Monday, October 15, 2018

Book of the Week: Darius the Great Is Not Okay

by Adib Khorram

Published by Dial, 2018
314 pages
ISBN: 978-0-525-55296-3

Age 12 and older



Darius is a self-described “fractional” Iranian; his mom from Iran, his dad a white “ubermensch.” Darius loves tea and Star Trek with equal passion. Watching episodes of “The Next Generation” is one of the few ways he and his dad connect anymore. Otherwise, he feels judged—for his lack of friends, for being overweight, for being so sensitive, for not standing up to bullies in high school—and although both he and his dad take medication for depression, they don’t talk about it. When Darius’s family travels to Iran to spend time with his grandparents, Darius makes his first good, true friend in Sohrab. Sohrab “doesn’t have walls around his heart”—he is easy to talk to and openly affectionate. Because of Sohrab, Darius starts to see himself differently. And because of Sohrab, and his grandparents and extended family, and the places they visit in Iran, Darius also begins to understand the history and culture of the place and people that live in his mother’s—and now his—heart. And because of his grief—over his grandfather’s illness, over unexpected hurt—his dad bridges the distance between them, revealing love that’s always been there. Darius is a funny and tender first-person narrator in a debut novel with terrifically drawn characters, richly depicted relationships, and full of warmth and hope. Darius is just beginning to consider his love for Sohrab may be more than friendship by story’s end. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 8, 2018

Book of the Week: Mommy's Khimar



by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Illustrated by Ebony Glenn 

Published by Salaam Reads / Atheneum, 2018
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-5344-0059-7

Ages 3-6


A young girl admires the rainbow of khimars in her mother’s closet. “Some have tassels. Some have beads. Some have sparkly things all over.” Her mother wears one every day, tucking her hair under the scarf before she leaves the house. On this day, the little girl decides to put one on too, choosing her favorite color, yellow. She imagines herself a queen, a bird, a superhero with a cape; when daddy swings her up she flies. The khimar smells like her mother: coconut oil, cocoa butter, and cinnamon. Her grandmother, Mom-Mom, doesn’t wear a khimar, or go to mosque. Stopping by after her Sunday service, she calls the little girl “Sunshine” when she sees her draped in yellow. At mosque, older women say, “Assalamu alaikum, Little Sis!” and her Arabic teacher tells her another word for khimar is “hijab.” That night, her mother gently tells her it’s time to take the khimar off, but memories of the day, and a feeling of closeness to her mother, follows the girl into sleep. A story that will resonate with any child who loves dressing up offers a joyful, welcome depiction of an African American Muslim child, her family, and community. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, October 1, 2018

Book of the Week: Harbor Me



by Jacqueline Woodson

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018
176 pages
ISBN: 978-0-399-25252-5

Ages 9-12


“I want each of you to say to the other: I will harbor you.” Eleven-year-old Haley’s teacher, Ms. Laverne, challenges Haley and her classmates to be there for one another. But how do you become someone’s harbor? The final hour of school each week, Ms. Laverne leaves Haley and her five classmates alone to talk, trusting them to figure it out. As the kids spend time together over the course of the school year, they gradually reveal some of the hardest parts of their lives: A father who was picked up by immigration, fears about racism, bullying, housing and economic insecurity. Quiet Haley is hesitant to share her own, complicated story: Her father, who is white, is getting out of prison, where he’s been serving time for the accidental death of her mom, who was Black, in a car accident when she was three. She loves her dad, but isn’t sure about living with him, and can’t imagine daily life without the uncle who’s been raising her. Haley’s classmates often laugh and joke, but they also come to embody the meaning of refuge for one another: safety, security, relief. Woodson’s characters are vivid, lively, poignant, and relatable in a story that reveals hope in everyday connection and caring, and will be deeply resonant for young readers. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 24, 2018

Book of the Week: All That I Can Fix

by Crystal Chan
Published by Simon Pulse, 2018
314 pages
ISBN: 978-1-5344-0888-3

Age 13 and older


Teenage Ronney’s small Indiana town has been overrun by wild animals released from a private zoo, the owner’s last act before committing suicide by gun. Ten-year-old Sam, a friend of Ronney’s little sister, Mina, is convinced Ronney can find his older brother, who ran away. Ronney is worried about Sam, worried about Mina, and worried about his stressed out mom. He also feels betrayed, and heartbroken, when he learns his two best friends are dating (they all know he has a crush on one of them). Above all, Ronney is uncompromisingly angry at his dad, who’s battling depression and recovering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a suicide attempt months before. His dad has retreated from family life and, Ronney feels, abdicated his responsibilities, which Ronney is doing his best to fill. This compelling, ambitious novel has just the right touch of the absurd to balance its serious themes. Some of the dangers and complexities of guns in society continue to play out as townspeople arm themselves against the animals. (Some animals—and some people—prove more dangerous than others.) Mixed-race Ronney’s specific heritage is intentionally never revealed. His experience as a brown-skinned teen is that people want to categorize him, and do judge him. He is an irresistible force at the center of this story, a heart that won’t be denied, caring with each beat despite every claim he makes to the contrary.  ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book of the Week: You and Me


by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Illustrated by Susan Reagan 

Published by Creative Editions, 2018
16 pages
ISBN: 978-1-56846-321-6

Birth - 6


“His skin’s so soft. / His hair’s so fine. / “I know my numbers / up to nine.” A board book brimming with warmth offers a fresh, lively, relatable look at family change. Rhyming couplets pair third-person statements in the voice of an adult (who appears to be the mom) making observations about the new baby in the family to an older sibling, and first-person statements in the voice of the older child, who is eager to tout their own accomplishments. The big sibling is also, of course, assuring they still have a place at the grown-up’s center of attention, something that there is no doubt about even before the big kid finally gets undivided attention--lap and storytime--when the baby falls asleep. “Hurray! / It’s time for you and me!” The baby is a boy; the older child could be any gender in story that celebrates both children in this Black family. The illustrations, like the narrative, provide a vivid, comforting sense of realism. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 10, 2018

Book of the Week: You Go First



by Erin Entrada Kelly

Published by Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2018
288 pages
ISBN: 978-1-06-241418-2

Ages 9-12


Twelve-year-old Charlotte’s Dad is hospitalized and she’s scared to visit him. Meanwhile, her best friend wants to move up in the social hierarchy at school and is willing to belittle Charlotte to do so. Eleven-year-old Ben is surprised and then furious when his parents announce they’re divorcing. He throws himself into running for student council treasurer, although his earnest campaign is destined to fail. Both smart and precocious, Charlotte and Ben live in separate cities. Their connection to each other is through an online word game and the online chatting that has grown around their play. Ben is generally oblivious to his social awkwardness and inability to pick up on cues that would no doubt make his transition to middle school easier. Charlotte is more aware of the ways she’s seen as odd. Alternating chapters follow each of their lives over the course of a difficult week, although neither is honest with the other about their current challenges. The parallels offer readers plenty to ponder. So, too, does the fact that Charlotte and Ben’s personalities are a matter of fact, not fault or in need of fixing. When they each connect with someone new at school, it’s clearly because of who they each are, not in spite of it. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Charlotte Zolotow Symposium: Illuminating Experience


The early bird registration rate for the Charlotte Zolotow Symposium expires September 15.  


Join us for a day of illuminating presentations, book discussion, breakouts, and conversation featuring Angie Thomas, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Candace Fleming, Crescent Dragonwagon, Eric Rohmann, Javaka Steptoe, and editors Anne Hoppe and Neal Porter.

Click on the link above for a complete schedule and more information.