Monday, November 25, 2019

Book of the Week: More to the Story

by Hena Khan

Published by Salaam Reads, 2019

262 pages

ISBN: 9781481492096

Ages 8-12

Jameela (Jam) and her sisters live in Atlanta, where Jam aspires to be a journalist. Older sister Maryam is responsible, beautiful, and caring; quiet, 11-year-old Bisma looks up to Jam; youngest Aleeza gets on Jam’s nerves. Their family’s recent financial worries are eased with Baba’s new job in Abu Dhabi, but they miss him despite daily video calls. Jam, Features editor of her middle school paper, is eager to write a piece in the spirit of her late, journalist grandfather. She interviews 8th grader Ali, a British boy staying with their close family friends. From casual conversation, she knows that Ali, like she, has experienced micro-aggressions as a Muslim. But Ali’s not interested in talking about it in the interview. Jam backs off, but not before writing a draft of the piece she wishes she could publish. When that piece accidentally gets printed, she knows she must make amends as both a journalist and Ali’s friend. Bisma’s diagnosis of lymphoma adds to Jam’s upset, but friends, including Ali, and the community rally around as her sister goes through treatment. Each of the four Pakistani American sisters has a distinct personality and voice, and the family and larger social dynamics are spot-on in this engaging, fresh, contemporary retelling of Little Women that doesn’t require familiarity with the original and is wholly enjoyable in its own right. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 18, 2019

Book of the Week: Frankly in Love

by David Yoon

Putnam, 2019

432 pages

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1220-9

Age 13 and older

High school senior Frank Li is first generation Korean American. He’s grown up solidly middle class thanks to his parents’ drive. They work almost constantly as owner/operators of a store in a poor urban neighborhood an hour away. Frank’s older sister, Hanna, has become persona non grata at home (but not to Frank) since dating and marrying a Black man. Frank’s best friend, Q, is Black, and he wishes he was courageous enough to challenge his parents’ racism like Hanna always did. He wishes it even more when he starts dating Brittany Means, who is white, knowing his parents would never approve of a girlfriend who isn’t Korean. Instead, he deceives them, working out a plan with Joy, daughter of another Korean immigrant family, to fake date. Joy has been keeping her Chinese American boyfriend a secret from her parents, and this keeps all the parents happy while freeing Frank and Joy to spend time with their significant others. What could go wrong? Frank’s first-person voice is funny and tender in an exceptional, emotionally charged debut novel that plays out in ways both expected and unexpected, offering an insightful, nuanced examination of immigrant families, parents and children, race and racism, love and romance, and the sustaining gift of friendship. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 11, 2019

Book of the Week: The (Other) F Word

edited by Angie Manfredi


Published by Abrams, 2019
206 pages


Age 11 and older

Diverse voices from individuals across gender and sexuality spectrums, from varied racial and economic backgrounds, who are abled and who are disabled, all identify as fat matter of factly and without apology in 30 body-positive pieces. In the essays, art, letters to their younger selves, and other pieces, some contributors focus on their personal journey to accepting and celebrating their bodies, including often difficult experiences in childhood and adolescence and young adulthood. Others debunk myths, and challenge social norms and stereotypes in popular culture that treat fat people as laughable, and expendable. Many affirm the value and beauty of everybody and every body, an intention that carries through the volume overall. The contributors come from the worlds of literature, art, social criticism, fashion, and other spaces. Poignantly honest or sharply funny, individually and collectively they are multidimensional, multi-faceted and, fierce in their commitment to being themselves and holding up others. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, November 4, 2019

Book of the Week: Mary Wears What She Wants

by Keith Negley

Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2019

40 pages

ISBN: 978-06-284679-2

Ages 4-7

Gender norms are broken in this story set in the 1830s and inspired by the life of Mary Edwards Walker, who enjoyed wearing pants before it was common practice for women to do so. Tired of being limited to hot, heavy, constricting dresses, Mary decides to branch out. Pants are much more comfortable, more flexible! She feels liberated—until she ventures into town and, baffled, realizes that others are offended by her outfit. They’re “scared of what they don’t understand,” explains her quietly supportive father. Although she’s nervous, Mary decides to try it again the next day, striding purposefully toward school wearing pants. This time, she challenges semantics with a smart comeback prepared for those who harass her for wearing boys’ clothes: “I’m wearing my clothes!” Color-pencil and cut-paper illustrations cleverly show confident, spunky Mary dressed in bright yellow, standing out in a crowd of people wearing blues and hot pinks in a story that stoutly affirms those who choose to go against the grain. A short biography of trailblazing Mary Edwards Walker follows the story.  (MCT) ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center