Review: Thirty Million Words

Book with excellent concepts for closing the early achievement gap is sadly tainted with audism.

Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain – Tune In, Talk More, Take Turns by Dana Suskind, Beth Suskind, and Leslie Lewinter-Suskind.
Dutton Imprint, Penguin Random House, New York, 2015.
Adult informative non-fiction, 308 pages including index.
Not leveled.

America experiences a significant achievement gap based on socio-economic status.  Which also, based on the systemic racism endemic to America, disproportionately affects people of color.  Dana Suskind has an idea about what might be causing this, and the surprisingly simple way we can close the gap and empower parents.

Thirty Million Words
Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain by Dana Suskind.

I was not planning to review this book here, as it’s a bit beyond the normal scope of my blog – it doesn’t focus on minorities, and the author is a white woman.

However, when reading the first chapter, I found the audism present annoying.  Then, after getting into the book, I found some worthwhile information was presented, which is why this was recommended to me in the first place.  Finally, checking up on the author, I learned that she was in an interracial marriage (before her husband’s tragic death) which I assume would have given her a different perspective.

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Stats: 2017 So Far

Do you guys ever check your blog stats?  I do quite often.

March 2017 Stats cropped resized
March 2017 ColorfulBookReviews Statistics

I’m not obsessed with getting new followers (although thank you for following me), but I find the data deeply fascinating.  It’s so cool when I have a view from another country, especially if it’s one I’ve never had before.  Most visitors here come from the United States, but I’ve had people from Malaysia, Japan, India, Uganda, Sri Lanka, France, Indonesia, and more.

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Board Book Review: Whose Knees Are These?

The fifth book in our diverse board book collection is the partner to book four.

Whose Knees Are These by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham.
Little, Brown, and Company Kids, 2006.
Board book, 20 pages + title & copyright pages.

Whose Knees Are These? follows a set of two knees through a series of playtime adventures while we try to find out whose knees they are.  The answer might be surprising!

Whose Knees are These cover cropped resized

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Review: Donavan’s Double Trouble

“Maybe, Donavan thought, he wasn’t the only one who felt uncomfortable about Vic’s homecoming dinner.” page 43

Donavan’s Double Trouble by Monalisa DeGross, illustrated by Amy Bates.
Amistad, HarperCollins, New York, 2008.
Realistic fiction chapter book, 180 pages.
Lexile:  550L .
AR Level:  3.8 (worth 4.0 points) .
Note: Donavan’s Double Trouble is the sequel to Donavan’s Word Jar.

Donavan’s got all kinds of troubles lately.  Heritage Month is coming up, and he doesn’t know anyone to ask.  He’s struggling with math and his younger sister is overtaking him.  His favorite uncle is back, but no longer a firefighter.  He doesn’t play basketball or teach dance moves anymore, because Uncle Vic’s National Guard unit was called up, and he came home without his legs.  Donovan’s not feeling good about these changes – he just wants his old uncle back.

Donavan's Double Trouble

When I was trying to find books about PoC with disabilities, one word was overwhelmingly used to describe this book: sweet.  Having read it, I would certainly agree.

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New Tag & Booklist: Diverse/Disabled

I became interested in this after talking with Naz about how seldom people of color are represented in works about disability, particularly fiction.  I’ve been an avid reader all my life.  People constantly give me books, and I’m always buying more or making great finds on the free shelf at the library.  Besides the thousands of books my family owns, we always have at least a dozen library books checked out from various places (usually closer to a hundred…).  For at least the past decade, I’ve had an interest in reading books with disabled characters.  How could I never have read a book with diverse disabled characters?

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Board Book Review: Whose Toes Are Those?

The first ordered, but the fourth book received and added to our board book collection.

Whose Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham.
Little, Brown, and Company Kids, 2006.
Board book, 20 pages + title & copyright pages.

Whose Toes Are Those? follows a set of ten toes through a series of playtime adventures, including a round of “this little piggy goes to market” while we try to find out whose toes they are.  The answer might be surprising!

Whose Toes Are Those cover cropped resized

Finally, an #ownvoices board book.  Not only that, but an African-American author and a noted Vietnamese American children’s book illustrator teamed up for this one.  I actually bought this just because it was an #ownvoices board book without even realizing who the illustrator was.  Of course I would love it because LeUyen Pham is fantastic!

This is a welcome addition to our growing board book collection.  I actually ordered this first (knowing I’d buy The Snowy Day at Target because I had seen it there before), but it took a long time to arrive, so it was the fourth diverse board book added to our collection, and sadly, the first #ownvoice board book.  (But I’ll find more.*)

This book perfectly exemplifies what I was bemoaning the lack of in my last board book review.  In this book, the text and the pictures match up.  Each tells a complete story that is even better when combined.  The book also invites parent and child to play.

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Whose Toes Are Those? pages 6 and 7

The text is well divided, with no more than a sentence per page in most of the book.  It interacts with the pictures and moves around the page in a way that board book text can and early reader text should not.  The book is a standard board book size, and the pages are very sturdy and well-printed, with bright colors and readable text.

The illustrations are perfect for a board book.  Most pages have good contrast, and the main picture is fairly simple but with a textured background or extra lower-contrast illustrations that draw interest.  The main character is drawn with light brown skin (at one point has a visible blush) which is also referred to in the text.  The hairstyle is not specifically African-American but could be worn by a variety of little girls.  Normally the fuzzy way the hair was drawn would have irritated me.  However as this board book draws comparisons between the girl and the reader, I liked that this interpretation left it open for as many girls as possible to find themselves in the main character.

There is a companion book to this text called Whose Knees Are These? which we will definitely be getting.   The only drawback to this book is that apparently these are a boy and girl version.  Not noticing the pink on the cover when ordering, this one has the lines “All these piggies must surely belong…//to the girl with the sparkling eyes” which makes it less appropriate for a boy when the end states “Why, those are YOUR toes.”  We will still read this, but if I could only afford to get one book, or if I give this as a gift, I would choose the version matching the gender of the child.

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Whose Toes Are Those? pages 18 and 19

The only other minor quibble I had was the lines about the piggies traveling to England and Rome.  Obviously the line about Rome needed to stay for the rhyme to work, but England could have been replaced with another, non-European country.

Overall, this is a fabulous book in every aspect.  Recommended for all children.

*It took a while for me to get pictures for this book.  Since then, I have found many more #ownvoices board books, although they are still sparse compared to board books by white authors.

Review: Fledgling

“I found that I almost envied his pain. He hurt because he remembered.” page 74

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler.
Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, New York, 2005, my edition 2007.
Modern vampire fantasy, 310 pages.
Lexile:  730L .
AR Level:  Not leveled.
NOTE: This book is recommended for adults only.

Shori wakes up in the woods with a ravenous hunger and a taste for blood.  She doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or even what she is, but after she bites Wright, he’s willing to help her find out.  The only clues they have to start with are a burnt property and Shori’s own instincts and half-remembering.

Fledgling
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

I came across this novel because Butler was recommended to me as a major speculative fiction author of color.  Science fiction and fantasy are two of my favorites, although I’ll read any genre but horror.  It was continually bothering me that I hadn’t read any speculative fiction by PoCs, so I wanted to try one of her books.

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