“All the Women in My Family Sing is a tribute to the many voices of women in a chorus of cultural refrains. Each essay is a personal story about the victories and challenges women face every day as innovators, artists, CEOs, teachers and adventurers. All of the essays reveal how glorious it is to live authentically in our identities.”
p. ix-x, Foreword by Deborah Santana
All the Women in My Family Sing: Women Write the World – Essays on Equality, Justice, and Freedom, edited by Deborah Santana.
Nothing But The Truth, San Francisco, CA, 2018.
Adult anthology, 365 pages.
NOTES: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Because this book contains 69 pieces, I decided to review it in three parts.
The essays and poems in AtWiMFS are roughly grouped into 8 categories, each containing between 7 and 10 pieces. Most are quite short, but I do like to comment briefly on each one, so I’ve decided to break this up so it’s not excessively long.
This book struggles, but could be reassuring for children that know an adult who is transitioning.
Introducing Teddy: a gentle story about gender and friendship by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson.
Bloomsbury, New York, 2016.
Picture book, 32 pages.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.
The story of a young child’s imaginary friend who transitions.
I appreciated what this book is trying to do, but we still didn’t like it much. Picture books are hard to write, and Walton has good moments, but at points her text is too wordy. Not that the text-to-picture ratio is off, but the dialogue in particular betrays an awkwardness and lack of flow. Minor character Ava is building a robot that reoccurs and complicates the plot for no reason.
Great illustrations could have compensated and elevated this book into a recommended read. However, the illustration fell flat. Tilly (the teddy bear who is deadnamed in the title), is the main character here. Her emotions are crucial to the story, but barring that we should at least feel some empathy for her.
However, Tilly’s expressions are difficult to read. I had to go over the story several times before finding any cues about her emotions. Kids aren’t likely to pick up on these nuances. In our home, the kids didn’t care about this book, and it didn’t meet our goal.
“Worm loves Worm. ‘Let’s be married’ says Worm to Worm. ‘Yes!’ answers Worm.”
Worm Loves Worm by J. J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato.
Balzer + Bray imprint, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2016.
Picture book, 28 pages.
Lexile: not yet leveled
AR Level: 2.0 (worth 0.5 points) .
Worm loves Worm. So Worm proposes. They want to be married. But then Cricket and Beetle and the rest all have their own ideas about what a wedding should look like. Will Worm and Worm ever be able to just be married?
This book got a lot of attention while marriage equality was still in the news, but the buzz has died down. Although immigration has replaced marriage equality as the hot topic of the moment, Worm Loves Worm is still a valuable addition to your library.
“For now, both teenagers are just taking the bus home from school. Surely it’s not too late to stop things from going wrong. There must be some way to wake Sasha. Divert Richard. Get the driver to stop the bus. There must be something you can do.” p. 5
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater.
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, New York, 2017.
YA nonfiction/true crime, 305 pages.
Lexile: 930L .
AR Level: 6.5 (worth 8.0 points) .
In November 2013, two teens were on the same bus for just eight minutes. Agender senior Sasha fell asleep on the long ride home from fir small private school. Sixteen-year-old Richard was joking with friends as he left his large public school. Then Richard held a lighter to Sasha’s skirt, forever changing the course of both their lives.
This unique, well-written exploration of one particular incident evokes much more. Richard’s struggling (but loving) young mother took in two nieces after her sister was murdered. He grew up in a rough neighborhood, where 4 of his close friends and family members had been murdered before he was 16, and he was mugged at gunpoint only a week before the fire. And Richard was African-American, possibly ADHD, and definitely traumatized. He spent time in a group home because of fights before, but didn’t start them – he was a follower.
Sasha is white, middle class, an only child who had struggled with fitting in before – autistic and agender, with a major passion for public transport. Fi is shy, so fir parents were surprised when fi started wearing skirts. However, they took great joy in seeing the child a psychiatrist told them to lower their hopes for blossoming into a confident, thoughtful teen.
“The day before yesterday, when I wrote about Flatworld, there was a reason I didn’t say anything about the day, which was that when I woke up, I couldn’t move at all.” page 43
Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker.
Viking, Penguin Random House, New York, 2017.
MG science fiction, 283 pages.
Lexile: 940L .
AR Level: not yet leveled
Felix is your average kid, trying to do enough school work to get by, dreaming about his crush, drawing in class, and trying to avoid the school bully. However, he’s also a very special kid, because at three years old, he was fused with an alien from the fourth dimension. With Zyx inside of him, Felix has a lot of disadvantages, and a few advantages, that most kids don’t. But the biggest problem is the Procedure, which is designed to finally separate them but might also kill them both. And it’s happening in 29 days.
This book had a great tagline: “It’s what’s inside that counts… and what’s inside Felix is an alien.” Also, the cover is fabulous, simply presenting the style and major problem of this stand-alone book.
“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.
My thoughts about this book were complicated. It has great promise but falters in some of the execution.
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten.
Magination Press, American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., 2014.
Informative fiction, 36 pages.
The story of Pridefest presented through a parade for family discussion.
This was one of the picture books Husband bought that I mentioned before. I struggled reviewing it since my feelings are mixed. While characters of color are included in this book, it struck me that all the couples included seemed to be either white, or of mixed race. None of the families had two adults of color.