Review: Hope Against Hope

“Unlike most literature about New Orleans, this book focuses on what makes the city ordinary rather than extraordinary.” page 5

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Hope Against Hope:  Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America’s Children by Sarah Carr.
Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2013.
Nonfiction, 317 pages including notes, bibliography, and index.
Not leveled.

The story of how a wave of mostly outsider-led charter schools are dramatically changing education in New Orleans, through a year long 2010 study of three different schools.

Hope Against Hope

Carr took such an interesting tactic in this book, and not one I would have thought of myself.  She worked closely with three different people: a student, a teacher, and a principal.  They are all at different schools, each with its own take on solving the education crisis and its own method for resolving the problems that the 2005 hurricane have only exacerbated.

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Review: We Are Family

“Each family is different; it may be large or small. / We may look like each other – or not alike at all.” p. 21

We Are Family by Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Ryan Wheatcroft.
Tiger Tales, Caterpillar Books Ltd., Wilton, CT, 2017.
Picture book, 22 pages.
Not yet leveled.

A sweet vintage-style picture book depicting similar moments in the lives of ten very different families.

We Are Family cover

This British book is a bit off the beaten path.  I think I was looking for family books that were inclusive of foster and adoptive kids, and this certainly fits that mold.

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Review: 20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Parents Knew

“One of the most sacrificial acts of love adoptive parents can do is to give up their preconceptions and agendas.” page 16

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge.
Delta, Bantam Dell, Random House, New York, 1999.
Nonfiction, 224 pages including index and recommended reading.

This book of advice, information, and deep thought aims at communicating with the next generation of adoptive parents so the adoptive experience can be better.

20 Things Adoptive Kids etc

This was probably the most helpful book I read before becoming a parent.  (One was great for general parenting but not especially relevant to this blog.)  Sadly, this isn’t a book recommended by a social worker or from one of our required classes.

Some of my adopted friends reminded us to consider the child’s perspective.  At the used bookstore this was the only book by adoptees I could find.  Rereading it for this review was an unexpectedly emotional journey.

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Review: Mochi Queen

“In the kitchen, the rice cookers set on timers were already steaming, filling the kitchen with the smell of rice. My mouth watered.” p. 53

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (Jasmine Toguchi #1) by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic.
Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillian, New York, 2017.
Elementary fiction, 115 pages.
Lexile:  560L  .
AR Level:  3.6 (worth 1.0 points)  .

Jasmine and her Japanese-American family are getting ready for the New Year.  That means lots of cousins, mochi-tsuki, Obaachan coming to visit, and two more years before Jasmine is old enough to make mochi with the women.  Rather than wait two whole years, she has an idea…

Jasmine Toguchi 1 Mochi Queen

In the last few years we’ve been seeing a big rise in the number of early elementary chapter book series featuring diverse characters, and I am over the moon about it.  As you’ve heard me rant before, it’s crucial to have diverse books at every reading level, including the very earliest.  Working a little understanding of different cultures, cuisines, and lifestyles into early fiction also helps students out when they later encounter the same topics in middle school or high school, and it sets a foundation for tolerance and acceptance.

Series like this one are particularly great because they can be read aloud to children over a range of ages, and information about Japanese-American culture is seamlessly woven into the storyline.

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Board Book Review: Rain Feet

Our 25th board book is a must-have for early education and preschool programs.

Rain Feet by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell.
Orchard Books, Scholastic, 1994.
Board book, 10 pages.

A young boy dresses for and interacts with rain and puddles on his street in this simple and joyous spring board book.

Rain Feet cover resized

When I was looking specifically for #ownvoices board books about black boys, this series kept coming up.  I purchased this book because it was recommended as the first in the series, but taking a look at the author’s website, it appears that they can be read in any order (which is good, since this isn’t the first book).

This series is called the Joshua books, but in this particular book the protagonist isn’t named.  In fact, much like Peter of The Snowy Day, he is alone exploring his wet urban world and wearing distinctive (in this case yellow) seasonal gear.

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Board Book Review: Good Morning Baby

Our 26th board book sorely disappoints with unrealistic illustrations.

Good Morning Baby by Cheryl Willis Hudson, Illustrated by George Ford.
Cartwheel, Scholastic, 1992.
Board book, 10 pages.

A little girl starts her day.

Good Morning Baby cover resized
Good Morning Baby by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by George Ford.

Most of the diverse board books we’ve found have been somewhere between mediocre and excellent.  This one certainly tries, but can’t overcome unrealistic illustrations.

If you’re familiar with infants or toddlers, you might have found the cover image a bit… off.  Sadly, the interior is just as bad if not worse.  The perspective on the second page is way off, making the image look fairly creepy.  Although the little girl featured is still in a regular crib, she’s then pictured sitting alone of top of the toilet, using the towel bar to keep from falling!

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Board Book Review: Hip Hop

Our 14th board book is simple but surprisingly delightful.

The Hip Hop Board Book by Martin Ander.
Dokument Press, Arsta, Sweden, 2012.
Board book, 22 pages.

“Rap, Breakdance, Graffiti, & DJ:ing – now for the very youngest!  The Hip Hop Board Book is a different, colorful picture book about culture and everyday life with fun and clear pictures for small children.  A charming book with lots of humor and attitude.” ~Back Blurb

Hip Hop cover resized
The Hip Hop Board Book by Martin Ander.

I wish I remembered finding this board book.  It’s not brand-new, but hasn’t gotten much buzz – and it’s from Sweden, although the text is in English.  Perhaps Amazon recommended it to me when I was ordering some other hard-to-find board books.

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