Thursday, February 22, 2018

Patina by Jason Reynolds

I have a giant reading crush on Jason Reynolds. Actually, I don't even know that much about him. I just love his books. 

Last year, I read his Brave Like You and adored it. 

Last week I read Patina and loved it as well. Reynolds writes in an honest, authentic way about African-American childhood. I think we sometimes associate serious, somber themes with African-American narratives. Maybe because books with those narratives have been very important in changing how we talk about race to young people. They deserve to be important, but at the same time, I think we stereotype again, stripping African-American characters of their nuances and variation, if we always assume they have the same life story. 

Reynolds in no way ignores the struggles that African-American children face, but he makes it clear that their race is only one aspect of their personality. And while it is always there, in the background, race isn't the main event in his books. 

I really hope I don't sound like I am diminishing those serious, necessary books about racial experiences, because there are some seriously amazing books out there about that. However, I love books that also give students from diverse backgrounds, common ground. Rather than always seeing other, they can make connections to these characters that might help them to understand those serious, important books a little more. 

I hope that makes sense. 

Anyway, back to Patina. Patina is a middle schooler, at a prestigious, predominantly white, prep school. She had a difficult childhood, but is now living with her uncle and aunt in a stable environment. She has also just joined an elite running team (the same one Ghost is on). Navigating through middle school, as well as trying to survive being the "new" teammate, Patina also struggles with making sure her younger sister is taken care of and her aunt and uncle have all the help they need in the house. See, just because you are a kid, doesn't mean you aren't aware of all the responsibilities around you. Even though she has lived with her aunt and uncle for years, Patina still feels that she needs to do everything she can to make it easier on them, despite efforts by her aunt and uncle to help her relax and be a kid. It takes a serious event to help Patina see that she has a good support network on her side. She doesn't actually have to hold it all together herself. 

That actually sounds serious and hardship filled. But it didn't feel like that. It felt funny, smart, and hopeful. I couldn't help loving Patina and identifying with her sense of responsibility. And ultimately, her incredible, loving support system! 

You will love it. You just will. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lily's Chocolate Heart by Kevin Henkes

This book is part of Henkes' Box of Treats. These are incredibly short little books about some of Henkes' characters--Wemberley, Owen, Shelia Rae, Julius, and Lily. Each character has a sweet treat from a specific holiday. 

Lily is looking for the perfect place to put her leftover Valentine's heart

Her bureau was too messy

The edge of the frame too narrow. 

The perfect place to keep it safe? Her tummy! 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Valentine Box by Maud Hart Lovelace & Illustrated by Ingrid Fetz

I have adored Maud Hart Lovelace ever since reading her Betsy books. I know, I know, I should have known her Betsy-Tacy books, but I just didn't. I am not sure how I missed them, but I jumped right in with her Betsy high school books. And I was smitten.

ANYWAY, MHL wrote this book in 1966. I am pretty sure it was the last book she wrote. And it is particularly fascinating to me because the main character is black. The storyline never mentions that fact, which is interesting for that time. Sort of ahead of it's time.   

Another blog I read about this book (I like to read up on books I am putting on my blog!) suggested that it may have been a gimmick by the publisher (this was published a year or two after Ezra Jack Keat's Snowy Day took the Caldecott) more than something MHL intended. However, I think MHL was a proponent of civil rights--her Emily of Deep Valley has Emily trying to help the Syrian refugees that the rest of Deep Valley has ignored. Clearly, MHL was sensitive to the fact that not everyone had the same privileges Betsy and Tacy had and wanted to draw gentle attention toward that. 

Unfortunately, MHL never really spoke out about this, so we can't be sure.  

I love lacy, vintage Valentine's!  

It was Valentine's Day and snowy. Janice hoped her mother would not make her go back to her new school after lunch. Because how embarassing to be the girl that doesn't get any valentines from her classmates! 

(Also, when did it become regular to give all students in class a valentine? I never really thought about it, because that is the way it was when I was a kid and how it is for my kids, but at some point, not everyone would get the same number of valentines. Oh the social angst!! I am a fan of everyone gets one,  but it does limit the meaning of valentines--it wouldn't be something you give to people who were the most kind or your closest friends.)

However, Janice can't quite tell her mother this, so her mother gives her a bag to carry her Valentines in and sends her back after lunch.

On the way back to school, Janice sees Margaret, a girl who she had thought might be a good friend, loose her valentines in the wind. 

Janice helps Margaret catch her Valentines after a few silly mishaps.

In the process, Janice drops her bag of valentines, so another kid in her class (because Margaret is sopping wet) helps her find them. 

So Janice makes two friends and gets several Valentines. 

I love the way this book shows kids that the best way to make friends is to be kind and helpful, while also asking them to think about those who might feel left out. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Darcy Swipes Left by Jane Austen and Courtney Carbone

Do you remember Macbeth from last year? Well here is the Pride and Prejudice version. 

I assumed I would like this one better than the Macbeth version, (because P&P is so much better than Shakespeare) but I don't. 

Carbone has taken a classic and changed it into a text exchange in modern parlance. 

Shakespeare seemed hilarious in modern parlance and emoji.  

But somehow, Mr. Bennet does not strike me as an emoji kind of fellow. 

Mr. Collins seems to translate well though. 

I do love the little apps scattered throughout though. 

Mary understands the benefit of a good meme. 

And would Mr. Bennet really make family statements on social media? Mrs. Bennet, sure. But... 

I love Lady Catherine de Bourgh ALL CAPS-ing everything and signing her name to each and every text. Clearly she doesn't quite get texting. 

Lizzy is way too intelligent to write forget as 4get. And sry, Darcy shouldn't shorten sorry to sry. 

Clearly I am prejudiced against text speech. Which is pretty legitimate. I am one of those annoying texters who writes ALL THE WORDS. I just do. 

Mrs. Bennet and Trump would understand each other's social media accounts. 

There were definitely some laugh out loud parts, and if you are a Pride and Prejudice junky (that's me!) it is well worth the chuckle. However, it has none of the magic of the original. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Snapshots by Chris Colderoy and Ekua Holmes

Celebrating Nikki Giovanni

people forget... poetry in not just words on a page... it is...
a snowflake on your tongue... a tattoo on the inside of your arm....a dashiki and a kaftan...
tripping down the streets of Lincoln Heights... shouting from the hills of Knoxville, Tennessee

poetry is...barbecue....cotton candy....purple skin beets from Daddy's garden...
blues... the Birdland jazz club....Sunday morning gospel... chasing justice.... freedom...

poetry is remembering the things that matter...the ones you love...
when night come ripples on a pond

                                                                                                   --Chris Colderley
                                                                                                                        (From Out of Wonder)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Why is the Snow White? Heinz Janisch & Silke Lefler

The other day, I was walking through our local Dollar General (you may laugh, but to those of us in Podunk, America DG is pretty fabulous!) and this book caught my eye. Who knew Dollar General had interesting books? 

This was originally published in Switzerland, which might be why I have never heard of it.

Snowdrops and Father Winter

The book opens with a father and daughter snuggled in a window seat discussing why the snow is white. 

When snow was being made, it went around to all the various flowers to ask them for a little of their color for the snow. 

Each flower agreed, but once they had given their color, they jealously demanded it back. 

Aren't these fanciful pictures? I love these flower people!

Even the grass was jealously guarding his color. 

Finally Father Snow asked the snowdrop flower to share her color and the snowdrop agreed. 

Snow became white and covered up the world. 

All the flowers who refused to share their color were mercilessly killed as soon as the snow touched each one. 

Only the little snowdrop was allowed to touch the snow and live. 

And that, is why the snow is white, my friend. 

Isn't that whimsical and gorgeous? I feel justified in break my buy nothing resolution to spend $3 on this one! 

Just so you know, my buy nothing resolution has been modified to have a small monthly budget for books. Because, lets get serious--I am a librarian. Books are what I do for a living. I will need to buy them here and there. 

Or at least that is what I say. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pass it On by Sophy Henn

Here is a bright burst of color on a grey, winter day! 

Except, I took these pictures in low light, so they aren't as BRIGHT as I would like. 

Pretty much any book with balloons on the cover is going to make me look at it. One of those psychological idiosyncrasies. 

I love the message of this book as well.

If something delights you, you can let it change your attitude and allow others to be made happier just because you are happy. 

I love spotting things of wonder and this book totally justifies me gushing about them to anyone who will listen. 

Things that justify me, delight me. 

Aren't they adorable? 

Even when things are grey and gloomy, things can always be made better with a big orange elephant. 

Pretty sure that is a fact of life. 

I love, love, love this book. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

My Own Room by Nancy Dingman Walsh & Illus by Erik Blegvad

My Own Room

Up in my bedroom
On a winter's night
               The fir tree ticks the window
         When I put out the light.

        The sky is black and cold
  The stars flash bright
              The moon and clouds roll by
             On the windy winter's night

I shiver as I watch 
 And I wish on a star
       The first or the brightest
           On the one that blinks afar

         And after I have wished 
I jump into bed      
                       And the fir tree ticks the window 
    All night by my head.

            But when a storm is raging 
  Or I hear an owl call 
           I like to know my brother 
     Is right down the hall.