I can’t believe we’re almost to the end of the month! My birthday is this Thursday, the last day of September, and I guess there’s no reason to be secretive about the fact that I’ll be turning 49. There was a time when I thought that kind of thing was to remain hush-hush, but now… meh. We’ll have a quiet celebration at home with the kiddos this year, where hubby is planning to make me a birthday meal and a cheesecake. YUMMO! 😋
If this is your first visit to my blog, welcome! Today is Monday, and I regularly participate in a weekly #IMWAYR meme. 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!
In addition to my other reads, this week I will be reviewing two books I received as ARCs from NetGalley. Hopefully you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list.
Say It Out Loud
August 24, 2021
Random House Books For Young Readers
We all know we should speak up when we witness bullying or any sort of injustice. Right? But what if speaking up draws attention to our own flaws? What if we can’t get the words out right and people laugh at us? Charlotte Andrews has chosen to stay quiet for most of her life to keep people from hearing her embarrassing stutter. However, when she refuses to speak up over a school bus incident she witnessed, she damages her relationship with her very best friend. Is protecting your pride really worth ending a friendship?
This story highlighted the power of the written word. Because even when we’re nervous about saying things out loud, we can still write! Also emphasized is the importance of being a friend who LISTENS. There are multiple ways to support those who are bullied and oppressed and this book was a real call to action. This is also an #ownvoices book as Allison Varnes has struggled with stuttering. If, like me, you enjoyed reading Allison Varnes’s Property of the Rebel Librarian, I dare say Say It Out Loud was even better! I’m happy to recommend this one.
(The Overthrow Series, Book #3)
May 4, 2021
If you haven’t yet picked up book #1 of The Overthrow Series by Kenneth Oppel, then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? I was 100% hooked during book #1, Bloom (reviewed HERE), and then I felt so much closer to each character during my read of book #2, Hatch (reviewed HERE). So Thrive had a lot to live up to if it was going to carry the momentum of the series through to the very end. And MY OH MY, what an incredible finale to this three book sci-fi/horror series series!
Kenneth Oppel created an amazing world with Anaya, Petra, and Seth, building suspense and keeping me guessing throughout each book. I deeply appreciated the thoughtful questions about humanity, friendships, and emotions. We’re also forced to consider how our childhoods impact how we see the world and how difficult or easy it is to bond with others. So I appreciated the realistic questions in relationships and the philosophical questions hanging in the balance when it comes to things like differences between these particular aliens and what we’ve done as a human race OR about body modification vs. accepting who we are. It’s also natural to read this series and consider what we would or wouldn’t be willing to do to ensure the continuation of the human race – particularly in regards to environmental concerns. LOTS to discuss in this series and I highly recommend for children and teen homes and libraries everywhere!
Show Me a Sign
Ann Clare LeZotte
March 3, 2020
This book was on my #MustReadin2021 list and yet I still missed the fact that it was a historical fiction novel. It focuses on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th Century which had a rather large deaf community that resided on the island. Everyone was fluent in sign language and there were certain manners everyone understood when speaking in the presence of citizens who were both hearing and deaf.
The main character, Mary Lambert, recently lost her older brother in an accident. As her family is grieving his loss, Mary is secretively blaming herself for the accident. Meanwhile, a young scientist visits Martha’s Vineyard in search of a reason for the predominantly deafness on the island. By his questions, it’s obvious he sees the deaf community as a problem he needs to fix.
This story takes some mysterious twists and turns, but all the while LeZotte beautifully showcases the biases faced by two groups living on the island: the Wampanoag people and the deaf community. I loved this story and would note that it is an #ownvoices book as LeZotte is deaf, bilingual, and bicultural. Her professional focus is on underserved populations and inclusion. I’m happy to recommend this title!
Everything Sad is Untrue:
(a true story)
August 25, 2020
This book was quite a ride! Khosrou, who is called Daniel by everyone at school, is a storyteller. And as he shares the stories of his life in his classroom in Oklahoma, going back to his beginning in Iran to his travels to America, no one believes him.
While there was hardship and fear logged in these stories, there was also such beauty – little nuggets of gold found, throughout, that showcase the things we all yearn for in humanity. And I was simply amazed at how he was able to cobble together such a hodgepodge of childhood memories that seem to flow almost seamlessly in his writing – legends, religious conversion, political struggles, marital strife, physical abuse, and yearning to be reunited with family members in the afterlife (even when they’ve chosen different religions).
I’ve read some reviewers that dislike the amount of poop discussion in this book. But have you actually MET any tween/teen boys. I mean, not even just boys – most kids that age appear to be full of jokes and pranks surrounding butts and poop. 😂 It was just all a part of the story. Some middle graders won’t appreciate how profound some of these stories are, but for more mature, thoughtful readers, this will be quite meaningful. I also wouldn’t hesitate to hand this #ownvoices novel to young adults and/or adult readers.
I’ve read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and so I knew I needed to add Jason Reynolds’s remix of Kendi’s Stamped for Middle Grade/Young Adults to my #MustReadin2021 list. And now I know there’s a reason it’s currently rated 4.47 stars on Goodreads! I appreciated how it broke the bigger message into smaller pieces for younger readers (with little jokey language in between each section). There was focus on Black figures who were well-known historical leaders, as well as discussion of modern-day events that included the experiences of people like Rodney King and OJ Simpson. I learned a whole lot, including much about past American Presidents who I previously thought did good for Black Americans (eh, not so much). Also included was the discussion and explanation of how many movies and TV shows are racist and actually hurt the Black community (Rocky, Cosby Show, etc.). It’s a lot to digest, even in this shortened version, but hopefully this book will have tweens and teens thinking and discussing the application of these lessons into their personal lives, going forward.
A Piglet Named Mercy
Chris Van Dusen, illustrator
April 2, 2019
Earlier this summer, I enjoyed finishing reading the six books in the Tales from Deckawoo Drive Series and I plan to get the books for the Mercy Watson Series. But when I saw we had a copy of a recent Mercy Watson picture book, I had to immediately put in a request for it. It is short and sweet – just showing how Mercy came into the picture. Super cute! The artwork was done in gouache. I’ll provide one example, below:
Currently Reading/To Be Read:
I am still working on Elatsoe, which is nothing like what I expected (although I was pretty much going just off the cover). I’d also like to start at least one of the graphic novels I have checked out. Perhaps Operatic or Pashmina or Dragon Hoops? Additionally, the college library delivered a new pile of picture books for me to explore, so I’ll begin working my way through that before they come due in October.