad.

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Shuri: The Vanished by Nic Stone
Gr. 3-5. Princess Shuri of Wakanda is back! Shuri is determined to focus on her training and earn her mother and brother’s permission to travel to an international conference where her country may be revealed to the world. But her dreams are haunted by girls–girls her age, with her passions, who need her help. Soon those whispered visions turn into reality when Shuri discovers that real girls from across the world–girls with extraordinary science and technology skills–are going missing. With the help of best friend K’Marah and the one and only Riri Williams (a young Ironheart!), Shuri is pulled into a mystery involving a secret base, a supervillian, and mind control. Will Shrui save the lost girls…or will she be lured in herself?

I LOVE this series so much. While it deviates a bit from the Marvel movie universe–as all of these kid superhero series seem to do–Shuri is just as strong and powerful, if a bit younger and more naïve. I love all of the nods for Marvel fans (especially Riri’s appearance here…Nic Stone can we have a Riri spinoff book, please?). Packed with adventure and mystery to pull in even more reluctant readers. I can’t wait for more!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (3/15/2021-3/21/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: I listened to a lot of awesome audiobooks this week, and I’m looking forward to highlighting Amari and the Night Brothers next week, once I’ve finished. It’s so good! Hoping to move through a lot of graphic novels and first chapter books before next week as well–but we will just have to see where the week takes me!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 21 Books Read This Week
    • 15 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (71%)
    • 12 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (57%)
    • 11 Books by Own Voices Authors (52%)

Favorites of the Week:

Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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Claudia and the New Girl by Gabriela Epstein (graphic novel)
Gr. 3-5. Claudia loves art just as much as she loves babysitting. Her fellow babysitters might not quite understand Claudia’s passion for art, but Claudia is fine with that until she meets new classmate Ashley. Ashley participated in an exclusive art program in Chicago, and she thinks Claudia has potential. Claudia is thrilled to have someone to talk to about art, but Ashley doesn’t understand why Claudia spends so much of her time babysitting instead of dedicating her time exclusively to her art projects. Suddenly Claudia is sitting with Ashley at lunch and missing BSC meetings–is Claudia’s time on the BSC over?

Another great addition to the oh-so-popular Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels. We are well past the chapter books I remember reading, so I can’t say how closely this aligns to the original book, but I appreciate Claudia’s recognition of her very busy (and sometimes too busy) schedule. This is the first book with new illustrator Gaby Epstein’s art, and she does a fantastic job blending with previous illustrators while also making these her own. Looking forward to more to come!

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Family Reunion by Christine Platt (first chapter)
Gr. 2-3. Ana and Andrew’s family adventures continue when they travel from Washington, D.C. to Georgia for the 75th annual Lewis family reunion! The siblings are so excited to see their cousins and relatives and participate in the family fun.

Another great edition to this fantastic beginning reader/first chapter book series. Looking forward to picking up the rest of the new releases.

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Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Gr. 5-8. Wow. This was so much more than I expected. Even when the book gives you quite a few hints as to where the story is going, the end result still packs quite the punch. Bahni Turpin on audio is phenomenal as always, and I will always associate her voice with Della’s now.

A must read, with a small caveat that I do wonder a bit about the author’s decision to make Della Black. The rest of the content of this story seems to be own voices based on the author’s note, but I can only imagine that there are layers to this experience added based on skin color that the author doesn’t have the same experience with.

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I Dream of Popo by Livia Blackburne (picture book)
Gr. K-2. A young girl loves playing with her popo (grandmother). When her family moves across the world from Taiwan to San Diego, she misses her popo terribly. When she returns to visit, she realizes she doesn’t remember Taiwanese the way she used to–making it a little harder to communicate. The story follows their shared love over time and distance, emphasizing the bond of family and the particular struggle of leaving family behind.

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Runaway: The Daring Escape of Ona Judge by Ray Anthony Shepard (biography)
Gr. 1-4. Uses the framework of a poem with gorgeous illustrations to tell the story of Ona Judge, a slave in President George Washington’s household. I like how this shows that Ona’s life was “better” than the experience of the average slave; but better does not equal good or free. Excellent all around.

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The Story of John Lewis by Tonya Leslie
Gr. 2-4. A short chapter-book biography of John Lewis, perfect for elementary school students and fans of the Who Is/Was books. Filled with colorful illustrations and pop-out boxes featuring questions, mini-timelines, and explanations of myth vs. fact. Detailed back matter includes a quiz, a summary of ways John Lewis made a difference, more questions, a glossary, and a bibliography.

I am very impressed by the quality of this biography series, and I especially appreciate the own voices authors. While the reading level is slightly under the Who Is/Was books, this is a much stronger work overall with a format that is more appealing for reluctant readers. Will be looking for the rest of the series.

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Planet Omar: Unexpected Super Spy by Zanib Mian
Gr. 3-4. Omar is so excited to use his saved money to buy a super awesome Nerf Blaster! But days before his big purchase, Omar finds out that his mosque is in trouble. The roof is collapsing, and if the mosque doesn’t raise enough money, it will have to close. Omar and his friends work hard to raise money with chores and selling some cool creations, but they think they might have found the best money-making option in a school-wide talent show. They raise so much money, and everything looks like it will turn out okay…until the money goes missing. Can they find it before it is too late?

This was a lot of fun! I remember not being a big fan of the first Omar book, but I am so glad to have picked up book two. Lots of everyday kid shenanigans, with a scattering of British terms throughout (Omar’s family lives in London). This series will appeal to fans of Wimpy Kid and Big Nate looking for books with some illustrations but a bit more text than those series.

We Say Good Night by Salina Yoon: 9780593175040 | PenguinRandomHouse.com:  Books

We Say Good Night by Salina Yoon (board book)
Toddler-PreS. Learn to say good night in English, Madarin, Spanish, Hindi, Tagalog, Arabic, and French in this simple, brightly-colored board book. Lift the flap on each page to see the word “good night” in a different language. An excellent choice for storytime with bright, solid background colors that will make this easy to see even in a crowded room.

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Where Are You Polar Bear? by DK Publishing (board book)
Toddler-PreS. Where is polar bear hiding? Meet many arctic animals in this simple, plastic-free touch and feel book. Sturdy cardboard pages with simple cardboard cutouts create the textured experience without plastic. Muted colors lean into the cardboard design and overall tone of the book.

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Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries (graphic novel)
Gr. 4-7. Young witch Nyneve hides her hair when at school. The length of your hair determines the strength of your magic, and Nyneve’s hair is long–just like her father, who was killed for being considered a magical threat. When the Witch Guard tries to force her to join, Nyneve does the unthinkable: she cuts off her hair, severing her power. Soon she is running for her life and discovering new enemies–but maybe also a few new friends–along the way.

Ohhhh I liked this! I haven’t heard much about this book at all, but this is an excellent readalike for Witch Boy, Amulet, Lightfall, and even Moonstruck and some slightly older middle school graphic novels. Great story, excellent characters, a good trans subplot–there is so much to appreciate. Where is book two?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (3/8/2021-3/14/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books:

Picture Books:

Readers:

Graphic Novels: