February 29, 2020

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 11:37 pm by suebe2

When Aidan Became a Brother
by Kyle Lukoff
illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
Lee and Low Books

Aidan is excited to know that he will be a big brother.  He helps paint the new bedroom to look like the sky.  He practices reading – because babies need someone to read to them.

But Aidan is also worried. What if he says or does something that makes the baby feel pigeon-holed? That who they are has been predetermined?  After all, Aidan knows what that is like.  When he was born, his parents thought that he was a girl.  Then people thought he was a tomboy.  Sometimes people still give him funny looks, looks that make him uncomfortable.  He doesn’t want this baby to have to work so hard to be themself.

I can’t say enough how much I loved this book.  When I was pregnant (long, long ago), it bothered me when people asked if I was having a boy or a girl.  And was he going to be a doctor.  Or a teacher.  Or . . . I always wanted to yell.  “How should I know?  I haven’t even met that baby!”

Author Kyle Lukoff, himself a transgender man, has written a story that is about so much more than being transgender.  It is about love and identiy.  It is about expectation and acceptance and love.  Do I sound a little fan girl?  Perhaps I am.

I thought the illustrations were ink and watercolor.  But Kaylani Juanita created them digitally.  I love the colors and the patterns that bring this story to life.

This book is a great choice for expanding families and to launch discussions about acceptance, patience and love.  It is easy to see why the American Library Association chose it as the Stonewall Book Award winner back in January.  Add it to your bookshelf today.

–SueBE

February 21, 2020

Keep Calm and Carry On Children by Sharon Mayhew

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 4:18 pm by suebe2

Keep Calm and Carry On Children
by Sharon Mayhew
Black Rose Writing

A while back, I won a copy of this book in a drawing complete with a variety of British snacks to accompany my reading experience.  That’s ironic, snacks to munch on while reading about rationing and the like.

I’ve read a number of books about Britain during World War II and the bombings that took such a heavy toll on London.  But this story is told from the perspective of eleven year-old Joyce.  Through her eyes, I saw just how many assumptions I had made.  My first?  I pictured commercial bomb shelters, government built shelters for neighborhoods and metro tunnels.  I hadn’t realized that numerous people sheltered in what were essentially trenches with a piece of sheet metal over the top.

After their neighbor’s shelter fails to keep him safe, Joyce and her younger sister are sent away as part of operation Pied Piper.  Trains were filled with children and sent into the countryside for the duration of the war.  My second assumption?  I thought that there would be homes lined up for the children.  I didn’t realize that once they got off the train, they were told to walk along the road until someone picked them out.

Keep Calm and Carry On Children tells of the situation in London as well as the lives that many children faced once the evacuated.  Some were used as laborers.  Others found loving families.  And many of these children brought comfort to the families who took them in.

Sharon’s story was inspired by her grandfather’s tales of being evacuated to the countryside.  The details that she includes in her story, both those gleaned from her grandfather and those she found in her research, bring this world to life for her readers.  Readers will also be inspired by Joyce because although she was frightened she kept an eye not only on her sister but also on other children on the train.

The story is realistic without being gory and will bring history to life for Sharon’s readers.

–SueBE

February 15, 2020

Pies from Nowhere by Dee Romito illustrated by Laura Freeman

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:05 pm by suebe2

Pies from Nowhere
by Dee Romito
illustrated by Laura Freeman
Little Bee Books

At the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company.  Georgie cooked at the customers sat in one section or the other.  One side of the lunch counter was for whites.  The other side was for black customers.  Georgia had been treated badly by bus drivers.  Many people had.  So she decided that she wanted to help.  But she wanted to do more than boycott the buses.

Georgia and a group of women cooked and cooked.  They brought dinners to the meetings.  They sold sandwiches and dinners.  The women were afraid that they would lose their jobs so Georgia hid their identities.  When she turned in the money, people asked where it came from and she told them nowhere.  The women became known as the Club from Nowhere.

The food paid for gasoline.  People who didn’t ride the buses still needed to get to work so carpools were organized.  The women even bought cars for the carpools.

When the National Lunch Company found out that Georgia was taking part in the boycott, they didn’t care what a good cook she was.  She lost her job.  Georgia started her own business, cooking and feeding the people who came to her home.

Freeman’s illustrations help bring this story to life.  The bright colors of the women’s clothing offsets the warm browns of the pies and pound cake baked by Georgia.

Many of the women who worked in the Civil Right movement are unsung.  With this book, Romito gives one of them a voice.  Recently, I saw a TED Talk about the myth of Rosa Parks.  I was glad to see that Romito told Parks’ story vs the less threatening story in which she was simply too tired to give up her seat.  These people were fighting for their rights and that is clear in this book.

Definitely a book that should be on classroom shelves and in school libraries.  Share this with your young reader and use it as a jumping off point to discuss Civil Rights and the parts that various people played in the fight.

–SueBE

February 8, 2020

Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 3:33 am by suebe2

Home in the Woods 
by Eliza Wheeler
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Putnam

Marvel’s dad lives with the angels now and her family needs to find a new home.  They head into the woods in search of someplace to call their own.  When they find a tarpaper shack, Marvel is unimpressed.  “‘You never know what treasures we’ll find,’ says Mum.”

It is summer when 6 year-old Marvel, her mum, and her seven siblings find the shack.  Mum isn’t entirely wrong.  The shack may be only one room but in the cellar below there is a pump that brings up cool, clear water.  They plant a garden and gather berries.  Using the cook stove, Mum cans and they begin to put up food for the winter.  Mum works and earns a few coins which they use on necessities.  Otherwise, their garden and the forest provide what they need.

This story is set in the Great Depression.  Wheeler based it on events from her grandmother’s life in Wisconsin.  Wheeler’s water color, ink and pastel pencil illustrations give the story an old time feel.  Personally, it reminded me of the Box Car Children although this family was much larger and included mom.  Still, the two stories are comparable in that the characters learn to make do with what they can find and it is a loving, family story.

The illustrations are detailed and help pull the reader into the story.  Several illustrations are labeled, including the first interior of the shack and a holiday meal, helping to clarify new settings and information for young reader.

While the story itself would be compelling for story time, the illustrations need to be viewed closely and savored.  There is so much to them that the reader could easily get lost in the art work alone.

Wheeler has created a touching story that will inform even as it touches the heart.

–SueBE

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