Review: A Mango-Shaped Space

“I stare at the paper. ‘Other people with synesthesia?’ Jerry nods. ‘All kinds of people with all different types of synesthesia.’ ” p. 107

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A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass.
Little, Brown, and Company, Hachette Book Group, New York, 2003.
MG realistic fiction, 271 pages + extras.
Lexile:  770L  .
AR Level:  4.7 (worth 9.0 points)  .

Eighth grader Mia reads, and hears, with specific colors and shapes in her mind.  It makes otherwise boring moments interesting, gives her headaches when her father is hammering away on their house, causes her to hear her cat as the color mango, and makes learning math a lot more complicated.  But back in third grade, she learned that not everyone experiences the world this way.  With middle-school algebra on the horizon, is it finally time to talk about her experiences?

Mango-Shaped Space resized

This book isn’t ethnically diverse, but the primary topic is synesthesia.  At the time it was first published, it helped raise awareness about a little-known condition.

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Board Book Review: Barack Obama 101

This introduction to Barack Obama is informative enough to hold even an older child’s attention.

Barack Obama 101 by Brad M. Epstein.
Michaelson Entertainment, Los Angeles, CA, 2008.
Informative non-fiction board book, 26 pages.

Barack Obama 101 packs a surprising amount of practical information into a board book, covering both basic facts about the presidency and Obama’s life up to his presidential election.

Barack Obama 101 cover resized
Barack Obama 101 by Brad M. Epstein.

Every time I shop at my favorite used bookstore, I take a minute to peruse their used board books.  They never have more than a few shelves, mostly of the same titles, so it doesn’t take long.  And I’ve never purchased any there.  Why look?  I’m determined to create a diverse board book library, which means I can’t turn down a chance to find books that might be out of print and difficult to obtain.

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Review: The Year of the Dog

“But my friends didn’t call me Chinese, Taiwanese, or American. They called me Grace, my American name.” p. 19

The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin.
Little, Brown, and Co, Hachette Book Group, New York, 2006 (my edition 2007).
Realistic fiction, 140 pages + excerpts.
Lexile:  690L  .
AR Level:  4.2 (worth 3.0 points)  .

In the Year of the Dog, Pacy is supposed to find her best friend and figure out her talent.  But what could it be?

The Year of the Dog cover

This is one of those books that I’ve had for a while but didn’t pick up.  I may have been saving it or planning to wait until we got another in the series, I’m just not sure.  Anyway, this story tells about one year in Pacy’s life, starting with the Lunar New Year for the Year of the Dog and ending with the Lunar New Year for the Year of the Pig.

An aspect of this I didn’t expect was how there were stories embedded into the larger narrative, just like Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  These stories were realistic fiction instead of fantasy, but they worked the same way and I greatly enjoyed them.  The stories allowed Pacy to be connected even if many of her relatives live far away.

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Review: Celebrate Chinese New Year

“When Asians immigrated to countries like the United States and Canada, they brought these traditions with them.” page 7

Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto and Haiwang Yuan.
National Geographic Kids, Washington, D.C., 2009, my edition 2015 reprint.
Picture book informative nonfiction, 32 pages.
Lexile:  740L  .
AR Level:  3.6 (worth 0.5)  .

How Lunar New Year is celebrated around the world, especially in China.

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This is a very comprehensive book.  You could easily do a short unit study using just this text.  The format works for a variety of ages or abilities.  The book is divided into two parts – first the picture book, then the last six pages are mostly text with “More About the Chinese New Year”, a variety of supplemental activities and further information for parents, teachers, or older children.

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Graphic Novel Review: Emiko Superstar

While it definitely shouldn’t be shelved in the children’s section, this coming-of-age graphic novel will appeal to YA readers.

Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Steve Rolston.
Minx, DC comics, New York, 2008.
Graphic novel, 150 pages.
Not leveled.

This is the story of one summer in the life of Emiko, a summer that changed her life.  It starts out like a normal summer.  A coffee shop job doesn’t last, so her mom signs her up for babysitting work.  She meets a girl named Poppy and finds herself strangely drawn to Poppy’s mesmerizing, frenetic, artistic life.

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Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Steve Rolston.

There is a lot going on in this graphic novel.

I want to caution readers that this is definitely for teens.  We found it at the used bookstore in the kids section, and I assumed that it would be okay for N based on other Minx books I’ve read, which were fine for middle grade readers.  Nope!

This is a great book, but the content is intense, and middle schoolers should be discussing it with a parent or teacher.  Mariko Tamaki is better known for Skim, an intense YA graphic novel.

The dramatic opening is a little confusing.  An edgy, artistic girl with one shoe is coming home late at night.  She’s texting her friend and narrates as the images go from her to old photographs.  Chapter two backtracks to early summer.

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Review: Chef Roy Choi

“Trying different foods is a bridge into the many food cultures that make us collectively American.” page 28

Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One.
Readers to Eaters, Bellevue, Washington, 2017.
Picture book biography, 30 pages.
Lexile:  710L  .
AR Level:  4.0 (worth 0.5 points)  .

This is the story of Chef Roy Choi, who’s best known for his Kogi food trucks that combined traditional Korean food with popular street foods like tacos or barbecue in a unique and delicious way.

Chef Roy Choi cover resized
Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One.

It’s kind of funny that I found this book through the Diverse KidLit linkup.  Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table has been on my wishlist for some time.  But honestly, neither of these books would have been on my radar at all without the internet.

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