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. 




Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Book of the Week: We Don't Eat Our Classmates


by Ryan T. Higgins


Published by Disney / Hyperion, 2018
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-368-00355-1


Ages 5-8


Penelope Rex is nervous about starting school, but she’s prepared: She’s got a new backpack with ponies on it (she loves ponies--they’re delicious), and 300 tuna sandwiches packed for lunch. But she is not prepared when she walks into her classroom and discovers the other students are all children. “So she ate them. Because children are delicious.” She spits them back up after being yelled at by her teacher, but it isn’t easy to make friends after that. Everyone is afraid of her, especially as she’s prone to the occasional relapse. Discouraged, she asks Walter, the class goldfish, if he’ll be her friend. Walter’s response gives Penelope a new perspective on how it feels to be someone’s snack, paving the way to friendship with her classmates. There’s no heavy-handed lesson in this hilarious picture book but that doesn’t mean there isn’t food—or at least a snack—for thought. The humor gets an even greater boost in mixed-media illustrations showing sweet-faced Penelope in her bright pink overalls alongside a diverse cast of sometimes angry, sometimes fearful, ultimately friendly human classmates. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 27, 2018

Book of the Week: Pride



by Ibi Zoboi

Published by Balzer + Bray, 2018
304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-256404-7

Age 12 and older


Zuri is second-oldest of five sisters in the Dominican-Haitian-American Benitez family. After the wealthy Darcys move into a renovated brownstone across the street from the Benitz’s apartment building in Bushwick, Zuri’s older sister, Janae, and friendly Ainsley Darcy fall hard for each other, but Zuri finds Darius Darcy to be arrogant and aloof. Once she’s thrown together with him, however, she begins to see there’s more to Darius. She’s intrigued, and more than a little attracted, until Warren, who attends Darius’s private high school on scholarship, tells her a story that confirms Zuri’s initial impression. Warren, meanwhile, is fine, not to mention sweet and charming. And he’s from the neighborhood, the real deal in every way. Isn’t he? Readers of Pride and Prejudice may find delight, recognition, and surprise in how this remix reimagines characters and plot for the 21st century, but familiarity is not required. Zuri is smart, witty, and perceptive; her sisters lively and entertaining. Rooted firmly in the specifics of people and place, this novel is steeped in Zuri’s tight-knit Afro-Latinx family and working class community, her love of them both, and her plans for attending Howard University and returning to Bushwick someday. It explores economics and race and culture and gentrification, revealing the complexities where and how they intersect. It’s also a satisfying love story. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 20, 2018

Book of the Week: Bob



by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

Illustrated by Nicholas Gannon 

Published by Feiwel and Friends, 2018
208 pages
ISBN: 978-1-250-16662-3

Ages 7-10


It’s been over five years since Livy, now almost 11, last visited her grandmother in Australia. Her grandmother is disappointed that Livy doesn’t remember much from that earlier trip. It’s even more disappointing to Bob, whom Livy finds in the closet of her mother’s childhood bedroom. A tattered chicken suit disguise 5-year old Livy made can’t hide the fact that Bob’s a small green creature, neither human nor fowl. Bob’s been waiting in the closet for Livy’s return, passing the time practicing the hokey pokey, constructing and de-constructing a Lego pirate ship, and occasionally crying as he wondered where and why his friend had gone. Livy’s memories of Bob gradually return in bits and pieces as he tells how she rescued him—or did he rescue her? Chapters alternate between Bob’s and Livy’s perspectives, and the impossible truth about Bob emerges within a larger story of family and home. Livy’s voice is firmly grounded in childhood as she struggles with anxiety about staying without her mother, who is off seeing friends, reconnects with Sarah, a girl she played with during her last visit, and attempts to keep Bob safe from all who might not be fooled by his chicken costume. Occasional brown--tone illustrations add a reassuring tone to this seamless merger of everyday and extraordinary.  (MVL) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 13, 2018

Book of the Week: Jerome By Heart

By Thomas Scotto
Translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick & Karin Snelson from the French.
Illustrated by Olivier Tallec  

U.S. edition: Enchanted Lion, 2018
32 pages
ISBN: 9781592702503

Ages 3-8


Raphael loves his friend Jerome, who holds his hand and chooses him for a buddy on field trips. Jerome, who is fun to be with and makes Raphael feel safe. Raphael’s parents think he talks and thinks too much about Jerome. “Now that’s enough,” says his dad. “Dad’s voice is like sharp fish bones in my hot chocolate.” But Raphael knows “Jerome” is not a bad word, and is determined to find the perfect gift for his friend, who is always up for an adventure, and would never hide his head in shame. “Raphael loves Jerome. I can say it. It’s easy.” Illustrations that are soft yet slightly quirky showcase the deep and genuine affection between the two boys, and the temporary dissonance and isolation caused by adult disproval before Raphael affirms feelings that bring him such contentment and joy. This welcome picture book offers sweet and essential conformation of emotions that children are too often encouraged to deny or suppress, particularly when it comes to same-gender friendships/relationships, and especially between boys. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 6, 2018

Book of the Week: Running through Sprinklers



Running through Sprinklers

by Michelle Kim
Published by Atheneum, 2018
209 pages pages
ISBN: 9781481495288

Ages 9-12


Sara, 12, has been best friends with Nadine since they were in diapers. Both are biracial, Sara Korean/white, Nadine Japanese/white, and have grown up on a cul de sac in Surrey, BC, moving in and out of each other’s houses and families and traditions with ease. Sometimes it seems to Sara they’re a single person, and she likes that feeling. As the summer before grade 7 winds down, two things disrupt Sara’s sense of security: A boy named Daniel Monroe disappears without a trace, and Nadine announces she will be skipping a grade and entering high school (grade 8 in Canada). Sara’s sense of hurt at the last-minute announcement is amplified by the feeling that Nadine is ready to leave her behind. When school starts, Sara focuses on getting good grades in the (unrealistic) hope of skipping to grade 8 midway through the year. She also becomes closer to Nadine’s younger sister, 6th grader Jen, but still longs for reconnection with Nadine. Sara is imperfect, at times incredibly selfish, but genuinely grieving and achingly real as first-time novelist Kim writes with a singular style and sure hand, immersing readers in Sara’s slowly expanding perspective in a story that explores friendship, family, growth, change, loss, and finding the light again. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 30, 2018

Book of the Week: The Field



The Field

by Baptiste Paul
Illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara
Published by NorthSouth, 2018
28 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7358-4312-7

Ages 5-8


A game of futbol on the island of Saint Lucia isn’t going to be stopped by anything. Not cows on the field (“Shoo!”) or the arrival of rain (“Dash. Splash. Slip-slide. Belly flop!”) or the calls of mamas that it’s time to come home as the sun begins to set (“Vini, abwezan! Come now!”). Only when the game is finally over do the children disperse, racing off to their homes in the dusk. “We dream about futbol. We dream about friends. Until the field calls again.” A spare, energetic narrative that weaves in words from the author’s native Creole language expresses a joyful sense of childhood and community that is extended by marvelous illustrations full of energy, color and movement. An author’s note about his childhood playing futbol on Saint Lucia, and a glossary of Creole terms, is provided at story’s end. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 23, 2018

Book of the Week: The Place Between Breaths



The Place Between Breaths

by An Na
Published by A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2018
181 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-2225-3

Age 13 and older


Grace is a high school senior with a coveted intern position at the genetics lab where her dad recruits scientific researchers. Grace’s schizophrenic mother left them when she was a small child, a loss that echoes continuously. But Grace finds her dad’s obsession with the lab’s work trying to isolate a gene for schizophrenia frustrating. It’s not like isolating a gene will lead automatically to a cure, and it’s not like her mom will benefit regardless—they have no idea what happened to her. Grace wishes her dad devoted more of his time and attention to her. A beautifully written narrative moves between Korean American Grace in the present day—her lonely life at home, her work at the lab, where she meets graduate student Will; her early childhood memories in which her parents’ love and her mom’s increasingly unpredictable behavior and growing sense of her desperation filters through; and second-person chapters in which an unknown speaker addresses an unknown “you.” Locating oneself in the story becomes more and more challenging in a novel that parallels Grace’s own experience as it becomes clear she has schizophrenia, too. Like Grace, we aren’t quite sure what is real. But beyond the fear, pain and sense of loss in this aching, deeply resonant novel, are glimmers of hope, too. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 16, 2018

Book of the Week: Champion



Champion: The Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree

by Sally M. Walker
Published by Henry Holt, 2018
144 pages
ISBN: 978-1-260-12623-1

Age 11 and older


A fungus wiped out the majority of the majestic American chestnut trees in the first part of the 20th century. This fascinating account documents how the fungus was identified and three scientific programs to bring the American chestnut back from the brink. An inoculation program injects a weaker form of the fungus, found in Japanese and Chinese chestnuts, into infected trees. If it spreads it turns the deadly fungus into a milder form of blight the trees can survive. (A stand of trees near West Salem, Wisconsin, is one of the test sites). In the backcross breeding program, healthy American chestnuts are bred with blight-resistant Chinese chestnuts. Resistant offspring are crossed with another American chestnut until there is a blight-resistant sixth-generation tree that is mostly American chestnut. The first of these were planted in forests in 2009. The third effort is a high-tech: wheat genes that produce oxalate oxidase (OxO), which breaks down the oxalic acid that the killer fungus produces, are injected into American chestnut embryos in hopes the resulting trees will be healthy. Science is accessible and engaging in this real-world, problem-solving mystery. There is outstanding documentation and a treasure trove of intriguing back matter, from research into a Longfellow program to an account an American chestnut classroom science project to research involving squirrels. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 9, 2018

Book of the Week: Give Me Some Truth



Give Me Some Truth

by Eric Gansworth
Published by Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic, 2018
432 pages
ISBN: 978-1-338-14354-6

Age 13 and older


In 1980, Carson Mastick and his best friend, Lewis Blake, are high school seniors living on the Tuscarora Reservation in upstate New York. Maggi Bokoni, 15, has just moved back to the reservation with her older sister, Marie. Former honor student Lewis paid a heavy price at school for standing up to a white bully years before. His future uncertain, he works cleaning buses for the school district. Maggi also gets a job there and meets Jim, a white grounds supervisor in his early 30s, who seems to understand her desire to make art beyond traditional beadwork. Hopeful musician Carson forms a band with reluctant Lewis on bass and Maggi on water drum, intent on winning a competition that could lead to New York. And Marie is in love with one of her former high school teachers from the city. Their stories, individual, intertwined, unpredictable, play out over a series of months in which Carson also mounts a protest against “Custard’s Last Stand,” a restaurant glorifying General Custer that blatantly posts a “No Indians” sign. Though most from the Rez avoid the place, Carson, who can pass as white, wants to confront the racism directly. The nuances and intricacies of these smart, tender characters and their lives unfold in a novel that is consistently funny and righteous and illuminating. Songs of the Beatles and John Lennon and Yoko Ono provide chapter titles and touchpoints as the teens find solace and inspiration in both music and art. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, July 2, 2018

Book of the Week: Libba



Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

by Laura Veirs
Illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh 

Published by Chronicle, 2018
40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4521-4857-1

Ages 5-9


As a child in rural North Carolina in the early 20th century, Libba Cotten “heard music everywhere.” She borrowed her brother’s guitar when he wasn’t home and played it upside-down and backwards, because she was left-handed. “Nobody else played that way, but it was the way that felt right to Libba.” Libba composed the song “Freight Train” around age 11, inspired by the sounds of trains on nearby railroad tracks. “But even trains get derailed.” Libba stopped playing to work and raise her daughter. She was a grandmother working at a department store in Washington, D.C., when she met musician Ruth Crawford Seeger. Ruth hired Libba as a housekeeper, and Libba was immersed in music in the Seeger home. When she picked up a guitar again, she impressed the Seegers and their musician friends. The Seeger family helped promote Libba’s music, “[b]ut it was Libba’s perseverance, her love of music, and her belief in herself that gave the world her voice.” An understated, concise yet lyrical text is followed by a concluding note, which touches more on the realities of Libba’s experience as an African American woman, and sources. Libba’s story is warmly illustrated in softly-shaded graphite art with digital color. (MVL) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 25, 2018

Book of the Week: Julián Is a Mermaid



Julián Is a Mermaid

by Jessica Love
Published by Candlewick Press, 2018
40 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9045-8)

Ages 3-8


Riding the train on their way home from the swimming pool, Julián and his abuela see women clad in elegant, mint-green dresses trailing tail fins: mermaids. Wide-eyed Julián drifts into a fantasy: submerged in water, his hair lengthens as he sheds his tank top and shorts before being swept up in a stream of sea creatures. He discovers a tail where his legs had been, and accepts a coral necklace from a large, blue fish to complete the look. Once they’re home, while Abuela takes a bath Julián removes his clothing, tucks fern leaves and flowers into a headband, and kneels on the vanity to apply lipstick. From the gauzy window curtain he fashions a tail and strikes a pose—only to be discovered by a towel-wrapped Abuela, who promptly walks away. After a moment of apprehension, Julián’s relief is palpable when Abuela, dressed in blue, returns to present him with a beaded coral necklace. Without a word, she takes Julián’s hand and leads him to the mermaid parade, where they join in the celebration. A soft, colorful palette and gorgeous watercolor and ink illustrations on brown paper realistically portray bodies of all different sizes in this touching story of an abuela’s love and acceptance of her gender-creative grandchild. (MCT) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 18, 2018

Book of the Week: The Book of Pearl



The Book of Pearl

by Timothée de Fombelle
Translated by Sarah Ardizzone and
    Sam Gordon from the French
Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2018
355 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9126-4

Age 12 and older


A young prince, Ilian, in love with a fairy, is banished to another world--our world, in late 1930s France. A Jewish couple, the Pearls, take in the homeless young man who appears outside their Paris shop. He becomes like a son to them. When French officials don’t believe the Pearl’s late son is dead, the exiled prince takes the place of Joshua Pearl and joins the French army. As time passes and his losses in this world mount, the prince’s/Joshua’s driving passion becomes tracking down relics from the place he came from as proof that the world of stories is real in hopes they will help him find his way back. This astonishing work moves between our world and Prince Ilian’s, and between present and past in both places. It includes the story of Olia, the fairy in love with the prince, also banished to our world but who agreed never to let Ilian know she was there in exchange for his life. And it includes the story of a heartsick French teenager who has a memorable encounter with the eccentric, middle-aged Joshua Pearl and grows up to become the masterful teller of this tale, one he finds it impossible to believe even as he is telling it. This extraordinary account of love and exile, cruelty and kindness, loss and longing honors the power of story to hold it all, and all of us, in place. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 11, 2018

Book of the Week: Puddin'



Puddin'

by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzar + Bray / HarperCollins, 2018
448 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-241838-8

Age 12 and older


Summer may be months away, but Millie Michalchuk is planning ahead: This year she’s applying for broadcast journalism camp. Millie is fat, and she’s comfortable with it—unlike her mother, who persistently fills the fridge with diet foods and can’t believe Millie doesn’t want to spend another summer at Daisy Ranch Weight Loss Camp; or classmate Callie Reyes, who treats Millie with contempt. Callie is co-assistant captain of the school’s highly accomplished competitive dance team. When a local gym is forced to withdraw funding for the team, Callie and her teammates retaliate by vandalizing the gym, where Millie happens to work. Millie identifies Callie in the security footage, and Callie takes the fall for the team, agreeing to pay off the damages by working at the gym for free. Outgoing and forgiving, Millie befriends a suddenly friendless and dance team-less Callie, even inviting her for weekly sleepovers with her friends, and seeking Callie’s advice on making a move with her crush, Malik. Biracial Callie, who feels alone both at school and at home, where she is the only brown Latina living with her white mom, stepdad, and little sister, begrudgingly finds herself enjoying Millie’s company. This funny and endearing companion novel to Dumplin’ (2015) champions young women in all their glorious flaws and complexities. Fat or thin, bubbly or cynical, asexual or boy crazy, the important thing is to support one another. (MCT) ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, June 4, 2018

Book of the Week: On the Other Side of the Garden



On the Other Side of the Garden

by Jairo Buitrago
Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
Translated by from the Spanish by
    Elisa Amado 
Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press,  
    2018
54 pages
ISBN: 978-1-55498-983-6

Ages 4-7


On her first night at her grandmother’s house in the country, Isabel is lonely and uncertain. She doesn’t know her grandmother and she doesn’t know how long her father will be gone. Then an owl, a frog and a mouse appear at the window lead her out into the moonlit yard. The owl is a gentle caretaker, the frog forthright and full of questions, the mouse shy and hoping for a snack. They tell her about her grandmother, who is kind, and perhaps a little lonely, too. She tells them about her mother, who lives in another country and writes her letters, and her dad, who is looking for work. The dark night eventually becomes a bright morning, and waiting for Isabel back at the house is her grandmother, offering matter-of-fact reassurance. The warm colors and rounded shapes of the three animals against the dark-sky pages, the small moments of humor throughout the striking digital illustrations reminiscent of pen-and-ink, and the brightening palette mirroring Latina Isabel’s shifting outlook all contribute to the sense of comfort this picture book provides. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center