Monday, August 19, 2019

Book of the Week: Genesis Begins Again



by Alicia D. Williams


A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2019
364 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-6580-9


Ages 11-14


Genesis’s family gets a deal on a rental in a suburb outside Detroit through a coworker of her dad’s. She loves the house but doesn’t know how long they’ll be able to stay given her dad’s history of gambling and losing the rent in his effort to get ahead: They’ve been evicted four times. At her new, predominantly white middle school, Genesis is wary that not even the Black kids will be nice given the darkness of her skin—she’s been called names like “Charcoal” in the past. Even Genesis’s dad, dark-skinned like she is, has made clear when he drinks that he wishes Genesis was light-skinned like her mother, a rejection that’s searing. Genesis finds release in singing, and the African American choir teacher tells Genesis she has a gift. But putting that gift on display in front of the entire school? Genesis, whose lack of self-worth is itemized in her ongoing list of all the things she hates about herself, can’t image doing so, until doing so becomes the only way she can see to move forward. An unflinching, candid exploration of the pain and impact of colorism on an African American family builds to a moment of triumph, and hope for healing and change for both Genesis and her family. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 12, 2019

Book of the Week: The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs



by Fiona Robinson


Abrams, 2019
42 pages
ISBN: 9781419725517


Ages 6-9


Growing up in early 19th-century England, Anna Atkins was fascinated by seashells, plants, and insects. Her father nurtured her curiosity, taking her on outings and teaching her the scientific names and classifications of the natural world. Anna also drew what she saw, making precise images she labeled with their Latin names. She grew up to become a botanist, following her passion in the world of science dominated by men. She was already experimenting with photography when she learned about cyanotypes—images created from chemicals and sunlight on paper. Excited by the possibility of perfectly capturing nature, she created cyanotypes of her entire seaweed collection, more than 10,000 images. Their publication in three volumes beginning in 1843 became the first book of photographs. Cyanotypes are always blue because of the chemical compounds used, and the mixed-media illustrations, all in hues of blue, incorporate some of Anna’s cyanotype images as well as some the author/illustrator created in this inspired, inspiring tribute that includes an informative note on Anna’s life, as well as “how to make cyanotypes.” ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 5, 2019

Book of the Week: Pie in the Sky



by Remy Lai


Henry Holt, 2019
380 pages
ISBN: pbk. 9781250314109

Ages 8-13


Jingwen, his little brother Yanghao, and their mother are recent immigrants to Australia (probably from China, although it’s never specified). Their father was killed in a car accident two years earlier. Jingwen misses baking with his father, who dreamed of opening a bakery in Australia called Pie in the Sky. Frustrated with his inability to learn English, and struggling to make friends at school, Jingwen focuses instead on secretly recreating the cakes he and his dad used to bake together, one each evening with Yanghao when their mother is away at work. Although Yanghao is happy to devour as much cake as possible each night, he eventually shares some with a neighbor, an act that leads to the unraveling of their secret baking sessions and the revelation that Jingwen is harboring guilt over his belittlement of the humble cakes his father made in their bakery back home. A graphic/fiction hybrid, this is a compelling and emotionally complex story about starting over in a new country. At its heart lies Jingwen’s relationship with Yanghao, who provides both comic relief and a stable (if annoying) presence in his life when everything else feels foreign. (MCT) ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center