Review: Anna Hibiscus

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

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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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Review: Gloria Rising

“Maybe the people in line behind us thought Dr. Street and I were mother and daughter having a serious conversation, because they left some space around us.” page 13

Gloria Rising by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Lis Toft.
Stepping Stones, Random House Children’s Books, 2002.
Realistic fiction, 98 pages.
Lexile:  640L  .
AR Level:  3.9 (worth 1.0 points)  .
NOTE: Technically part of the Julian/Huey/Gloria series, but works as a stand-alone.

Before the start of fourth grade, Gloria has an unexpected encounter with a celebrity astronaut who looks like her and answers all her questions about space!  But at school, her teacher doesn’t believe she met Dr. Street, and worse, thinks she’s a troublemaker.

Gloria Rising

I got this book at the dollar store back when I first started reading diverse.  That was part of the reason that I grabbed it, as was the cover.  A young black girl in space with an onion?  So many questions.  I regret to inform you that this book is not science fiction (as the cover would indicate).  However, it’s still worth reading!

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Review: George

“The word man hit like a pile of rocks falling on George’s skull. It was a hundred times worse than boy, and she couldn’t breathe.” page 16

George by Alex Gino.

George loves Charlotte’s Web more than anyone in her class, maybe even her school.  She can’t wait to be Charlotte in the 4th grade play.  There’s only one problem – to the world, she looks like a boy, and Charlotte is a girl’s part.  But George is also holding in a big secret…  she’s really a girl.

George-small

This book has been getting a LOT of buzz in the book blogging world, particularly the diverse corner of it.  Let’s face it, there aren’t many books in general addressing the transgender experience, and I cannot think of any other fiction work for middle graders on this topic.  There are a few picture books, but the majority of works are aimed at teens and YA audiences, which is a shame, because many (not all) transgender or intersex people are dealing with this from a much younger age.

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Review: Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go

“There are memories you write down to get them out, to force them as far away from you as you can.” page 9

Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go: A Novel of Haiti by Laura Rose Wagner.
Amulet Books Imprint, Abrams, New York, 2015.
YA realistic fiction novel, 263 pages  including extras.
Lexile:  not yet leveled.
AR Level:  5.0 (worth 8.0 points)  .

15-year-old Magdalie’s been raised by her aunt in Port-au-Prince and is like a sister to her cousin Nadine.  When a massive earthquake hits the country, they’re devastated, grief-struck, and struggling to survive.  But then Nadine is offered an opportunity, and Magdalie cannot join her.  Will their sisterhood survive?  Will they?

Hold Tight, Don't Let Go

If you’re reading this review far enough into the future then this book will no longer be realistic fiction.  Just as novels about 9/11 are now historical fiction, this book about the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, a recent historical event, will one day be historical fiction!

The book opens with a scene of the actual earthquake, so it certainly starts off gripping.  After reading the blurb, I thought this book would be told in two voices, but it focuses solely on Magdalie, the sister left behind in Haiti.  This is an interesting twist on the usual immigration narrative.  Typically we follow the immigrant and don’t get as much information on those who are left behind.  In this book, the immigrant sister slowly and painfully fades away, while the focus is on the dire circumstances and overpowering need for survival in the country of origin.

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