Review: The Refugees

“It was a trivial secret, but one I would remember as vividly as my feeling that while some people are haunted by the dead, others are haunted by the living.” page 71

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Grove Press, Grove Atlantic, New York, 2017.
Adult short story collection, 207 pages.
Not leveled.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.

This collection of eight short stories is tied together not so much by the characters as by a common theme – they all deal with Vietnamese immigrants, albeit in very different and sometimes surprising ways.

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I first heard of this book when reading an interview with the author prior to the release.  Instantly knew I wanted to read it and put in a library request.  Received it at the end of April and was about to send it back unread because I didn’t think I’d have time to read it, but then Shenwei posted about the Asian Lit Bingo Challenge … so I read one story at a time during lunch breaks.  Because of the tight time frame for this challenge and needing to return the book, I only read it once.

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Review: On the Edge of Gone

“My good hand flaps against my thigh as we walk. I keep my eyes averted all the way, like if I don’t see other people, they might not see me.” p 57

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis.
Amulet Books Imprint, Abrams, New York, 2016.
YA apocalyptic science fiction, 456 pages.
Lexile:  HL640L (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level: Not yet leveled.

Teen Denise just wanted to work in the cat shelter and make it through her daily life.  But then they found out about the comet.  Since then, she’s been trying to figure out how to survive the apocalypse – and bring her family with her.  But it isn’t easy.  Her sister is missing, her addict mom is running so late they can’t get to the shelter, and her autism makes all these changes even more confusing and distressing.

On the Edge of Gone resized

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Review: Born On a Blue Day

“There is something exciting and reassuring for individuals on the autistic spectrum about communicating with other people over the internet.” page 142

Born On a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet.
Simon and Schuster, New York, 2006.  Originally published in Great Britain.
Adult memoir, 226 pages.
New York Times bestseller.
Lexile:  1170L  .
AR Level:  7.9 (worth 13.0 points) .

Daniel Tammet is an unusual and extraordinary individual.  He is a savant, has multiple forms of synesthesia, is autistic, and can speak ten languages, one of which (Icelandic) he learned in a week.

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Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet.

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Review: Everything, Everything

Despite the author’s good intentions, this book is definitely not recommended.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.
Alloy Entertainment, Random House Children’s Books, New York, 2015.
YA realistic fiction, 311 pages.
Lexile:  HL610L (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level:  4.4 (worth 7.0 points)
NOTE: This is a teen read, not intended for 3rd or 4th graders despite the reading level!

Madeline has a rare disorder known as SCID – which amounts to being so allergic to the world around her that she can never leave her house.  And with the internet, books, a nurse who is also a friend, and silly game nights with her mother, she doesn’t need to go anywhere.  Until Olly’s family moves in next door.

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Awards You Might Not Know About

Book awards beyond the Newberry and Caldecott.

We’ve all heard of the Newberry and Caldecott Awards.  In fact, you might even have done a book report on one at some time in your childhood.  If you’re a savvy librarian or teacher, you might know about some of the other awards like the Giesel or Wilder Medals.

But did you know that there are many awards out there specifically for helping you find the best books and authors for a host of diverse groups?

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The Coretta Scott King Book Awards – 2016
There are four different categories.  This long-running award is probably the most likely to be seen on the shelves of your local bookstore.  The number of honors (vs. awards) seems to change yearly based on what is published.

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Schneider Family Book Award – 2016
“The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”  Both fiction and non-fiction are eligible but fiction tends to win more.  Categories are Children’s, Teens, and Middle School, and multiple books can win, but there are no honors.

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Stonewall Book Award – 2016  
Running since 1971, this award honors books relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender experience.  There are currently six categories including fiction and non-fiction for children, YA, and adults, and up to four books can be honored in some categories (it varies by year).

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Pura Belpré Award – 2016  
“The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”  There are winners and honors for authors and illustrators, fiction and non-fiction are mixed with fiction more predominate.

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American Indian Youth Literature Award – 2016   
These awards are given every two years to fiction or non-fiction books in the categories of picture book, middle grades, and YA. “Books selected to receive the award will present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.”

 

Of course, awards are not perfect.  Some years mediocre books win an award, other times modern classics are passed over (Amazing Grace) and don’t win any awards.  However, for parents, teachers, and librarians, these award lists can be a huge help as we try to find quality books in areas we might not be very knowledgeable in.

What major awards am I missing?  Does your local library buy the winners of these awards?

Review: Pink

“As we wandered through the back alleyways of the city, Chloe burbled happily about the film’s self-conscious rejection of classical cinematic form and its youthful iconoclasm and its radical break with the conscious and conservative paradigm […] even though I had no idea what she was talking about, her enthusiasm was contagious.” p. 130

Pink by Lili Wilkinson.
HarperTeen, New York, 2009.
YA realistic fiction, 310 pages.
Stonewall Honor Book, 2012
Lexile: HL630L (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level:  4.3 (worth 9.0 points)

Ava is sick of wearing all black, attending radical protests with her parents, and pretending to hate school with her girlfriend Chloe.  She’s transferring to preppy private school Billy Hughes, and she’s ready to try out a whole new image.  Which means wearing pink instead of black.  Which means pretending she doesn’t have a girlfriend.  Which means trying at school, and doing her best to be popular.

Her first ticket to popularity and a gorgeous boyfriend will be starring in the school musical.  But when her singing doesn’t make the cut, how will she balance the different areas of her life and sides of herself?

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Pink by Lili Wilkinson

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Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

“everyone in our school has afterschool activities.//mine is going home.” p. 27 (David Levithan)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.
Speak, a Penguin Random House company, New York, 2010.
Realistic YA fiction, 310 pages + extras.
2011 Stonewall Book Award honor, and New York Times bestseller.
Lexile: 930L
AR Level: 5.1 (worth 11.0 points)
NOTE: This book is marked as a Target pick, but I bought it ages ago in a John Green set.  It wasn’t an intentional diverse buy.

Will Grayson is struggling with love, life, and friendship, specifically his best friend Tiny Cooper.  will grayson is struggling with the will to live, his undying love for his boyfriend isaac, and his sort-of-friendship with maura, who wants to date him.

They don’t go to the same school, or live in the same place, or have very much in common at all, until suddenly their worlds collide.

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

It’s always hard to buck a trend.  I didn’t particularly like this book.  First I tried to read it when a friend recommended it, but didn’t get very far.  Then I stubbornly purchased a copy and made myself read it while working through all of John Green’s novels.  Finally, I reread it for this review.  I still don’t like it that much, although there are high points.

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