Thursday, March 15, 2018

Staying Safe Online by Ben Hubbard

This is a pretty boring topic, but it is a useful topic. And so you need books about those things. 

It is a little difficult to enthuse about useful, boring topics, so this is pretty much just a recommendation for a book on this topic if you need it. 

This is a good book for the younger elementary aged kids. 

For each topic covered, there are two picture filled pages. Minimal text, but enough to encourage conversations. 

Pretty good way to relate the need to be safe online.

As I said, this is a pretty boring topic, but this book makes a boring topic, fairly kid friendly. 

I plan on adding this to the school library. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Have you seen or read this book yet? It was sort of everywhere last year. I finally got my hands on it and read it a few weeks ago, and WOAH. 

Starr Carter lives in Garden Heights, but goes to school in a more prestigious part of the city. None mostly as being the daughter of her father the store owner, Starr is a bit in limbo. She doesn't really fit in in Garden Heights, but going to a school in a different neighborhood is somewhat surreal as well--she goes home to a different world than all her classmates. 

After a party breaks up, Starr is heading home with a childhood best friend when they are pulled over by a cop. They have been told how to act when a cop stops you, but Khalil goes a little off script by moving to see if Starr is okay when the officer doesn't expect it. Within seconds he is dying on the ground. 

Suddenly, Starr is in the maelstrom emotions--grief over losing yet another childhood friend to senseless violence, disbelief as the media paints a completely different picture of Khalil than the Khalil she knew, and indecision about whether she should speak out as the only witness to his death. She has spoken to the detectives, but she is only referred to as "the witness" in the media. Should she speak out? Would her family be in danger if she did? How would her friends and white boyfriend at her prep school react? 

In the midst of her grief and indecision, Starr's older brother's step-dad starts getting more and more out of hand. As the local drug lord, King has reigned over his small kingdom of Garden Heights and destroys those who question him. When their neighborhood is the center of media attention, a neighbor speaks out against King and so begins an internal, neighborhood struggle while this larger police brutality struggle is being played out in national media attention. 

Full of amazing characters, interesting family dynamics, timely racial discussions, and a pervading sense of hope, this book is FABULOUS.  

I loved Starr. Her strength, her humor, her kindness, and resiliency... She is sort of majorly awesome. 

Angie Thomas is kind of majorly awesome too. 

Read this.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

This book was so gripping. And while I loved and sympathize with Kiko and exalt with her every victory, it is her awful, horrible, narcissistic mother that caught my imagination so much. She is just SO HORRID. Really. Like no redeeming qualities at all. There is something so fresh and freeing about a character you can hate with no reservations. You don't have to feel conflicted and try to see their good points. Nope. Nada. 

Kiko is a Japanese-American teen dealing with rejection from her only college application--Prism, the prestigious art school she had set her heart on. A chance encounter with her childhood best friend  after a particularly painful episode with her mother leads to a cross the country road trip, romance, (I mean, a cross country road trip and romance is already pretty fabulous, but there is MORE) an incredible mentor and a second chance at dreams. 

I really, super-le-douper loved this book. I mean, obviously her mother is painfully despicable, but that means your emotions aren't pulled out of whack. You are 100% for Kiko and you can follow her story with no reservations or side interests. 

A great quick read! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

To be honest, I thought this was a story about the Statue of Liberty walking across America. Which I think I have seen before. And that would be a little weird. Because the Statue of Liberty walking around is a whole lot concerning. I mean how many people is she crushing under those Grecian sandals? 

No thank you. 

But, good news! This is not that book. I am not sure if it ever was a book or just a nightmare I had once after eating something too rich before bed. 

And it probably is really lovely. 
(Sorry, other author person.)

Anyway, this book is back story of the Statue of Liberty, with a focus on her right foot. 

The story starts in France. With two crazy men. I can't quite understand why they are so crazy in this picture.  

Giant hand and arm

But we just put it together! the workers said. 
That is absurd, they said.
They said all this in French, 
the language of the French,
a people who appreciate the absurd. 

Made out of copper, the statue was originally brown. Over time, it changed to green. 

I love this picture!

Eggers draws everyone's attention to the forward motion of the actual statue. The right foot is raised as though mid-stride. 

Liberty and freedom from oppression are not htings
you get or grant by standing around like some kind
of statue. No! These are things that require action. 
Courage. An unwillingness to rest. 

So of course the Statue of Liberty couldn't stand around being all static. 

The many way people arrived in America

The immigrants.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sugar Maples by Nancy Dingman Walsh & Illus by Erik Blegvad

Sugar Maples

The snow in the sugar bush is up to my knees
But Peter says I can help tap the trees
 So we harness up the horses and hitch up the sled
And shout Giddy-up! to big Tom and Ned. 
When we reach the icy brook Peter lets the horses drink
 But then we hurry over so the sled won't sink. 

We're deep in the sugar bush and Peter hollers Whoa!
 And the horses stand still in the quiet, in the snow 
Their nostrils blow steam and their coats foam white
And the birds stop to listen in the shafts of morning light.

Peter drills the holes and I stick in the spouts 
And we hush and watch the first sweet sap drip out. 
I kneel beneath the spout and the sweet drips on my tongue 
And then we tramp from tree to tree to get the buckets hung. 

At noon we build a fire and eat a big lunch
 And listen to the jaybirds scold and hear the horses munch 
It's a long day's work, the big horses sweat 
My mittens freeze stiff and my feet slosh wet 
I'd really like to quit but I can't till we're through--
Peter wants to finish, and so do I too. 

The sun is sliding down the sky--Let's head home! Peter shouts
 The horses speed, the sled is light without the pails and spouts... 
The kitchen's warm and through the door there drifts amidst the clutter
The lovely smell of homemade bread and newly churned butter. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems

I don't think I have discussed Elephant and Piggie on here yet. 


Piggie is calm and rational (generally) and elephant is volatile and reactive. But they are best friends and do everything together. Except nap apparently. 

These books are so fun to read. Kids love all the over reaction and emoting. 

Piggie is upside down. How could that NOT be hilarious. 

Willems delights in the absurd

As well as the over the top. 

I haven't read this to kids at school yet. I can't wait to do this loud snore. I sometimes worry about the teacher next door....

Clearly Piggie had a good nap, but not elephant! 

But wait a minute!

Oh the nonsense! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

I have already admitted my book crush on Jason Reynolds, so I don't need to rhapsodize about him all over again. BUT THIS BOOK. 

I am a happy book, happy ending kind of person, so reading the premise for this book, I was pretty hesitant. I mean, the basic idea is a grieving brother heading out to seek revenge on his brother's death by murdering the suspected killer. 

Happy and cheery right? 

Also, I tend to be a little leery of novels told in verse. 

Still, since it was Jason Reynolds, I decided to push through. And let me tell you, I was richly rewarded. 

I remember Beverly Cleary, in talking about how she came to write Henry Huggins, saying young boys came into the library she was working in and asked where the books about kids like themselves were. Cleary realized there weren't many books about regular little kids, and presto! A literary legend was born. 

Jason Reynolds is writing books so that urban, black teens don't need to ask where the books about them are. 

Will, is reeling from his brother's death only a day earlier. A seemingly random shooting that Will thinks is gang related. And if there is one thing Will knows, he knows you have to follow the rules. No crying, no snitching, and get revenge. So Will does what any self-respecting boy would do--follows the rules, grabs a gun, and heads out to get revenge. 

Except, on the ride down in the elevator, Will is visisted by ghosts from his past. They get on one by one at each floor of the building. As they talk to Will and share their stories, Will begins to see that maybe the rules are better off broken. 

As the ghosts share their stories, we see a messy, senseless culture of violence--accidental shootings of children, mistaken revenge killings, burglary gone wrong murders, and a lot of needless pain and sorrow. 

This book begs angry young teens to rethink the vicious cycle of violence. To put down the guns, to find a better way to solve problems, to look to their future and see a world where you don't need to be worried about being gunned down. 



Which is why the cover is now awash in book awards.