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Showing posts from September, 2019

We Are All Greta: Be Inspired to Save the World by Valentina Giannella, illustrated by Manuela Marazzi, 128 pp, RL 4

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We Are All Greta: Be Inspired to Save the World by Valentina Giannelli,  illustrated by Manuela Marazzi Purchased from Barnes & Noble We Are All Greta: Be Inspired to Save the World is is a phenomenal book that begins with Greta Thunberg, her family history and what drives her before moving on to the aspects of contemporary life that contribute to climate change, the global consequences of these actions and choices kids can make, both personally and as activists, to help save the world. The illustrations, design and format of this book are superbly engaging and accessible. As an adult, thinking about climate change and the choices I make as a consumer every day along with the devastation this is causing the earth is overwhelming and depressing. For me, as someone who dedicates much of her life to kids and kid's books, approaching this tremendous, vital, important, upsetting issue through the words of a child makes it easier (not that it SHOULD be easy) for me to begin the serious …

Our House Is on Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet by Jeanette Winter

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 Our House Is On Fire:  Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet  by Jeanette Winter Purchased from Barnes & Noble Winter's picture book biography does exactly what I want a picture book biography, especially one of a singular human being like Thunberg, to do. This book presents a precise, powerful story that echoes (and sometimes quotes) the sparsely potent words of Thunberg herself in a way that is accessible for young readers/listeners who know nothing about the subject. Winter begins with Thunberg's life in Stockholm, Sweden, where Greta felt invisible and sat in the back of the class, not saying anything. Without naming Thunberg's Asperger's, Winter tells readers that "Greta could think about one thing for a long, long time." This is exactly what Thunberg does when a teacher speaks to her class about, "the climate, about how our planet is getting warmer, about how the polar ice is melding, about how animals' lives are threatened. And ours, t…

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks, 224 pp, RL

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Pumpkinheads  by Rainbow Rowell& Faith Erin Hicks Purchased from Barnes & Noble Published by FirstSecond Books

Josiah and Deja have worked every fall at DeKnock's World Famous Pumpkin Patch & Autumn Jamboree since they started high school. Now, on the last night of their fourth and final season, charismatic, irresistible Deja is determined to get reserved, rule-following Josie to break out of his shell and talk to the girl he has been quietly pining for the last four years, telling him, "Friends don't let friends lead small lives." Josie's world is shaken from the start when he learns that Deja switched their final shift from the Succotash Hut, which they have ruled for the last four years, to the Pie Palace, where they will be strategically placed in the sight line of the Fudge Shoppe. Of course things don't go as planned. And yes, reading Pumpkinheads is a bit like drinking a PSL on a chilly day while watching a John Hughes movie. In fact, don't…

Magnolia's Magnificent Map by Lauren Bradshaw, illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan

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Magnolia's Magnificent Map by Lauren Bradshaw illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan Review copy from Cameron Books The Walnut Animal Society gathers once a month for their Society Soirée where they take turns sharing their work. It's Magnolia the Bunny's turn to share, but her work is not quite finished. Magnolia has spent months exploring, sketching and taking pictures of the walnut grove in order to create a map of it but there is one spot she hasn't been able to reach. With Margaux the Kitty at her side, they head out to find that last, elusive spot. They run into Chester the Raccoon and he shows them how to reach the top of the mountain where they find the source of the river and the perfect swimming hole. After a swim, Magnolia takes pictures, makes sketches and prepares to add the final missing spot - the swimming hole - to her map. The Walnut Animal Society is thrilled to see their neighborhood mapped out and the Society Soirée is a success! Bradshaw's creation of The …

Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc

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Up the Mountain Path by Marianne Dubuc Review Copy from  Princeton Architectural Press Up the Mountain Path is a quiet picture book, a beautiful picture book and one that adults might find bittersweet, but the overall message will resonate with little listeners/readers. Up the Mountain Path is a book about connection, connection between friends and a connection with the natural world, both of which bring the characters peace and comfort. Mrs. Badger is very old, her house at the foot of a small mountain. Every Sunday, Mrs. Badger hikes to Sugarloaf Peak at the top of the mountain, collecting things, sometimes treasures for herself, sometimes for her friends, as she goes. One day, she realizes she has a shadow and invites Lulu, a young cat, to share her snack as she sits on a log. It turns out Lulu would very much like to hike to the top of the mountain but she thinks she is to small. Mrs. Badger gently reassures her without pressuring her and together they continue the trek up the mountai…

Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble by Rosemary Wells

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Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble by Rosemary Wells Review copy from Simon & Schuster
My oldest was born in 1993 and my second in 1997, which is when Rosemary Wells's books about bunny siblings were at their peak and a few years before they became television stars. There was something about the stories of the knowing, slightly bossy Ruby, the willful, often wayward Max and the insightful, loving way Wells brought them to life on the page that we loved reading over and over. They both came at the world (and whatever challenge was before them) from very different corners, yet there was always enough room (and acceptance and love from Grandma) for both of them to exist and coexist at the end of the day. In fact, that's what I love about all of Wells's best books - the way she understands the emotional lives of children, gets it on the page, and gently, lovingly shows readers that it will get better. In fact, her trilogy of books, originally sold in a small boxed set, Voyage to…

Each tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya, 336 pp, RL 4

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Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya Cover art by Camila Rosa Review Copy from Kokila
I feel grateful to have read enough books in the past year, fiction and non-fiction, that I can add the labels, "social justice" and, "social activism" to my reviews. And, while Each Tiny Spark is definitely a book about social justice and social activism, I would say it's more about a child's awakening to and growing awareness of the need for and importance of social justice, wrapped in a story of personal challenges that come in the form of a father home on leave from the Marines and struggling with PTSD, a mother and abuela with differing views on child rearing and managing life with ADHD. Cartaya does a masterful job integrating serious subjects into the life of a twelve-year-old who, with authenticity, gradually comes to understand them and how she can be active in her personal live and the world she lives in.
Sparks are everywhere in Cartaya's story, from the sparks that …

Stargazing by Jen Wang, 224 pp, RL 4

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Stargazing by Jen Wang Review Copy from FirstSecond Books
An act of generosity moves Moon and her single mother into the granny flat behind Christine's house, her world expands and changes in challenging ways. Moon and Christine are both part of the same Chinese-American community, the children of immigrants, but their lives couldn't be more different. Christine plays violin, goes to church, takes Chinese lessons (taught by her mother) and asks to be enrolled at a tutoring center after getting a C on a math test. Moon is a Buddhist and vegetarian who paints her nails, listens to K-Pop and has a fierce sense of justice. Moon welcomes Christine into her world and, with a few tentative steps at first, Christine discovers a life outside of the firm influence and expectations of her parents.  Moon is also an artist, sharing the contents of her sketchbook, including drawings of magical beings from outer space, with Christine. She even shares her deepest secret with Christine, the fact …