Librarians Read: Middle Grade Refugee Stories

Recently the fourth and fifth grade classes have both begun literature units exploring historical fiction with a special focus in the fourth grade on refugee stories. These two new books are both excellent choices in the genre. A Story Like the Wind begins with 9 people on a boat on the open waters of most likely of the Mediterranean Sea. The refugees are all sharing the small supplies that they have managed to bring such water or a bit of food, however one boy has nothing to share but the story of a white horse that through his refusal to be tamed brought about the end of a despotic tyrant. It’s an especially lovely book with a scattering of beautiful drawings along with the story-within-a-story text. The Night Diary is set in 1947 at the time that Pakistan was established as a separate state from India. This is a problem for young Nisha and her family as her father is a Hindu and must now relocate the family. Because he is a doctor, Nisha’s father delays the move until another doctor can come to replace him at the hospital. This means that when the family finally begins their journey ethnic tensions and conflict have become quite dangerous. The perilous trip is also complicated by drought conditions and the health of both Nisha’s elderly grandmother and twin brother. The text of the story is recorded in diary entries from Nisha to her mother who died during childbirth. It is quite a heartfelt and memorable tale.

Events: The 2019 Youth Media Awards

The end of January always brings a wave of excitement to libraries around the world because this is when the Library Youth Media Awards are announced. This prestigious list includes the Newbery Award for best children’s book (for 2019 … Mercy Suarez Changes Gears), the Caldecott award for best illustrated book (Hello Lighthouse) and the Printz award for the best young adult book (The Poet X). There are also many other categories including nonfiction at both the children’s and young adult level (Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees), adult books recommended for high school readers (Educated) and more. Take a look at the complete list; almost all are already available at the AAS library. Stop in and pick up a winning title to enjoy.

Librarians Read: Author Studies

It can wonderful to examine the range of work created by favorite authors and illustrators. Some artists always maintain a very specific style, while others like to have a great degree of variation in their work. Both Kindergarten and Grade 2 have recently been looking at the range of work created by various authors and illustrators. Above are some of the favorites that we’ve read together during library time.

Librarians Read: good new adult nonfiction choices!

Are you looking for some good nonfiction books? Two great ones that I read over winter vacation are Tara Westover’s memoir, “Educated,” and Priya Parker’s guide to creating optimal events, “The Art of Gathering.” In Educated: a memoir, Westover recounts her riveting life story of growing up off the grid, largely homeschooled and unsupervised. In spite of so many obstacles, she goes on to seek her own education and even more important her survival. In The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters Priya Parker supplies the reader with many tips on how to throw a wonderful and inclusive gathering whether it is a birthday party, a dinner party or a less ceremonial event. The last section of the books is perhaps the most interesting when she describes the work she does in worlds of business and world politics.

New: Check-out our “Lifestory” box in the ES picture book section

So many good picture books have been published about famous historical figures lately that we had to make a new section to feature them. Please ask any staff member to point you to the “Genre_Lifestory” boxes where you will find books like this one about Mary Shelley who grew up to become one of the first major female writers. You will also find books about famous scientists, explorers, inventors and more. All of these books have great illustrations but will not overwhelm the reader with text. Other biographical books with more writing and fewer visual features will remain in the general biography section J 921. Happy reading!

Librarians Read: Victor LaValle’s Destroyer

I really appreciated the narrative choices and gorgeous artwork in this graphic adaptation of the Frankenstein story, though the story itself was occasionally a bit rushed and therefore hard to follow. The central character of the scientist mom was really well developed including solid connections to both #blacklivesmatter and #metoo. Her son was killed by a police officer while coming home from a little league game and though she was able to use her skills in nanotechnology to bring him back him in a form, she had to keep her accomplishments and anger hidden in order to function in society. But when the original monster created by Dr. Frankenstein returns to seek vengeance she also finds an outlet for her rage.

Librarians Read: Short and Skinny

Middle school life is not so easy when you are short and skinny and a default target of the neighborhood bullies and this terrific graphic memoir captures it all. This genre is really booming lately and I appreciate it. I loved reading about young Mark’s adoration of his bicycle, his feeling of belonging upon seeing Star Wars, and watching him make that epic movie! Plus his bully notes and dread of summer swim team were so spot on. Great comics and a wonderful capture of the time.

You can find this book in our Middle Grade graphic novel section.

Librarians Read: Louisiana’ Way Home

This was a sweet and classic Kate DiCamillo work. Of course I loved the plucky main character Louisiana and her backstory had some good shock value. Burke Allen was a precious companion and the array of crazy adult characters were all well-realized and certainly individuals. If you are looking for a well-written middle grade novel then Kate DiCamillo works are always a stellar choice.

This one is in the Middle Grade Realistic section.

What We’re Reading: The Secret History

This is the perfectly mastered story of a California youth who leaves the sunshine behind and lands at a New England college studying classics with a exclusive group of privileged students. The book is full of atmosphere and mystery and the full depths of the secrets alluded to by the title are slowly meted out to the reader. Connections to the Great Gatsby abound as well as to the classic philosophies that the students are reading. A dark and engrossing novel that will really stay with you.

This book can be found in the Literature section along with many other terrific works.

Librarians Read: Rosewater

Rosewater is totally engrossing and stunning sci-fi work from Nigerian writer Tade Thompson. The world has changed significantly following the first successful extraterrestrial landing in England. The ship and the life on it seemed to disappear into the ground at Hyde Park but in other places in the world strange transformations have taken place such as the biodome in Nigeria which provides energy to Rosewood, the circular city that surrounds it. Some people have acquired or been born with transformations too such as Kaaro who can follow people’s thoughts by accessing the psychic energy connecting the new world, the xenosphere. A reformed thief, Kaaro now works for the government as an interrogator and investigator. Both current and past mysteries are revealed as we navigate this new world through Kaaro’s narrative.