Sunday, May 20, 2018

New in non-fiction picture books

There are some amazing new non-fiction picture books that have just been released.  What a great way to start your summer reading!

The first one is called "Voices from the Underground Railroad" by Kay Winters.  It's poems about the experiences of two slaves running away from a master who is planning to sell them south to pay off his gambling debts.  What's great about this one is that it has ALL the voices-so there are poems from the point of view of the master's wife and the slave catchers and the people who are station masters on the Underground Railroad.  Larry Day's pictures are lovely pen and ink with water color and help the reader understand the urgency and the immediacy of the action of the story.  I thought this one was terrific.

The second one is called "Girl Running" by Annette Bay Pimentel and illustrated by Micha Archer.  It's about a young woman named Bobbi Gibb who liked to run.  She lived in a time before Title Nine sports, when women were encouraged to stay at home and take care of the children.  But she ran.  She ran in spite of the fact that she didn't have proper running shoes (she started training with nurses shoes!) and set a goal to run in the Boston Marathon.  Except it turned out that they didn't allow women to run in the Boston Marathon.  So she ran anyway.  It's a lovely story of determination and persistence.  The art work is terrific too-the pictures are bright and full of energy, just like Bobbi must be.  I can't wait to share this one with my students. 

The last one is called "She Persisted Around the World".  It's written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger.  This is the second book like this-it's a collective biography of 13 women around the world who worked hard and made a difference.  It covers a range of areas where the women persisted, including dance, politics, peace making, science, and sports.  This is not book to get deep information, rather short pieces of text with lovely, warm colored pictures to inspire kids to do more research.   This will be an excellent addition to our library!  

Here's a short video introducing the book. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

New titles in middle grade fiction

I caught a stupid cold this week and although I never really felt rotten enough to stay home from school, it slowed me down enough to take the time to read a bit more than I have.  Isn't that weird?  Probably- gratitude for a cold!  Anyway, I got to read a couple of terrific chapter books this week.

The first one is called "The Memory of Forgotten Things" by Kat Zhang.  I was sure I had read (and enjoyed) her other books so I dove into this one.  Except, as it turns out, I hadn't read any of her books after all (I blame the nasal congestion).  But, it's completely ok, because this wasn't a sequel or connected to any of her books.  It's about a girl named Sophia who feels somewhat isolated-her mom died when she was small and Sophia misses her terribly.  But Sophia's been having these memories of things that actually never happened but could have, if things had been different-like a birthday cake that her mother made when she was 10, except that her mother died before that.  Sophia reluctantly makes friends with two boys in class and it turns out, one of them also has memories like her.  The other has a deep desire to go back to the way things were before his sister died.  So when the kids find out that a kind of a portal opens so they can go to an alternate reality, they all jump at the chance.  This one is truly a middle grade fiction book-dead family members, angst about friendship and fitting in, but it also has this very interesting piece about things happening for a reason.  I think this one will be well placed in any library or home-the kids are going to relate to the characters.  It's a really interesting idea that there might be a parallel universe out there waiting for us to find it.  This one comes out next week!

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The second one is by one of my favorite authors (really, I have actually read things by him before, AND I remember them), Jason Reynolds.  It's the third in a series (so I guess you could call it a trilogy, so far, but I wonder if there will be more) about a group of kids who come together as a running team.  It's called "Sunny" and it's about Sunny who is an excellent long distance runner.  But Sunny's kind of stuck.  It turns out he's been running because his mom was a runner and his mom died in childbirth (see what I mean about the dead relatives in middle grade fiction?) and suddenly, that's not a good enough reason anymore.  This story is less about running and more about dealing with grief but what's really great about it is the language.  The story drips with evocative language, the feelings pour out like a browned butter sauce-rich and delicious.  And you can feel every little bit of the things that Sunny's feeling.  This one is going to remind kids that ALL of their experiences matter, that all stories are awesome and all stories need to be told.  This one came out April 26, so look for it now! 

Here's an interview with Jason Reynolds about Sunny and For Everyone, another book,  that it also coming out.  

The third one is another book dealing with the death of a parent.  (I KNOW)  This one is called "The House that Lou Built" by Mae Respicio.  It's about Lou who comes from a big, strong, noisy Filipino family that she adores.  Her mom is struggling to make ends meet with her nursing job.  Lou misses the dad she never knew, who was killed just before she was born.  Lou loves to build things and she's got an idea that she could build a tiny house on a piece of property that belongs to her.  Her dad left her this property when he died and some of her happiest memories are there.  But Lou's mom has an idea that if they would move to Seattle, she could get a job that would pay better, they could have their own place that would be bigger (Lou could have her own room!) and life would be so much better.  Lou's not really having it, because she loves the culture of her family and the extended family that they have where they are, so she comes up with a plan for how to get them to stay.  It was lovely to get to read about the loving, supportive family that Lou comes from and to get to learn a tiny bit about Filipino culture.  I also really liked that Lou was a person who liked to build things and that didn't seem weird to anyone.  I think the kids are going to like all the risks that Lou takes to get what she wants as well as her vision of her tiny house.  I can't wait to put this one in the library.  

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