Review: Gloria’s Way

“My dad was supposed to take care of me, but I didn’t know if he could.” page 83

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Gloria’s Way by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Lis Toft.
Puffin, Penguin Putnam books for Young Readers, New York, 2001.
Realistic fiction short stories, 96 pages.
Lexile:  600L  .
AR Level:  3.1 (worth 1.0 points)  .
NOTE: Technically part of the Julian/Huey/Gloria series, but could stand alone.

Six short stories about Gloria, best friends with Julian Bates and his little brother Huey.

Gloria's Way

Some of the stories in this collection include Julian, Huey, their dog Spunky, or new friend Latisha while others focus on Gloria.  As I usually do with short stories, I’ll briefly discuss each individual story.

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Review: Saints and Misfits

“I stand and cringe at the sucking sound as my swimsuit sticks to me, all four yards of the spandex-Lycra blend of it.” page 2

Saints and Misfits: a novel by S.K. Ali.
Salaam Read, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2017.
YA contemporary, 328 pages.
Not yet leveled.

Janna just wants to live her life – hang out with her friends, study, work her very part-time jobs, pray, and maybe dream a little about her secret haram crush.  But something has changed her world, something unthinkable, horrible, and so big she doesn’t know what to do.

Saints and Misfits resized

For some reason I thought this was a light and fluffy read.  However, I completely misunderstood, because by chapter two we’re reliving one of the worst moments of Janna’s life, when she is assaulted by a man who is supposedly holy, the man she calls the Monster.

Indeed, the title of each short chapter (Saints, Misfits, or Monsters) relates to how she sees the main people she’s interacting with in that chapter.  Some chapters contain more than one category, or a comment as she begins to realize that some of those she sees as Saints are really Misfits, etc.

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Review: Visiting Day

“I go to sleep and don’t wake up again until the bus pulls up in front of the big old building where, as Grandma puts it, Daddy is doing a little time.” page 19

Visiting Day, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James E. Ransome.
Puffin Books, Penguin Group, New York, 2002.
Realistic fiction picture book, 32 pages.
Lexile:  AD1150L  .  ( What does AD mean in Lexile? )
AR Level:  3.6 (worth 0.5 points)  .

An unnamed little girl describes her favorite day of the month, when she and her grandmother visit her father in prison.

Visiting Day resized
Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome.

If you had to visit a prison, it probably wouldn’t be your favorite day.  But what if your very favorite person was in prison?  What if your Daddy that you loved more than anyone in the world was a person you only got to see once a month?  For this little girl and her grandmother, Visiting Day is a celebration that causes them to wake up with a smile, and sadness only comes when they get off the bus home, alone without Daddy.

This book is full of vivid imagery that engages all the senses as grandma passes peppermints and kisses.  Teeth are brushed and hair done in preparation for the visit.  Woodson’s writing is, as always, lyrical and beautiful.  Although it’s not presented as poetry, this book would also make a wonderful poem.

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Review: Anna Hibiscus

“Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa.” page 7, 35, 65, 83.

Anna Hibiscus by Antinuke.
Kane Miller, EDC Publishing, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 2010.  (First published in London in 2007.)
Elementary chapter book fiction, 112 pages.
Lexile:  670L .
AR Level:  4.1 (worth 1.0 points)  .
NOTE:  This is the first book in the Anna Hibiscus chapter book series.

Anna Hibiscus lives in amazing Africa with her mother and father and baby brothers Double and Trouble.

Anna Hibiscus cover resized
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia.

I’d heard about this author for a while but could not get any of her books.  Once I found them on Amazon, it took some time to determine the order.  This is the first chapter book in the Anna Hibiscus series (Atinuke also has other books).

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Review: Stay With Me

“at least they made me feel I was part of his family. Until that afternoon, no one in my family had paid me that kind of visit since I’d got married.” page 7

Stay with Me: a novel by Ayobami Adebayo.
Knopf, Penguin Random House, New York, 2017.
Realistic fiction, 260 pages.
Not leveled.

Stay with Me is the story of a marriage, a love match gone wrong.  It asks how much we’re willing to, or will sacrifice for family, for ourselves, for our partner, for a child.

Stay With Me
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo.

This book is a rollercoaster in all the best ways.  I don’t entirely know how to explain.  The love and marriage of Yejide and Akin are the center of the book, but this isn’t really a romance novel.  Rather, this book reads like an impossible true story.

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Review: Push

“I wanna say I am somebody. I wanna say it on subway, TV, movie, LOUD.” page 31

Push by Sapphire.
Vintage books, Random House, New York, my edition 1997, orig. pub. 1996.
Adult fiction incorporating poetry, 140 pages plus the Life Story Class Book (not paginated).
Lexile: not leveled.
AR Reader: 4.0 (worth 5.0 points)
NOTE: This book is not intended for children, whatever the reading level may be.

16-year-old Precious is pregnant with another one of her father’s babies and has been kicked out of school.  Her mother feels there’s no point and what’s the use, since she can’t read anyway?  But Precious, fierce, determined, angry, and sad, misses school and is going to try again.  Maybe her baby can have a better life than her.

Push by Sapphire

I came across this book in the most roundabout way.  I’d heard of it before and the movie Precious which is based on it.  But it wasn’t on my TBR, just one of those books you hear about and nod, “yes, I’ll read that some day.”  Then I was at the summer clearance at Barnes and Noble, and they had a copy of the 2011 sequel, The Kid in hardcover for a dollar.  That’s been sitting on my shelves for a year now, and I finally picked up a copy of Push.

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Review: EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken!

“Alfie told me once that Suzette at daycare keeps wanting to touch her braids. But that’s a secret, we decided, because we don’t want our dad to freak.” page 78.

EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken! (EllRay Jakes #1) by Sally Warner, illustrated by Jamie Harper.
Puffin Books, The Penguin Group, New York, 2011.
Realistic Fiction, 2011.
Lexile:  840L  .
AR Level:  4.8 (worth 2.0 points)  .

EllRay Jakes, the smallest kid in Ms. Sanchez’s third-grade class, is dealing with some serious bullying, trying to earn a trip to Disneyland, and navigate the rest of school while meeting his father’s high expectations.

EllRay Jakes is NOT a Chicken
EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken by Sally Warner, illustrated by Jamie Harper.

This was another Target pick, although it took me a while to review.  It wasn’t until after purchasing that I realized I’ve read a book by this author already.  In fact, this entire series is a spin-off on her Emma series, which has been popular in one or two schools I’ve been at.  A third-grader was lobbying hard for the first Emma book to be the next read-aloud, so I read it, but chose another book.  If I’d realized this was from the same author, I would have gotten it from the library as well instead of purchasing it.

The cover of this book was great, I just wish the rest of the book had lived up to my expectations.

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