Monday, November 19, 2018

Book of the Week: A Big Mooncake for Little Star



A Big Mooncake for Little Star

by Grace Lin

Published by Little, Brown, 2018
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-316-40448-8

Ages 3-6


Little Star’s Mama takes the Big Mooncake out of the oven and lays it onto the night sky to cool. “Can you remember not to touch this Big Mooncake until I tell you to?” Little Star says yes, and she does remember until the middle of that night. Then all she can think about is that Big Mooncake. “Pat Pat Pat.” She tiptoes out and takes a tiny nibble. Trailing crumbs, she flies back to bed. But the next night she does it again. And again the night after that. Slowly the Big Mooncake gets smaller, it’s shape gradually changing from round to crescent to nothing at all. Grace Lin’s enchanting original story inspired by the Chinese Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival features luminous gouache illustrations in beautiful black and gold showing Little Star, Mama, and the deep night sky in which the Big Mooncake wanes, crumbs sparkling as stars. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 12, 2018

Book of the Week: Blood Water Paint



by Joy McCullough

Published by Dutton, 2018
289 pages
ISBN: 9780735232112

Age 14 and older


In early 17th-century Rome, Artemisia Gentileschi, 17, has surpassed her father’s skill as a painter but gets no credit for her work because she is a woman. Artemisia’s late mother told her about the Biblical figures of Susanna and Judith, wanting Artemisia to understand the struggles of the two women—the things they suffered simply for being women—as well as their courage and bravery, none of which Artemisia sees reflected in the work of men who’ve painted them. When her father hires Agostino Tassi to tutor her in perspective, Artemisia is happy to learn from a better teacher, and their mutual attraction leads her to believe he may propose. Then he rapes her. Artemisia makes the decision to publicly charge him. The burden of proof placed on her by the court is emotionally and physically brutal, and it is visions of Susanna and Judith that she draws upon for strength. This extraordinary, enraging, astonishing story based on true events is told primarily in verse, with stories about Judith and Susanna interspersed in prose. McCullough’s research included over 300 pages of transcripts from the 1611 trial. Artemisia won her case (although the sentence for Tassi was laughable), but her true triumph, more fully documented in an author’s note, is in what came next: A career as a painter—more than 50 of her works survive. “I will show you / what a woman can do.” ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 5, 2018

Book of the Week: Small Spaces

by Katherine Arden

Published by Putnam, 2018
216 pages
ISBN: 978-0-525-51502-9


Ages 9-12


Ollie, 11, stays up late one night reading a book called Small Spaces. Published in 1895, it tells of a woman whose husband made a deal with the devil to bring his brother back to life. The next day, Ollie’s class takes a field trip to a local sustainable farm. The farm’s history has elements that match the story—long-ago disappearances and rumors of ghosts—while the owner turns out to be the woman Ollie got the book from under strange circumstances, although the woman shows no signs of recognizing Ollie. On the way back to the school at the end of the day, the bus breaks down on a darkening road. Heavy mist and no cell service send Ollie’s teacher in search of help, while the driver, with an eerie smile and flicking red tongue, tells the kids, “At nightfall, they’ll come for the rest of you.” With two of her classmates, Ollie bolts from the bus in fear. Ollie, who's been a loner since her mother’s death months before, has been dismissive of Coco, who cries a lot, and Brian, a jock, but the three work together to evade capture from whatever is out there, coming up with a plan to save their classmates. This genuinely scary novel features terrific character development, which is why it also succeeds as a satisfying, surprisingly warm story about family, loss, and friendship. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center