Review: Hidden Figures

“They would prove themselves equal or better, having internalized the Negro theorem of needing to be twice as good to get half as far.” p. 48

Hidden Figures:The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly.
William Morrow Imprint, HarperCollins, New York, 2016.
Adult non-fiction, 346 pages including notes and index.
New York Times Bestseller.
Lexile: not yet leveled
AR Level:  9.7 (worth 18.0 points)

In 1969, a human being set foot on the moon for the first time.  Although you wouldn’t know it from the all-white, mostly-male camera coverage, the calculations of a black woman helped him get there.  But this story starts much earlier, when the labor shortage of WWII allowed highly qualified, extremely intelligent, and very respectable female African-American mathematicians a chance at a job with pay and work closer to what they deserved.

They came in droves to Langley, in Hampton, Virginia, for a unprecedented opportunity in the midst of a heavily segregated community.  Those who stayed, and their white female counterparts, spent decades breaking barriers and proving their value to aeronautics over and over again, so that when John Glenn needed the numbers for his first spaceflight checked, Katherine Johnson would be in the right place to be able to perform those and other calculations.

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This book is so superb you should run out and get it right now.

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Review: The Sun is Also a Star

“Before the deportation notice, he refused to speak with a Jamaican accent or use Jamaican slang.” p. 25

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.
Delacorte Press, Penguin Random House, 2016.
YA romance, 348 pages.
Lexile: HL650L  (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level:  4.7 (worth 10.0 points)

This book takes place over one very intense day.  Natasha is a serious girl who loves science and music.  Daniel is a romantic boy who loves poetry but works diligently to meet his parents high expectations.  When they meet on the streets of New York City, love is destined, except for one catch: Natasha’s family is about to be deported.  Can she stay in America?  Can they somehow make it work?  Is love really about fate or just a chemical reaction in the brain?

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The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

As Natasha and Daniel are telling their story, there are interludes from a third person perspective that give more information about various details and background about people in their lives.

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Review: Case of the Missing Trophy

If you have or know a child between 2nd and 5th grade, go out and get them this book.

The Case of the Missing Trophy by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Robert Papp.
Scholastic, New York, 2004.
Elementary mystery, 135 pages.
Lexile: 580L
AR Level: 4.0 (worth 3.0 points)
NOTE: This book is a sequel to The Spray-Paint Mystery, but has no spoilers for that book.

Cameron is so excited about the upcoming science fair.  He can’t wait to be in fifth grade so that he can participate and maybe win the trophy back to his school for another year.  The only thing more exciting is solving mysteries like his dad.  But it’s no mystery why Cameron is always losing and forgetting things – it’s not easy shuffling between two houses each week now that his mom is back in Austin, Texas.  Cameron’s spent so much time staring at the trophy in the display case, now it’s up to him and his three best friends to figure out where the trophy disappeared to!

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I grabbed this book from the library because of the cover, blurb unread.  Honestly I’m finding so many wonderful new-to-me authors this way, I nearly feel like I should choose all of my books based on the diversity of the cover.  So I wasn’t aware this was a sequel.  However, it doesn’t matter.  The previous case is referenced a few times, but no details are given, adults just state that the case was solved last year.

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Graphic Novel Review: awkward

If only all books made diversity seem so effortless and normal!

awkward by Svetlana Chmakova, coloring assistance by Ru Xu and Melissa McCommon, lettering by JuYoun Lee.
Yen Press, New York, 2015.
Middle grade/middle school fiction graphic novel, 210 pages + extras.
Lexile: GN280L  (What does GN mean in Lexile Levels? )
AR level: 2.8 (worth 1.o points)

Penelope (Peppi) Torres has a few rules for surviving at a new school.  But on the very first day, she runs right into a shy boy in the hallway.  What do you do when you’re associated with the school nerd on your first day?  Why shove him away of course!

Beyond the Peppi/Jaimie drama, the main plot of this book follows her friends in the art club as they fight for the right to a table at the annual school club fair while bickering with the science club, their biggest rivals.

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awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

So why am I reviewing this book? Well, Peppi is clearly a person of color.  My guess based on her portrayal and name is that she’s Latina, but it never really comes up.  In fact, this book is incredibly diverse, with most ethnic groups represented by at least one character.  There is a girl wearing a hijab and a character in a wheelchair.  The characters have ethnically diverse names and sometimes appropriate backstories as well.  But the best part of this?  It has nothing to do with the story!  There is a full plot which just happens to have a diverse cast of characters.

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