Monday, November 4, 2019

Book of the Week: Mary Wears What She Wants



by Keith Negley

Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2019

40 pages

ISBN: 978-06-284679-2


Ages 4-7


Gender norms are broken in this story set in the 1830s and inspired by the life of Mary Edwards Walker, who enjoyed wearing pants before it was common practice for women to do so. Tired of being limited to hot, heavy, constricting dresses, Mary decides to branch out. Pants are much more comfortable, more flexible! She feels liberated—until she ventures into town and, baffled, realizes that others are offended by her outfit. They’re “scared of what they don’t understand,” explains her quietly supportive father. Although she’s nervous, Mary decides to try it again the next day, striding purposefully toward school wearing pants. This time, she challenges semantics with a smart comeback prepared for those who harass her for wearing boys’ clothes: “I’m wearing my clothes!” Color-pencil and cut-paper illustrations cleverly show confident, spunky Mary dressed in bright yellow, standing out in a crowd of people wearing blues and hot pinks in a story that stoutly affirms those who choose to go against the grain. A short biography of trailblazing Mary Edwards Walker follows the story.  (MCT) ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 28, 2019

Book of the Week: Indian No More



by Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell


Tu Books / Lee & Low, 2019

211 pages

ISBN: 9781620148396


Ages 9-12


When the government strips the Grand Ronde in Oregon, comprised of multiple Northwest Native nations, of their federally recognized Indian status, Regina Petit and her Umpqua family move to Los Angeles. Regina, 10, and her little sister, Peewee, are soon playing with kids in the neighborhood but find even their closest new friends, African American siblings Keith and Addie, think the Hollywood version of Indians is real. Regina’s frustration sometimes has her wishing she could just go along—Why not dress up as Tonto for Halloween? (No, says her Portuguese mother.) Regina’s optimistic dad has gotten a good job and they are transforming their rundown house into a cozy home, but his positive outlook begins to unravel in the face of discrimination. Traditional tales and family history shared by her grandmother, Chich, help Regina feel comforted. So, too, does realizing that her Indian identity has been shaped by her family and Native community; it doesn’t come from outsiders. Regina’s compelling, engaging voice is honest and childlike in a novel based on author McManis’s family history. Set in the mid-1950s, Regina’s story speaks of resilience, even as the racism faced by Native children and children of color it reveals still resonates today. Endmatter includes McManis’s childhood photos, and information about government termination of tribes from the 1940s to 1960s (the Grand Ronde were reinstated in 1983), and the Indian Relocation Act of 1956. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 21, 2019

Book of the Week: The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets



by Sarah Miller


Published by Schwartz & Wade, 2019
309 pages
ISBN: 9781524713812


Age 11 and older


The birth of Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne on May 28, 1934, in a small Ontario village shocked their unsuspecting parents and quickly captivated the world. With initial focus on the tiny babies’ survival, the village doctor and a rotating schedule of nurses were soon managing their care. Eventually, the government built a compound across the road from their home where the girls lived until age 9, given ample attention but little open affection from the adults who managed their regimented routine. Put on display daily for tourists who came from across Canada and the U.S., visits with their poor, rural, French-speaking parents—offered little sympathy from the government or media-shaped public opinion—were increasingly controlled. There was money to be made through product endorsements, appearances, tourism and souvenirs, and many benefitted from the exploitation. By the time the government returned custody to their parents, they were essential strangers to their family, as their family was to them. Through continuing challenges and fear, they relied, as always, on one another, still smiling for the camera on demand. Laying out facts, complexities and contradictions, Miller allows readers to draw their own conclusions about the motivations and actions of individuals and institutions that shaped the quintuplets’ lives. Ample black-and-white photographs accompany this meticulously researched, riveting work that follows them into adulthood. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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