Monday, October 14, 2019

Book of the Week: Beverly, Right Here



by Kate DiCamillo


Candlewick Press, 2019
256 pages
ISBN: 978-07636-9464-7


Ages 10-13


After her beloved dog Buddy dies, Beverly Tapinski, 14, can’t think of a reason to stick around home with her neglectful mother. Beverly hitches a ride to another small Florida town and gets a job bussing tables in a greasy spoon diner. Iola, who lives in a nearby trailer, owns a car but no longer drives and offers Beverly a room in exchange for a ride to her weekly Bingo game. Beverly meets gangly, kind, awkward, art-obsessed Elmer at the convenience store, where he works. He’s unlike anyone Beverly’s ever met. They all are, from her beleaguered boss at the restaurant to the ambitious and self-involved waitress to the steady, hardworking kitchen crew, who go on strike for better wages. Iola, meanwhile, clearly recognizes in Beverly a loneliness akin to her own. A story that mines difficult experiences and feelings with grace and humor illuminates goodness and connection through characters that find one another in ways that feel fated but work as happenstance. For Beverly, friend of the main characters in the earlier Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana’s Way, this summer of the mid 1970s is one in which she discovers—and perhaps remembers—that friendship is a gift to be received as well as given. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 7, 2019

Book of the Week: Love from A to Z



by S. K.  Ali


Published by Salaam Reads, 2019

342 pages

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4272-6


Age 13 and older


Suspended from school for challenging a teacher’s Islamophobia, West Indian/Pakistani American Zayneb spends an extended break in Doha, Qatar, with her aunt. Adam (Chinese/White) has returned to Doha for spring break from college in London. When they meet, Adam is immediately drawn to Zayneb. Not only are they both Muslim, they also both keep “Marvels and Oddities” journals, named for the same piece of Islamic art that inspired them, in which they record the ups and downs of their days. As they spend time together, the two slowly share their current struggles. Zayneb and her friends back home are trying to build a case against their teacher for his Islamophobic online activity. She’s also learning to embrace her identity as an activist, dealing with almost daily Islamophobia due to her hijab, and grieving her daadi, who was killed during a U.S/ drone strike in Pakistan. Adam, recently diagnosed with MS, has dropped out of college without telling his father, wanting to focus on his art instead. Although they’re falling in love, Adam and Zayneb also struggle realistically to communicate and to support one another’s choices and reactions to events in their lives. This empowering novel offers a refreshing portrayal of two distinct teens whose approach to romance and dating is shaped by their strongly held Muslim beliefs. (MCT) ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 30, 2019

Book of the Week: The Undefeated



by Kwame Alexander

Illustrated by Kadir Nelson


Versify / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019

ISBN: 9781328780966


Age 8 and older


“This is for the unforgettable. The swift and sweet ones who hurdled history and opened a world of possible. The ones who survived American by any means necessary.” This is for those with “undeniable” strength, unforgettable” achievements, “unflappable” courage. This is for “unspeakable” pain that was endured. Kwame Alexander’s powerful ode, a celebration of African American survival, achievement, creativity, and resilience, is brimming with references to historical and contemporary people and cultural touchstones and incorporates direct quotes that speak to past (“we shall not be moved”) and present (”black lives matter”). Events and individuals are further illuminated in Kadir Nelson’s stirring oil-on-panel artwork that expands the emotional resonance of the arresting poem that is also a celebration of the promise of every Black youth today: “This is for you. And you. And you. This is for us.” An author’s note is followed by brief information about each of the individuals and events referenced in the narrative and artwork. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 23, 2019

Book of the Week: Amelia Westlake Was Never Here



by Erin Gough

Poppy / Little Brown, 2019

368 pages

ISBN: 9780316450669


Ages 12 and older


Tired of the sexual harassment perpetrated by the swim coach at her private girls’ academy in Sydney, Amelia Westlake publishes a cartoon calling him out in the school paper. Encouraged by the approval of her fellow students, her acts of resistance (a.k.a. “pranks”) continue, and soon school administration is bent on stopping her. The problem is that Amelia Westlake does not exist. She’s the handiwork of Harriet and Will, two polar opposites who reluctantly unite to call out sexism and hypocrisy at Rosemead under the guise of a made-up student. Harriet, a straight-laced overachiever, is an asset to the school; Will, who loves to challenge authority, is more of a liability. Later joined by Natasha Nguyen, Will’s friend and editor of the school paper, the three girls bring light to other problems at Rosemead, including homophobia and racism. Harriet and Will, who are both gay and dancing around an unacknowledged mutual crush, experience homophobia at school themselves; Natasha is the one who must do the work of expanding Harriet’s and Will’s narrow, White perspectives. Lighthearted and funny, this novel uses rom-com conventions to explore surprisingly meaty issues. (MCT) ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 16, 2019

Book of the Week: Daniel's Good Day

by Micha Archer


 Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2019

32 pages

ISBN: 9780399546723


Ages 4-8


Daniel is on his way to Grandma’s house when passing neighbors tell him to “have a good day!” But what makes a day a good one? Curious, Daniel pauses along his way to ask everyone he passes. For some, weather makes a good day: clear skies for the housepainter perched on a ladder, a strong wind for kite-flying Emma. For others, it’s friendliness: The bus driver appreciates a “please” and a “thank-you,” while the mail carrier hopes for “wagging tails” at the houses to which he delivers. Success at work makes a good day for some, like the baker (“birthdays”) and the crossing guard (“everybody home safe”). And all Grandma needs is a hug from Daniel to make her day a good one. Welcomed home by his family later, Daniel remembers his neighbors’ answers and lists them as reasons he’s had a good day himself. Daniel, who has brown skin and curly black hair, enjoys a level of independence and a close familiarity with his neighbors. Brightly colored, highly detailed mixed-media illustrations show a highly diverse neighborhood in a story that exudes warmth and good cheer. (MCT)  ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 9, 2019

Book of the Week: All the Greys on Greene Street

by Laura Tucker


Published by Viking, 2019

307 pages

ISBN: 978-0-451-47953-2


Ages 9-12


In 1981, Ollie (Olympia), 11, lives in a SoHo loft with her artist mother and art restorer dad, who has recently gone to France with a woman client, leaving a cryptic note for Ollie behind. Since he left, Ollie’s mom has taken to her bed. It’s not the first time her mom has been depressed, but now Ollie is on her own. She confides in her two best friends and swears them to secrecy, refusing to tell an adult, not even family friend Apollo. Her dad’s note, along with the appearance of a stranger asking questions about a missing piece of art, lead Ollie to wonder if her dad’s disappearance isn’t only about the Frenchwoman she and her friends call Vooley Voo. Smart, sensitive Ollie is an artist herself—she does pencil drawings—and her sketches are scattered throughout a story that has satisfying elements of mystery. But it’s the vividly realized setting—pre-gentrified SoHo--captured in myriad details, and the acute exploration of family, friendship, and the impact of a parent’s depression, that make this a book that will resonate deeply. It also offers hope, as Ollie comes to understand things can’t go back to the way they once were, but the future is full of promise. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Book of the Week: Patron Saints of Nothing



by Randy Ribay


 Kokila, 2019

323 pages

ISBN: 9780525554912


Age 14 and older


Jay Reguero came from the Philippines to the U.S. with his Filipino dad and American white mom as a baby. He hasn’t been back since he was 10, but has maintained a friendship with his cousin Jun across the years. When he learns Jun has died, Jay feels equal parts grief, guilt—he hadn’t written Jun much recently—and frustration: No one will tell him what happened. Jay wants answers, especially after he receives an anonymous message suggesting Jun’s death was connected to Philippine President Duterte’s violent war on drugs. Jay visits the Philippines during spring break of his senior year determined to learn what happened, although he tells his parents he simply wants to support Grace, Jun’s teenage sister. Jay’s search for truth is complicated not only by the silence he is unable to breach in his police officer uncle’s home, but also by what he learns about Jun. Nothing Jay discovers changes his understanding of Jun as smart, sensitive, compassionate, and committed to justice. But in tracing Jun’s final months, talking to family members, and working with journalism student Mia, Jay begins to see the complexities and contradictions in both his homeland and family. More than one silence is finally breached in a riveting novel that sees Jay deepening his understanding of himself, recognizing his privilege, and strengthening his connections to the Philippines and to the people he loves. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center