Review: Children of the Fire

“The southwest wind in Hallelujah’s face blew pieces of flaming cloth and chunks of blazing hay high above her head.” page 33

Children of the Fire by Harriette Gillem Robinet.
Aladdin Paperbacks, Simon and Schuster, 2001.  Originally published 1999.
MG historical fiction, 134 pages including author’s note.
Lexile:  590L .
AR Level:  4.0 (worth 4.0 points) .

In 1871 Chicago, Hallelujah wants nothing more than to watch one of the fires burning around the city, but has no idea how one of those fires will change her life.

Children of the Fire cover

I hadn’t been reading much historical fiction so I impulsively bought this.  We’ve visited Chicago, so I thought it might make a good family read-aloud.

The cover was so irritating.  Why did they include the rich white girl?  Once I started reading, I also noticed that Hallelujah’s hair was wrong on the cover.  In the book it specifically states that her sister redid it into loose braids, not twists (and the cover looks more like ponytail poofs to me)  A large theme of the book is that Hallelujah is able to blend in with different groups because she wears a simple dress, but custom-made shoes, is the daughter of a slave, yet can read and write.  Different people see her in different ways.

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Review: We’re All Wonders

“I know I can’t change the way I look. / But maybe, just maybe… / … people can change the way they see.”
pages 23-25

We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio.
Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Random House, New York, 2017.
Picture book, 27 pages
Lexile:  Not yet leveled.
AR Level:  Not yet leveled.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.

This picture book follows a young Auggie, main character of the chapter book novel Wonder, through the park and beyond as he reminds us that we’re all wonders.

We're All Wonders

I’ve seen this in pre-order for a while now, and was interested but also a little worried that the author is just tapping into her previous successful novel rather than doing anything original.  Then I saw it at Target and decided to buy it for my diverse targetpick of the month.  Interestingly, Z picked this off of the shelf and requested that I read it to him.  (I didn’t put it in his bookbin, it was on a family shelf and not in the kids reading area.  Also, yes, our littles have their own bookbins.  #teachernerdparent)

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Review: George

“The word man hit like a pile of rocks falling on George’s skull. It was a hundred times worse than boy, and she couldn’t breathe.” page 16

George by Alex Gino.

George loves Charlotte’s Web more than anyone in her class, maybe even her school.  She can’t wait to be Charlotte in the 4th grade play.  There’s only one problem – to the world, she looks like a boy, and Charlotte is a girl’s part.  But George is also holding in a big secret…  she’s really a girl.

George-small

This book has been getting a LOT of buzz in the book blogging world, particularly the diverse corner of it.  Let’s face it, there aren’t many books in general addressing the transgender experience, and I cannot think of any other fiction work for middle graders on this topic.  There are a few picture books, but the majority of works are aimed at teens and YA audiences, which is a shame, because many (not all) transgender or intersex people are dealing with this from a much younger age.

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Review: Redefining Realness

“The boundaries of gender, I was taught, were unmovable, like the glistening white rocks that surrounded Grandma’s crawfish ponds.” page 77

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More by Janet Mock.
Atria, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2014.
Memoir, 263 pages including acknowledgements.
Not leveled.

Redefining Realness resized

I’d seen this book recommended multiple places before I finally bought it.  The tagline says “You will be changed by this book” and I have to say, that is entirely accurate.  Janet Mock is diverse and disadvantaged in so many ways – part Hawaiian, part African-American, transgender, from impoverished circumstances, a former sex worker, abused and traumatized as a child.  Yet out of this mix she has formed something gorgeous.

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Review: Who Are You?

THE non-fiction picture book for discussing gender with kids from age three up.

Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, illustrated by Naomi Bardoff.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Philadelphia, PA, 2017.  (First pub in the UK, London.)
Informative non-fiction picture book, 30 pages.
Not yet leveled.  (I would read it aloud or rate it at about a third grade level due to difficult words like assigned, expression, identity.)

This simple picture book is a child’s first guide to gender identity, whether trans or cis or in-between!

Who Are You cover
Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, illustrated by Naomi Bardoff.

As we prepared for the first Pridefest celebration with kids in tow, Husband ordered a bunch of books to read with them.  Some were (unbeknownst to him) straight off my wishlist, while others, like this delightful guide to gender, were new to me.

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Review: As Nature Made Him

“Today, with the twins having rejoined each other on the same side of the gender divide, the stark physical differences between them eerily testify to all that David has been through.” page 57

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl by John Colapinto.
Harper Perennial, Harper Collins, 2000, my edition 2006.
Nonfiction, 289 pages plus 18 pages of extras.
Not Leveled.

This is the story of an identical twin boy whose botched circumcision altered the course of his life (and many other children) forever.  When his parents desperately sought help, they connected with  researcher John Money, who believed gender was entirely fluid and culturally constructed and who encouraged them to reassign the baby’s sex.  Intact twin Brian was raised in his birth gender, while baby boy Bruce was raised as Brenda.  The results have had a long-term effect on gender theory and treatment of transgender and intersex children in North America.

As Nature Made Him

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