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