Tag Archives: Books

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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Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon (teen)
Gr. 9+. Liliana Cruz knows she won’t fit in at the white school her parents want her to go to. She didn’t even know her parents sent in an application for her–she just got called to the principal’s office one day and told she was accepted into the METCO program and would now be bussed to a different school with more funding. Liliana is sure she won’t go, but when she finds out that her dad ran off again, she finds herself accepting to make her mom happy.

Liliana is one of only a few kids of color at her new school, and she doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. The other METCO kids laugh at her, and the white kids ignore her–well, all of them except for one really cute boy. Liliana is sure she will drop out of this program and just go back to her old school, but then she learns that her dad isn’t off doing his own thing–he got deported, and he can’t come home because he is undocumented. Suddenly, her classmates and teachers racist remarks sting more than ever before, and Liliana decides she is done making everyone else comfortable at her own expense.

Fantastic! Liliana’s journey of self-discovery felt real. While there was a lot going on, it all felt genuine–from the at home struggles to the micro and macro aggressions at school. Powerful, enjoyable, and an easy one to recommend.

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When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
Gr. 4-6. Lily, her mother, and her older sister Sam move in with Lily’s sick grandmother. As they drive into town, a giant, magical tiger from one of her Halmoni’s stories arrives–a tiger only Lily can see. Halmoni tells Lily that a long time ago she stole something important from the tigers, and now the tigers want it back. Lily manages to talk to one of the tigers, and it offers her a deal: return the stories that Halmoni stole, and the tigers will return Halmoni’s health. Lily knows she has to take the tiger up on its bargain–but tigers are known for not quite telling the truth. And can quiet, invisible Lily ever really be brave enough to trick a tiger?

This was beautiful and brimming with strong feelings of love and family, weaving together culture and magical realism in a quiet but yet still suspenseful fashion. The depth of the side characters really stands out to me–Halmoni’s journey towards acceptance, Sam’s fear of being left behind, Ricky’s want for a real friend who gets it, and Lily’s mom in particular, trying to hold everyone together. I see why this won the Newbery

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 (2/15/2021-2/21/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books & Readers:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: Not too many books this week–still waiting for that big pile from Baker & Taylor to be delivered. I might start using a family member’s card to request titles that I know have been published for a while from other libraries. Bring on the books! Currently listening to and enjoying Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas.

Make sure to stop by on Tuesdays for short reviews of some of these titles!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 14 Books Read This Week
    • 8 Books with Diverse Main Character (57%)
    • 4 Books by Diverse Authors (29%)
    • 4 Books by Own Voices Authors (29%)

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 Coldfire Curse (Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly Book 1) by Jordan Quinn (graphic novel)
Gr. 1-3. Enter the kingdom of Wrenly in this dragon-filled graphic novel. Young Ruskin loves his life as the pet of the prince of Wrenly, but when another young dragon, Cinder, tells him that it is his destiny to save the kingdom, Ruskin reluctantly agrees to help. He wants to do his part–he just isn’t so sure he is the dragon everyone has been waiting for.

This was fun! I struggled with some of the other Little Simon graphic novels, but this felt fresh, with a good plot, interesting characters, and a simple enough story and vocabulary to still appeal to first and second graders. Dragons are always in demand, so this series will not struggle for readers.

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Don’t Hug Doug by Carrie Finison (picture book)
Gr. PreS – Gr. 2. Doug just doesn’t like hugs. No particular reason–he just doesn’t like them. And that is okay. But how do you know if someone is like Doug and doesn’t like hugs? You ask!

I see you Doug. I feel seen by you Doug. Some people love hugs and some people don’t, and I am so glad to see a book that says this is okay. A great starting conversation about consent.

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Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho (picture book)
Gr. PreS – Gr. 2. A young East Asian girl notices her eyes look different than her friends’ eyes. Instead of being big and round, her eyes kiss in the corners. But her eyes are just as special–they are her mother’s eyes, her Amah’s eyes, and her Mei Mei’s eyes–they are powerful and wonderful and beautiful.

A lovely, gorgeously illustrated book with lyrical, perfectly paced text. A must-read and recommend book that needs to be on your shelves.

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From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Gr. 4-5. Zoe Washington just wants to succeed at her new baking internship, so she can audition for the cooking show, Kids Bake Challenge. But her priorities shift when she checks the mail on her twelfth birthday and discovers a letter from her birth dad–someone she has never met because he has been in prison for murder. Zoe doesn’t know what to think, but eventually she decides to write back. She discovers a kind man who wants to get to know her–and who says he is innocent. How is that possible? Aren’t people who go to prison guilty? And if he is innocent–what is Zoe going to do about it?

I feel like everyone I know has read this book already and rightfully so–it was a delightful read. Zoe is such an honest character, feeling genuinely 12, trying to balance her knowledge that she is not a kid anymore with her nerves about lying and sneaking around behind her parents’ backs (for a good cause!). Author Marks also touches on prejudice and racism, particularly in the legal system, in a way that would easily lend itself to discussion and research in a classroom. A great read for fans of Three Keys, A Good Kind of Trouble, or The True Definition of Neva Beane.

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Give It a Try, Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi (beginning reader)
Gr. 1-2. Yasmin is back for more fun! This collects four beginning reader book into a longer chapter book: Yasmin the Librarian, Yasmin the Scientist, Yasmin the Recycler, and Yasmin the Singer.

Yasmin the Librarian: Yasmin is so excited to help in the library this week that she even brings in her favorite book from home to share with the librarian. But when her book goes missing, Yasmin has to quickly retrace her steps to track it down. Bonus points for showing a Black librarian.

Yasmin the Scientist: Yasmin has to make a project for the science fair, but sometimes science can get a bit too messy for Yasmin. Can she make her project work before the deadline?

Yasmin the Recycler: Yasmin’s school is starting a new recycling program! Yasmin is excited to help, but her classmates don’t seem to care. How can she make them just as excited as she is?

Yasmin the Singer: Yasmin gets to attend a very special party! Everyone is dressed super fancy, and suddenly Yasmin feels shy. Can she move past her nerves and let her singing voice shine?

As always, Yasmin’s adventures are sure to delight. More please!

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A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong (graphic novel)
Gr. 7+.Luna returns to Ren’s life, acting like Luna didn’t just vanish after one amazing summer years ago. This isn’t just Ren and Luna’s story–soon five girls, Ren, Luna, Jetta, Neil, and So-Young, are brought together due to a common goal: making their new women’s high school basketball team a success.

This one meanders a bit, touching on many tough issues including self harm, death, toxic family relationships, racism, drug addiction, and more. The coloring sometimes added to the story, but other times made characters or plot points fade into the background (intentional, I’m sure, but it left me having to super-focus to keep up).

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Milo Imagines the World by Christian Robinson (picture book)
Gr. K-2. During a long subway ride, young Milo draws pictures of the imagined lives of his fellow riders. Milo is sure the boy who got on with his dad is off on a grand, fancy adventure, but when that boy gets off at Milo’s stop and heads to the same place as Milo, Milo begins to realize that maybe other people’s lives aren’t what we assume.

A powerful book about assumptions that makes you think about what we presume about others–and how little we really know about them.

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Pup Detectives by Felx Gumpaw
Rider Woofson and his team of sleuths are on the case to discover the conniving Lunchtime Bandit. Can they solve the case?

Super Turbo by Edgar J. Powers
Super Turbo, the pet in Classroom C at Sunnyview Elementary, teams up with other class pets to make a formidable superhero team that saves the school from evil.

I wasn’t thrilled with these, though I am wondering if I am struggling more with the direction of Little Simon graphic novel line than these particular novels. I’m glad to see more graphic novels for younger students, but this felt like it was filling off a checkmark of tropes that are deemed “popular” with kids rather than writing a fun, original, engaging novel. I’ve enjoyed other more recent graphic novels for young kids more, including Pizza and Taco, Beak and Ally, and Pea Bee and Jay. It feels like this might be aiming for Dog Man fans, but the humor in Max Meow, InvestiGators, and even Agent Moose does a better job for that audience.

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A Sled for Gabo by Emma Otheguy (picture book)
Gr. PreS-2. Gabo is so excited for the snow, but he doesn’t have all of the clothes and toys the other kids from his new school have. His socks aren’t wool, and his shoes aren’t waterproof, but his Mami helps him figure out ways to make what they have stretch. But, even once he is outside, Gabo still doesn’t have a sled of his own. Can someone in his neighborhood help?

A fun, family-filled book that touches on childhood shyness and socio-economic realities while telling a story of a boy who just wants to play in the snow. An adorable winning book that begs to be snuggled with on a cold winter day

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Time for Kenny by Brian Pinkney (picture book)
Gr. Toddler-PreS. Follow Kenny’s adventures in four simple, repetitive stories as Kenny gets dressed, Kenny defeats the vacuum cleaner, Kenny learns to play soccer, and Kenny eventually heads to bed.

Short and simple, but this one stands out in its simplicity and vibrant illustrations. Looking forward to more like this.

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 (2/8/2021-2/14/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books:

Readers:

Graphic Novels:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: I got a good sized stack of picture books this week, so a lot of reading to record here. I’m hoping to tackle more of the chapter books that have been sitting around gathering dust–essentially I’ve only been listening to audiobooks of chapter books for a while now, and it has been a bit sluggish getting back into reading something longer. But then I turn around and look at the big (virtual) stack of eaudiobooks I have checked out and well…I need three weeks to catch up on reading. Which I may have someday soon since I can’t go on a trip anywhere, and I am approaching my vacation day capacity at work. We shall see… but in the meantime I am really enjoying listening to Newbery winner When you Trap a Tiger. More on that title next week!

Make sure to stop by on Tuesdays for short reviews of some of these titles!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 43 Books Read This Week
    • 24 Books with Diverse Main Character (56%)
    • 15 Books by Diverse Authors (35%)
    • 14 Books by Own Voices Authors (33%)

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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For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington
Gr. 5-7. Makeda loves her family, but she doesn’t always know if she fits in. Makeda is Black, and she was adopted by a white family as a baby–and her family members don’t always seem to understand some of Makeda’s questions. When her family moves to New Mexico, Makeda leaves behind her best friend, and the only girl she has ever met who is just like her. Makeda can’t seem to make friends at her new school, and her mom’s moods seem to change every day. Her dad isn’t around much anymore, and her sister is too busy–can Makeda hold everything together?

There are so many layers to this one–it touches on different particulars than many of the recent upper elementary realistic fiction reads focusing on racism and/or social justice. The own voices exploration into Makeda’s life as a Black girl adopted into a white family is wonderful, with the added layer of Makeda’s mom’s mental health. The mental health storyline does seem to get pretty heavy fairly quickly–moving beyond mood swings to depression and attempted suicide in what feels like just a few pages (it isn’t that fast, but the story moves quickly). I wish some elements of that storyline were own voices too–overall there is a lot happening here with these two very strong storylines (plus additional smaller plot points).

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Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit
Gr. 4-6. Vivy wants to pitch on her local baseball team, just like her hero, Major League pitcher VJ Capello. After one of his games, he taught her how to throw a special knuckleball pitch, and Vivy has been practicing. But, Vivy is a girl, she has autism, and her mom is very protective of Vivy and Vivy’s activities. Everyone wants her to try softball, but Vivy knows you can only throw a knuckeball with a baseball. Vivy doesn’t think her dream will ever come true when two incredible things happen: a local Little League coach spots her throwing with her brother and invites her to join his team. And legendary VJ Capello actually responds to Vivy’s fan letter. Soon, Vivy is pitching on a real team, while also making friends with her hero through their letters.

THIS BOOK! Vivy is a wonderful, fleshed-out character, made so much more real because this is an own voices autism novel. I don’t like sports or sports books, and by all definitions I should have not enjoyed this–but I loved it. The dynamic between Vivy and VJ is fantastic and such a great example of a positive adult relationship outside of your immediate family. Vivy’s choices always feel honest, as do her emotions, frustrations, and passion for pitching. I’ll never understand the joy some people find in watching or playing sports, but I can understand Vivy’s passion, determination, and love for all things baseball. Buy this for your library and book talk it to everyone.

*I do wish the audiobook had been recorded by an own voices narrator.

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I Love You, Baby Burrito by Angela Dominguez (picture book)
Gr. Baby-Toddler. Adorable story following a family bringing their new baby home. Includes Spanish words throughout, with a glossary on the back end papers. Encourages some body part identification that would be useful in a storytime setting.

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Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan (picture book)
Gr. K-1. Carol Olivia misses her parents, but she loves her Mama Rose. While Carol Olivia would love if they could all live together, Mama Rose is everything Carol Olivia needs–kind, strict when needed, and, of course, full of love.

I’m not sure how this one slipped past me last year, but it is a wonderful story with a non-traditional caregiver. A must for your collection.

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This Place: 150 Years Retold by Various
Gr. 8+. A collection of short stories, told by Indigenous creators, chronicling the last 150 years. Some are stories passed down from generation to generation, reading as magical realism, others are rooted in Canadian historical movements and protests, and another ends with a time-travel-filled look into the future. Particular to communities across Canada.

This was fascinating, though I struggled with it a bit, in the way I struggle with many anthologies. Some of these stories held my interest more than others, but I think that was much more my passing interest at the time than anything to be said for the strength of one story over the next. The connecting timelines and history held this one together for me–particularly the returned focus to the idea that for the last few hundred years–since Contact–while much of the world would claim humanity has “flourished”, Native people have literally lived through an apocalypse–of their land, their people, their culture, their civilization. Indigenous people have been trying to survive in this post-apocalyptic world.

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 (2/1/2021-2/7/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books & Readers:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: Still waiting on those holds (Eyes that Kiss in the Corners and Laxmi’s Mooch, where are you?!?). Fewer titles again this week as my free time is tied into webinar prep. I’m co-presenting a webinar this week on no-contact programming opportunities, highlighting a lot of the programs you’ve seen here! It’s keeping me busy, that’s for sure.

Make sure to stop by on Tuesdays for short reviews of some of these titles!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 16 Books Read This Week
    • 12 Books with Diverse Main Character (75%)
    • 10 Books by Diverse Authors (63%)
    • 10 Books by Own Voices Authors (63%)

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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Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
Gr. 4-5. Efrén’s parents work hard to make a good life for their kids. Efrén is worried about them though–both of his parents are undocumented immigrants. One day, when his mom doesn’t come home from work, his worst nightmare proves to be true: his Amá was captured by ICE and deported to Mexico. It is up to Efrén and his dad to get her back, with Efrén now taking on a lot more responsibility taking care of his younger siblings, who just miss their mom.

I just want to give Efrén (and his whole family) big hugs. This book explores immigration laws, while also speaking about current events and the past and current political climate. Pairs well with Three Keys by Kelly Yang.

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Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh (teen)
Gr. 10+. Ada shares her story by moving back and forth in time: from her childhood to her current revelations during her first year at college. Ada captures memories from her childhood: being abused by her cousin, her mother’s addiction, her attempts to understand her body and where she fits in among her peers. In college, Ada is working to figure out who she is and where she belongs with a little more freedom–particularly when she is finally able to embrace dancing.

This felt quick, possibly due to being written in verse, but was packed with emotion and passion. I had to concentrate a bit more than usual to follow the time jumps, but that just made me more immersed in the work. Looking forward to reading more by this author.

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A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee
Gr. 4-6. Shayla just wants to make it through seventh grade with her best friends and maybe a new boyfriend. But everything is different. Julia is hanging out with a new group of girls (her “squad”), the boy she likes doesn’t seem to know she exists (and another, more annoying boy, does), her sister is wrapped up in protests, and now her gym teacher wants her to join the track team. Shay doesn’t want to make waves, but to keep moving forward, she is going to have to decide if, maybe, some rules are worth breaking and some things are worth standing up for.

I really appreciate Shay’s character development. She wasn’t my favorite character for more than a half the novel–her self-absorbed attitude was starting to grate at me. But her personality is honest and reflective in a way that may have felt fake if Shay came across as always kind instead. It allows for growth, related to Black Lives Matter and Shay learning why she needs to stand up for what is right, but also for those tween girl struggles (crushes, friendships, new hobbies).

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Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson (teen)
Gr. 9+. Enchanted Jones wants to be a singer. She has the voice for it, but she isn’t so sure her family can spare her so she can pursue a music career. She tries out for a singing show and is turned away–but legendary R&B artist Korey Fields is in the audience. And he thinks she has potential. Not just that–but he seems to like her. No matter that he is over ten years older than her–he is a star, and he could make her famous. Enchanted is pulled into his world, but she quickly discovers there is a dark side to Korey and all that he offers.

Wow, that was an experience! Told in alternating timelines, chronicling Korey’s horrifying manipulation of Enchanted (and eventual kidnapping and rape) and also a time in the future where Korey is dead–and Enchanted seems to be to blame. On the surface this is a mystery thriller, but there is so much more nuance here with twisting conversations about power dynamics, rape, the treatment of Black girls, the music industry, violence, and trauma. This one will stay with me for a while.

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Iggy Is Better Than Ever by Annie Barrows
Gr. 2-3. Iggy makes mistakes–sometimes those mistakes are bad decisions, but this isn’t one of those books where the main character is punished and learns a lesson. This is just a book about Iggy, some gardening tape, a basketball, and a bike. What could possibly go wrong?

Another fun Iggy adventure. I really appreciate the humor here–this would be well appreciated by both kids and adults during a family read aloud.

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The Magic Eraser by Aaron Starmer
Gr. 3-4. Carson Cooper discovers two things on his first day of fourth grade: a note claiming that Locker 37 at Hopewell Elementary is magical and a mysterious stain located in an unfortunate place on his pants. The note might solve his problem–inside Locker 37, Carson discovers an eraser that, when rubbed three times, makes anything disappear. Can Carson use the eraser to fix his pants? What happens when the rest of the fourth grade discovers the magic of the eraser too?

Another series I’ve read out of order, but I’m glad to have picked up Locker 37 simply for its readalike potential. I enjoyed the second book more than this one, but this is an easy readalike for fans of Wimpy Kid, Terrible Two, and even Klawde the Evil Alien Warlord Cat.

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 (1/25/2021-1/31/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books & Readers:

Graphic Novels:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: Still waiting on that big stack of picture books to come in…the longer it takes, the bigger the stack will be, I’m sure. Less reading overall, but I got through more longer books in one week than I think I have since the start of the pandemic.

Did you watch the ALA Youth Media Awards? Any thoughts on the winners? I’m so happy for We Are Water Protectors, and I’m looking forward to reading When You Trap a Tiger–I’ve had the audio checked out a few times and just never got to it. I was especially happy with the Geisel winners (basically since I was very familiar with almost all of them)–such a great collection of books! I’m an audiobook fan for sure, but I’m not quite sure how I feel about Odyssey winner Kent State. I liked that audio, and its editing is seamless, but I felt like Stamped was the better overall production. What surprised you?

Make sure to stop by on Tuesdays for short reviews of some of these titles!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 14 Books Read This Week
    • 8 Books with Diverse Main Character (57%)
    • 8 Books by Diverse Authors (57%)
    • 6 Books by Own Voices Authors (43%)

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:

Camila the Star by Alicia Salazar (beginning reader)
Gr. K-2. Welcome to the world of Camila! I’m so happy with all of the own voices work done by Picture Window Books–these are all really needed, particularly among beginning readers, which are lacking in own voices titles. Camila is filled with spunk and heart that makes me want to read more, and the smattering of Spanish woven right into her stories is well done. Front matter includes a Spanish glossary, and back matter includes an activity idea, English glossary, and discussion questions.

Camila the Record-Breaking Star: Camila wants to make her mark on the world–by becoming a kid record breaker! But breaking a world record is tough. Will she ever achieve her dream?

Camila the Baking Star: Camila and her Papa are invited to perform in a parent-child baking competition. The winner gets to compete in Paris! But can Camila and her Papa win when Camila wants to do everything herself?

Camila the Stage Star: Camila is so excited to audition for a local play! She practices and practices and practices, but she gets assigned the role of the lead’s sidekick. Will Camila ever be able to play the lead?

Camila the Video Star: Camila has found another contest to enter–this time talking about her home city, Los Angeles. What makes Los Angeles special to her? She starts to list the famous landmarks everyone knows, but her sister asks her to stop and think. Does the Hollywood sign really mean that much to Camila? Why does Camila really like her home so much?

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Generation Brave: The Gen Z Kids Who Are Changing the World by Kate Alexander (nonfiction, biography)
Gr. 4-8. Learn about 27 young activists (or activist groups) stepping up and working to make the world a better place.

There have been a lot of these collective biography anthologies this year, but this one really stands out! The voices featured here were mostly new to me but particularly powerful because, unlike many of these types of books, these kids, teens, and young adults are making a difference now. Each passage contains a great overview of information on each individual and their chosen cause(s) in a fantastic, easy to read format, while also including information on how to personally get involved and follow the fight of each highlighted individual. An impactful book filled with plenty of immediate calls to action.

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Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer (teen)
Gr. 8+ Pru is always ready to cast judgement on her classmates, especially her annoying, perpetually late lab partner Quint Erickson. When Quint and Pru can’t figure out how to work together, their end-of-year project reflects their lack of teamwork–and so does their end-of-year grade. Pru is determined to earn extra credit, but their teacher is adamant that they must work together to earn extra credit–a project just from Pru will not improve her score. So Pru tracks down where Quint spends his time, and she strikes a deal. She will help out at the local animal rescue center for a month, if he will work with her on their project. The rescue center needs the extra hands, so Quint reluctantly agrees, but Pru has a lot to learn–about sea animals, about her town, about making a difference, and, perhaps, even about Quint himself.

And on top of everything, after banging her head at a local karaoke night, suddenly Pru has magical powers. Pru can cast instant karma–good or bad–on everyone around her. Well, everyone except Quint. Why does the universe favor him so darn much?

This felt like a much different vein from Meyer’s other work. I connected with the characters in a much different way than the Cinder team. I genuinely liked the cast of Cinder, and while I didn’t like Pru, I saw way too much of her in me at that age. Oh boy, this would have been an interesting book to have read in middle school or high school. I think this will be a hit with anyone looking for another cute realistic romance with a touch of environmentalism–and there may be some others who may find Prudence a bit tough to take (and, well, a handful of folks who may learn a bit from Prudence’s journey too).

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Karen’s Worst Day by Katy Farina (graphic novel)
Gr. 2-4. Karen’s day started off bad–she fell out of bed after a bad dream and then couldn’t find her sparkly new jeans. But things just kept getting worse! She can’t play with her friends because of her cast, the household pets keep running away from her, and even the ice cream truck is out of her favorite flavor. And no matter what she does, nothing gets better–she ends up having 14 bad things happen to her in just one day! That has to be a record, right?

I have to admit, at first I wasn’t feeling much pity for Karen, until we receive the reminder that she is just six. I associate the Baby-Sitters Club with 12-year-olds, so when I picture Karen, for some reason I imagine her closer to 9-10. While this is a quick read with a simple storyline, it may appease the constantly-growing desire for the next Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel (readers are always, always asking for more!).

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Mia Mayhem and the Super Switcheroo by Kara West (first chapter)
Gr. 2-3. Secret superhero Mia and her best friend (and regular kid) Eddie get caught in a strange thunderstorm that causes Mia’s powers to switch bodies. Mia no longer has powers, and Eddie is a superhero! Mia is nervous about whether she will get her powers back, but she embraces Eddie’s new skills and shows him the ropes, teaching him how to control his powers so he can keep his new identity a secret.

I adore the Mia Mayhem series SO MUCH. At their heart, these are well-written, fun first chapter books combining superhero antics with everyday elements of growing up, including friendship struggles, balancing home and school, overcoming challenges, wanting to win, and more. The diversity in our young superheroes is unparalleled, with Mia having close friends of not just different races, but a friend who is blind (with a super guide dog) and a friend who has two prosthetic legs. And its all so seamlessly included in the text that this series is far from issues books–they are just kids in everyday (superhero) situations.

I also really appreciate that, in this book, when the kids are faced with their superhero switcheroo, they talk to grown-ups about it, almost immediately. It is always frustrating when books and tv shows teach kids that they have to keep these big problems a secret–when, often, problems would be solved much faster with some adult intervention.

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Sparkleton #3: The Mini Mistake by Calliope Glass (first chapter)
Gr. 2-3. Sparkleton the unicorn is back with more magical adventures. Sparkleton really, really wants his unicorn magic to appear before the big talent show, but instead of getting wish granting powers, a run-in with a magical mushroom makes Sparkleton and his friends super tiny! While the world looks pretty exciting from this new perspective–who knew spiderwebs make great trampolines?–Sparkleton will never earn his magic if he can’t get back to normal size soon.

Another Sparkleton tale! I appreciate that these reflect the age of their readers–they feature unicorns, magic, and glitter, but the friendship dynamics here are more relatable to what a child may be experiencing in 2nd-3rd grade. Sparkleton isn’t a perfect unicorn (and neither is seemingly perfect Twinkle, as we discover in this book). Sparkleton is ready to grow up fast–a feeling shared by many 7-8-year-olds readers. Lots of fun with a good mix of humor.

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Song of the Court by Katy Farina (graphic novel)
Gr. 3-4. Arietta is determined to sell her family heirloom, her precious violin, to buy seeds for the garden. But on her way to the music shop, she is stopped by Princess Cassia. Cassia loves music, and she is so thrilled to meet a violin player. Won’t Arietta play at Cassia’s upcoming birthday ball? Arietta isn’t sure how to say no, so she agrees, even though she has never played the violin before.

Her friend tries to teach her, warning Arietta how hard it can be to learn a new instrument, but Arietta seems to be a natural. Not only does she play well, but she absolutely loves playing. She spends all her time practicing, and soon her garden is left in shambles. Can Arietta figure out a way to do everything she loves?

A fun read with vibrant illustrations (same illustrator as the Baby-Sitters Little Sister graphic novels). Arietta’s frustration and depression get a little dark at times–they are portrayed in a realistic manner, and all ends up well in the end, but it did occasionally feel a little dark for some of the 2nd-3rd graders who I’m sure will be devouring this book. Still, the colors and characters are adorable, and more in this universe would be well loved.

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Three Keys by Kelly Yang
Gr. 4-6. Mia is excited to continue her family’s motel adventures, and this time her family owns their place of business! Mia is sure sixth grade will be the best year ever, but things don’t turn out quite as she expected. Mia’s new teacher is not impressed with Mia’s writing. Plus, she keeps saying bad things about immigrants, and she treats Mia differently than the other students (the white students). Also, the motel isn’t bringing in that much money, and investors are starting to ask about getting their money back. And, on top of all that, a new immigration law is on the ballot. If it passes, then kids of illegal immigrants will not be allowed to go to school–including Mia’s best friend, Lupe.

I appreciate the continuation of Mia’s story, with more of a political mindset. Three Keys gives a great view into immigration issues and the current political climate, while also showing realistic ways that small actions and words can change minds. Mia’s actions don’t change the outcome of an election, but her growing relationship with her new teacher helps open the eyes of one person–a person who has a particular impact on so many others. I’m hoping for more books featuring Mia!

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 (1/18/2021-1/24/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books:

Non-Fiction:

Beginning Readers:

First Chapter Books:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: Not that many picture books this week. This was the first week since August that I haven’t had a big stack of picture books waiting for me at the library. For a few minutes I thought I might be caught up on new releases for a minute, and then I overheard our cataloging team talking about how we were due for over 30 boxes of books that didn’t arrive last week. So sometime soon I expect to get about 100 picture book holds in all at the same time.

I was able to catch up on some of the longer books that have been piling up (non-fiction and first chapter in particular). There are always more of course, but I’m hoping I might be able to push through my end table stacks before that next rush of picture books appears.

Make sure to stop by on Tuesdays for short reviews of some of these titles!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 29 Books Read This Week
    • 13 Books with Diverse Main Character (45%)
    • 9 Books by Diverse Authors (31%)
    • 8 Books by Own Voices Authors (28%)

Favorites of the Week:

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