Tag Archives: 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 (4/26/2021-5/2/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books:

Picture Books:

Beginning Readers:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: Did I get through all of those graphic novels I keep talking about each week? Of course not. I think this particular stack is unlucky–I’m excited to read them, but other things keep popping up that take away from my reading time (and I can read picture books faster…so those become the focus when I have limited time). Look forward to another book club kit post later this week!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 47 Books Read This Week
    • 21 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (45%)
    • 14 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (30%)
    • 11 Books by Own Voices Authors (23%)

Favorites of the Week:

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 (4/19/2021-4/25/2021).

You might remember me saying that I was getting a giant stack of books from my library–this is that week! I managed to get through this week’s load of the picture books, though I still have many a graphic novel that I hope to read next week. Due to the large number of books in this post, I’m featuring my favorites list at the top this week.

Favorites of the Week:

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books:

Picture Books:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: So much reading this week! I’m trying to move through my to-read pile before July (so I can share these awesome books with all of you!), so I am accessing books from a few different libraries now. That means many more books are moving through my house (and also why Book Review Tuesdays are on hiatus — I simply don’t have time to write reviews for everything I read with the pace I will be keeping for the next few weeks). Listening to another teen thriller now that I’m excited to share next week. Life is keeping me busy, that’s for sure!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 47 Books Read This Week
    • 28 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (60%)
    • 17 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (36%)
    • 14 Books by Own Voices Authors (30%)

Blog Update & It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hi everyone! I’m gotten some very good news regarding the results of the recent ALSC ballot–I’m not 100% sure what I can share yet — but the ALSC Election Results are public, and some of you have reached out with congratulations (thanks!) — so I wanted to give a blog update. (If this feels very vague, I’ll update the post once I’ve gotten the final go ahead to do so. But pending final approval, I’ll be a part of an upcoming ALSC award committee!)

Between the requirements of this new committee work, and a personal desire to slow down the pace of my blogging, you’ll notice some changes to the weekly Book Cart Queens blogging routine:

  • Book Review Tuesdays are going on hiatus.
  • It’s Monday What Are You Reading Posts will continue until July.
  • Expect some new Book Club in a Bag Kit posts really soon, and then a break in program-related posts for a while. While there will be new posts each week, the frequency of posts will slow down.
  • Starting in July, my posts will become more infrequent and not in any way book-related.

BUT–none of that means this blog is going to sleep. Michala will be dropping back in with some awesome teen kits, and a NEW blogger will be joining our team!

Sarah Simpson contributed some of her amazing flannel work a few months ago, and she is going to be joining us as a regular blogger featuring her own programs as well as her extensive knowledge of kids lit.

Welcome Sarah! I’m excited for some Book Cart Queens changes, while still sharing awesome content. More to come, but for now, on with the books!

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (4/12/2021-4/18/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: My big updates are at the top of this post, but I’ll also share that I gave up waiting for Baker & Taylor to ship things to my library, and instead I’m getting a lot of already-released books from other area libraries. Expect these posts to grow fairly long over the next few weeks as I continue to share some great titles with you all until July 1.

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 25 Books Read This Week
    • 18 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (72%)
    • 16 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (64%)
    • 15 Books by Own Voices Authors (60%)

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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The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (teen)
Gr. 9+. Michael has had questions about his identity since he was young. All he wants for his birthday is a Barbie, but his mom is sure a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle will work just as well. In beautiful verse, Michael shares his journey as he tackles questions about identity, toxic masculinity, gender, sexuality, and race. Finally at university (college), he discovers the Drag Society, and Michael feels like he might have finally found a space to be himself.

A wonderful book exploring and celebrating identity, Blackness, sexuality, and more. Highly recommend.

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Dog Man: Mothering Heights by Dav Pilkey (graphic novel)
Gr. 2-4. The Dog Man book in which:

  • Dog Man wears a cone of shame,
  • Petey dresses up like Mister Rogers and does an interview on his life of crime and path to redemption,
  • at least three songs about diarrhea are sung with pride,
  • we interact with our very first smooch-o-rama,
  • sippy cups come to life, and
  • it gets pretty violent, making up for the “love not violence” plots of the last few books.

I didn’t like this one quite as much as the last book, but I continue to be a loyal Dog Man fan

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Fatima’s Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq
Gr. 1-3. Fatima is so excited for her family’s first camping trip. But she quickly learns that camping requires patience, just like school does. Building a tent and starting a fire take a bit more work than she and her Papa expect–and what about that scary, monstrous spider hanging out above their tent?!?

A lovely blend of a camping story with lots of details about Indian culture (and racism) throughout. A wonderful shoutout to Brown People Camping in the last spread.

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Martian Ghost Centaur by Mat Heagerty (graphic novel)
Gr. 4-8. The Southborough Sasquatch used to draw tourists from all over the country, dreaming of spotting the mysterious cryptid. But the tourists have stopped coming, and Louie’s small town is close to drying up. Business isn’t what it used to be, and a tech company wants to turn Southborough into the home of its new headquarters. Louie’s dads aren’t ready to give up their restaurant, the Squatch Burger, quite yet, but money is tight. They may have to make a really tough decision soon.

Louie knows that she just needs to trap the Sasquatch. One of her dads got him on film when he was just a kid, and as a mega Squatch fan, she knows that she has the skills to catch the Sasquatch, get him on film, and bring tourism back to her town. But when she learns that the Sasquatch may not be quite as real as she first thought–and her dads were in on it–her heart is broken. Pile that on top of the fact that her best friend is leaving for college soon, and Louie is left trying to pick up the pieces of her life all while trying to figure out what her future holds.

This was so sweet! There needs to be more buzz about this graphic novel. Louie is adorable and the cryptid backdrop is appealing. There will be wide age appeal here–the cryptids will appeal to a younger audience and nothing here forces this to be a teen novel, but some of the larger life questions Louie is facing are definitely more teen oriented (she is 17 after all). I really appreciate the smaller messages woven throughout the book: the platonic friendship between Louie and Felix, the idea that college isn’t for everyone and that is okay, and even that your job does not have to be your passion. Great work.

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Our Skin: A First Conversation about Race by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, and Isabel Roxas (board book)
Toddler+. A book as much (maybe a little more) for caregivers as it is for kids. Children notice race and racism as toddlers and can distinguish skin color as babies. This book provides ways to start those conversations with your kids.

The first half works well as a board book that could be read to babies and toddlers with a lot of interactive questions. Further on, the book feels like it is perhaps meant for caregivers to read with preschoolers–the text gets a bit longer and talks about the history of racism (the illustrations also turn into examples of what appear to be elementary school students playing together).

The last few spreads contain really wonderful suggestions for continuing the conversation with toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids with great examples of ways to start and continue conversations and actively participate in anti-racist efforts. Looking forward to the rest of this series!

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The Scrumptious Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith (first chapter)
Gr. 2-4. Azaleah and her sisters are thrilled to spend the weekend with their Auntie Sam while their parents are at a Food Truck Festival. They always have a great time with Auntie Sam, but this time Azaleah wants to plan something special for her parents: welcome back cookies! Azaleah convinces Auntie Sam to help them bake the cookies, but the cookies turn out all wrong. She knows she followed each step in the recipe correctly–why do the cookies taste so bad? Azaleah is determined to solve the mystery, but even after she figures out one problem, she discovers another isn’t far behind.

Lots of fun! This one didn’t feel like a “mystery” in quite the same way as the first two books in the series, but following Azaleah’s adventures and getting to know her sisters is still a joy. This is a standout first chapter book series that I will continue to keep passing along to lots of readers. More please!

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