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

Monday, August 26, 2019

Book of the Week: When Aidan Became a Brother



by Kyle Lukoff

Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita 


Lee & Low, 2019

32 pages

ISBN: 978-1-62014-837-2


Ages 3-8


When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. As Aidan got bigger, he knew he wasn’t. “It was hard to tell his parents … but it was harder not to.” Following the news that he’s going to become a big brother, Aidan helps his parents choose baby clothing (seahorses or penguins?), paint the nursery (sky blue with clouds), and consider names. Buoyant illustrations show that Aidan’s own clothing choices range from dinosaur t-shirts to bowties, baseball hat to head wrap, shorts to frilly pinafore, because that’s the kind of boy he is. Aidan doesn’t like when people ask if his mom is having a boy or a girl (“I’m having a baby,” his mom replies). When he’s worried about being a good big brother, his mom reminds him that they didn’t know everything when Aidan was born, but he helped them learn. “You taught us how important it is to love someone for exactly who they are.” Aidan is mixed race (his mom looks Black, his dad Asian) in art full of playfulness (the clothing patterns!) and abundant warmth. A story offering opportunities to reflect and discuss beautifully affirms gender identity as a matter of internal understanding and self-knowledge rather than an assignment based on physical appearance, and shows gender expression as open and expansive rather than culturally proscribed. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 19, 2019

Book of the Week: Genesis Begins Again



by Alicia D. Williams


A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2019
364 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-6580-9


Ages 11-14


Genesis’s family gets a deal on a rental in a suburb outside Detroit through a coworker of her dad’s. She loves the house but doesn’t know how long they’ll be able to stay given her dad’s history of gambling and losing the rent in his effort to get ahead: They’ve been evicted four times. At her new, predominantly white middle school, Genesis is wary that not even the Black kids will be nice given the darkness of her skin—she’s been called names like “Charcoal” in the past. Even Genesis’s dad, dark-skinned like she is, has made clear when he drinks that he wishes Genesis was light-skinned like her mother, a rejection that’s searing. Genesis finds release in singing, and the African American choir teacher tells Genesis she has a gift. But putting that gift on display in front of the entire school? Genesis, whose lack of self-worth is itemized in her ongoing list of all the things she hates about herself, can’t image doing so, until doing so becomes the only way she can see to move forward. An unflinching, candid exploration of the pain and impact of colorism on an African American family builds to a moment of triumph, and hope for healing and change for both Genesis and her family. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 12, 2019

Book of the Week: The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs



by Fiona Robinson


Abrams, 2019
42 pages
ISBN: 9781419725517


Ages 6-9


Growing up in early 19th-century England, Anna Atkins was fascinated by seashells, plants, and insects. Her father nurtured her curiosity, taking her on outings and teaching her the scientific names and classifications of the natural world. Anna also drew what she saw, making precise images she labeled with their Latin names. She grew up to become a botanist, following her passion in the world of science dominated by men. She was already experimenting with photography when she learned about cyanotypes—images created from chemicals and sunlight on paper. Excited by the possibility of perfectly capturing nature, she created cyanotypes of her entire seaweed collection, more than 10,000 images. Their publication in three volumes beginning in 1843 became the first book of photographs. Cyanotypes are always blue because of the chemical compounds used, and the mixed-media illustrations, all in hues of blue, incorporate some of Anna’s cyanotype images as well as some the author/illustrator created in this inspired, inspiring tribute that includes an informative note on Anna’s life, as well as “how to make cyanotypes.” ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 5, 2019

Book of the Week: Pie in the Sky



by Remy Lai


Henry Holt, 2019
380 pages
ISBN: pbk. 9781250314109

Ages 8-13


Jingwen, his little brother Yanghao, and their mother are recent immigrants to Australia (probably from China, although it’s never specified). Their father was killed in a car accident two years earlier. Jingwen misses baking with his father, who dreamed of opening a bakery in Australia called Pie in the Sky. Frustrated with his inability to learn English, and struggling to make friends at school, Jingwen focuses instead on secretly recreating the cakes he and his dad used to bake together, one each evening with Yanghao when their mother is away at work. Although Yanghao is happy to devour as much cake as possible each night, he eventually shares some with a neighbor, an act that leads to the unraveling of their secret baking sessions and the revelation that Jingwen is harboring guilt over his belittlement of the humble cakes his father made in their bakery back home. A graphic/fiction hybrid, this is a compelling and emotionally complex story about starting over in a new country. At its heart lies Jingwen’s relationship with Yanghao, who provides both comic relief and a stable (if annoying) presence in his life when everything else feels foreign. (MCT) ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 29, 2019

Book of the Week: The Home Builders



by Varsha Bajaj
Illustrated by Simona Mulazzani 


Published by Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019
32 pages
ISBN: (978-0-399-166685-3)

 

Ages 2-5


A cozy natural world book for young children shows a variety of animals moving through the seasons. Terrific word choice in the rhyming text follows beavers, bees, deer, eagles, foxes, owls, and turtles as they construct their homes (“shovel and plow / Construct and flit, / Rummage and roam, / Gather and knit), shelter from storms, and care for young, who make their first ventures out into the world (“Hatchlings go forth / fox cubs nuzzle, / Beaver kits swim, / Owlets huddle.”). The final nighttime scene echoes the comforting sense conveyed throughout the mixed-media illustrations, which feature a soft palette and circular shapes throughout. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center