Wisconsinite Review: Amina’s Voice

Amina’s Voice is a great new Muslim #ownvoices MG novel. Here’s my take on the Wisconsin references in the book.

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan.
Salaam Reads imprint, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2017.
Middle grade realistic fiction, 197 pages.
Lexile:  800L .
AR Level:  Not yet leveled.

Amina is shy and a little afraid of some of the big changes coming with middle school, like a chance to enter a singing contest or her uncle coming to stay.  Her best friend is Soojin, a Korean immigrant who’s finally becoming an American citizen and wants to change her name.  They find that their different cultures have some cultural norms in common, and they bonded over having unusual names.  But if Soojin changes her name, is she also going to change her best friend?

Amina's Voice resized

There are going to be lots of reviews of this book, so I thought for my review, I’d take a different perspective. Kirin at Notes from an Islamic School Librarian reviewed Amina’s Voice and had only one issue with it, which confirmed my idea that this #ownvoice novel is a great representation of Muslim culture.

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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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Review: Say You’re One of Them

This incredibly challenging but worthwhile read is for grown-ups only.

Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan.
Back Bay Books; Little, Brown, and Co.; Hachette Book Group; 2008, expanded edition 2009.
Adult short story collection, realistic fiction, 369 pages including extras.
Selected for Oprah’s book club in 2009.
NOTE: THIS BOOK IS FOR ADULTS ONLY.  NOT FOR CHILDREN OR TEENS.
Further Note: This is a work of fiction although I am not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.

This collection of short stories deals with the children of Africa.  Specifically, children who are individually dealing with a variety of horrific circumstances, many of which do not have happy endings.  The author is a Nigerian priest but took care to set his stories in several countries in Africa.  There is a handy map in the front of the book for Americans or the geographically challenged.

Say You're One of Them

Before I go any further, EVERY TRIGGER WARNING YOU CAN THINK OF for this book.  If you are sensitive to bad things happening to children, you might not be able to read this book or even this review.  But, on the other hand, I think every adult should read this book at least once. Because these are real things happening to children, and if we ignore this then it will just keep happening.

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Review: The Memory of Light

“There’s something fragile about all of them, like they’re holding on to what the world expects of them by some brittle branch that could break at any moment.” p. 24

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork.
Arthur A. Levine Books Imprint, Scholastic, New York, 2016.
YA realistic fiction, 326 pages.
Lexile:  HL680L  (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level:  4.4 (worth 12.0 points)
NOTE: This book is not for 4th graders.

We meet Vicki in the most intimate and vulnerable time in her life – after she’s just attempted suicide and is now hospitalized for severe depression.

The Memory of Light

I got this book through a branch loan (CSviaS) after Naz recommended it to me when we were discussing the sad lack of books about disability with intersectionality.  It took a while to come through with holidays interrupting ILL services and me being on vacation, so during that time, I thought of one book in my collection and accidentally encountered another at the store.  I’ve also been hitting up Google with the idea of reviewing a number of books about disability by people of color and generating a list for kids, parents, and teachers.  Just like early readers, this is one of those little niches of the book world that we need to diversify.

This book is beautiful.  That probably seems like a strange thing to say about a book about depression, but the writing is just lovely.  It reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird, not in any way the content, but the writing style.  I was quickly immersed in Vicki’s world and wanted her to heal and live.

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Review: Pizza Party!

“It cooks./We look.//We read a book.//It’s done./What fun!” p.22-24

Pizza Party by Grace Maccarone, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully.
Cartwheel Books Imprint, Scholastic, New York, 1994, my reprint edition 2003.
Rhyming realistic fiction, 30 pages.
Lexile:  BR (What does BR mean in Lexile?)
AR Level:  0.5 (worth 0.5 points)

Five people gather for a pizza party and work together to make, then eat a pizza in this diverse early reader for children who have just mastered the basic sight words.  This is the third book of my thrift store finds.

Pizza Party cover

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Review: Best Friends in the Snow

Angela Shelf Medearis and new-to-me illustrator Ken Wilson-Max team up for an early reader about playing in the snow.

Best Friends in the Snow by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max.
Cartwheel books imprint, Scholastic, New York, 1999 (my edition is a 2003 reprint).
Seasonal realistic fiction, 22 pages + literacy activities.
Lexile: 60L
AR Level: 1.1 (worth 0.5 points)
NOTE: Although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday, this is a fiction book.

Two best friends, a white boy and a black girl, engage in fun wintertime activities in this simple early reader text.

best-friends-in-the-snow-cover-cropped-resized
Best Friends in the Snow by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max.

Angela Shelf Medearis is the author – you probably don’t even need me to review it to know that it’s great.  Both the author and illustrator are #ownvoices.

This book is just made to delight preschoolers.  The words are simple, with no more than two sentences per page and often less.  The first page has the longest text of the entire book.  Ken Wilson-Max was new to me, although his style felt familiar.

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Board Book Review: The Snowy Day

Starting our diverse board book library out right, The Snowy Day is our first board book for baby!

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.
Viking, the Penguin group, board book edition 1996.
Picture book realistic fiction adapted to board book format, 30 pages.

the-snowy-day-by-ezra-jack-keats-cover
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Board Book Edition

When we found out about Baby, of course there was a lot to do to get ready.  But one thing stuck in my head, bibliophile that I am – we didn’t have any board books!  Well, a few that the younger ones use for church, but not much for regular reading.  I didn’t quite get it together enough to have books ready before he arrived (practicalities came first), but the first week of the new year, I got busy!

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