Monday, December 30, 2019

Book of the Week: Don't Date Rosa Santos

by Nina Moreno

Published by Hyperion, 2019

325 pages

ISBN: 978-136803970-3

Age 12 and older

High school senior Rosa Santos’s mother was born at sea during her grandparent’s escape from Cuba. Rosa’s grandfather drowned on that journey. Rosa’s own father died at sea before she was born. Rosa, who’s been shaped by both the love and the pain of her grandmother and mother, avoids the water, believing her family has a curse. Still, she longs to visit Cuba—stories of the island where her family came from filled her childhood and occupy her imagination. But she dreads telling her grandmother, who also can’t forget why they fled. When her town’s annual spring festival is threatened by development, Rosa and others in their diverse, predominantly Latinx community throw themselves into saving it. Among them is Alex, a young man Rosa finds more appealing than she wants to admit. But Alex is also a sailor. There’s a satisfying romance in this remarkable debut novel, but it’s the complex, heartfelt, nuanced exploration of mothers and daughters and grandmothers, immigration and exile, trauma and healing, family and community that makes it hard to put down. Both aching and whimsical, the writing is fresh, often funny, and always observant. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 23, 2019

Book of the Week: Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace

by Ashley Bryan

A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2019

107 pages

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0490-8

Age 11 and older

Like most African American soldiers in the segregated army during World War II, Ashley Bryan was assigned to a service unit. As a stevedore he helped unload shipments in Boston—although he was much more adept drawing others at work—before going overseas. There, he and other Black solders cleared mines on the beach and unloaded supplies during the invasion of Normandy before moving across France. At war’s end, he was in charge of getting his unit home, a task made more challenging by continued segregation rules that saw them repeatedly denied space on transport ships. Bryan survived the violence of war and of racism by creating art—carrying supplies in his gas mask, and sketching whenever he had the chance. A volume beautiful in both sensibility and design, Bryan describes how art provided both escape and a means of preserving his humanity. His gentle spirit shines through in his first-person account looking back, in excerpts from his handwritten letters home, and in the moving sketches and other art he created before and during the war. Black-and-white photographs are included throughout, while several recent full-color paintings in which he revisits the war close this arresting work. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 16, 2019

Book of the Week: Moth: An Evolution Story

by Isabel Thomas

Illustrated by Daniel Egnéus

U.S. edition: Bloomsbury, 2019

48 pages

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0020-5

Age 6-9

“This is a story of light and dark. Of change and adaptation, of survival and hope.” Once, most peppered moths had “speckled, freckled” wings—black on white. Occasionally they were born with charcoal wings—easily spotted by predators. It was the speckled ones that survived to breed. Then came the Industrial Revolution. Coal blackened everything, and the speckled moths were more easily spotted and eaten. More charcoal moths survived to breed, passing down their traits. Fifty years passed, and the majority of peppered moths were the color of charcoal. Then, efforts to clean the environment slowly brightened the world. Today, peppered moths are a mix—some speckled (light form), some charcoal (dark form) as their story continue This lyrical accounting of one of the most famous and accessible examples of evolution in action through adaptation and natural selection is set against striking illustrations and accompanied by an informative end note. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, December 9, 2019

Book of the Week: Astro Girl

by Ken Wilson-Max

Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2019

28 pages

ISBN: 9781536209464

Ages 3-6

Young Astrid wants to be an astronaut. Can she go round and round the earth? She assures Papa she can as he spins her. Can she eat food from a package? Astrid says she can through bites of a cereal bar. And then there’s zero gravity, Papa points out as he tosses her into the air. Astrid is certain she’s up to every task, whether it’s conducting science experiments in space (making rocket ship cookies with Papa) to sleeping on her own among the stars. “I think that will be very hard … but I’ll do it!” A surprise ending adds another layer of welcome affirmation to this ebullient picture book: Astrid’s mother is an astronaut! Bright acrylic illustrations add to the warmth of a story featuring a brown-skinned family. Brief information about several pioneering woman astronauts, including women of color, is provided at story’s end. ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Book of the Week: Viral: The Fight against AIDS in America

by Ann Bausum

Published by Viking, 2019

168 pages

ISBN: 9780425287200

Age 13 and older

After the Stonewall uprising of 1969, the LGBTQ community enjoyed a sense of newfound visibility and freedom and entered a period of sexual liberation. When an unknown disease made its way to the United States, thousands of gay men contracted it, and the death toll rose alarmingly quickly. Originally dubbed gay-related immune deficiency (GRID), HIV/AIDS was scorned as a punishment for what conservatives saw as “deviant” behavior, and little federal funding was allocated to fight it. LGBTQ communities—especially gay men—took education, advocacy, and care into their own hands. They formed organizations, worked with the NIH to accelerate drug trials, and organized highly visible protests. This compassionate account starts in 1969 and continues to present day, covering not only the physical but also the emotional and financial impact of HIV/AIDS and its disproportionate impact on people of color and poor communities. It debunks myths, discusses past and current methods of prevention and treatment, and looks back on what has been learned about this devastating disease, which killed nearly half a million people between 1981 and 2001. In this story, a country mired in anger and grief nonetheless finds some hope and comfort in community and love. (MCT) ©2019 Cooperative Children’s Book Center