Board Book Reviews: What Next?

Trying to decide the next course of action for my board book review series.

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Way back in early 2017 (actually end of 2016 but the first post went up in 2017), I started reviewing diverse board books.  We had little kids again, and with my newfound passion for diverse literature, I wanted to build a collection that was diverse from the very beginning and do better by our youngest children.

My first priority was books with black children or African-American authors, but it was also important to me that our board books represented the world around us, so pretty soon I was collecting more books so that other groups were represented as well.  Our daily life does not, to my knowledge, include Native Americans, so I wanted to be sure to represent #ownvoices indigenous board books.  A few people have also given us diverse books (either from our wish list or just because they’re awesome).

I also wanted to include both fiction and nonfiction, and have been surprised and very pleased with the amount of diverse nonfiction I was able to find.

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Board Book Review: Mister Seahorse

This book about fish families also promotes inclusive lessons about human families.

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle.
Philomel, Penguin Young Readers, New York, 2004.
Board book, 32 pages.
Lexile:  AD470L  ( What does AD mean in Lexile? )
AR level:  2.5 (worth 0.5 points)  .

Mister Seahorse caries his eggs until the time comes for them to hatch.

Mister Seahorse cover resized

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Review: Amal Unbound

“This is what I now remember most about my last afternoon at school – the smell of the dusty chalkboard, the sound of the students lingering outside the door, and, mostly, how easily I took my ordinary life for granted.” page 4

Amal Unbound: A Novel by Aisha Saeed.
Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House, New York, 2018.
Realistic fiction, 234 pages.
Lexile:  HL600L  ( What does HL mean in Lexile? )
AR Level:  4.2 (worth 6.0 points)  .

Twelve year old Pakistani Amal dreams of being a teacher someday.  When family circumstances force her, the oldest daughter, to stay home for a while, she is disappointed but finds a way to go on learning.  But when an incident at the market leads to indentured servitude, are her dreams lost forever?

Amal Unbound resized

As soon as I saw the ARC review over at Huntress of Diverse Books, I knew I’d be buying this book.  The gorgeous cover was a lure, of course, but also I was extremely curious how Saeed managed to write a book about indentured servitude appropriate for middle-grade readers.

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Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran

“She resented the fact that her veil, which to her was a symbol of her sacred relationship to God, had now become an instrument of power, turning the women who wore them into political signs and symbols.” page 103

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi.
Random House, New York, my edition 2004, originally published 2003.
Adult memoir, 358 pages including reading group guide.
Lexile: not yet leveled
AR Level:  8.4 (worth 25.0 points)  .
NOTE: Despite the reading level, this is an adult book not recommended for children.

As the title states, a memoir of the author’s career in Tehran told through the lens of various literature she read and taught.

Reading Lolita in Tehran resized

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Review: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

“Slavery corrupts the owners. The master’s sons are corrupted by their father’s immoral behavior. The master’s daughters hear their parents fighting about slave women and may overhear talk of their father having seduced or raped slaves.” page 30

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself by Harriet Jacobs, edited by Lisa Barsky.
The Townsend Library, Townsend Press, New Jersey, 2004 (first pub. 1861).
Slave narrative, 152 pages including editor’s afterword.
Lexile:  740L  .
AR Level:  7.1 (worth 14.0 points)  .
NOTE:  I read a printed book which had been edited and contained additional back matter.  Project Gutenberg has a free ebook version of the original text available.

The autobiography of a young woman born into slavery in 1813.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl cover

This book is remarkable, and I’m only surprised I didn’t read it sooner!  But let me write a review anyway in case you need more convincing and haven’t clicked the link above to read it already.  So many aspects of Jacob’s life are typical of her time, place, and station in life, but she herself is not very typical.

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Review: Worm Loves Worm

“Worm loves Worm. ‘Let’s be married’ says Worm to Worm. ‘Yes!’ answers Worm.”

Worm Loves Worm by J. J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato.
Balzer + Bray imprint, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2016.
Picture book, 28 pages.
Lexile:  not yet leveled
AR Level:  2.0 (worth 0.5 points) .

Worm loves Worm.  So Worm proposes.  They want to be married.  But then Cricket and Beetle and the rest all have their own ideas about what a wedding should look like.  Will Worm and Worm ever be able to just be married?

Worm Loves Worm cover resized

This book got a lot of attention while marriage equality was still in the news, but the buzz has died down.  Although immigration has replaced marriage equality as the hot topic of the moment, Worm Loves Worm is still a valuable addition to your library.

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Board Book Review: Tango Makes Three

Our 35th board book was enjoyable, but would read better in a larger format.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole.
Little Simon, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2015, orig. pub. 2005.
Picture book converted to board book format, 32 pages.

The true story of two male chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo who became a family, and their adopted daughter Tango.

And Tango Makes Three cover resized
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole.

This is a picture book converted to a board book.  Such conversions are always tricky.  Some cut valuable information and lose the meaning of the story or the grace of the illustrations.  Others simply shrink down the size of the book and create a hybrid that might not work for either the original picture book audience or the babies and toddlers that typically use board books.

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