Monday, March 18, 2019

Book of the Week: Beware of the Crocodile

by Martin Jenkins
Illustrated by Sotoshi Kitamura 


Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2019
28 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7538-7


Ages 5-8


Lurking beneath the water, a crocodile waits for an animal to come down for a drink at the shore. “And then? Oh, dear … Let’s just say there’s a lot of twirling and thrashing, and then things go a bit quiet.” That’s just the start of this lively informational picture book which also reveals another side to these fearsome creatures. After laying and caring for their eggs, female crocodiles carry their newborns down to the water in their mouths. A mother watch over its young for months to protect them from predators (including male crocodiles). Many young don’t survive, but those that do grow up to eventually lurk beneath the water, waiting for something to come down for a drink … An engaging, energetic primary text punctuated by droll moments of humor is accompanied by additional facts on various pages (e.g., crocodiles can go for weeks between meals, they typically lay 40 to 60 eggs which take 80-90 days to hatch), as well as information about different types of crocodiles, and related species, at book’s end. The mixed-media illustrations give a wonderful sense of size and drama. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, March 11, 2019

Book of the Week: A Thousand Sisters



A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of The Soviet Union in World War II

 

by Elizabeth Wein


Published by Balzer + Bray, 2019
388 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-245301-3


Age 13 and older


A substantial and arresting history of Soviet women flying combat missions during World War II begins with the rise of the Communist party in Russia. Its stated commitment to equal opportunities for men and women was not the reality, but a generation of young women grew up with opportunities to learn how to fly in Communist youth clubs. All Soviet citizens were expected to prepare for the (inevitable) Future War. When the Germans invaded in 1941, Marina Raskova, the country’s most famous women pilot, successfully lobbied to create a women’s air force combat unit. Eventually 1,000 young women joined this effort to fight in the Soviet Union’s “Great Patriotic War.” Some were pilots, some navigators, some assigned to ground crew in three regiments: 588th Night Bomber Aviation (in biplanes), 587th Bomber Aviation (larger bombers with a crew of 3), and the 586th Fighter Aviation (solo fighter pilots). A lengthy, compelling narrative describes their training, stress and frustrations, frightening missions, bonds formed (as well as some friction), losses endured, skepticism and sexism faced and overcome (because “equality” in words does not equate equality in action or attitude), and the respect they earned among many male colleagues and commanders. A book that does not glorify war does illuminate the commitment and skill of these women, many of whose individual stories unfold. Notes, an extensive bibliography and index are included. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, March 4, 2019

Book of the Week: Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré



by Anika Aldamuy Denise

Illustrated by Paola Escobar 


Published by Harper, 2019
34 pages
ISBN: (978-0-06-274863-3

Ages 5-9


When Pura Belpré came from San Juan to Nueva York in 1921, “words traveled with her: stories her abuela taught her. Cuentos folklóricos Pura told in the shade of a tamarind tree in Puerto Rico.” Pura gets a job at the New York Public Library, but there are no stories like the ones her abuela taught her on the shelves. Pura begins telling them herself in bilingual story times, eventually adding puppets, but she knows books are important too, which is why she begins writing the cuentos down. Pérez y Martina is the first of many tales from her homeland written by Pura and published for children everywhere to read and hear, each story a seed she planted that continues to grow and bloom. Illustrations with a vintage mid-20th-century feel in palette and style form the backdrop for a lively narrative perfect for reading aloud, which is just as it should be given Pura Belpré’s storytelling gifts. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, February 25, 2019

Book of the Week: New Kid


by Jerry Craft

 

Published by Harper, 2019
249 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0


Ages 9-13


In his early weeks at Riverdale Academy Day School (RAD), seventh grader Jordan Banks is so happy when he sees another student of color that small cupids appear around his head. It’s emblematic of the keen social commentary rooted in much of this graphic novel’s humor. Black students (and the few Black faculty) at RAD are often confused for one another; it’s assumed that students of color need financial aid, just as it’s assumed Black kids are athletic and, in one unsettling scene, prone to violence. Conversely, one teacher is so worried about saying something racist that he constantly asks for reassurance. The racism and absurdities at RAD (required athletic participation—Jordan’s on a fifth string soccer team) aren’t the sum of Jordan’s experiences. He makes two good friends who share his love of gaming: Drew, another new, Black student, who also shares Jordan’s frustrations, and Liam, a white student embarrassed by his family’s wealth. And he appreciates academic challenges like the art class that pushes him to try something new. Black-and-white pages from Jordan’s sketchbook illuminate his feelings about RAD and about the daily transformation required to movie back and forth between the worlds of his home (where he feels his parents love and also the weight of their hopes and fears), neighborhood, and school. Genuine characters propel this funny, warm, biting, fearless story. Entertaining and insightful, it will surely offer affirmation for some readers, revelation for others. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, February 18, 2019

Book of the Week: We Are Here to Stay — Voices of Undocumented Young Adults



by Susan Kuklin

 

Published by Candlewick Press, 2019
182 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7884-5

 

Age 11 and older


Nine young adults with undocumented immigrant status in the United States share their individual, complex stories about how and why they came to this country, and their experiences since arriving. Each has made the decision to speak out, not only in this book but often in other contexts: courageous activism as they both live in and emerge from “the shadows” to share their stories and dreams. The young adults interviewed came originally from Colombia, Ghana, Independent Samoa, Mexico, and South Korea as children or young teens, usually with their parents, in one case because of trafficking. The book, originally slated for publication in 2017, was delayed after presidential action put the status of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in limbo. Changes were made to protect the young people’s identities, which are now indicated only by first initial and a dash (e.g. Y—), while Kuklin’s photographs of her subjects were eliminated—only empty frames remain. Each dash and empty frame is a sobering reminder that visibility is a risk for these young people, who deserve to be seen. Black-and-white photographs do appear in a chapter about the work of Reverend John Fife of Tucson, part of a group providing assistance to immigrants making the difficult desert crossing. End matter includes notes about each interview and resources. Kuklin writes, “These individuals remind me again and again that the American Dream is worth fighting for—and that the American dream is worth sharing.” ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, February 11, 2019

Book of the Week: Hands Up!



by Breanna J. McDaniel

Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Published by Dial, 2019
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-525-55231-4

Ages 4-9



Sometimes the young Black girl at the center of this story raises one or both of her hands as a simple part of moving through the day (stretching them over her head when she wakes in the morning, holding on to her parents’ arms and swinging, raising her hand in class, reaching for a book on the high shelf). Sometimes she raises her hands in moments of exuberance and assertiveness and living out loud (lifting them high in church as she sings, reaching for the basketball in a game, celebrating a victory, holding up a sign at a march). This celebration of selfhood, family, and community has a powerful subtext, intentionally reclaiming and recasting the phrase “hands up,” so frightening for Black and brown lives when it comes to encounters with police, by affirming the girl’s right to move through and occupy the space around her—and the world itself—without question. The bright mixed-media art has abundance of yellow, amplifying the joyful feel. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, February 4, 2019

Book of the Week: Dreamers



by Yuyi Morales


Published by Neal Porter Books / Holiday House, 2018

32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4055-9

Ages 4-9


“…when we made it to the other side, thirsty, in awe, unable to go back, we became immigrants.” Yuyi Morales tells the story of her journey with her young son to the United States and what happened next in a picture book that pays tribute to love, resilience, books and reading, and dreamers everywhere. The text, spare and poetic, describes a physical journey but, more important, a journey of discovery when mother and son stumble on a place that was “Suspicious. Improbable. Unbelievable. Surprising.” A place that was full of stories. The books they found at the public library were home, and inspiration, and validation, affirming that their stories, their voices, their dreams, their gifts, matter. The lush, fanciful multimedia illustrations incorporate 48 children’s books that Morales was inspired by during that time. End matter includes more details about Morales’s immigrant journey from Mexico, as well as a bibliography of the books she incorporates into the artwork and a brief note on how she made the book. Highly Commended, 2019 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center