Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!
I’m publishing rather late again this week, so I especially thank you if you made it to this post. Whether it’s an older book or new one, I hope you find something to add to your list.
Farah Rocks Fifth Grade
Farah Rocks #1
Susan Muaddi Darraj
January 1, 2020
Capstone / Stone Arch Books
Holy Hummus!! This was a great middle grade story centering around bullying and (lack of) communication with adults. Farah Hajjar (which is Arabic for rocks) is a brilliant 5th grader, very hopeful to be accepted to a local magnet school with her best friend, Allie. However, she’s also fiercely protective of her little brother, Samir. So when the new bus bully begins poking fun at both her and Samir, Farah decides to overhaul her life plans to make sure she’ll be at the same school next year — close to her brother so that he can be safe. This was one of those stories I kept thinking, “Just go tell your parents. Tell a teacher. Go to the office and tell one of the administrators!!” But no. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work out the way you hoped. Sometimes kids sometimes have to learn about communication the hard way. And as we witness in Farah Rocks Fifth Grade, sometimes the adults have to learn the same lesson about communication. With a positive, feel-good ending, this story will pull at the heartstrings. I was very pleased to know there’s a book #2 coming out. I can’t wait to see what happens next! Oh, and don’t miss the back pages where you’ll find Farah’s hummus recipe. I love hummus, so I just HAD to try it out. I like mine a little stronger in taste, so I added a large helping of garlic to mine. But this simple and mild recipe would be a fun way to introduce hummus to young readers who’ve not tried it, yet. NOTE: My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Song of the Crimson Flower
(Rise of the Empress #2.5)
Julie C. Dao
November 5, 2019
Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, is in love with her betrothed. He seems very shy in person, refusing to see her on a regular basis, but he quietly sails his boat to her window in the evenings to play a song written especially for her. It’s not too long before she discovers that the person actually visiting her each night is Bao, a poor physician’s apprentice who grew up an orphan. Enraged by this discovery, she loudly rejects Bao. In his hurt and embarrassment, he flees down the river where he meets a witch who curses him, trapping his soul in his flute. And WOW that’s barely even the beginning of this story. For being a fairly short book, this was a HUGE story filled with non-stop action, romance, sacrifice, and many magical elements. Sweet and tender, even if a tad predictable. This young adult fantasy is said to be a retelling of East Asian folklore. I did not read the first two books in this series, but since they are separate stories it didn’t impact my ability to understand.
“Why does death choose some and not others?”
Heavily researched and showcasing numerous individual stories, this nonfiction book details the experiences of many who were aboard the SS City of Benares, a ship carrying almost 100 children to safety (from England to Canada) during WWII. After the torpedo hit, only 13 of the 90 children survived, half the British crew died, and more than half the Indian crew died. But Heiligman shares many personal stories of the passengers, as well as personal letters and details from survivor interviews. One of the most shocking portions of the book was when a lifeboat was missed during the rescue attempt. Families were contacted and told their loved ones had perished, but for at least a week, this little cramped life boat floated along with diminishing supplies, it especially lacked water. But they were finally rescued and lived to tell their tale. Sonya Beck is the oldest still living survivor at 90 years old. And one interesting tidbit shared at the end was the fact that the captain of the U-boat who ordered the torpedoing of the SS City of Benares suffered a mental collapse when he was informed the ship was carrying nearly 100 children. There was simply no way for them to know this fact, at the time.
AWARDS: YALSA Award Nominee for Excellence in Nonfiction (2020)
Vashti Harrison, illustrator
October 15, 2019
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
This picture book is simply breathtaking. Sulwe believes there is something wrong with having such dark skin. Everyone in her family is lighter-skinned and so she does everything in her power to lighten her skin. She tries to rub off a layer or two of skin. OUCH! Then she tries make-up, eating only light colored foods, and even requesting a miracle from God. Her mother is able to share the story of the sisters: Night and Day. And it so perfectly explains the importance of having both light and dark and every color in between. The artwork is absolutely lovely. The characters are beautiful, but even the backgrounds are gorgeous and will keep your eye wandering each page spread.
The illustrations for this book were rendered using Adobe Photoshop. I’ll provide one page spread as an example, below:
To Be Read:
This will be an insane week and weekend, so I don’t have much reading time. However, I’ve been reading I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day and I hope to have it finished by this weekend. I’ve also ordered another stack of picture books that should arrive by Sunday, so we’ll see how quickly I get them to my desk.
Reading Challenge Updates:
Goodreads Challenge 2020 – 14/200