The list of all my Target picks so far, some stats about them, and the plan for 2018.
In December 2016 I started an experiment. Every month, I would purchase a diverse book from Target. I didn’t have a timeframe for reading or reviewing them and there was no particular genre or age level.
Some were books I’d heard of or been anticipating, others were books I simply picked because they had a POC on the cover, the title was diverse, or the author was a POC. I did occasionally see a few books which I already owned, and didn’t rebuy those. While most were books I wouldn’t have picked outside of this challenge, I never chose a book that I thought I would dislike.
“But that was what was supposed to happen, so Sapphire didn’t mind. Sapphire had already accepted everything that would ever happen to her.” page 6
The Answer, written by Rebecca Sugar, illustrated by Elle Michalka and Tiffany Ford.
Cartoon Network Books imprint, Penguin Random House, New York, 2016.
Fantasy picture book, 30 pages.
Not yet leveled.
This is the story of Sapphire, a wise gem who knows the future, and Ruby, a brave little gem who fights to the end. Sapphire would say it’s a short and sad story, but Ruby disagrees.
While the Steven Universe TV show’s mythology and storyline bring some hefty worldbuilding to this picture book, you can read and enjoy it with no prior knowledge. We rarely watch TV, so I learned about the show from writing this review.
“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.
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.
“I know I can’t change the way I look. / But maybe, just maybe… / … people can change the way they see.”
We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio.
Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Random House, New York, 2017.
Picture book, 27 pages
Lexile: Not yet leveled.
AR Level: Not yet leveled.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.
This picture book follows a young Auggie, main character of the chapter book novel Wonder, through the park and beyond as he reminds us that we’re all wonders.
I’ve seen this in pre-order for a while now, and was interested but also a little worried that the author is just tapping into her previous successful novel rather than doing anything original. Then I saw it at Target and decided to buy it for my diverse targetpick of the month. Interestingly, Z picked this off of the shelf and requested that I read it to him. (I didn’t put it in his bookbin, it was on a family shelf and not in the kids reading area. Also, yes, our littles have their own bookbins. #teachernerdparent)
“Yet here she was, three months later, with a full-fledged tumor. Either her doctors had missed it during her last exams – which seemed impossible – or it had grown at a terrifying rate.” page 17
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Broadway Books, Crown Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, New York, 2010.
My edition 2011, some portions published as early as 2000.
Nonfiction, 381 pages including notes, index, and reading group guide.
Lexile: 1140L .
AR Level: 8.0 (worth 18.0 points) .
Henrietta Lacks had an usual type of cancer. Cells from this cancer were able to become the first immortal cell line and have been invaluable to many scientific discoveries and advancements in the past century. But Henrietta was also a working-class black woman whose family was not informed of the existence of this cell line, and who died misdiagnosed. This book manages to tell three stories: the story of Henrietta and the Lacks family, the story of her famous and scientifically important cells, and the story of the reporter’s own experiences interacting with the family.
The movie tie-in cover tricked me. I needed to grab a Target pick quickly, so I grabbed this book without realizing it was one I had flagged as do not purchase/obtain from friend or library. As you can tell, reading this book was something I was conflicted about, and after finishing it, I remain deeply conflicted and uncertain if I can recommend it (though I know a great deal more about the HeLa controversies than I did before reading this).
“I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting there crying when another car rolls up in front of me. I look up, and it’s Peter Kavinsky’s black Audi with the tinted windows.” page 36
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.
Simon and Schuster BFYR imprint, New York, 2014.
YA Romance/realistic fiction, 355 pages plus recipes and excerpt.
Lexile: 630L .
AR Level: 4.2 (worth 12.0 points) .
NOTE: Despite the reading level, I would recommend this book for high school students and not elementary school.
Lara Jean is the middle of three sisters and her mother has passed away. Her oldest sister, Margot, is moving to Scotland, leaving Lara Jean in charge of her younger sister and father.
“Each time I remove my scarf I pass it through my fingers, in awe of what a simple thing it is, the dilemma it poses. The rules from the Iranian embassy are surprisingly unclear, open to bewildering interpretation.” page 31
The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec.
Twelve, Hachett Book Group, New York, 2014. My edition 2017.
Memoir, 230 pages including extras.
Jennifer Klinec is a fearless jet-setter, leaving her London life behind to explore the culinary arts of every corner of the world. This book is the story of her month in Iran, wearing a headscarf, finding locals who will let her cook with them, and unexpectedly falling in love.
This was so random. I had a long afternoon and wanted a book, so I grabbed this one, but then ended up reading another book that I already had instead. It sat on the shelf for a while – I have to be honest that the subtitle reminded me of Eat, Pray, Love which was a DNF for me. And there were some legitimate concerns about how Klinec would portray Iran, since she’s an outsider, a Canadian with Serbo-Croation roots living in London.
However, once I got started, I enjoyed this book. Klinec lays everything bare. She is brutally honest yet insightful, and not afraid to make herself, or her loved ones look bad. There were points where I disliked Klinec as well as others in the story, but I did feel that she was telling the truth as objectively as she could, given that she was a major participant. When she’s viewing things through her own unique lens, she’s generally up front about the perspective.