May 18, 2020

Dibs! by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:36 am by suebe2

by Laura Gehl
illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski
Carolrhoda Books

Julian is pretty sure he’s gotten the hang of being a big brother.  The first step is to set boundaries.  Julian does this by calling dibs on the solar system plate, the astronaut costume, and the star-shaped cookies.  But perhaps he’s taught Clancy a bit too well.

Because Clancy’s first word is – Dibs!

Clancy isn’t satisfied with getting a certain plate or even a plate of cookies.  First he claims Mom and Dad’s bed.  And oddly enough, they let him have it.  After all, he did call dibs.  Then he claims the bakery.  But even that isn’t enough.   Before Julian can get anyone to listen, Clancy has claimed the White House and then NASA.

Julian settles in to enjoy life as an only child, and it is sweet. But with NASA Clancy got a rocket and blasted off.  When he doesn’t come home, Julian worries about what has happened to his brother.

I have to admit that I liked this book a lot more than I enjoy the majority of new baby books.  It felt honest and daring and just a touch subversive.  Sure, the brothers eventually work things out but at first Julian knows how he feels about having to share everything, and it is not positive.

Young readers will love the ridiculous humor in this book as calling dibs works in the extreme.  Because Gehl establishes silly parameters, it works when Julian goes into space on his own.  The reader has already accepted that the book is fun if not 100% realistic.

Marcin Piwowarski’s digital illustrations bring the story to life.  His style is just cartoon-y enough to play up the sillier aspects of the story, and I don’t mean simply that an adults turn the White House and NASA over to a toddler.  What’s sillier than that?  You’ll have to read the book to find out!


May 6, 2020

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:06 am by suebe2

All American Boys
by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Rashad is on his way to a party when he stops at the local market for chips.  He is getting his phone out of his duffel, digging around trying to find it under his ROTC uniform, when another shopper, a white professional woman, backs up and falls over him.  Because Rashad is a black teen, assumptions are made and a police officers decides he has to stick up for the victim, the woman.

He beats Rashad even after cuffing the young man and throwing him to the sidewalk.  One of Rashad’s classmates, Quinn, sees what is happening and initially fails to recognize Rashad but is still freaked out because the cop is his best friend’s brother. The story follows the lives of both young men and how they change as Rashad is released from the hospital.

Rashad has to find his voice.

Quinn has to understand that being racist can mean keeping quiet and going on with life as usual because something isn’t your problem.

This is an amazingly powerful book written in two voices – Rashad and Quinn.  The authors got to know each other on a publicity tour put together by their publisher.  They decided after the Michael Brown killing that they needed to write this book.

I had read some of Reynolds other work, I especially liked Long Way Down, but this may be the first time that I’ve ever read Kiely’s work but it won’t be the last.  Books like this, dealing with issues of race and racism, remain important as African Americans die from COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate.  The reasons why have to do with poverty, access to health care, and overcrowding.

In spite of the serious themes addressed in this book, it ends on a note of hope as two young men truly see each other.





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