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Showing posts from June, 2019

George by Alex Gino, 195pp, RL 4

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This Review Originally Appeared on 9/14/15
George by Alex Gino is a groundbreaking, vitally important, perfectly written addition to the shelves of children's literature. Georgeis the story of ten-year-old George Mitchell who knows she is a girl, in spite of physical appearances. Over the course of the story, George struggles with what she knows to be true and wanting to tell the people in her life this truth. I came to George, after reading laudatory reviews and interviews, expecting a novel with the character development, layering and emotional power of RJ Palacio's Wonder and found  myself initially disappointed. George is a quiet story, told simply. As I read into the story, I realized that, in their (Gino prefers to use the singular pronoun "they")writing style, Gino had transported me into the mind of a ten-year-old. George doesn't know everything that I know (which is not much, admittedly) about gender in the 21st century. George does not know what I know a…

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell, 288 pp, RL 4

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Review Originally posted on August 31, 2018 The Cardboard Kingdom  by Chad Sell Purchased at Barnes & Noble Story: This is a story with a story! On Arpil 15, 2015, Chad Sell launched the collaborative comics project that became The Cardboard Kingdom. Ten creators in nine different cities  answered Chad's call for writers to contribute stories he would illustrate. The call was answered by Jay Fuller, David Demeo, Katie Schenkel, Manuel Betancourt, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Cloud Jacobs, Michael Cole, Barbara Perez Marquez and Kris Moore, who passed away unexpectedly in 2017 and to whom the book is dedicated. Contributors are everything from writers and comics creators to teachers (college and fifth grade), a jewelry designer and a newly minted librarian. As the collaborative creators of The Cardboard Kingdom themselves demonstrate, like themselves, the world within this graphic novel that they created is one of inclusion, diversity and positivity. 
Uniting all the characters in th…

Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jamey Christoph

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Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution Written by Rob Sanders,  illustrated by Jamey Christoph Purchased from Barnes & Noble This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 1969. Sander's Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution, positions the Stonewall Inn itself as the narrator of this book that gives readers an overview of a seminal moment in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Beginning in 1840 with the building of the brick horse stables that would become the Stonewall Inn, the narrator tells the story of the neighborhood that became Greenwich Village, a home to artisans and a place where, "you could be yourself, and where being different was welcomed and accepted," as early as the 1930s. The Inn tells readers that, leading up to the 1960s,
our neighborhood welcomed gays and lesbians - men who loved men, and women who loved women. We were home for people who were told they didn't fit in or belong. We had welcomed all kid…

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer, 304 pp, RL 5

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Originally reviewed on February 4, 2019 To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer Review Copy from Dial Books for young Readers To Night Owl from Dogfish is one of my favorite kind of novels - epistolary. What begins as a bit of an aggressive communication from Bett Devlin to Avery Bloom blossoms (pun intended) into a meaningful friendship. Over the course of the novel, told mostly in emails between the twelve-year-old girls, but with occasional communications from other adults in their lives, the girls - and readers - learn a lot about friendship, love, family and the complexities of all three. 
Reading her dad's emails, Bett Devlin learns that her dad is going spend the summer riding motorcycles across China with his new love, Sam Bloom, father of twelve-year-old Avery. Both girls have been raised, almost exclusively, by their fathers and have very close relationships with them. Bett is especially upset to learn that while the dads are in China, they plan t…

The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono, 320 pp, RL 4

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This Review Originally Appeared on May 8, 2017
The Lotterys Plus One is the first children's book by Emma Donoghue, author of, most notably, Room. With excellent illustrations by Caroline Hadilaksonoreminds me of the books that were my favorites as a kid, books where quirky families living in big houses rambled across the pages. Books like A Wrinkle in Time, Meg with her attic room and many brothers and shows like The Brady Bunch and Eight is Enough were infinitely interesting, especially to a kid with one sibling living in a small apartment. As an adult reading kid's books, I still love a story with a big family, particularly if they live in a big house, and Donoghue does not disappoint on these counts. In fact, the Lotterys remind me of Hilary McKay's series of books featuring the children, all names after colors, in the Casson Family (see below for a more about the Cassons). What makes The Lotterys Plus One stand out on the shelf is the diversity (which never feels force…

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Steven Salerno

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PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag written by Rob Sanders illustrated by Steven Salerno Purchased from Barnes & Noble With simple elegance, Sanders and Salerno tell the story of a man with a dream and a symbol of hope. Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag begins with this quote from Milk, "You have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow. . ." Sanders tells readers that Milk dreamed that "everyone, even gay people, would have equality." And, as one of the first openly gay people elected to political office, Harvey Milk wanted to give people a symbol - a symbol of hope, a symbol that would show the world how they feel and who they are  -  to carry during the march to protest inequality and unfair laws that was held on June 25, 1978 in San Francisco, CA. Harvey turned to his friend, Gilbert Baker, and a flag, originally with eight colors, was designed.  The debut of the flag at what was called the "…

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill, 56 pp, RL 4

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Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill Published by Oni Press Purchased at The Strand Bookstore
Princess Princess Ever After is hilarious, fast paced - both in plot and dialogue - and groundbreaking. I can't believe how much O'Neill packs into 56 pages and how absolutely commonplace this story about two princesses who fall in love is. Back in 2012 when I reviewed Drama by Raina Telgemeier, I buried the fact that there are gay characters, questioning characters and a kiss between two boy actors, one of whom is playing the part of a girl character. As a bookseller dealing with a public (in my small, right-leaning-heavily-Christian city) that I knew would not be comfortable with this, I worried that my readers might share the same feelings of discomfort surrounding LGBTQIA+ characters in kid's books. It's so exciting to me that today I can write about a book like Princess Princess Ever After and, while I am still giddy that diversity in kid's books is growing,…