Monday, September 18, 2017

Book of the Week: The One Day House

The One Day House

by Julia Durango
Illustrated by Bianca Diaz
Published by Charlesbridge, 2017
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1580897099
Ages 4-8


Young Wilson is full of ideas for ways to help fix his elderly neighbor Gigi’s house: paint it orange and yellow “like the sun,” fix the windows so they’ll open, build a fence so she can have a dog, repair the steps and the chimney and the roof, plant a garden. He’d even like to fix her piano, “so you can play music again.” Across summer, fall, and winter, he shares his ideas with Gigi and others, from the ice cream man to the librarian to his classroom teacher. Gigi always makes sure Wilson knows he is already gifting her with his presence, and she clearly is not expecting young Wilson’s many ideas to come to anything, but when spring arrives, they do! Wilson’s agency is presented realistically in an engaging picture book showcasing a dreamer and do-ers. The satisfying patterned text is set again vibrant multi-media collage illustrations featuring a brown-skinned boy and his diverse, multigenerational neighborhood. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 11, 2017

Book of the Week: Moxie



Moxie

by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2017
336 pages
ISBN: 978-1626726352
Age 13 and older


Vivvy loves the Riot Grrrl bands and zines of her mother’s youth, but unlike her mom at 16, Vivvy is not a wave-maker or rule-breaker in their small east Texas town, until anger at the rampant sexism at her school spurs her to action. Vivvy creates an anonymous zine, Moxie, calling it out. Some of the sexist behavior is verbal, some of it physical, some of it psychological, all of it is some form of assault. New student Lucy, an avowed feminist, loves Moxie, while Vivvy’s best friend Claudia finds the word “feminist” too much and the Moxie calls to action pointless. Neither of them know Vivvy is behind the zine. New boy Seth, on whom Vivvy has a crush, sees Vivvy placing copies of Moxie in the bathrooms but he keeps her secret and romance blossoms. Moxie begins to illuminate and then bridge divides of race and class as many different girls embrace the anonymous zine and the Moxie movement slowly grows. The sexism at Vivvy’s school—insidious and infuriating—is both believable in the context of this story and also symbolic of the sexism in our society as a whole: It is systemic in scope; takes myriad forms; is too rarely acknowledged or challenged; has an impact that is achingly personal; those who fight back face repercussions; and every additional voice adds power to the call for change. Mathieu’s narrative is fierce and inspiring, while her nuanced characters and the complexity of their relationships ground the story and add to the satisfaction. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, September 4, 2017

Book of the Week: Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh



Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh

by Uma Krishnaswami
Published by Tu Books, 2017
288 pages
ISBN: 978-1600602610
Ages 8-12


Maria loves softball and is thrilled to discover a woman teacher at her small-town school in California is starting a team for girls. The only problem: she’s not sure her Sikh father will let her join. When he reluctantly agrees, her next goal is to convince him to let her wear shorts rather than a dress when she plays. As the girls begin to practice, they are sometimes jeered by boys in town, and sometimes at odds with one another, with coveted positions and racial tensions both coming into play. Maria and several other girls have fathers from India who came to the United States via Mexico because of U.S. anti-Indian immigrant laws. Many of the men married women who are Mexican American, like Maria’s mother. Many others in town, including the man from whom Maria’s father rents the land he farms and whose daughter is her rival on the team, are white. The same anti-immigrant laws also prevent Maria’s father from purchasing the land he’s been farming for years when the owner decides to sell. A story set during World War II deftly balances substantial information with an engaging character and story line. Less lighthearted than the cover suggests but still hopeful, this novel showcases family, culture, community and even politics, from the keen interest of Maria’s father to the end of British rule in India to the impact of the war on families in town. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 28, 2017

Book of the Week: ¡El gallo que no se callaba! / The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!



¡El gallo que no se callaba! / The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!

by Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Published by Scholastic Press, 2017
48 pages
ISBN: 978-1-338-11414-0
Ages 6-10


The village of La Paz is noisy. “Dogs bayed, mothers crooned, engines hummed, fountains warbled, and everybody sang in the shower.” In fact it’s so noisy the mayor is fired and an election is held to choose a new one. “Only Don Pepe promised peace and quiet. He won by a landslide.” First Don Pepe bans loud singing, then he bans singing altogether. Seven quiet years pass until a “saucy gallito” moves into town and does what roosters do: “Kee-kee-ree KEE!” Furious, Don Pepe cuts down the tree where the rooster sits. When that doesn’t silence the rooster, Don Pepe throws him in a cage alone, then takes away his corn, and blankets him in darkness. Still the rooster crows. “I sing for those who dare not sing—or have forgotten how,” he tells Don Pepe. Even under threat of being turned into soup, the rooster is defiant, stating a song “will never die—so long as there is someone to sing it.” And the townspeople, their memories stirred, pick up his call. A delightfully told story is an entertaining and accessible allegory about the importance of speaking up, and sometimes resisting authority. Colorful mixed media illustrations with a comic edge provide a vibrant backdrop for the language- and idea-rich story, here in a bilingual edition. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 21, 2017

Book of the Week: The Lost Kitten



The Lost Kitten

by  Lee
Illustrated by Komako Sakai
Translated by Cathy Hirano from the Japanese
Published by U.S. edition: Gecko Press, 2017
36 pages
ISBN: 978-1-77657-126-0
Ages 3-6


When Hina and her mother take in a kitten they find outside their front door, Hina is initially a little reluctant—it’s not as clean and cute as a pet shop kitten. In a short time, however, she is caught up in thinking about names. “Maybe Bluey for its eyes. Or Twiggy because it was so skinny…Just thinking about the kitten made her happy.” While her mother is out buying cat food and her grandmother is napping, Hina realizes she can’t find the kitten. Is it frightened? Did it run outside when her mother left? Is it lost? Hina remembers how she felt once when she was lost in a store and couldn’t find her mother, and wonders if the kitten feels the same way. A story at once understated and dramatic pairs muted illustrations that marvelously capture the physical posture and movements of a small child (and kitten) with a finely paced, emotionally charged text that takes place in a short timeframe and conveys the immediacy of a young child’s emotions and reasoning, and the powerful force of empathy. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book of the Week: Midnight at the Electric



Midnight at the Electric

by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Published by HarperTeen, 2017
257 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-239354-8
Age 12 and older


In 2065, Adri moves in with her newly discovered cousin, Lily, while she trains for her future life as a settler on Mars. Loner Adri worries living with elderly, open-hearted Lily will be hard, but Lily is respectful of Adri’s privacy and Galapagos, a giant tortoise on Lily’s Kansas farm, is a peaceful companion. In 1934 Catherine lives with her mother, little sister, and a tortoise named Galapagos on their Kansas farm, where the dust storms ravaging the Plains threaten her little sister’s health. Learning the boy she loves also loves her is bittersweet when Catherine, debating something drastic to save her sister, discovers a secret about the past that raises huge questions about her family. In 1919, Lenore lives in England, mourning the loss of a beloved brother in the Great War. Lenore wants to visit her best friend Beth in America. In the meantime, she forges a friendship with James, a disfigured young man who tests her understanding of compassion and acceptance while spinning impossible stories about his life. For Adri, who’s never relied on anyone but herself and is struggling to connect with others on her team, the old letters and journals in Lily’s house leading her to Catherine’s and Lenore’s stories hold surprising fascination. Family, friendship, and the family that friendship are the gifts Catherine, Lenore and especially Lily give Adri as she prepares for her journey in this singular novel graced by complex, poignant characters and relationships. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Monday, August 7, 2017

Book of the Week: The First Rule of Punk



The First Rule of Punk

by Celia C. Pérez
Published by Viking, 2017
336 pages
ISBN: 978-0-425-29040-8
Ages 9-12


Malú and her mom have moved from New York to Chicago for her mom’s 2-year visiting professorship. Mixed-race (Mexican/white) Malú, whose parents are amicably divorced, is unhappy about leaving her dad, who nurtured her interest in punk. She also feels like her mom, whom she calls SuperMexican, wants her to be a perfect señorita, which couldn’t be further from Malú’s understanding of herself (or, it turns out, the truth). Expressing her punk identity with heavy make-up the first day at José Guadalupe Posada Middle School doesn’t just raise her mom’s eyebrows, however: Malú’s in violation of school rules. After the mom of Malú’s new friend Joe introduces Malú to Mexican American punk musicians—something Malú didn’t know existed—and other Mexican singers. Malú recruits Joe and two other kids to form a punk band and try out for the school talent show. When the principal rejects their act, Malú and her bandmates organize an alternate talent show in the spirt of their school’s namesake while reworking a classic Mexican song into a punk performance that brings together the parts of Malú’s identity she thought were disparate, but prove not to be. Malú’s zines exploring aspects of her personal history and culture add a rich visual dimension to a spirited, engaging story about a creative, irrepressible girl navigating uncertainties and making new connections and discoveries. ©2017 Cooperative Children’s Book Center