Review: Seedfolks

“All his life in Vietnam my father had been a farmer. Here our apartment house had no yard. But in that vacant lot he would see me.” page 3

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Judy Pedersen.
Scholastic, New York, 1999 (first published HarperCollins 1997).
Adult realistic fiction, 69 pages.
Lexile:  710L  .
AR Level:  4.3 (worth 2.0 points)  .
NOTE: Despite the reading level, I would not recommend this to middle grade readers.

Seedfolks is a collection of 13 short stories by different first-person narrators, all revolving around the first year of a community garden in Cleveland, Ohio.

Seedfolks cover resized

Normally with short story collections, I comment on each story and then give thoughts on the whole.  Because these stories are so short, I’m going to write two or three sentences about each one and then give my general thoughts at the end.

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Review: A Special Fate

“There is a bit of Japanese folklore that made Chiune’s parents think that perhaps their son might be special.” page 1

A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara: Hero of the Holocaust by Alison Leslie Gold.
Polaris, Scholastic, New York, 2000.
Nonfiction, 176 pages.
Lexile:  980L  .
AR Level: not leveled

The story of one Japanese diplomat who followed his conscience to issue life-saving passports to Jews during World War II, against the orders of his superiors.

A Special Fate Chiune Sugihara resized
A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara: Hero of the Holocaust by Alison Leslie Gold.

Sugihara was such an interesting figure.  Many of his choices, starting with the one that caused him to eventually become a diplomat, were quite unusual for Japanese society.  His early experiences defying his father look, in retrospect, like preparation for his major act of defiance in issuing the passports.

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Review: American Panda

“Each ball she threw into the pile further pounded into my head that my mother’s demands, her criticisms – they were because she wanted better for me. I tried not to think about the fact that she was so unhappy.” p. 96-97

American Panda by Gloria Chao.
Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2018.
YA Contemporary, 310 pages.
Not yet leveled.

Mei Lu might be only 17, but she’s also a college freshman at MIT, as per her parents’ ambitious plans.  And she’s the only hope for them to fulfill their legacy, since they cut off her older brother years ago.  There’s just one problem: Mei loves to dance (no longer allowed since she doesn’t need it for college applications anymore) and is absolutely terrified of blood, guts, and germs.

American Panda resized

This was a targetpick.  I wasn’t intending to be trendy and pick it up on the release date, but apparently did so by accident.  The publisher lists it as suitable for 12+, but it really occupies a middle ground between young adult and new adult fiction.  Mei is still a teen just learning about the world, but the book is also about her gaining her independence and in many ways she’s very mature and responsible.  Some books in a middle space like this are challenging for either group to read, but I think this one will appeal to both.

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Discussion: Problematic Authors

When problematic information about an author comes to your attention…

So…  I’ve read, enjoyed, and highly recommended one Sherman Alexie novel.  As you can see on my 100 Indigenous Books challenge page, I’ve purchased two others, one of which I’ve since read (my page needs some updating) and the other I DNF’d but was attempting to re-read.  That’s two reviews that would have gone up later this year.

I’ve been a bit behind on reading blogs so I was very grateful this issue was highlighted on BookToss.  If you want more info, AICL has an exhaustive list of the best articles and commentary about the topic.  If you are looking for alternative books to read, both have lists (note especially these two), or you can check out my reviews.

However, this all leaves me with a bit of a dilemma.  While I don’t plan to buy any more Alexie books, I have a review and a half to go up, and one already up.  When this post goes live, I intend to edit my previous review with a link and comment about this new development and how it’s changed my opinion of Alexie.  But what about the other books?  I have a review ready, and another book that wasn’t going to get a very favorable review anyway.  It takes a lot of time and effort to read and review books, but I don’t want to promote a problematic author either!  Right now I’m leaning towards just giving up on those two reviews, but I’m curious what others think.

What would you do when an author you have scheduled reviews for turns out to be problematic?

2017 Favorites – Other

The final 2017 roundup catches all the other categories – graphic novels, authors, and board books.

Yup, I’m not posting this until well into 2018.  In 2017 I reviewed 98 books (plus 10 board books) and so many of them were so good.  It took me a month just to narrow it down this far…  I just love all the books!

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2017 Favorites – Nonfiction

My favorite of the nonfiction books I reviewed in 2017.

Yup, I’m not posting this until well into 2018.  In 2017 I reviewed 98 books (plus 10 board books) and so many of them were so good.  It took me a month just to narrow it down this far…  I just love all the books!

Here were our 14 favorite nonfiction books in 2017.

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2017 Favorites – Fiction

Favorite fiction reads of 2017, from picture books to adult novels.

Yup, I’m not posting this until well into 2018.  In 2017 I reviewed 98 books (plus 10 board books) and so many of them were so good.  It took me a month just to narrow it down this far…  I just love all the books!

Continue reading “2017 Favorites – Fiction”