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    • Children's & YA Literature

    Stories From the Past (Continued)

    By Sandip Wilson and Carolyn Angus
     | Jul 08, 2019

    In this second column of Stories from the Past, we review additional recently published books, some fiction and some nonfiction, that will engage and inform readers of all ages with stories of historical events that are as exciting and suspenseful as they are moving and heartfelt.

    Ages 4–8

    The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank. David Lee Miller & Steven Jay Rubin. Ill. Elizabeth Baddeley. 2019. Philomel/Penguin.

    The Cat Who Lived With Anne FrankMouschi, the cat of Peter, whose family hid with the Franks in the Secret Annex over a spice factory in Amsterdam during the Holocaust, tells how he too is in hiding because Jews are forbidden to own pets. Mouschi, along with the eight people living in the annex, must stay silent during the day to avoid detection. Unlike them, however, he is free to explore the streets crowded with “Black Spiders” (Nazi soldiers) and witnesses and reports on what is happening to “Yellow Stars” (Jewish people) in the city. Narration from the point of view of Mouschi and incorporation of hand-lettered excerpts from Anne Frank’s diary in expressive mixed-media illustrations make this picture book an accessible introduction to the Anne Frank story. Back matter includes biographical information about Anne Frank, a note on the characters and places in the story, and sources.
    —CA

    Girls with Guts!: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records. Debbi Gonzales. Ill. Rebeca Gibbon. 2019. Charlesbridge.

    Girls with GutsThis engaging informational picture bookis a lively introduction to women athletes who “competed when others said they shouldn’t—or couldn’t” including Gertrude Ederle, who became the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926; Althea Gibson, who became the first black athlete to win a Grand Slam tennis title in 1956; and Donna de Varona, who won medals as a member of the US Olympic swimming team in 1964. The book also traces the activities of Congresswoman Edith Green, Shirley Chisolm, Patsy Mink, and other activists who advocated for equal academic and athletic opportunities for girls. Their challenges to unfair federal funding eventually led to the passage in 1972 of Title IX, which mandated equal treatment for girls under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Backmatter includes an extensive time line (from 1880–1890 to 2017), author’s note, and a bibliography.
    —CA

    Stubby: A True Story of Friendship. Michael Foreman. 2019. Andersen Press USA.

    StubbyA soldier narrates this true story of a stray dog that entered an Army training camp in Connecticut, in 1917, looking for food, and was befriended by the soldiers, including the narrator who instead of leaving the dog behind, takes Stubby with him on the train and then the ship across the Atlantic. Stubby, who, with his keen hearing warns soldiers of approaching enemy and with his keen sense of smell warns them of gas attacks, becomes a war hero. Realistic illustrations in luminous watercolor and graphite show scenes of war in the trenches and the power of friendship. Back matter includes an archival photograph of Stubby with his medals and more information about Stubby, Corporal Robert Conroy, their experiences on the front lines, and Stubby’s valor and life after the war.
    —SW

    Ages 911

    Last of the Name. Rosanne Parry. 2019. Carolrhoda/Lerner.

    Last of the NameIn early 1863, 12-year-old Daniel O’Carolan and his older sister Kathleen emigrate from Ireland with their grandmother, the last of their family, to New York City. After their grandmother dies at sea, the children arrive with a bundle she left them. Through the Catholic Church, Kathleen and Daniel, disguised as a girl named Mary, find rooms and domestic work in the house of a wealthy family. Daniel charms townspeople with his golden voice and haunting Irish songs but their lives become endangered during five days of draft riots in the summer of 1863 that include many Irish protestors. Kathleen and Daniel discover their family history revealed in their grandmother’s bundle. Front matter contains a map of Lower Manhattan with places, both fictional and real, featured in the book. The back matter includes an author’s note with more information on 19th-century immigration of Europeans to America and changes in the demographics of New York City, books for further reading, and questions for discussion.
    —SW

    The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA. Brenda Woods. 2019. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin.

    The Unsung Hero of BirdsongExcited about riding the Schwinn Deluxe he receives on his twelfth birthday, Gabriel Haberlin does not see Mrs. Babcock racing through town in her yellow Roadmaster. Meriwether Hunter, who served in the 761st Tank Battalion, nicknamed “the Black Panthers,” and resettled with his family in Birdsong, South Carolina, pulls Gabriel to safety and fixes his damaged bicycle. When Gabriel extols the town’s events to honor war heroes, Meriwether explains that colored men, who fought side by side with white soldiers, are not part of the parade and must keep their war stories secret because their physical safety, even their lives, are threatened when white people learn of their experiences. Gabriel learns lessons about friendship, racism, resourcefulness, and valor after he asks his father to give Meriwether a job as a mechanic in his auto garage and witnesses the prejudice of the other mechanic rumored to have Ku Klux Klan connections. Acknowledgments in the back detail contributions of men and women of color in the armed forces.
    —SW

    Ages 12–14

    The Good Son: A Story from the First World War Told in Miniature. Pierre-Jacques Ober. Ill. Jules Ober & Felicity Coonan. 2019. Candlewick Studio/Candlewick.

    The Good SonIn 1914, during the war that was supposed to last only a few months, soldiers continue to march to battle—except for one. Pierre, a young French soldier, who had gone home for two days to spend Christmas with his widowed mother. Upon returning to his regiment, Pierre is imprisoned and sentenced to death for desertion. Told with a minimal text and intriguing photographs of tableaus created with toy soldiers, this thought-provoking story of a good son who wanted to be a good soldier ends with “About one hundred years ago, the whole world went to war. It was supposed to last months. It was supposed to be over by Christmas. It was fought by little soldiers like Pierre. It would be won by little soldiers like Pierre. But not by Christmas. And not by Pierre.” Back matter includes a note from the author or his connection to the story and notes and photographs of the process used in creating the book.
    —CA

    A Slip of a Girl. Patricia Reilly Giff. 2019. Holiday House.

    A Slip of a GirlIn this free-verse novel set during the time of the Irish Land Wars brought about by the rebellion of Irish tenants to eviction by English landlords for failing to pay unreasonable rents, Anna Mallon is determined to honor the promises she made to her dying mother: to keep her baby sister Nuala safe and protect the Mallon’s house and land. When Anna breaks the earl’s window after failing to meet with him about an extension on their rent payment, she and her father are jailed. She escapes and makes the long journey with Nuala to an elderly aunt’s home. They are safe, but with news of the growing unrest of tenant farmers, Anna knows she must go home. “I’ll be strong / to get back what belongs / to us, / what has always belonged: / our house, / our land.” Captioned archival photographs interspersed among the poems help set the scene. Back matter includes a glossary and an author’s note.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    Someday We Will Fly. Rachel DeWoskin. 2019. Viking/Penguin.

    Someday We Will FlyLillia narrates the story of the journey she takes with her circus performer father and younger sister when they flee 1940 Warsaw, Poland, leaving behind her mother who has disappeared. Escaping by car out of Warsaw, they take a train from Lithuania to Italy and sail to Shanghai, which is occupied by the Japanese Army but is one of few places in the world welcoming Jewish refugees. The family finds shelter in Hongkou, and her father searches for employment as they eke out survival. Always hungry but wanting to hold onto her old self as she discovers a new self, Lillia continues her dance and acrobat practice and attends the Kaadori School, where she befriends, Wei, a Chinese boy who acts as the school’s janitor but wants to be a student, and learns Chinese. As her new self, Lillia ventures into the International Settlement and becomes a dancer at a night club, a job she keeps secret from her family, but their lives change when Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in 1941. Back matter includes an author’s note detailing research in Shanghai and separating fact from fiction and sources consulted.
    —SW   

    Susan B. Anthony (The Making of America #4). Teri Kanefield. 2019. Abrams.

    The Making of AmericaBorn at a time when a woman had no rights to own property, to keep hard-earned income from her labors, or to have custody of her children if she divorced, Susan B. Anthony (18211905), known “as a woman ruled by logic, serenely self-assured, and dignified,” became an outspoken champion of women’s rights involving her in political action nationally, including extensive travel to western states that passed legislation for women’s suffrage. This biography, which includes archival images and photographs, shows Susan B. Anthony as a tireless and outspoken advocate for the rights and freedoms of women and African Americans in face of entrenched opposition, and describes her lifelong friendship and collaboration with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The final chapter chronicles the changes in rights for women that followed Anthony’s death, including the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution of the United States in 1919. Back matter includes source notes; a timeline; excerpts from Anthony’s selected writings; a bibliography that includes primary sources, books, articles, and legal cases; acknowledgments; and an index.
    —SW

    Sandip LeeAnne Wilson is a professor in the School of Education and the English Department of Husson University, Bangor, Maine, and is serving on the Children’s Literature and Reading SIG’s Notable Books for a Global Society Committee. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.
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    • Children's & YA Literature

    Stories From the Past

    By Sandip Wilson and Carolyn Angus
     | Jul 02, 2019

    Books on historical topics bring to life events and individuals, some of them familiar and some new, for readers. The stories reviewed in this week’s column make engaging reading for pleasure and for learning about different places and time periods.

    Ages 48

    Born to Ride: A Story About Bicycle Face. Larissa Theule. Ill. Kelsey Garrity-Riley. 2019. Abrams.

    Born to RideThe year is 1896, and Louisa Belinda Bellflower is told she can’t ride a bicycle because girls are not strong enough to balance and, in trying to ride, their eyes will bulge and jaws clench, giving them “bicycle face,” which can be permanent. Determined to ride, she trades her restrictive dress for her brother’s trousers and, though she falls again and again, she learns to ride.  Her bicycle face is a “gigantic, joyous smile.” Whimsical naïve paintings depict Louisa Belinda’s activities and scenes of Rochester, New York, bustling with bicycle riders. The final double-page spread pictures many women and girls (including Louisa Belinda and her mother dressed in pants) cycling to join a women’s suffrage rally. Back matter has more information about restrictions on women in the 1890s and describes women’s efforts, in the face of resistance, to become wheelwomen.
    —SW

    Follow Me to Nicodemus Town: Based on the History of the African American Pioneer Settlement. A. LaFaye. Ill. Nicole Tadgell. 2019. Albert Whitman.

    Follow Me Down to Nicodemus TownDede Patton, who earns pennies shining shoes at the train station, returns the wallet a man dropped while racing to catch his train and receives a reward of 10 dollars. Her parents, who work from “sun-climb to sun-slide” as sharecroppers, now have enough money to take advantage of the U.S. government’s offer of free land to homestead on the Kansas prairie near a soon-to-built town, Nicodemus. Warm, richly detailed watercolor illustrations show the experiences of the Patton family as they survive years of hardship during which they build a sod house, work the land and grow crops, and finally see their dream of owning their own farm come true. Historical context is provided in a note on the Exodusters, the African Americans who participated in the land rush to the frontier in the 1870s, and the development of Nicodemus.
    —CA

    How Emily Saved the Bridge: The Story of Emily Warren Roebling and the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Frieda Wishinsky. Ill. Natalie Nelson. 2019. Groundwood/House of Anansi.

    How Emily Saved the BridgeGrowing up during a time when “many girls were told they weren’t smart, especially in math or science,” Emily Warren (18431903) was eager to learn all she could and received a good education before marrying Washington Roebling, a soldier and engineer. In 1869, Emily encouraged her husband to take on the supervision of the construction of the suspension bridge across the East River following the accidental onsite death of his father, the chief engineer. When illness prevented Washington from continuing the work, Emily took over the challenging project, and the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883. Colorful artwork created with digital collage and found photographs with imagined dialogue balloons complement this story of how Emily saved the bridge. Back matter includes interesting facts about the Brooklyn Bridge, suggestions for further reading, source notes, and an author’s note.
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Allies. Alan Gratz. 2019. Scholastic.

    AlliesAlan Gratz tells the dramatic story of D-Day from the points of view of a diverse group of individuals representing participants in the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944: paratroopers who landed first, soldiers who stormed the beaches, medics who tended the wounded, and members of the French Resistance who spied on the German army and sabotaged roads, railways, and telephone lines. Extensive author’s notes offer details on the complicated, international mission, code-named Operation Overlord; the beach invasion, Operation Neptune; and other operations for which Gratz created names to separate the stories of the fictional characters; and changes he made to limit the occurrence of events to a single day—from just before dawn on the English Channel to close to midnight on the road to Bayeux on D-Day.
    —CA

    Captain Rosalie. Timothée de Foblelle. Trans. Sam Gordon. Ill. Isabelle Arsenault. 2019. Candlewick.

    Captain Rosalie“I have a secret,” says 5-year-old Rosalie, whose father is fighting on the front during World War I. While her mother works in a factory, the teacher lets Rosalie spend the day at the back of the older children’s classroom. They think she’s just drawing in her notebook and daydreaming, but she’s a soldier with a special mission. Some evenings her mother reads aloud the cheery letters from her father. The nature of Rosalie’s secret mission—to learn to read— is revealed after a gendarme delivers a letter that her mother does not read to her. She steals home during the day to find out what her father really says in his letters (“At night I cry in the mud or Oh, my darling, you will never see me again.) and the letter from the Ministry of War (“Killed in action fighting for his country”). Expressive mixed-media artwork beautifully complements this quiet, powerful wartime story.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    1919: The Year That Changed America. Martin W. Sandler. 2019. Bloomsbury.

    19191919, the year after the armistice ending World War I and the second year of the deadly influenza pandemic, was also the year that saw other events that changed America including the passage of the 19th amendment that ensured women’s right to vote, the introduction of prohibition, the rise of organized labor, and the chaos of race riots resulting from growing resistance to racial discrimination. The book opens with a tragic event, the Great Molasses Flood that destroyed a large section of the city of Boston when a giant storage tank of molasses exploded on January 15, a tragic event that raised awareness of the need for government oversight of big business. Illustrated with archival photographs, each chapter details a different major movement and ends with a “One Hundred Years Later” section covering related events and a timeline. Back matter includes books and resources for further reading, a list of Sandler’s research sources, and an index.
    —SW

    O Captain, My Captain: Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War. Robert Burleigh. Ill. Sterling Hundley. 2019. Abrams.

    O Captain, My CaptainWith Robert Burleigh’s lyrical text and Sterling Hundley’s beautifully composed mixed-media illustrations, O Captain, My Captain weaves together the stories of Walt Whitman (1819–1892), one of America’s greatest poets, and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), whom the great American poet so greatly admired, during the Civil War years. Using numerous quotes from Whitman’s poetry, Burleigh focuses on how Whitman was affected by his experiences of nursing and supporting injured soldiers in hospitals throughout the city of Washington and the assassination of President Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Back matter includes biographical notes on Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln; a timeline of important dates in the Civil War; two of Whitman’s poems, “O Captain! My Captain!” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”; author’s and artist’s notes; endnotes on quotes; a bibliography; and an index.
    —CA

    A Place to Belong. Cynthia Kadohata. Ill. Julia Kuo. 2019. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    A Place to BelongTwelve-year-old Hanako and her brother, born in the United States, and their parents, also U.S. citizens, are transported to Japan in 1946 when they are freed from the American internment camps where they had been incarcerated for five years. Along with other Japanese immigrants, her father had renounced his citizenship because, as Hanako’s mother explains to her, when the U.S. government came to him in the camp “he wasn’t sure he was safe in America.” As the family lives with her grandparents, tenant farmers, in a village not far from the remains of Hiroshima, and adapts to local customs, eking out a life in post-war Japan, Hanako realizes she has no home in her native country and is a stranger to life in Japan. Back matter includes an Afterword that provides historical context and further information about the citizenship of deported Japanese after World War II.
    —SW

    Ages 15+

    Inventing Victoria. Tonya Bolden. 2019. Bloomsbury.

    Inventing VictoriaA young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Georgia, Essie feels trapped between the life she has and the life she wants. She gets a chance to change her life when Ma Clara, a housekeeper for her mother and solace for her, advocates for her going to school. Ostracized and teased at school she leaves, still hungry for learning. Essie becomes housekeeper at Miss Abby’s boarding house, where she meets Dorcas Vachon, a wealthy, black socialite from Baltimore, Maryland, who offers her a new life but, as Victoria Vashon, she must break all ties with her past. Victoria harbors the secret of her origins and when she falls in love must decide whether to divulge the truth of her past. With its twists and revelations, the novel illustrates the power of patience, persistence, and the strength that comes from these qualities. Back matter includes an author’s note with information separating historical fact from conjecture and notes on research sources.
    —SW

    When the Ground Is Hard. Malla Nunn. 2019. Putnam/Penguin.

    When the Ground is HardSixteen-year-old Adele looks forward to returning to Keziah Christian Academy, a boarding school in the British protectorate of Swaziland, after a winter break with her mother and mixed-race brother, but finds she is no longer one of the top girls, rich and pretty students whose parents pay full fees, just as her white “sometimes father,” who lives in Johannesburg with his other family, does. Adele is assigned a small room with Lottie Diamond, a poor Swazi girl, who is tormented by the clique. Their lives are complicated as they try to find mentally challenged Darnell, who goes missing, the top girls accuse Lottie and Adele of a theft, a raging brush fire threatens the school buildings, and a poor, white landowner threatens people who approach his land. Through Lottie, Adele discovers new ways of being as she learns about her past and her culture. Readers learn about class and racial discrimination in Swaziland in the 1960s in this engrossing coming-of-age story.
    —SW

    Sandip LeeAnne Wilson is a professor in the School of Education and the English Department of Husson University, Bangor, Maine, and is serving on the Children’s Literature and Reading SIG’s Notable Books for a Global Society Committee. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily

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    • Children's & YA Literature

    Firing Up Minds With Poetry

    By Susan Knell and Nancy Brashear
     | Jun 24, 2019

    The books reviewed this week include eye-catching illustrated anthologies of poems, written in various poetic forms, that tell stories and convey information on a variety of topics. There is also a multi-voiced historical novel in verse that will engage and ignite the interest of older readers. Reading aloud the poems in these collections will encourage an appreciation of the beauty and power of poetry.

    Ages 4–8

    Blooming Beneath the Sun. Christina Rossetti. Ill. Ashley Bryan. 2019. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

    Blooming Beneath the SunThirteen poems by Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) with lively language and rhyme schemes are accompanied by Ashley Bryan’s whimsical, colorful cut-construction paper art. For example, the poem “I Dreamt I Caught a Little Owl” is spotlighted by collage artwork of a colorful, mostly blue owl for the lines “I dreamt I caught a little owl / And the bird was—blue” / “But you may hunt for ever / And not find such a one.” On the facing page, featuring a red sunflower against a bright yellow background, the poem finishes with “I dreamt I set a sunflower, / and red as blood it grew—” / “But such a sunflower never / Bloomed beneath the sun.” The book concludes with a biographical note about Rossetti’s life and work.
    —NB

    Clackety Track: Poems About Trains. Skila Brown. Ill. Jamey Christoph. 2019. Candlewick.

    Clackety TrackSkila Brown’s 13 poems about trains ranging from sleeper trains to zoo trains and everything in between will entertain and inform young readers. As they are whisked down the track on a bullet train and sprayed with snow by a train snowplow, young children learn railroad-related vocabulary (words like pantograph and tethered in the poem “Electric Train”) and word play (such as how to “unpack your appetite” in “Dinner Train”). Brown includes 12 train facts at the end of the book, such as “The U.S. is divided into time zones because it once made travel by train easier to schedule.” Jamey Christoph adds detailed retro-style digital art to this delightful read-aloud poetry.
    —SK

    In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House. Laura Purdie Salas. Ill. Angela Matteson. WordSong/Highlights.

    In the Middle of the NightIn a series of poems, Laura Purdie Salas imagines what happens to objects in a house after lights out. Stuffed animals put on a talent show in “Animals on the Go,” and a variety of household objects including a comb, Kleenex, a mixing bowl, and a marker missing its cap also come to life. An overdue book sneaks around to tease. “I creep to your closet / I burrow. I sneak. / I LOVE to play overdue-book / hide and seek!” The book ends with a good morning poem for two voices. Angela Matteson’s cheerful and lively illustrations add to the playfulness of the poems through personification of the wide-awake objects.
    —SK

    Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons. Laura Purdie Salas. Ill. Mercè López. 2019. Millbrook/Lerner.

    Lion of the SkyReaders will have fun trying to solve each of the clever “riddle-kus,” combinations of a riddle, haiku, and mask poem in which something nonhuman narrates or speaks, in Laura Purdie Salas’ collection of seasonal poems. Entries include “fire in our bellies,  / we FLICKER-FLASH in twilight— / rich meadow of stars” (a firefly) and “I’m cold confetti / falling from a crystal sky, / blanketing the town (snow in a snow globe). Mercè López’ beautiful illustrations (created in acrylics and finished digitally) give visual hints for solving the riddle-kus. The author includes instructions on how readers can try writing their own “riddle-kus,” a list of poetry collections (Haiku, Riddle Poems, and Seasons) for further reading, and an answer key to the 24 narrators.

    SK

    The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems. Paul B. Janeczko (Ed.). Ill. Richard Jones. 2019. Candlewick.

    The Proper Way to Meet a HedgehogPaul B. Janeczko’s anthology offers young children a delightful variety of how-to poems by 33 classic and contemporary poets. Selections include Christina Rossetti’s “Mix a Pancake” (“Mix a pancake, / Stir a pancake, / Pop it in the pan; / Fry the pancake, / Toss the pancake— / Catch it if you can.”); Nikki Grimes’ “A Lesson from the Deaf” with the first verse “First, sweep one hand / up to your mouth, as if to blow a velvet kiss. / Like this.”; and the closing  poem, a couplet, “How to Pay Attention” by April Halprin Wayland with the best how-to advice of all for everyone, “Close this book. / Look.” Richard Jones’ colorful, playful illustrations, rendered in paint and digitally edited, complement this collection of poems that are perfect for reading aloud.

    —NB 

    Ages 9–11

    Boom! Bellow! Bleat!: Animal Poems for Two or More Voices. Georgia Heard. Ill. Aaron DeWitt. 2019. WordSong/Highlights.

    Boom! Bellow! Bleat!In 13 poems to be read aloud by two or more readers, Georgia Heard partners with illustrator Aaron DeWitt as she incorporates descriptions into her onomatopoetic arrangements of sounds that various animals make. In “Rattlesnake Warning,” for example, “Stay / away; / I’m / warning / you” and each of the following three verses are paired with the answering “chhhhh-chhhhh-chhhhh / chhhhh-chhhhh-chhhhh / chhhhhchhhhhhchhhhhchhhhhhchhhhh” in undulating letters on the left side of the double-page spread. On the opposing page, there’s a large tan, black, and white snake, mouth stretched wide open and the words “I’LL BITE!” Color-coded lines make it easier to identify alternating voices, and some poems include performance instructions for readers. The book concludes with Nature’s Notes detailing information about the animals and their sounds explored in these fun read-aloud poems.
    —NB

    The Day the Universe Exploded My Head: Poems to Take You into Space and Back Again. Allan Wolf. Ill. Anna Raff. 2019. Candlewick.

    The Day the Universe Exploded My HeadReaders will learn many facts about outer space while being entertained by Allan Wolf’s humorous and clever poems, some to be read aloud by up to four voices, as well as a thought-provoking poem, “For Those Who Light the Candle,” about the astronauts and cosmonauts who gave their lives to further space exploration. The poem “The Sun Did Not Go Down Today” explains “The sun remains there in the sky / and waves at us as we go by / on our spherical, miracle merry-go-round.” Wolf’s “Mars: A Martian Sonnet” speaks to the possibly-not-so-distant future: “From afar I seem harsh, but I bid you ‘Shalom!’ / Someday in the future you may call me home.” Anna Raff’s digitally assembled collages add fun and color to the poems. Wolf also includes notes on the poems, a glossary of selected space terms, and internet resources to enhance learning.
    —SK

    Predator and Prey: A Conversation in Verse. Susannah Buhrman-Deever. Ill. Bert Kitchen. 2019. Candlewick Studio/Candlewick.

    Predator and PreyScience meets poetry in these conversations in verse between predator and prey, who both just want to stay alive and raise their young. In the pairing of the poems “Hot-Tempered Squirrel” and “Patience of a Snake,” for example, readers learn how the squirrel often wins the battle with a rattlesnake by simply confronting the snake and asserting itself. “I’m hot / and bothered. / I’m hot / under the collar. / I’m fur-rious F U R I O U S ! / Flag waving, / I boldly scold: / ‘Hey, you! Get off my lawn!’” A text box with scientific information about the predator and prey accompanies each conversation in verse. Bert Kitchen’s brightly colored illustrations, done in watercolor and gouache, portray that suspenseful moment when predator and prey meet.
    —SK

    Ages 12–14

    The Undefeated. Kwame Alexander. Ill. Kadir Nelson. 2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    The UndefeatedIn this ode to African American dreamers and doers, Kwame Alexander remembers black Americans including the unforgettable, the unafraid, and the undefeated. “This is for the / undefeated. / This is for you. / And you. / And YOU. / This / is / for / US.” Kadir Nelson’s stunning oil portraits of African Americans, created on panels, complement Alexander’s tribute to sung and unsung heroes. In an afterword, Alexander adds the inspirational note that to “truly know who we are as a country, we have to accept and embrace all our woes and wonders” and encourages readers “to never, ever give up.” Back matter includes a “Historical Figures and Events Featured in The Undefeated” section and a free audio access link and code to Kwame Alexander’s performance of the poem.
    —NB 

    Ages 15+

    Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc. David Elliott. 2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    VoicesJoan of Arc (14121431) was only 13 when she received her first vision and 16 at the Trial of Condemnation (which sentenced to her to death for heresy). David Elliott’s historical novel in verse opens with an excerpt from the Trial of Nullification (that declared her innocent 20 years after her death) and includes poems from multiple points of view beginning with the candle as it sparks the flames that will burn Joan at the stake. The final poem, in Joan’s voice, begins with the words “I am come to the end. My saints / will not save me. I surrender / to the fire that craves me” and ends with “I was the Maid of Orléans. / I was a girl called Joan.” An epilogue concludes with “Yet all agree she burned too bright, / lost in the blinding glare of the sun, / alone in the sacred light.” In an author’s note. Elliott cross-references poetic forms including the ballade, rondeau, rondel, sestina, villanelle, haiku, and shape poem in the book.
    —NB

    Susan Knell is a professor in the Department of Teaching and Leadership at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, where she teaches literacy and literature courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

     
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    Friends and Families

    By Barbara A. Ward
     | Jun 19, 2019

    Books that focus on friends and families are popular with young readers, possibly because they remind them of their own supportive networks. The books on this list illustrate the positive power of community.

    Ages 4–8

    The Lost Sloths (Peter & Ernesto #2). Graham Annable. 2019. First Second/Roaring Brook.

    The Lost SlothsReturning to the same characters and territory featured in Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths (2018), Graham Annable follows Peter and Ernesto and their sloth friends as they search for a new home after their favorite tree is destroyed in a hurricane. Their requirements are simple: They want to be safe from predators and relax in comfort. They try various spots, but nothing seems ideal. After a bird suggests a perfect tree near the river, the sloths blunder toward where they think it might be. Eventually, they find a new home, but their journey is not without its challenges, including an encounter with a jaguar. As they settle into their leafy home, it’s not clear how long this new living situation will last, but they’re all safe for now. Annable tells this humorous adventure story for beginning readers through dialogue balloons in colorful graphic novel panels.

    Make a Wish, Henry Bear. Liam Francis Walsh. 2019. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook.

    Make a Wish, Henry BearAlthough Henry Bear’s birthday wish from last year came true, it hasn’t turned out well. Having permissive parents has resulted in a steady diet of chocolate cake, late night hours, and tardiness to school. Henry is sick of his parents’ behavior and ready to go back to normal as he reveals to Marjani, a new classmate. When he invites her to his birthday celebration, she brings him a cupcake with a candle for wishing, which comes in handy since Henry's parents are serving only candy, not a traditional birthday cake with candles. The colorful mixed-media cartoon artwork features charming village street scenes and humorously depicts Henry Bear’s parents behaving like children. By the end of the book, it’s clear what Henry’s new birthday wish will be.

    Old Man of the Sea. Stella Elia. Ill. Weberson Santiago. 2019. Lantana.

    Old Man of the SeaIn this picture book, a young boy and his grandfather grow closer through storytelling. Grandpa’s tales of adventures at sea, as he fell in love with one continent after another, thrill the boy and make him eager for his own adventures. Although the stories and illustrations, created with watercolor and finished digitally, are exciting and charming in their own way, the book gains power from the boy's observations about his grandfather’s increasing frailty and growing understanding of his advice about life, calling it “a sailor's knot: simple, resistant and easy to untie.” Youngsters will relate to the idea of listening to someone else’s stories and dreaming of their own adventures. Older readers may ponder over how elderly people look back on their life journeys, knowing that there isn’t much time left for future stories.

    A Squirrely Situation (Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet # 5). Jacqueline Kelly. Ill. Jennifer L. Meyer. 2019. Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    A Squirrelly SituationWhen Callie Vee’s brother Travis brings home an orphaned baby squirrel, the whole household is disrupted by its arrival. Fortunately, the family cat, Idabelle, nurses the squirrel (named Fluffy by Travis) alongside her kitten, Thud. Thud and Fluffy wreak havoc in the kitchen getting in the way of the family’s cook, Viola. Callie puts her veterinary skills to use when Fluffy's tail needs surgery after an accident with a door. When a contest is held at the local fair to determine who killed the most squirrels and who has bagged the biggest squirrel, Travis enters Fluffy in the biggest squirrel category since there is nothing in the rules that says the squirrel must be dead. Life lessons are woven in among humorous childhood adventures in rural Texas at the turn of the century in this engaging, illustrated chapter book.

    Ages 9–11

    Battle of Champions (Peasprout Chen #2). Henry Lien. 2019. Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    Battle of the ChampionsIn her second year at the Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, Peasprout Chen is determined to make the most of her opportunities. Her friendship with Doi, her former adversary, is on firm footing, and she continues to have romantic feelings toward Doi’s brother, Hisashi. When Hisahi arrives in Pearl with Yinmei, the heir to the Shinian throne, who is seeking asylum in Pearl, things get complicated. Peasprout, jealous of the possible relationship between the two, doesn’t trust the girl. As her new homeland faces attacks, Peasprout and the other students are sorted in battlebands to practice competitive skating and defensive maneuvers. Even though she becomes captain of her group, Peasprout struggles with making decisions and dealing with self-pride and impulsivity. Amid the exciting skating and battle scenes, Peasprout realizes her character weaknesses and how she has hurt others. Because of all the intrigue and layers of betrayal, readers won’t want to leave Peasprout’s world.

    The Epic Story (Cilla Lee-Jenkins #3) . Susan Tan. Ill. Dana Wulfekotte. 2019. Roaring Brook.

    The Epic StoryBecause she views the world through the lens of a writer, Cilla Lee-Jenkins provides readers with a unique perspective on life. The challenges she faces as part of a mixed-race family and as a preteen are relatable. Having already written a “bestseller” and a “classic,” Cilla decides to write an epic, an apt choice since her fifth-grade year has the types of challenges that might be found in one. Cilla feels unsure about transitioning to middle school, doesn't get along with her teacher, Ms. Paradise, and almost forsakes playing the tuba and silly games with her friend Melissa because of the dismissive remarks of classmates. Her beloved Ye Ye, who has always guided her about being true to herself, can no longer speak English because of a stroke, but Cilla soldiers on, supported by her family and librarian friend, Ms. Clutter. Cilla is not only writing an epic, she and those around her also seem to be living one—and she’s hoping for a happy ending.

    Ages 12–14

    The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. Dan Gemeinhart. 2019. Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    The Remarkable JourneyTwelve-year-old Coyote and her father, Rodeo, have been crisscrossing the country in a repurposed school bus since her mother and two sisters were killed in a car accident. Coyote has had no problem with this lifestyle until she learns that Poplin Springs, Washington, plans to destroy the park where her family left a memory box. She concocts a plan to persuade her father to take her back home, and as they make their way across the country from Florida, they pick up various passengers, including Lester, who plans to forsake his music career for his lady love; Salvador, who is fleeing with his mother from an abusive father; Val, a girl whose parents won't accept her sexual identity; and a feisty goat named Gladys. Readers will come to care about Coyote, who is dealing with loss and grief, as well as those who become a family for her.

    Ages 15+

    Girls on the Verge.  Sharon Biggs Waller. 2019. Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    Girls on the VergeThis timely novel about women’s reproductive rights focuses on three girls, one of whom is pregnant, on a road trip from rural Texas to Mexico and then New Mexico. When her best friend, Bea, lets her down, Camille arranges for Annabelle Ponsonby, an older theater friend, to drive her where she needs to go to find a way to terminate the pregnancy. The author captures Camille’s confusion, frustration, and disappointment in herself as well as the conflicted emotions of Bea, who decides to go along despite her belief that abortion is wrong. The solidarity of sisterhood is threaded through this story while the book raises important questions about the judgmental attitudes that surround the sexual behavior of women but not men. Important and relevant, this book should provoke much discussion.

    Heroine. Mindy McGinnis. 2019. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins.

    HeroineSenior Mickey Catalan has the world on a string, and everything that matters is going her way—until suddenly it isn't. After the talented softball catcher and her best friend, Carolina, a pitcher, are injured in a car wreck, OxyContin eases Mickey’s pain as she faces months of recovery. When her doctor balks at prescribing more OxyContin, Mickey, who is desperate to be ready for the softball season, behaves in ways she’d never have dreamed she would, stealing from her family and a stranger and hanging out with others using the drug for recreational purposes. Things quickly spiral out of control, and Mickey looks for cheaper and more efficient ways to ease her feelings and stave off withdrawal symptoms. Through it all, she lies to everyone around her and comforts herself with the assertion that she isn’t an addict. For anyone trying to understand the opioid crisis in our country, Mindy McGinnis’ story provides a good starting point.

    How to Make Friends With the Dark. Kathleen Glasgow. 2019. Delacorte/Random House.

    How to Make Friends With the DarkSixteen-year-old Grace (Tiger) Tolliver is close to her mother, the only parent she’s ever known. Her mother somehow manages to pay the bills, and they scrape by. Lately, Tiger has been chaffing at her mother’s overprotective ways, and she unhappy when her mother buys a dress she considers inappropriate for the dance she’s attending with her long-time crush. She blasts her mother, and then spends a blissful few hours kissing Kai. The first 38 pages are devoted to Before—before her mother's death, that is—and are followed by what comes afterward as Tiger is placed in a series of foster homes near Tucson, where she learns that things can be much, much worse. Ultimately, Tiger saves herself with help from friends, some old, some new, and some having gone through similar experiences. The title is fitting since that is exactly what someone with a life-changing loss must do. Kathleen Glasgow takes an unflinching look at a topic that many avoid and includes resources about grief, loss, and suicide.

    Barbara A. Ward teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy at Washington State University, Pullman. She spent 25 years teaching in the public schools of New Orleans, where she worked with students at every grade level, from kindergarten through high school as well as several ability levels. She is certified in elementary education, English education, and gifted education. She holds a bachelor's in communications, a master's in English education from the University of Tennessee, and a PhD in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Celebrating Pride Month

    By Susan Knell and Carolyn Angus
     | Jun 12, 2019

    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan—a catalyst for the modern gay rights movement in the United States. The books reviewed in this column present stories for readers of all ages about gender identity and expression, LGBTQ+ families and relationships, and the spirit of Pride.

    Ages 4–8

    It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity. Theresa Thorn. Ill. Noah Grigni. 2019. Henry Holt/Macmillan.

    It Feels Good to be YourselfThis picture books introduces four children: Ruthie, a transgender girl; Xavier, Ruthie’s cisgender brother; and Ruthie’s friends Alex and JJ, who both identify as nonbinary (Alex identifies as “both a boy and a girl” while JJ identifies as “neither a boy nor a girl”). Theresa Thorn and Noah Grigni explore gender identity with easy-to-understand language and colorful, expressive mixed-media illustrations. “There are a never-ending number of ways to be yourself in the world. Whether you feel like a boy, a girl, both, or neither, or if you describe yourself another way that is your gender identity.” Back matter includes a glossary, a note about pronouns and how they relate to gender identities, resources (books for kids, books for adults, a documentary film, and a list of organizations and helplines), an author’s note, and an illustrator’s note. 
    —CA

    Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution. Rob Sanders. Ill. Jamey Christoph. 2019. Random House.

    StonewallThe Stonewall Inn itself narrates this picture book about its history. The building was erected in the 1840s as two side-by-side stable houses in Greenwich Village, and after a number of transformations, became the Stonewall Inn, a bar and dance club for the gay community in the 1960s. The Stonewall Inn witnessed frequent raids by the New York City police, and in the early hours of June 28, 1969, those not arrested during a raid didn’t just quietly disappear into the darkness as was usual; they defiantly stood in the street. “Immediately the spark of anger grew into a smoldering resistance….The Stonewall Uprising had begun.” Back matter includes a history of the Stonewall Inn; an album of captioned photographs; an interview with Martin Boyce, a participant in the Stonewall Uprising and LGBTQ+ activist; a glossary; and a list of books and websites for further reading.
    —CA

    When Aidan Became a Brother. Kyle Lukoff. Ill. Kaylani Juanita. 2019. Lee & Low.

    When Aidan Became a BrotherWhen Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a girl’s name, pretty dresses, and a room complete with a frilly, pink princess bed. As he got bigger, Aidan disliked his birth name and felt like his room belonged to someone else. Aidan knew he was really “another kind of boy.” He tells his parents what he knows about himself, and he and his parents join a supportive group of families with transgender kids. When his mother tells him she is having a baby, Aidan wants to make sure that this baby will feel understood right away. He helps his parents prepare for the baby’s arrival and knows that loving the baby is the most important part of being a big brother. The author’s note for this heartwarming and joyful story reminds young readers that “Aidan is a transgender kid, but he’s also just a kid. Like you.”
    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel. Ray Terciero. Ill. Bre Indigo. 2019. Little, Brown.

    Meg, Jo, Beth, and AmyIn this modern adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, the four March sisters are part of a blended family living in modern-day Brooklyn. Meg and her father are African American, Jo and her mother are white, and Beth and Amy are biracial. The four March girls have distinct personalities and interests. The eldest, Meg, works as a nanny, loves fashion, and dreams of marrying a rich man; Jo, who is gay, wants to be a writer and works as a personal assistant for Aunt Cath; Beth is shy, loves singing and playing the guitar, and has leukemia; and the youngest, Amy, who is bullied at school, is feisty and artistic. How the sisters support each other while dealing with personal and family problems is revealed through full-color digital graphic panels with realistic dialogue, journal entries, and emails to their father, who is serving in the military in the Middle East. This contemporary retelling of Alcott’s classic will appeal to middle-grade readers.
    —CA

    To Night Owl From Dogfish. Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer. 2019. Dial/Penguin.

    To Night Owl From DogfishIn this novel told entirely in emails and letters, California surfer girl Bett and New York bookworm Avery discover that their dads have fallen in love. Having no interest in becoming part of a blended family, or even worse, becoming friends, the two girls start emailing, assuring each other that they’ll never become friends, but all the while getting to know each other online. To make matters worse, they’re both sent to a summer camp where their dads hope they will become good friends—and take to the idea of becoming sisters. The girls’ summer camp experience turns into an adventure that they never expected, and Night Owl and Dogfish (nicknames they give themselves) end up bonding in surprising and delightful ways.
    —SK 
     
    The Whispers. Greg Howard. 2019. Putnam/Penguin.

    The WhispersEleven-year-old Riley’s mother has been missing, and no one in his family wants to talk about it. Riley refers to his “condition” of wetting the bed, he also fears that his other “condition”—his interest in boys, especially one boy—may have been the reason for his mother’s disappearance. Remembering his mother’s tale about the Whispers, magical woodland creatures who will grant your heart’s desire if you leave them tributes, he ventures into the woods to hear them whispering that his mother is there. As Riley explores his identity as a gay preteen, readers discover what happened to his mother. Childhood traumatic grief is portrayed along with themes of sexual identity, family, friendship, and loss.
    —SK

    Ages 12–14

    The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets. Gayle E. Pitman. 2019. Abrams.

    The Stonewall RiotsGayle E. Pitman presents the history of the gay movement in the United States from the late 1800s to the Stonewall Riots in 1968 and their aftermath. Organized into five sections (Before the Riots, the Riots, Aftermath, Liberation, and Epilogue), brief chapter feature objects of historical importance in telling the story. Object #1 is the Jefferson Livery Stables, adjacent buildings constructed in 1843 and 1846, which eventually became the Stonewall Inn located at 52 and 53 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. The final chapter with Object #50, The Stonewall Inn Today, ends with a powerful statement, “The Stonewall Inn is where the gay community found its voice, seized its power, and took action. It’s the birthplace of the modern LBGTQ+ movement—and once an entire community comes out of the closet, there’s no turning back.” Back matter includes a timeline; notes about each of the objects; an extensive bibliography of primary sources, books, articles, papers, websites, and broadcast; and an index.
    —CA

    Ages 15+

    I Wish You All the Best. Mason Deaver. 2019. Push/Scholastic.

    I Wish You All the BestWhen 18-year-old nonbinary Ben De Backer comes out to their parents, they are promptly kicked out of the house. They find a home with their sister, Hannah, who they haven’t seen in 10 years, and her husband. Ben navigates their way through anxiety, loneliness, and rejection as they finish their senior year in a new school with new friends, a supportive art teacher, and a special friend named Nathan. As their friendship with Nathan turnsinto something more serious, Ben begins to realize a happier life is in their future and they have the opportunity to help other teenagers understand their own sexuality and find happiness.
    —SK

    The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried. Shaun David Hutchinson. 2019. Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.

    The Past and Other ThingsWhen Dino’s ex-best friend, a girl named July, dies suddenly, he has conflicting feelings toward his boyfriend, Rafi, who seemingly came between him and July. Dino makes his way to the funeral home that his parents own and finds July there, but not as he is used to seeing the dead. She is partly alive and partly dead, like a zombie. Dino and July try to understand what is happening with her while also figuring out how their friendship ended. Rafi patiently waits for Dino to come to terms with July’s death, which brings them even closer. This weirdly funny “zombie-esque” novel entertains and enlightens readers while dealing with topics of friendship, grief, and love.
    —SK

    The Weight of the Stars. K. Ancrum. 2019. Imprint/Macmillan.

    The Weight of the StarsRyann Bird, who has been living in a trailer park with her brother and nephew since her parents were killed in an accident, attends an affluent high school. When she is asked by her teacher to befriend new girl Alexandria, Ryann hides behind her “tough girl” exterior, and their relationship gets off to a rocky start. As Ryann and her friends learn more about Alexandria’s attempts to communicate with her mother, who volunteered for a one-way trip into space sponsored by a private company named SCOUT, they try to infiltrate SCOUT to find undelivered messages that Alexandria’s mother sent through the years. Ryann and Alexandria become close and discover that their feelings for each other run deeper than just friendship.
    —SK

    Susan Knell is a professor in the department of Teaching and Leadership at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, where she teaches literacy and literature courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

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