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This Is Not A Love Story
Author: Keren David
Published: 7 May 2015 by Atom
Length: 352 pages
Other info: Keren David has also written the When I Was Joe series (When I Was Joe, Almost True, and Another Life), Salvage, Lisa's Guide to Winning the Lottery, and Cuckoo.
Summary : Kitty dreams of a beautiful life, but that's impossible in suburban London where her family is haunted by her father's unexpected death. So when her mum suggests moving to Amsterdam to try a new life, Kitty doesn't take much persuading. Will this be her opportunity to make her life picture perfect?
In Amsterdam she meets moody, unpredictable Ethan, and clever, troubled Theo. Two enigmatic boys, who each harbour their own secrets. In a beautiful city and far from home, Kitty finds herself falling in love for the first time.
But will love be everything she expected? And will anyone's heart survive?
Review: Kitty and Theo have recently moved to Amsterdam. Kitty's mother's boyfriend's son is Ethan. The three of them must deal with falling in love, keeping secrets from each other, and getting through life.
I wanted to read this because it kept getting flagged up in chats for featuring bisecusl boys, and I'd been meaning to read things by Keren for a long time. Keren reading short story from Ethan's viewpoint made me want to know more about him and therefore I started on this.
It did seem a bit wandering regarding Kitty and Ethan's story, to start with (probably because I'm generally less interested in people working out who they like until there's bigger conflicts involved). I did like seeing the development of Theo's relationship with Sophie, which is told partially by flashback partially in the present too. I also liked seeing all the relationship strands between Kitty, Theo and Ethan converge and how that all panned out. The building and breakdown of relationships in this book are tumultuous, but good to read about.
I really enjoyed reading about different cultures - Jewish and Dutch. I especially liked that Keren provided characters with different attitudes to aspects of their culture, offering a range of characters within such an under-represented group.
The side characters made a good group. My favourite was Rachel, Kitty's sister, who was funny, and a good support for Kitty.
There's a lot of things our main trio have to deal with. Family relationships, working out friendships, health issues, fitting in when moving abroad... A lot is happening here, and I quite liked seeing how Theo and Kitty fit in after the move.
Part one is the climatic event, part two is before, part three is after. I liked this structure, as it catches your attention immediately, and establishes characters.
I loved the ending. Kitty's discussion with her friends is good for reminding all of us of some lessons in life. Characters' justifications for the way they wanted things were realistic, especially Ethan's (last paragraphs of chapter 44) and while the strands unpacked within the novel are tied up, there's still an openendedness for the future.
Strength 4 tea to a story that is not about love, but is about relationships, romantic, familial, and friendshippy, and overall about life.
California, the Magic Island
, written and illustrated by Doug Hansen, is a book that every California teacher should have on his/her bookshelf. But what is it? Is it mythology? State history? Alphabet book? Actually, it's all of the above.
Here's the overview from the back cover.
Queen Calafia, the legendary heroine of a sixteenth-century Spanish romance about an island overflowing with gold, is incensed with she hears that a state has been named after her. Being the good queen that she is, she's willing to hear from twenty-six animals about why California is worthy of her regal name. Each animal describes an iconic cultural object or historical event, enchanting readers—and maybe even Calafia herself—with their tales of the magical place called California.
Hailing from western New York, I have visited the state on a number of occasions, but know very little about California history, so this was a very nice introduction.
The book opens with an introduction to Queen Calafia and Her Magic Island. As all good stories begin, this one starts with "Once upon a time (or maybe only yesterday) ..." Readers learn about the Queen and her island, her fury at the use of their island name, and her command to her warriors to let the animals speak for California as she decides the fate of the people. What follows are 26 stories, each told by a different animal, each about a different event, location, industry, animal, or some other important piece related to California history or present. After their stories, readers learn about the judgment that Queen Calafia has made.
Back matter in the text contains information about the origin of the Queen Califia legend, additional information about each of the animals and the stories they narrate, and a note about the artist and the content of the borders at the beginning of the book. The illustrations are brightly colored, gloriously vibrant images that are nothing short of magical. I spent almost as much time pouring over the illustrations as I did reading the text.
I loved the story of the monarch butterflies, and will use excerpts from this in my science teaching. Other connections to science include stories about the La Brea Tar Pits, Mount Palomar Observatory, and Yosemite.
Hansen looks broadly and inclusively at California history. The stories are short, providing just information to pique the interest of readers. I know that I closed the book wanting to know so much more. This is a beautiful book with a story inventively told.
When I was young and learned my father served in the Naval Air Corps during WWII, I became a voracious reader of anything and everything about the war, including the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, Jackie Robinson, Rosie the Riveter, the WACs, and more. What I didn't find were stories about the Tuskegee Airmen. My young self would have been as thrilled as I am today with the release of an amazing poetry collection entitled You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jeffery Boston Weatherford.
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen
is a collaboration between award-winning children’s book author Carole Boston Weatherford and her son, debut illustrator Jeffery Boston Weatherford. They have woven poems and scratchboard illustrations into a history in verse inspired as much by World War II newsreels as by modern day graphic novels. The project was nearly ten years in the making. With starred reviews in Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly, the book for middle grades is off to a flying start.
Here the mother-son/author-illustrator team interview each other.
When did you first hear about the Tuskegee Airmen?
I first heard about them when I was a young boy. We took family trips to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington and to Tuskegee Institute, Alabama where we toured exhibits about the Tuskegee University’s founder Booker T. Washington, botanist George Washington Carver and the Tuskegee Airmen. I always had dreams of flight.Jeffery:
Why did you want to write this book?Carole:
I first learned of the Tuskegee Airmen in a magazine article in the 1980s. I was so moved by their story that I saved the magazine. My literary mission is to mine the past for family stories, fading traditions and forgotten struggles. The Airmen’s saga is historically and politically significant. As a children’s literature professor, I knew of at least one historical fiction picture book and of several informational books about the Tuskegee Airmen. I felt that the story would lend itself well to a poetic treatment.
Carole: Tell us about your family’s military ties?
Jeffery: My great great great grandfather Isaac Copper fought in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War. He was one of 17 veterans who founded the town of Unionville on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. My mother’s father Joseph Boston Jr. served in World War II. He was a technical sergeant in the Army Corps of Engineers in New Guinea and the Philippines. My grandmother still has his uniform and medals.
Jeffery: Which poem was most challenging to write?
Carole: “Operation Prove Them Wrong” was by far the toughest to write. It was like plotting scenes for a war movie. I had to boil down Operation Corkscrew and Operation Diadem to a few lines that captured the battles. It might have been easier if I were gamer like you or at least a World War II buff.
Carole: You were a serious gamer growing up. Did your background as a gamer influence how you illustrated the battle scenes?
Jeffery: Yes, absolutely. I had lots of residual visual references from battles across galaxies.Jeffery:
What is your favorite illustration from the book? Carole:
I like the one opposite the poem “Routines.” It shows a dogfight in which one plane gets bombed and explodes. The explosion is quite animated, like something out of a comic book. I almost want to add an action bubble: Boom!
Describe your creative process.Jeffery:
For inspiration, I viewed documentary photographs from the Library of Congress and National Archives collections. While researching picture references, I had some dreams of meeting Tuskegee Airmen. I also watched the movie Red Tails. For each illustration, I drew a graphite study to layout the composition. Once that was completed and approved by the publisher, I refined the image and transferred it to scratchboard. I used various nibs for different effects.
Jeffery with Airman portrait
Jeffery: What do you want readers to take away from the book?
Carole: I want them to be inspired by the courage and determination of the Tuskegee Airmen. I want them to understand that the sky is no limit if they are willing to prepare themselves, practice and persevere. The book aims to lift the ceiling off of young people’s dreams.
P-51 Mustangs flying in formation over Ramitelli, Italy.
Did you know? The Tuskegee Airmen got the name Red Tails when their ground crew painted the tail of the P-47 red.
WWII by the numbers: Before the Tuskegee Experiment began, there were only 130 licensed African American pilots in the U.S.
Here's one of my favorite poems from the book.
Train Ride to the Clouds
All aboard for Tuskegee Institute,
where Booker T. Washington uplifted ex-slaves
and George Washington Carver
is working wonders with sweet potatoes!
If Carver can make paint
from clay and plastics from soy,
then the school Booker T. founded
can surely make you a pilot.
If you did not believe that were true
you would not have packed your bag
and boarded the train for Alabama
with a Bible and a box lunch from your mama.
If your faith were not vast as the sky,
you would never have taken this leap.
Poem © Carole Boston Weatherford, 2016. All rights reserved.
The poems in this volume are moving, vivid, and packed with information. The poem in the Epilogue describes the race barrier breaking moments that came after the Tuskegee Airmen paved the way for integration of the U.S. military. The backmatter includes an author's note, timeline, and extensive list of additional resources and primary sources.
My thanks to Carole and Jeffery for sharing their conversation and their work. You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen
was released on May 3rd and is available now. Don't miss it!
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
Read by Kate Atwater
Hachette Audio, 2016
AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award Winner
I recently reviewed The Wild Robot for AudioFile Magazine
. You can read my full review and hear an audio excerpt here
]The Wild Robot
, a novel for ages 8 and up, is a departure from Peter Brown's usual offering of picture books (Creepy Carrots
, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
, My Teacher is a Monster
- and more), but his customary excellence is just as apparent.
The link to my review is above, however, I'd like to highlight a few things. The Wild Robot
premise is unique and thought-provoking - a robot designed with AI and programmed for self-preservation and nonviolence, is marooned on an island with animals, but no humans from which to learn. The narrator, Kate Atwater, does a stellar job (see review
) and sounds a bit like Susan Sarandon. The audio book is unique in that the beginning and the closing chapters have sound effects including music and sounds of nature.
Overall, it's very well done! If you'd prefer to check out the print version, Little Brown Books for Young Readers offers an excerpt of the print version of The Wild Robot here
Title: On the Edge of GoneAuthor:
On the eve of the apocalypse, Denise and her mom scramble to get to a shelter that will protect them (maybe) from the comet heading their way. Somehow, they luck onto a spaceship that plans to head for the stars. But can they keep their place?First Impressions:
Ahh this was good. Denise felt so real.Later On:
Like Duyvis's first book, Otherbound, this should have felt overstuffed, if we subscribe to publishing's prevailing mindset about intersectionality. A black autistic main character? With a trans sister? And a mother suffering from mental illness and addiction? (Not to mention it all takes place in the Netherlands, with Dutch characters.) But it works, oh how it works, and the reason it works is because these are details about their characters, not the plot. This is diversity in character building done right.
The focus is on Denise's struggle to carve out a place for herself and her family on the generation ship. Sometimes the reason it's a struggle is because of familiar autism characteristics, such as difficulties with social cues, hyper-focus on specific things, and sensory overstimulation, and how all these are ramped up by
stress. However, it's also a struggle because of the shipboard bureaucracy, her mother's issues, worry over her sister, and oh yes. The world is ending.
Denise's autism neither causes nor stands apart from any of that.
And finally, at the end, Denise finds her own place. She's not given it, she's not wedged in. She does things that are a challenge for her, she succeeds because of her own talents, and she earns her spot.More: Waking Brain CellsDisability in Kidlit
Title: See How They Run
Author: Ally Carter
Summary: Grace has finally discovered the truth about her mother's death, but it was a lot more complex than even she thought. Secret societies and centuries-old conspiracies swirl around her as more disasters, both international and personal, loom ahead.
First Impressions: This took forever to get up and running but after that it was a pretty fast read. Still, it suffered from middle-book-syndrome. Too much left over from the first book, too many loose threads for the benefit of the third book. Agh.
Later On: I stick by my initial impression. Having read the first book a long time ago, it was hard to dredge up the details, and there were a lot of loose threads left waving at the end, clearly for the benefit of the next book. I was surprised that she killed off one character - I thought for sure he was going to stick around and be the third in a love triangle.
More: Book Nut
Title: The Lucy Variations
Author: Sara Zarr
Source: Local Library
Summary: Lucy was a piano prodigy who dramatically and publicly quit music about six months ago, to the rage and disappointment of her mother and grandfather. When her little brother (also being groomed to musical greatness) gets a new piano teacher, Lucy finds herself yearning to go back to the instrument. But the thought of letting herself in for the pressure of performing and achieving is still horrifying, and how can she have one without the other?
First Impressions: I'm glad Zarr didn't go the route of a full-on affair with Lucy and Will, but just brushed up against it. The characters are nicely complex and flawed.
Later On: Sara Zarr is one of those auto-TBR authors for me. She presents characters that are realistic, bumping up against other characters that are realistic, and never goes the obvious route. Lucy's relationship with Will is more about friendship and music, sort of leaning in the direction of sexual/romantic, but never quite getting there. (Phew.) Also, it never quite gets there because (spoilerish) Lucy realizes that Will is not quite the person she thought he was.
Lucy's relationship with music is a bit more tricky and Zarr handles that with compassion and shades of grey as well. Lucy loves music itself. After months of not even playing a note, she misses it like you miss the love of your life. But for her, music is wrapped around with her relationship with her mother and her grandfather, and even her dead grandmother. Their reactions to her dramatic departure from the public eye were anger and disappointment and feelings of betrayal (here we put all this effort into your education and this is how you repay us??) Lucy of course would rather do anything than return to music because it would mean they were right that she would miss it and want it back.
(I think Liz Burns put it best when she said they basically all went, "FINE!" "FINE!" and went off into different rooms to sulk and glare at each other.)
I loved how Lucy finds a way through all the morass of family expectations to work out what she wants and is prepared to do.
More: A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy
Bookshelves of Doom includes this book and a brief review on a roundup of piano-prodigy stories, so if that element appeals to you, here's some more reading.
Mysterious things are happening in Range, a small town in the shadow of Mount Rainier. Runoff Graphic Novel is a dramatic thriller which reminds me a…
The post RUNOFF Graphic Novel by Tom Manning Book Review appeared first on RABBLEBOY - The Official Blog of Kenneth Kit Lamug.
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I know many parents and visitors to this site are frequently on the hunt for captivating books for their older readers..and lucky me, I just discovered a new one!
Southern Gothic by Middle Grade/YA author Bridgette Alexander is a wonderful new book which incorporates art and mystery in very intriguing ways. I learned of Bridgette and this intriguing book when so became one of our Author Sponsors for Multicultural Children’s Book Day in January.
Celine Caldwell lives a life of privilege, allowed into the elite art community of NYC thanks to her powerhouse mother who is a curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Julia Caldwell has made a prestigious name for herself in the art community. With that comes loyal followers as well as fervent enemies, and Celine soon gets wrapped up in her mother’s political and backwards world.
Two paintings have gone missing from the Met’s archives, paintings that Julia Caldwell publicly deemed unfit for the Met’s prestigious reputation and her selective exhibitions. Julia’s attitude towards the paintings pinpoints her as the head suspect in the NYPD’s investigation into the missing paintings. Celine cannot stand by and let her mother be accused of something she knows she would never in a million years do. Julia may not appreciate the paintings, but she would most certainly never steal them.
Celine and her best friends Sandy, Baheera, and Troy jump right into their own investigation, unaware just how over their heads than they are. But Celine soon realizes that there’s much more to these paintings than meets the eye. While they might seem simple on the surface level, they tell a story—a true story at that, one that is near to a lot of people’s hearts and forces Celine and her friends to relive a murky time in the American South’s history.
Despite the mystery and the danger that follows her investigation, Celine manages to crack the code, piece together the story behind the missing paintings, and clear her mother’s name. All while dating a new guy and managing to stay in school. I’d call that a success, wouldn’t you say?
Learning about Art from Southern Gothic:
I actually learned a lot about art in this novel. I enjoy looking at art, but I cannot say I’m necessarily profound in my analyses of them. But Celine Caldwell taught me a lot. For instance, a provenance is a record of ownership of a work of art, used as a guide to authenticity and quality. Celine’s investigation involved creating a provenance for the Southern Gothic art trilogy.
Pieces of art have been used as legal documents in the past. The Marriage of Arnolfini depicts a wedding of the Italian Medici family, and it basically serves as a marriage licence. Portrait d’une Negresse depicts an African-American woman after she was freed from slavery and brought to France. This painting serves as her ticket of freedom, showing that she is a free citizen, not a slave.
You’ll have to involve yourself in Celine’s investigation to learn more.
Bridgette R. Alexander is a modern art historian. She received her graduate training in 19th century French art history at the University of Chicago. Alexander worked with some of the world’s greatest museums in New York, Paris, Berlin and Chicago and developed art education programs; curated exhibits; she has taught and published in art history. She’s been featured in a number of publications including, Art + Auction Magazine; the Wall Street Journal; and the Washington Post. SOUTHERN GOTHIC is her debut novel. Alexander currently lives in Chicago and when not writing, she takes her husband, daughter and friends on midnight tours of the cultural institutions.
Something To Do: Interesting Links if you’re interested in getting more involved in the art community:
Art Museums Around the World
Met Museums Kids and Family Resources
The answer to the question “Why the arts are important.”
Planning a visit to France? You have to stop at the world’s biggest museum, Le Louvre. And I’d plan your day around this massive museum. You can get lost for hours in this magnificent building.
Speaking of art…Do you know what Hans Christian Andersen liked as much as his fairy tales?
Paper! He was an addict to paper. He wrote on it, he drew on it and he use to cut in it. Just like a sculptor carves the figure out of stone, Hans Christian Andersen use to cut his stories out of paper. In fact he was a very popular paper cutter. (images courtesy of the Odense Museum)
In order to amuse his friends and their children, Hans made his very famous paper cuts. Wherever he would go he would carry his bag filled with paper and these very large monstrous scissors which he used to cut out the most elegant figures.
Would you like to create a very special item that is inspired by the paper cuttings of Hans Christian Andersen?
I’ve made a FREE off the shoulder felt story bag craft and tutorial just for this occasion! This simple craft is something the whole family can participate in creating it will make a delightful gift for the book lover in your life. I hope your little bag of tales holds as many wonders for you as ours has.
Click the image below and get instant access to this Hans Christian Andersen-inspired shoulder bag!
The post A captivating middle grade book-Southern Gothic appeared first on Jump Into A Book.
By the Stars by Lindsay B. Ferguson
Over the years, I have been asked to review many, many, many books. Because I haven't blogged often in the last couple years, I have mostly ignored email requests for reviews. When Lindsay B. Ferguson emailed me, I had to chuckle. She is my neighbor, and I was aware of her upcoming debut novel, but she didn't realize who I was. :) I told her that I'm a blogging slacker, and we decided not to have my blog be part of her big blog tour. You see...It gets sticky reviewing books for people you know. What if you hate it?
But...I bought the book on my Kindle the day it was released, and I wasn't just pleasantly surprised, I LOVED IT. I love that it is based on a true story, and I can't wait to talk to Lindsay about what exactly is history and what she created. I love the characters. I love the romance. I love it all. And you know what it really made me want to do? Like big time? Go dancing! Can we resurrect dance halls, please?
I know that among my friends, Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, was extremely well-liked. Edenbrooke was the first in a collection of "Proper Romances". For friends who love Edenbrooke and other clean romance novels, By the Stars should be your next read!
From Amazon: "When Cal finally gets a chance with Kate, the girl he's loved since grade school, their easy friendship quickly blossoms into a meaningful romance. Spirited and independent, Kate keeps a guarded heart due to a painful past, and Cal wants nothing more than to gain her trust. But World War II soon cuts their time far too short, and Cal prepares to part from her - possibly for good. After he's gone, what Kate does next changes everything.
In the suffocating jungles of the Philippines Cal encounters the chilling life of a soldier and deadly battles of war. With Kate's memory willing him on, Cal must put his trust in God to survive if he hopes to ever return to her. Inspired by a true story, By the Stars is a love story that stands the test of time and the most intense obstacles."
Title: The Fallout
Author: SA Bodeen
Source: Local Library
Summary: After living for six years in an underground bunker, mistakenly believing that the world had ended aboveground (and that his twin perished in the apocalypse), Eli and his family are trying to readjust to the real world - which was not destroyed. But their father's deception isn't over yet.
First Impressions: A pretty reasonable teen suspense novel, if a little on the quiet side for the genre. I really liked that Eli is very much a caretaker of his younger brothers and sisters, and in some ways his older sister. This nurturing aspect isn't one you see in teen male characters enough.
Later On: I think you really have to have read Bodeen's prequel, The Compound, to understand a lot of the family undercurrents that are moving underneath this story, particularly the messy stew of guilt and resentment that festers between Eli and his twin brother as they try to readjust to having each other again.
I think this did wrap up a lot of the threads from the earlier book, especially the uneasy adjustment to actually living outside the bunker again. The subplot about their older sister's parentage felt a little tacked on until it folded into the main story about their father's deceptions and machinations.
More: I couldn't find a review to share from my blogroll, probably because this is three years old. If you reviewed this, let me know!
Title: The Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
Summary: Far in the future, most wars have been suppressed by a world-level AI, who holds children of world leaders hostage and kills them if their parents declare war on each other. Greta is one of these "prisoners of peace", resigned to her lot, resolved to face her possible fate with dignity. Into her calm, ordered existence comes Elian, neither resigned nor dignified, and shakes her world down to its foundations.
First Impressions: THIS DESTROYED ME ON AN EMOTIONAL LEVEL OH HELP
Later On: Now that I've calmed down.
This is an ugly book.
This is a beautiful book.
This is a book about people and AIs and countries and politics that are all ugly and beautiful and flawed and amazing. My favorite character was Tallis, the megalomaniac AI who holds all their lives in his digital hand, and somehow manages to convince you that his approach actually makes sense. Until you remember that he's a megalomaniac AI who's basically holding the entire world hostage. And then he's still actually one of my favorite characters.
My favorite thing about it was that Elian was not Greta's love interest. He becomes very special to her. He forces her to rethink the world and herself, but the love story is between her and fellow princess/prisoner Xie. That said, their love story never would have happened except for the way that Greta's worldview changes after Elian comes on the scene, so it's all interwoven in the most beautiful of ways.
I'll be honest. If you weren't able to handle the Hunger Games' level of brutality and harrowing personal choices, you will struggle with The Scorpion Rules. But this is a book that's worth the discomfort and the emotional destruction, for the questions it asks about duty, politics, personal freedom, and the individual's obligation to the world.
More: A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy
Title: Earth Girl
Author: Janet Edwards
Source: Local Library
Summary: Born with a rare allergy to anywhere besides planet Earth, Jarra is shackled to the home soil, mocked and derided by the rest of humanity who are living among the stars. Tired of being called an ape and a throwback, she pretends to be a regular human when she enters college (an archaeological program that takes place in the ruins of New York City), but it's a deception that can't last forever.
First Impressions: Really interesting world and setup, but I felt distanced from the characters and stakeless.
Later On: For a girl with so many roadblocks supposedly in her way, Jarra sure seemed to sail right through all her difficulties, including her budding relationship with fellow student and non-"ape" Fian. She was also good at everything, although the author provided excellent logic for it due to her Earth upbringing.
The world-building was pretty nifty and intricate, even if the author did occasionally bring the whole story to a screeching halt to tell us about the war between Planet A and Planet B that did Thing C to the interplanetary relations.
I guess my reaction to this could be summed up with "the things that annoyed me and the things that the author gave us good reasons for were, in fact, the same damn things, WTF."
More: Charlotte's Library articulates some of my feelings on this, and also brings the perspective of an Actual Archaeologist.
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We are always excited to hear about unique ways in which our books are being used, and were thrilled to come across this review of Under the Mesquite that outlines how to use the book in a very special way: to help medical students gain cultural awareness and insight into the experiences of patients from different backgrounds. Author Mark Kuczewski kindly gave us permission to cross-post this review from the Reflective MedEd blog.
Helping medical students to gain cultural awareness and insight into the experience of patients and families from backgrounds different than their own is no small task. And the search for poignant materials that are easily fit within the demanding environment of a medical school curriculum is never-ending. The good news is that I can unequivocally recommend Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Lee & Low Books, 2011). This narrative will help students to gain insight into the meaning of illness within families, especially within the context of a particular contemporary newly-arrived Mexican-American family…
The author, known as “Lupita” within the story, recounts experiences from her high school years when her mother suffered from cancer and underwent extensive treatment, sometimes for long periods at a medical center far from home. Because the author’s father accompanies his wife on these journeys, Lupita, the oldest daughter, takes on responsibility for the family. We are treated to her perspective in coping with her mother’s illness from spy work to find out the secreto that the adults guard in their hushed whispers to the difficulties that come when her parents are away such as being unable to keep order among her siblings. Lupita paints a portrait of a prudent family that begins a savings account with the birth of each child but whose resources are exhausted by the medical bills leaving her struggling each day to procure food to put on the table. And we come to know the importance of the arts, acting in school plays and writing in journals, as means to channel her anxieties and craft something beautiful.
Of course, the particular flavor of the narrative comes from the perspective of one who has significant roots on both sides of the border. She simultaneously gives us a window into the challenges of growing up bicultural and navigating the conflicting demands of loyalty to la familia that nurtured her and pursuing the dream of achieving a different kind of life that is available in the new world. The author lets us taste the bittersweet nature of this ambivalence both in her day-to-day growth as she is accused by her adolescent peers of trying to be something she is not as she loses her accent and in the more profound and cyclical heartbreak of separation. She relates her grief at abandoning her precious sunflowers when her father uproots her from her familiar home in Mexico and she in turn must break his heart as she heads off to college to pursue her dreams.
In sum, this book is among the most usable I’ve found with medical students for two reasons. First, it meets the main requirement of being an enjoyable and quick read. This autobiographical account is most likely to be devoured within a single day. The author is a superb writer and some of our medical students repeatedly commented that they wish she said more in most passages. Second, she enables us to easily identify with her struggles. Because all adults were once adolescents, we have a framework regarding the struggle for self-discovery and identity into which her cultural context is infused. She enables us to access the different through the familiar. Guadalupe Garcia McCall is a first-rate guide and mentor to those of us who seek insight into the Mexican-American experience and the particular strengths and means of coping that a family steeped in this hybrid culture might possess.
Mark G. Kuczewski, PhD, is the Chair of the Department of Medical Education and the Director of the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Purchase Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall here.
Title: Spinning Starlight
Author: R.C. Lewis
Summary: A retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's The Wild Swans - iiiiiiin spaaaaaaaaaaace. Liddi is the youngest daughter of a famous family of inventors, one who has so far failed to make her mark. After her many brothers are kidnapped and imprisoned between dimensions Liddi escapes her home planet and flees to one that's been cut off from the rest of the system for eons. She's still cursed to silence by a chip in her throat that will kill her brothers if she speaks a word, and she somehow must find a way to free her brothers.
First Impressions: I liked the inclusion of Liddi's fame and her mental newscasts. The plot spent a lot of time floundering around on the new planet before she actually started doing things though.
Later On: This didn't stick with me very well, but I thought the whole idea of different planets and the brothers being caught in hyperspace wormholes as a stand-in for transformation into swans was a neat one. I always enjoy a fairy tale retelling, especially when things are tweaked to fit into the world they're set in.
More: I had a terrible time finding reviews of this amongst my favorite blogs. If you reviewed it, let me know!
Title: Daughters Unto Devils
Author: Amy Lukavics
Summary: Pregnant (what was with me and the pregnant girls this month?) and trying to hide it, Amanda Verner goes with her parents and her family to what they think will be a wonderful new homestead on the prairie. AHAHAHA. They are soooooo wrong.
First Impressions: This was horrific. And the ending was a complete downer. Pitfall of the genre.
Later On: Somehow I keep reading horror novels even when I know how much I hate the darkness of them. So take this review with that particular grain of salt. It's not the gore I mind so much (although this one was pretty extreme in this book, both directly and by way of horrifying images), but the creeping feeling that the dark is undefeatable and only rarely escapable. However, if that's what you like, this is the book for you.
Aside from that, this didn't hang together terribly well for me, and the explanations furnished about why various characters acted the way they did were too little, too late. And I would have liked a little history about why that patch of prairie was particularly haunted or cursed.
More: Bookshelves of Doom reviewed this for Kirkus and she liked it a whole lot more than I did.
March is Women’s History Month and we’re bringing the month to a close by celebrating in grand style. Before women make their history, they first had to have some focus, bravery, and perseverance to get them there. Let’s face it, all women have hurdles to jump over, but every woman that makes, and contributes, to history qualifies as a “Gusty Girl!”
Before we continue, we need to pause for a…..
” Many of the situations that the author encounters in this book have inherent dangers and can lead to serious or even fatal injuries. One particular undertaking-Climbing the Golden Gate Bridge-is also illegal and should not be attempted. Readers should not venture into any of these situations without professional instruction, suitable training, and proper supervision. Neither the publisher nor the author assumes ay responsibility for any injuries incurred by the reader.”
This is the first page of one of the greatest reads of the year. You’re probably in one of two camps after reading this warning. The first camp can’t wait to find out what could be in this book to create such a warning and the second camp will run as fast as they can. Just so you know, I’m in the first camp BUT I greatly advise people of the second camp to take a deep breath and read it anyway. There’s something for everyone to help unveil the gutsy in all of us.
First I had to know more about that Golden Gate Bridge story and second I just had to know more about author Caroline Paul, what type of woman is she and what escapades in her life led her to write a guidebook for tween girls about creating such adventures? The Gutsy Girl:Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure is probably one of the finest reads I’ve picked up so far in 2016.
Author Caroline Paul was one of the first women on the San Franciso firefighting force as well as an experimental plane pilot, throughout the pages of her book we also learn that she is a recovering/rescue scuba diver. All this from a woman who says she was the biggest scaredy cat in the world as a child. Caroline greatly believes that girls are taught to be frightened by being instilled with the language of “fear”, while boys are fed that bravery and resilience are the goals to aspire to.
The Gutsy Girl: Escapades of Your Life of Epic Adventure is her antidote to empower tween girls to embrace their own bravery and resilience. This book is FUNNY and extremely imaginative and really intelligently written. Inside she shares her own stories one by one and the lessons and bravery she learned. Not all of them have happy endings but all of them have a take away to a new understanding of who she is or was at that time. This book is also part manifesto using language, insights, and encouragement into bravery and shear gutsiness. This is a guidebook however, and guidebooks mean you have to take action. Caroline Paul has also placed many great and inventive activities called Daring-Dos, as well as journal pages to reflect on ones own Daring-Dos experiences.
While sharing her escapades, author Caroline Paul is brilliant about showing the boundary lines between being gutsy and being stupid. She is always cautioning against being reckless and the difference between recklessness and being adventurous . She just doesn’t say it once, it’s sprinkled everywhere throughout the book in many different ways.
Some of My Favorite Parts
I learned some fun new things….
The illustrations in The Gusty Girl :Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure are done by her partner Wendy Macnaughton who also has a great sense of humor. One of my favorite illustrations is the Gutsy Girl International Phrase Book. It had me howling probably because I’ve needed to ask these very questions of people in far off lands and unknown languages.
Did you know this about how to know what temperature it is ?
So cool right ?
Something To Do
Writer Caroline Paul wasn’t always brave, or adventurous.
“I had been a shy and fearful kid. Many things had scared me. Bigger kids. Second grade. The elderly woman across the street. Being called on in class. The book Where the Wild Things Are. Woods at dusk. The way the bones in my hand crisscrossed.
Being scared was a terrible feeling, like sinking in quicksand. My stomach would drop, my feet would feel heavy, my head would prickle. Fear was an all-body experience. For a shy kid like me it was overwhelming.”
She gives great examples of current gutsy girls and women. Some known most we’ve never heard of but I’m so glad to know about them now.
Right within the pixels of Jump Into a Book we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing books based on Gutsy Girls. Here are a few of my favorites:
Below you’ll find a list and some links to some more gutsy girls. Go discover them and see what their bravery and adventuresome spirit inspires you to do.
Laura Dekker who set sail on the boat she made and remodeled with her father. Just shy of her 15th birthday, she set sail around the world to become the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the globe ALONE.
Learn more about her here. She also has a blog and a book called One Girl, One Dream.
Marie Antoine started climbing trees as a kid for fun. Now she does it as her job. She’s one of the few botanists who work in the canopies of the world’s largest trees the redwoods. From 325 feet up in the air, you’ll find her munching her lunch and taking a little snooze in the hammock she brings along. That’s a long long way down. One of my personal daring dos is to climb up into a Redwood tree. Just thought I’d share that. I first learned of Marie from the book The Wild Trees by Richard Preston which talked about her and her husband Stephen Stillet and the work they do way up there. Here’s a great look at their lives.
Shark Whisperer Cristina Zenato grew up is the African Congo. She is an accomplished diver. Christina calms the sharks by rubbing around their nose and mouth along small jelly filled holes. This quiets the shark into a semi-paralytic state for up to 20 minutes. During the time the sharks are hypnotized, Christina pulls out fishhooks, removes parasites from their skins, and extracts various samples for scientific research. In lieu of being fearful of these large sea creatures, she calls them family and says they are greatly misunderstood. Do you know who else says that ? My eldest daughter, “Bun-Girl” who also has had her own adventures with sharks.
To find out more about Christina Zenato have a look here.
This book honestly speaks to girls and women of all ages. I found it to be timeless in it’s appeal. She beckons us to embrace the spirit of adventure or at the very least to explore the idea. She shares what it means to be brave, that perseverance is how to get through it, that we don’t need to be perfect just present and the most important take away for being a Gutsy Girl is to laugh at oneself a lot. That’s an important skill especially when trying to do nearly impossible things.
Are you a Gutsy Girl?
Ready to get your “sleuth” on? My Secret Codes, Mysteries and Adventures Activity PDF for kids will keep young minds percolating for HOURS!
Inside young super detectives will discover:
*19 pages of sleuthing fun for your family to enjoy.
*Use Pilot Frixion Pens and craft paper to create Invisible Secret Notes!
*Make I Spy Cookies!
*Discover a President of the United States who was a Master Code Creator!
This free activity guide is a great way to encourage kids to pull books off of shelves, discover the power of imagination and build a new excitement and anticipation for reading. Fill out the info below and grab your FREE copy. Enjoy!
The post If you’re a Gutsy Girl-Read This! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.
If you are looking to add more non-fiction to your collection, then look no further! Well...look further than this book but definitely add this one to your collection.
Stan Lee, creator and Marvel characters Spiderman, The Hulk and the Fantastic Four has FINALLY created a comic book memoir of his life. Starting with his very humble beginnings, he narrates his life from there and his journey through the halls of comic bookdom, including some amazingly talented people he was not only able to meet but work with as well. He tells about his stint in the military during World War II writing beside the likes of Theodor Geisel and other notable cartoonists that would become famous in their own right. Lee also lovingly shares the story of his romance with his wife of six decades and the reader is able to see how their relationship had on Lee's professional career. He takes us all the way to present day where people watch for his cameo appearance in any Marvel movie.
What made Stan Lee such an icon is the fact that he changed the face of comic book writing, broke through some huge barriers put up by corporate suits and federal laws (on comics, of all things!) and continued the popularity of comic book from page to screen while continuing to write to audiences ranging from children to adult.
And if you think this is just another memoir, think again. Lee manages to expertly weave the history of Marvel Comics from page to screen and beyond so the reader not only gets a glimpse of his life, but a timeline of Marvel from its early beginnings to present day.
Another interesting facet of this book is the narrator himself. Yes, it's Stan Lee (and artist Colleen Doran did a stellar job of creating real life superheroes...got to see it to understand what I mean) but in the audience is a little boy who is fascinated with his tale and inserts himself into Lee's narration. Lee knows that little boy well because....it's himself. He weaves narrator and audience into a beautiful story of past and present which any comic book fan will devour.
Highly recommended by JH/HS and beyond. As only Stan Lee can do so well.
Author: Leila Sales
Summary: Arden is recklessly loyal. That's how she defines herself. But when her boyfriend ditches her on their anniversary, she takes an impulsive road trip to New York City with her best friend to meet her favorite blogger, and finds all her conceptions of everybody she's ever known getting severely shaken up.
First Impressions: Oof, this was good. Complex characters, no total villains, a girl getting to know herself. I puffy heart you Leila Sales.
Later On: For a book with so many completely smackable people, I liked this very much. Seriously - I wanted to slap every character at least once, and the main character more than once. Arden has a hell of a victim complex going on, but the flip side of her doglike loyalty was that she passively, silently resented those who didn't live up to her standards. I thought this would be the story of a girl shedding all the crappy people in her life, and instead found that it was the story of a girl learning to see the flaws in those she loves, including the mother who abandoned her, and still take them as a whole person.
More: Cuddlebuggery did not agree - or more accurately, she agreed, but she couldn't be having with the same things that actually made the story work for me.
A book with a plug! Whaaat?
For car trips, young readers, struggling readers, and sheer entertainment, you can't beat a picture book/audio book combo for younger kids.
Though schools and libraries may still keep book/CD kits in their collections, the truth is, CD players are not that common anymore. Newer computers don't come with a standard CD/DVD drive, cars don't always have them, and the only people I know who still have "boom boxes" are children's librarians.
That's why I was happy to receive a copy of a new VOX (TM) "audio-enabled" book. In my photo, the book is plugged into the wall for charging, but I did that just for show because a book with a plug cracked me up! In truth, it arrived fully charged and ready to go - no plug required. (I didn't test it for battery performance.) The audio recording and speaker are built right into the book and operated by a simple control panel - power, play, pause, volume, forward, and back. There is also a standard headphone jack. The audio is of comparable quality to any conventional children's book. The book itself also seemed as sturdy as any, and was not overly heavy or burdensome.
Perhaps other companies have similar offerings, but this is the first book of its type that I've seen. I think it has possibilities, and that the days of the book/CD kit are numbered. I passed my copy along to a school superintendent who agreed that it might be a useful addition to his school's collection. I did not inquire as to the price. I was interested solely in the format.
If you can get your hands on one, it's worth checking out.
(I'm not going to review the book, Don't Push the Button!, but will merely note that it is in a vein very similar to the wonderful Press Here by Herve Tullet. Kids will likely enjoy it.)
My review copy was provided by VOX Books
.Note:As always on my blog, I review books and materials for educational purposes only, and receive nothing of value other than the review copy, its associated marketing materials, and the occasional thanks or consternation of its author or publisher.
Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Summary: A 14-year-old farm girl runs away from home and pretends to be older so she can get a lucrative job with a Jewish family. As she works for and learns from them, she comes to know more about her own Catholic faith and herself.
First Impressions: In spite of the kerfuffle, I found this to be a very thoughtful examination of faith and how faiths intersect. Also I loved her voice.
Later On: I still feel strongly that this is a great book about faith, about growing up, and about learning how to think for yourself and understand how little you truly know of the world. A large part of its appeal for me, personally, was how resonant her Catholicism is throughout this story. She struggles to do better and be better as a way of reconnecting with the mother she barely remembers. Sometimes this can lead to utterly cringe-inducing moments, such as when she clumsily attempts to convert one of her employers' grandchildren, believing that he will go to hell if he remains Jewish. Of course, this is discovered by the grandmother, and the resultant scene is an examination of how offensive and presumptuous it is to impose your belief system on others.
However, I'm not Jewish, and I haven't had direct experience with having to put up with the kind of painful stereotypes (cheap, rich, heathenish) that she initially applies to the family she's living with.
If you want some really good, in-depth conversation on that, and its function within this novel, and how kids may interpret that, follow the links below.
More: Heavy Medal The discussion is mostly in the comments. Also raised is a salient point about some throwaway lines from Joan about what she calls "wild indians" and what we call now Native Americans or First Nations (always my favorite of the two terms in spite of my American-ness.)
On the morning of Barbed Wire Sunday, the people of East Berlin woke up to the sound of sirens. Investigating, they found that the government had found a way to stop them from leaving: the Berlin Wall. It was a great fence separating East Berlin from West Berlin. The two parts of Germany had been on tight terms for a while, and rumors of a third world war were plentiful.
The one hundred yards of smooth dirt leading up to the wall was called the "Death Strip." And the fence slowly evolved over the years into a 11.8 foot cement wall. Guardtowers were set on top, where soldiers would point their guns at anyone trying to escape East Berlin.
For twelve year-old Gerta, the rise of the Berlin Wall takes something more than freedom from her. A couple of days before Barbed Wire Sunday, her father and brother had traveled into West Berlin. The fence had split her family into two parts just like Germany.
Gerta knows she must take her remaining family members in the East to meet her family members in the West. But escaping isn't easy, and getting caught means death.
The German police threaten Gerta's family often, but the violence is minimal up until the end. I recommend it for 11+.
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Summary: Privileged, spoiled girl at the turn of the century finds her world turned upside down when her father is murdered and she seeks to solve it. Also journalism and feminism and a love story with a young journalist.
First Impressions: So conflicted about this book. Really, I am. On the one hand, the mystery was . . . not at all mysterious. On the other, the feminism was so real. (Also, the end. Seriously LOTR syndrome as far as ends go.)
Later On: I keep going back and forth between whether the MC was realistically naive or just groan-worthy dumb. One that kept coming up in discussions with other readers was how she missed that a house was a brothel and women were prostitutes, in spite of being familiar with the writings of Nelly Bly. Actually I thought this was very realistic because it's one thing to read about something like that, and completely another to identify it in the wild.
I also appreciated that she faced realistic consequences for her choices throughout the book, both from her family and the society she was raised in, and from the new friends she's made in the underbelly of New York City.
And yeah. So. Many. Endings. Every story thread and character had to be wrapped up with its own scene and imagined future.
HMH Books for Young Readers, June 2016
Jill and Simone have been best friends since they were little girls. As they grew up, their friendship stayed intact even though the girls couldn't be more different. Now, in their senior year of high school, their paths suddenly diverge in a tragic way...
Jill continued to live with her mother after the divorce. It's not that she doesn't love her father...it's more that she doesn't belong in the new family with the big house and new wife. Jill knows her father supports her, financially, if not emotionally, and she's relying on this for her future. Jill has always been a dedicated student and Ivy League college is waiting for her after graduation.
Simone's life is much different. She doesn't have the financial support to be able to leave after college. And....she hasn't always been the most studious of girls. What Jill has in academics, Simone more than makes up for in popularity. People are naturally attracted to her and because of this, Simone knows how to work a crowd.
One trip changed their lives...
Both girls were excited to go on a study abroad program in Italy sponsored by their school. Now, after the trip, Jill is recovering in a hospital, her memories affected by aphasia. Simone didn't come home. An incident involving both girls only left one alive.
But Jill isn't only plagued by aphasia. She is being investigated by the Italian police in a murder case, where she is the leading suspect in the murder of her best friend. One intentionally wrecked car, one knife, two girls. Jill isn't only surrounded by her family, but also by lawyers and a media team, trying to repair the negative reputation she is getting on social media. Now the Italian police want to extradite her back to Italy to possibly stand trial. Her future is slipping away from her.
Slowly, the investigation begins to open wider and people are coming forward with eyewitness accounts of the girls friendship turning ugly as well the involvement of an Italian with a sketchy background who became involved with both girls. And slowly, Jill is beginning to recall what really happened.
Suspenseful, intriguing, provocative. Cook writes a novel filled with all of these components as well as some very interesting characters. The reader won't know who to trust because of the secrets and lies everyone is telling. Or are they truly lies? That's what so amazing about this book- there are such subtle twists and turns the reader won't know the truth until the very end. And when they get there, they will be stunned. And THAT'S what makes this a great YA read! Highly recommended.
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Hermione Winters is about to start her senior year of high school. As summer draws to a close, she heads off to cheer camp with her coach and her teammates, including Polly, her best friend and co-captain, and Leo, her boyfriend. Knowing this will be the last time she attends the camp, Hermione intends to make it the best one ever, to work hard, to enjoy the challenges and the routines and the music and the friendships, and to set a good example for her teammates and friends.
Then, on the night of the camp dance, Hermione is raped - her cup of punch drugged by a boy, she blacks out and wakes up in the hospital. The night holds no memories for her past the blackout. She cannot remember the face of her attacker, nor does she have any recollection of what he actually did to her. All she knows is what the doctors, nurses, and detectives have put together from examining her.
Her town is small; everyone knows what happened. The hallways of her school are filled with whispers and judgmental looks, and her relationship with her boyfriend dissolves. But Hermione doesn't withdraw from social interaction or change schools - the latter doesn't even occur to her. She doesn't like being the subject of gossip or scorn or pity. She remembers who she was, she knows who she is
, and she is determined to stay true to herself while dealing what has happened.Exit, Pursued by a Bear
by E.K. Johnston was above and beyond what I hoped it would be. Compelling writing, complex characters, realistic dialogue - there is much to praise here. This book could have been riddled with cliches; it was not. It could have been predictable or saccharine; it was neither. The events and reactions were feasible, believable, never farfetched or contrived. The story was layered and nuanced, allowing for warmth and humor sometimes when you least expected it (and most needed it).
Hermione tells her story in first-person narrative. She is an intelligent, resilient, mature young woman who is stronger than she knows. The characters that surround her are so vividly drawn - especially Polly, the fierce and loyal best friend who is equal parts fire and compassion - that any one of them could have a book of their own. And that is one of the loveliest things here: that the supporting characters are truly supportive of Hermione, that she is not dealing with this alone - and also that the supporting characters have their own arcs, their own problems and heartbreaks and priorities.
There is so much I want to say about this book. How it treats subjects such as sexual assault, doctor's visits, therapy, and victim shaming head-on, honestly and openly; how it encourages cheerleaders to be seen as athletes, not airheads; how it includes a variety of characters of various ages and personalities; and, most of all, how it allows its protagonist to be human, to wrestle with emotions and choices and ultimately emerge triumphant not because of or in spite of what happened/happens to her, but because of how she chooses to see herself, not a victim, not a statistic, not diminished, and how she chooses to live, unashamed, undeterred, always moving forward. I knew before I was raped that this year would be the end of something. I just thought I'd be able to control the ending.
And, again, the magnificent writing: the choice of words, the steady pacing, the characterizations; the importance of a chair, a song, a friend; the details of a waiting room, a quiet house, an exuberant squad; the feeling of flying -- There is so much to applaud here.
Both thought-provoking and profoundly memorable, Exit, Pursued by a Bear
by E.K. Johnston is a triumph. I encourage people to read and re-read this book and to share it with others. Don't be surprised if you find yourself both crying and smiling as you turn the final page - and then start reading it all over again.
If you like this book, you will also like Swollen by Melissa Lion
and All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Exit, Pursued by a Bear is included on my Tough Issues for Teens booklist
This review was originally published at my blog