Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunny Side Up


I loved this graphic novel! Sunny is 10 years old in 1976, and I loved being able to time travel so brilliantly back to my childhood.



From GoodReads:
"Deceptively simple but packed with heartfelt and complex relationships. Sunny's reactions to all the things going on around her ring true and the exploration of a difficult topic is done appropriately for the reader's age. This is a gem."




It's a great story about the struggle of addiction, the idea of heroes, and how we can be hurt by others but it's not our fault.



This graphic novel is perfect for readers facing hard truths and complex relationships involving substance abuse.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sir Stinks-A-Lot


Captain Underpants is the most banned book in America... and the newest book, The Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot has just been released. It is a comic masterpiece that Captain Underpants' millions of fans will enjoy. I know I loved it!

Even if you've never read a Captain Underpants book, you should give this one a try. The beginning of this book gives you a brief summary of what went before so you won't be lost.

I love how Dav Pilkey pokes fun at grown ups who have forgotten what it's like to be a kid. And how he has brilliantly embraced his 'haters' who are offended by the language and misbehavior of George and Harold. 

But, in this book especially, I appreciated the brief time travel to George and Harold's future selves. I loved seeing how their beautiful adult lives had unfolded.

So, embrace your freedom to read and read America's most banned book. Get this book for all the reluctant readers you know who are bored by school. It will be revolutionary!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Be Who You Are

I just read a book that needs to be in school libraries everywhere...

GEORGE by Alex Gino.



From the book jacket:

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

This book is brave and funny and hopeful and heartbreaking. I'm so glad it exists! 

I love the conversations this book will start. In my own house when we were discussing GEORGE, my daughter said, "Cisgenders need to be able to support their transgender friends." Which led to her explaining to me what cisgender means and how I shouldn't stereotype gender roles. It was awesome! Young adults today see gender as a spectrum which allows for a rich diversity in identity.

I loved the clever use of pronouns. The story is told in the third person and 'she', 'her', 'herself'... are used in relation to George.

I loved George's conversation with her older brother, Scott:
Scott put down his fork. "So do you?"
"Do I what?" 
"Think you're a girl?"
"Yes." George was surprised at how easy that question was to answer.
"Weird. But it kinda makes sense. No offense, but you don't make a very good boy."
"I know."
Scott looked at George as if his sibling made sense to him for the first time. George had never been gladder to have an older brother.  

And her mother's comment:
"You're one tough cookie. But the world isn't always good to people who are different. I just don't want you to make your road any harder than it has to be."
"Trying to be a boy is really hard."
Mom blinked a few times, and when she opened her eyes again, a teardrop fell down her cheek.
 
The final chapter from Charlotte's Web begins chapter 2 of the book and plays a big role in the story. You can read it HERE... be sure to grab a tissue first. 


courageous and persistent


“It had been awful, but I hadn't quit. I had persisted. 
In battle I had won.” 

― Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, The War that Saved My Life



School has started, and already I have a request for a good historical fiction book. Look no further than The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

From GoodReads:
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.

I loved Ada. She is a survivor, courageous and persistent. Her story has an overarching theme of battle and war, both inner and outer. And the difference between lying and liars is beautifully told. The historical detail of the book is amazing and frequently ties in to the larger theme, especially the posters: "Freedom is in peril. Defend it with all your might."

If you or someone you know is looking for historical fiction, this is the book for you. The War that Saved My Life touches on many facets of World War II and life in England at that time: child evacuees, bombing raids, rationing, Land Girls, victory gardens, the Dunkirk evacuation, and more.

There's a great resource page from Penguin Books that's worth taking a look at for more information. There's a map to show how close Kent is to France and how far London is from Kent. There are also some great statements to consider as you read: "There are different kinds of truths, not just one 'real' truth.", "Sometimes we start to believe what other people think of us." Do you agree or disagree?

This is a beautifully written book and it deserves all the awards it will undoubtedly win. 


Monday, August 10, 2015

Call it love; I loved it all.



I read the following on Goodreads about Rebecca Stead's new book, Goodbye Stranger :
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead has taken what on the surface might look like a fluffy middle school tale of selfies and first loves and turned it into a much more layered discussion of bodies, feminism, the male (and female) gaze, female friendships, relationships, and betrayals.

Yes! That was my thought exactly. I loved the portrayal of feminism. Especially this scene:
Her mom caught Bridge's eyes in the mirror. "Grandma was wrong, Bridge. She was wrong. My body was mine. Your body is yours."
The part about body shaming and the disparity between how boys and girls are treated by adults was brilliantly portrayed.

And the discussion about the "self" raises beautiful points that will leave kids thinking...
 “Is the new you the stranger? Or is the stranger the person you leave behind?” 

I loved this book. I want to make sure that every 13, 14, 15, 16 year-old reads it.

I loved Mr. Partridge and his Talentine show... and being put on this earth for a reason... and Human Rights Club and Tech Crew... and the Moon Landing... and Twinkie promises... and Hermey the Dentist. Call it love; I loved it all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

the boy in the black suit


The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds is a beautiful look at grief and the rituals of bereavement ... listening to Tupac's "Dear Mama" on repeat or sitting in the back pew at funeral services. Seeing others grieve can remind you that you're not alone.


From NPR Books:

One of the novel's memorable metaphors comes when Matt is discussing grief and disappointment with his mentor, Mr. Ray, who has seen his share of both. Life, says Mr. Ray, is like the kid's card game I Declare War: You flip cards, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. What you can't do, he says, is plan ahead.
"I can lose and lose and lose and I don't know why. But there's nothing I can do but just keep flipping the cards. Eventually, I'll win again. As long as you got cards to keep turning, you're fine. Now, that's life."

The Boy in the Black Suit is a wonderful story of death and life... and how individually and differently... and, yet, similarly each person grieves. Young adult and middle grade readers will enjoy this book and reflect on the importance of community in times of deep sadness.

* Be sure to read the author's bio on the back cover flap. Jason Reynolds is crazy. About stories.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

insanely great


Have you seen the new graphic biography, Steve Jobs: insanely great by Jessie Hartland? I got mine today. It's simple and energetic and informative. I think middle grade readers will love it.



It's about success and setbacks and design and demons. It's about the impossible and the possible and all the contradictions of living an extraordinary life.


Get this book for the misfits you know... for the square pegs in the round holes. Get this book for the young people in your life who see things differently; for those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world.


If you have ever wondered about living an unconventional life in a conventional world, this is the story for you.