Archive for December, 2017

Review of The Antlered Ship, by Dashka Slater, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

The Antlered Ship

by Dashka Slater
illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Beach Lane Books, 2017. 44 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a picture book adventure story featuring animals. I expected trite, corny, or hokey. What I found was charming and marvelous.

The book begins by introducing us to a fox who asks philosophical questions:

The day the antlered ship arrived, Marco wondered about the wide world.

He had so many questions.
Why do some songs make you happy and others make you sad?
Why don’t trees ever talk?
How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea?

But when he posed these questions to the other foxes, they grew silent.
“What does that have to do with chicken stew?” they asked.

Marco goes to the harbor to see the ship and learns that the crew of deer onboard are lost. They hope to hire better sailors. Marco signs on, in hopes of finding other foxes who know the answers to his questions. A flock of pigeons, led by Victor, signs on, hoping to have adventures. The original deer crew, led by the captain Sylvia, are looking for an island with tall, sweet grass and short, sweet trees.

But first, they find adventures. The crew gets discouraged by the difficulties they face. This is my favorite page:

“We should have stayed in the woods,” Sylvia said. “Deer aren’t supposed to go to sea.”
“We should have stayed in the park,” added Victor. “Pigeons aren’t supposed to do hard labor.”
Marco eyed the deer and the pigeons. “Foxes aren’t supposed to be vegetarian,” he said. “Still, we must do the best we can.”

No, Marco doesn’t eat the crew. He makes a warm and reviving stew of vegetables and revives his friends to continue their quest.

Marco continues to pour forth philosophical questions throughout the book. Things like: “Do islands like being alone? Do waves look more like horses or swans?” But the question for which he finds the best answers is “What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?”

And though the others’ initial quests are satisfied, the friends decide that they want to travel on….

The beautiful illustrations by Terry Fan and Eric Fan add just the right touch to give the animals’ efforts seriousness. At the same time, their naïve ideas are child-sized. Children will delight to share the adventure.

dashkaslater.com
thefanbrothers.com
simonandschuster.com/kids

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly

Friday, December 29th, 2017

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 (HarperCollins), 2016. 349 pages.
Starred Review

After I saw the movie Hidden Figures, I immediately ordered myself a copy of this book. I knew it was one I’d want to own. I was not wrong. (And I have a small collection of books related to Math.)

Now, the movie is – a movie. It presents a summary of the high points of the lives of three female black mathematicians who made a difference at NASA, especially in getting a man to the moon. It’s told in an entertaining way and makes an inspiring story.

The book has a whole lot more detail. The three women featured in the movie had long careers at NASA that lasted decades. Many black female mathematicians began working for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics as far back as World War II.

The book has many more details and a far wider scope. You get hints of all the author will cover in her Prologue. Here are some bits from that.

Even if the tale had begun and ended with the first five black women who went to work at Langley’s segregated west side in May 1943 – the women later known as the “West Computers” – I still would have committed myself to recording the facts and circumstances of their lives. Just as islands – isolated places with unique, rich biodiversity – have relevance for the ecosystems everywhere, so does studying seemingly isolated or overlooked people and events from the past turn up unexpected connections and insights to modern life. The idea that black women had been recruited to work as mathematicians at the NASA installation in the South during the days of segregation defies our expectations and challenges much of what we think we know about American history. It’s a great story, and that alone makes it worth telling….

I discovered one 1945 personnel document describing a beehive of mathematical activity in an office in a new building on Langley’s west side, staffed by twenty-five black women coaxing numbers out of calculators on a twenty-four-hour schedule, overseen by three black shift supervisors who reported to two white head computers. Even as I write the final words of this book, I’m still doing the numbers. I can put names to almost fifty black women who worked as computers, mathematicians, engineers, or scientists at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory from 1943 through 1980, and my intuition is that twenty more names can be shaken loose from the archives with more research….

To a first-time author with no background as a historian, the stakes involved in writing about a topic that was virtually absent from the history books felt high. I’m sensitive to the cognitive dissonance conjured by the phrase “black female mathematicians at NASA.” From the beginning, I knew that I would have to apply the same kind of analytical reasoning to my research that these women applied to theirs. Because as exciting as it was to discover name after name, finding out who they were was just the first step. The real challenge was to document their work. Even more than the surprisingly large numbers of black and white women who had been hiding in a profession seen as universally white and male, the body of work they left behind was a revelation….

But before a computer became an inanimate object, and before Mission Control landed in Houston; before Sputnik changed the course of history, and before the NACA became NASA; before the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka established that separate was in fact not equal, and before the poetry of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech rang out over the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Langley’s West Computers were helping America dominate aeronautics, space research, and computer technology, carving out a place for themselves as female mathematicians who were also black, black mathematicians who were also female. For a group of bright and ambitious African American women, diligently prepared for a mathematical career and eager for a crack at the big leagues, Hampton, Virginia, must have felt like the center of the universe.

I must admit, what excited me about this story is that it’s a story about many female mathematicians!

Why is that exciting to me? Well, back in the 1980s, I was a 21-year-old PhD student in Math at UCLA. Out of 120 new graduate students that year, only 5 of us were female, and only one other female was in the PhD program. I did end up dropping out of the PhD program and settling for my Master’s. But while I was there, I felt so much like an exception. The Math department had a long line of portraits on the wall of great mathematicians – and I only remember one woman, Emmy Noether. I always took great pleasure in getting better grades than my male fellow students (as an undergrad, anyway) – but it would have been nice to know about a time when, during World War II especially, the government specifically recruited women to do math.

Now, once they hired them, it was an uphill battle to get the pay or recognition that men with the same qualifications should get. That’s part of the story in Hidden Figures as these brilliant women worked to get the promotions and pay they deserved. Mary Jackson in the book and in the movie overcame obstacles to get the title of “engineer.”

But the book also talks about the history of civil rights as it was played out at Langley. The beautiful thing was that these brilliant women could do the math – and the quality of their work did prevail over the years.

The book begins in 1943, when Dorothy Vaughan began working at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. It continues through landing a man on the moon, and how Katherine Johnson’s equations helped get them there. An epilogue refers to many more years and many more women serving our country with mathematical skills.

This book isn’t a quick summary – watch the movie for that. (And I highly recommend it!) It does give a detailed and epic story of brilliant, unappreciated women who made a lasting contribution to American history.

I like the way the Epilogue puts it:

Katherine Johnson’s story can be a doorway to the stories of all the other women, black and white, whose contributions have been overlooked. By recognizing the full complement of extraordinary ordinary women who have contributed to the success of NASA, we can change our understanding of their abilities from the exception to the rule. Their goal wasn’t to stand out because of their differences, it was to fit in because of their talent. Like the men they worked for, and the men they sent hurtling off into the atmosphere, they were just doing their jobs. I think Katherine would appreciate that.

margotleeshetterly.com

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Source: This review is based on my own copy, purchased via Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Charlie and Mouse, by Laurel Snyder

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Charlie & Mouse

by Laurel Snyder
illustrated by Emily Hughes

Chronicle Books, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Early readers about two friends are classic. In this one, we follow the adventures of two brothers. We’ve got four simple stories about everyday events. The stories feel familiar, are abundantly illustrated. They’re easy to read and leave you with a smile.

I like the way the first story, “Lumps,” begins with Charlie poking lumps after he wakes up. The first lump is Mouse. The next lumps are Mom and Dad.

All the lumps claim to be sleeping at first, but how can you be sleeping if you are talking? And today is the day of the neighborhood party!

The next story, “The Party,” sees the whole family setting off to the neighborhood party. They pull Blanket in the wagon. Dad brings cookies.

I like the way the kids are dressed. Charlie’s got a cape and a pink pointed hat and a magic wand. Mouse has two antennae, a fringed leather vest, cowboy boots, and a tutu over his pants.

As they walk to the party, they pass many neighborhood kids, who join them. When they get to the playground, no one is there. But the whole neighborhood has come, and the party is wonderful.

In the next story, “Rocks,” Charlie and Mouse want to make some money and try selling rocks. People don’t want to buy rocks, but they will pay to have Charlie and Mouse take away rocks. But they’re so tired, they end up spending their money on ice cream.

Finally, in “Bedtime Banana,” the kids think of a new treat that should happen at bedtime. The book ends with Charlie thinking what a nice lump is in bed next to him.

This book is in the tradition of easy reader twosomes. It deals with simple friendship and everyday events. The language is simple without being remotely boring. The pictures illustrate what’s going on and add humor and life. This will be a treat for kids who can read it themselves.

I like the statement in the Author’s Bio on the back flap: Laurel Snyder has two sons, and she “would like to state for the record that while none of these stories are exactly true, none of them are exactly untrue either.”

laurelsnyder.com
chroniclekids.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of March, Book Three, by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

March, Book Three

by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
art by Nate Powell

Top Shelf Productions, 2016. 246 pages.
Starred Review
2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
2017 Printz Award
2017 Coretta Scott King Author Award
2017 Siebert Medal
2017 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction
2017 Battle of the Books Winner

I was at the Youth Media Awards in Atlanta, Georgia, on the Monday after Trump’s inauguration, when this book by John Lewis won an unprecedented four awards, and not a single Honor among them. Atlanta is John Lewis’ home district, so he was there, and had participated in the weekend’s Women’s March. Later that day, I went to the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award program and heard John Lewis speak. Every speaker mentioned how thrilled they were to be in the room with him. After that, I received a free copy of this book, got it signed, and shook his hand.

And this book continues the telling of his story, in graphic novel form. This volume 3 contains more violence than the earlier volumes. It begins with a bombing of a church in Birmingham on September 15, 1963, and continues through Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, when marchers were met with violence at the Edmund Pettis Bridge and John Lewis was hospitalized, and ends with the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law.

The whole story is framed by looking back from the day of President Obama’s Inauguration – a direct result of the work that was done in the 1960s.

The book is about idealism and about conflict – from both within the movement and outside it. It’s also about nonviolence being met with violence and standing for what you know is right.

An accessible look at history through the eyes of someone who was there, this book is a monumental achievement and deserves all of the many awards it has won.

I’m putting this on my page for Children’s Nonfiction, because it is written for teens (and I don’t have a teen page for nonfiction). But be aware that the level of violence is high – because that’s what these activists faced. They put their lives on the line for what’s right.

topshelfcomix.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

Accidental Saints

Finding God in All the Wrong People

by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Convergent Books, 2015. 211 pages.
Starred Review

I had checked this book out a few times in the past (as well as the author’s earlier book, Pastrix), but had never gotten around to reading it until a friend mentioned how good it is. Then I checked it out and got started right away – and gobbled it up quickly. I have no idea what took me so long to open it up, but better late than never.

Nadia Bolz-Weber tells stories in this book about ordinary, fallible people in her life who have made her see God’s grace, who have touched her life in miraculous ways.

Her book uses the structure of the church calendar, beginning with All Saints’ Day, where at her church, the House for All Sinners and Saints, they began a tradition of making “saint cookies” on All Saints’ Sunday.

Apart from those who have fallen in combat, Americans tend to forget our ancestors, and we spend as little time as possible publicly mourning them. But in the church, we do the very odd thing of proclaiming that the dead are still a part of us, a part of our lives, and are even an animating presence in the church. Saint Paul describes the saints as “a great cloud of witnesses,” so when they have passed, we still hold them up, hoping perhaps that their virtues – their ability to have faith in God in the face of an oppressive empire or a failing crop or the blight of cancer – might become our own virtue, our own strength.

But while she was thinking about saints who have gone before, her attention was called to a founder of a church there in Denver who did wonderful things but was also a racist. She was challenged to think of that woman as a saint. But I love this reflection:

Personally, I think knowing the difference between a racist and a saint is kind of important. But when Jesus again and again says things like the last shall be first, and the first shall be last, and the poor are blessed, and the rich are cursed, and that prostitutes make great dinner guests, it makes me wonder if our need for pure black-and-white categories is not true religion but maybe actually a sin. Knowing what category to place hemlock in might help us know whether it’s safe to drink, but knowing what category to place ourselves and others in does not help us know God in the way that the church so often has tried to convince us it does.

And anyway, it has been my experience that what makes us the saints of God is not our ability to be saintly but rather God’s ability to work through sinners. The title “saint” is always conferred, never earned. Or as the good Saint Paul puts it, “For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). I have come to realize that all the saints I’ve known have been accidental ones – people who inadvertently stumbled into redemption like they were looking for something else at the time, people who have just a wee bit of a drinking problem and manage to get sober and help others to do the same, people who are as kind as they are hostile.

This book tells about those kind of saints – deeply flawed, but people who God works through.

So that’s a description of this book, but it doesn’t completely convey the lovely warm grace the book extends.

And I say lovely – but I should mention that her stories are full of profanity. She doesn’t take a pious pose but presents real people and doesn’t try to cover up her own weaknesses and judgments and anger and need for grace.

Here’s another section I loved, coming after a story of a friend who had done something awful, reminding her of Peter and his denial of Christ:

The adjective so often coupled with mercy is the word tender, but God’s mercy is not tender; this mercy is a blunt instrument. Mercy doesn’t wrap a warm, limp blanket around offenders. God’s mercy is the kind that kills the thing that wronged it and resurrects something new in its place. In our guilt and remorse, we may wish for nothing but the ability to rewrite our own past, but what’s done cannot, will not, be undone.

But I am here to say that in the mercy of God it can be redeemed. I cling to the truth of God’s ability to redeem us more than perhaps any other. I have to. I need to. I want to. For whenwe say “Lord have mercy,” what else could we possibly mean than this truth? And to say “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy” is to lay our hope in the redeeming work of the God of Easter as though our lives depended on it. Because they do. It means that we are an Easter people, a people who know that resurrection, especially in and among the least likely people and places, is the way that God redeems even the biggest messes we make – mine, Peter’s, Bruce’s.

And I loved this section, in a chapter about Judas and the Eucharist:

Jeff, like so many of us, is changed by the word of grace that he hears in church. He is formed by the Word of God. He is given a place where he is told by others that he is a child of God. He is given a place where he can look other people in the eye, other annoying, inconsistent, arrogant people in the eye, hand them bread, and say, “Child of God, the body of Christ, given for you,” and then he, in his own arrogant inconsistencies, has a frame of grace through which to see even the people he can’t stand. I argue that this wouldn’t just happen alone.

This is why we have Christian community. So that we can stand together under the cross and point to the gospel. A gospel that Bonhoeffer said is “frankly hard for the pious to understand. Because this grace confronts us with the truth saying: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner, now come as the sinner you are to a God who loves you.”

God wants you, you in your imperfect, broken, shimmering glory.

Amen! This book will uplift you, remind you of your own need for grace, and nudge you to go to a community and receive that grace through other people loved by Jesus.

nadiabolzweber.com
crownpublishing.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Dawalt

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

by Drew Daywalt
pictures by Adam Rex

Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 2017. 48 pages.
Starred Review

Okay, this book is tremendously silly. And way too much fun!

The idea is not surprising, and doesn’t, actually, sound like a great story: A tale of three fierce warriors who couldn’t find anyone to defeat them until they found each other – and so the tribute game of Rock Paper Scissors began. I mean, we all know that anthropomorphizing inanimate objects is problematic at best. (I’m not even much of a fan of the author’s previous bestselling picture book, The Day the Crayons Quit.)

But the execution of this idea is absolutely brilliant! It won over even me.

I think it’s the over-the-top breathless announcer-voice language which begs to be read aloud that wins me over:

Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK. Rock was the strongest in all the land, but he was sad because no one could give him a worthy challenge.

Rock traveled to the mysterious Forest of Over by the Tire Swing, where he met a warrior who hung on a rope, holding a giant’s underwear.

“Drop that underwear and battle me, you ridiculous wooden clip-man!”

“I will pinch you and make you cry, Rock Warrior!”

ROCK versus CLOTHESPIN!

Rock is victorious!

Next Rock battles Apricot, which cries out, “I will beat you, Rock, with my tart and tangy sweetness!”

After he wins, Rock poignantly proclaims, “And yet, smooshing you has brought me no joy.” He leaves the Kingdom of Backyard still in search of a worthy foe.

Next, we enter the Empire of Mom’s Home Office where a second great warrior named Paper seeks the glory of battle. In delightfully silly, yet written oh-so-seriously, Paper defeats Computer Printer and Half-Eaten Bag of Trail Mix. Where can Paper find an opponent who can give him a good battle?

Then, of course, in the Kitchen Realm, in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, there lived a third great warrior. My favorite battle in the entire book is Scissors versus dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.

I have come from the far reaches of Kitchen to battle you, O bizarre and yummy breaded dinosaurs!

Bow before our child-pleasing shapes and flavors, sword master!

No one can resist our crunchy awesomeness!

When these fierce warriors encounter each other, you know how the battles turn out!

And the three great warriors hugged each other and danced for joy, and they became fast friends. Finally, they had each met their matches. They were so happy, in fact, that they began to battle again….

The illustrations in this book are partly what makes it so perfect. They’ve got drama and seriousness making these epic battles ever so silly. This book was a huge hit when I booktalked it to younger elementary grades. I had all kinds of fun reading it to the classrooms, and it was then checked out all summer. Older preschoolers may enjoy it, too – especially if they have ever played Rock Paper Scissors.

adamrex.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, performed by Bahni Turpin

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas
performed by Bahni Turpin

HarperCollins Publishers, 2017. 11¾ hours on 10 compact discs.
Starred Review

Wow. This debut novel packs a big punch.

Starr Carter lives in two lives. There’s Garden Heights, where she lives and where her dad runs a store, where gangs fight over territory and they hear gunshots at night. And then there’s the world of Williamson, the private school in the suburbs that she attends, where she is one of two white people in the junior class.

Starr goes to a party in her neighborhood and gets a ride home with Khalil, a childhood friend she hasn’t seen in a while. But a policeman pulls him over for a broken tail light and doesn’t like Khalil’s attitude. After the cop pulls him out of the car and tells him to hold still, Khalil opens the car door to ask Starr if she’s okay – and the policeman shoots Khalil three times. He dies before Starr’s eyes.

The book is about Starr’s reaction to that and the many repercussions. Right away, the news starts portraying Khalil as a gang member and a drug dealer and a thug – as if that means he deserves to die. She doesn’t want anyone to know she was the witness – but her friends at Williamson don’t understand why this incident has affected her so much.

The story continues through the grand jury decision about whether the policeman should be prosecuted – and the reaction in Garden Heights.

I was deeply moved by this book – and could begin to imagine what it would be like to have a friend die in front of me – in a way that a news story alone doesn’t bring home, with all its implications.

Listening to this book was a good way to enjoy it. I liked hearing the narrator use a different voice when Starr was talking in Garden Heights as opposed to when she was among her white friends, taking care to speak precisely and properly. This isn’t family listening unless your whole family doesn’t mind hearing a lot of profanity – It’s appropriate and also helps set the scene, but do be aware it’s there.

The book is long, and a bit repetitive in spots, but I’m a lot more patient with that when I’m listening, since I’m in the car anyway. I was glad when I had an extra-long drive toward the end, because I wanted to hear more of this amazing book.

And yes, lives like Khalil’s – and all the actual young men he represents – do matter. If he didn’t live a perfect life, that doesn’t make it okay to shoot him when he was unarmed and no threat. This book brings that message home – with a story and characters who will pull you in and make you care.

angiethomas.com
harperaudio.com

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Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Building a Bridge, by James Martin, S. J.

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Building a Bridge

How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity

by James Martin, S.J.

HarperOne, 2017. 150 pages.
Starred Review

After my son came out as transgender and I began referring to her as my daughter, I’ve been approached by several friends telling me that their own child is transgender, lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Most of those friends also attend my church. To all of those friends, I’m going to start recommending this little book, with its focus on letting LGBT folks know that Jesus loves and accepts them.

This little book was born out of a talk the author gave after the Orlando tragedy. At that time, he was saddened that not many church leaders spoke in support of the LGBT community, which had been so horribly targeted.

I found this revelatory. The fact that only a few Catholic bishops acknowledged the LGBT community or even used the word gay at such a time showed that the LGBT community is still invisible in many quarters of the church. Even in tragedy its members are invisible.

This event helped me to recognize something in a new way: the work of the Gospel cannot be accomplished if one part of the church is essentially separated from any other part. Between the two groups, the LGBT community and the institutional church, a chasm has formed, a separation for which a bridge needs to be built.

This is not a book about doctrine. I found that refreshing. He didn’t even approach the topic of whether or not having sex with someone of the same gender is sinful. (God Believes in Love, by Gene Robinson, is a good book for explaining from the Bible that it isn’t.) In the chapter about respect, he says:

Recognizing that LGBT Catholics exist has important pastoral implications. It means carrying out ministries to these communities, which some dioceses and parishes already do very well. Examples include celebrating Masses with LGBT groups, sponsoring diocesan and parish outreach programs, and in general helping LGBT Catholics feel that they are part of the church, that they are welcomed and loved.

Some Catholics have objected to this approach, saying that any outreach implies a tacit agreement with everything that anyone in the LGBT community says or does. This seems an unfair objection, because it is raised with virtually no other group. If a diocese sponsors, for example, an outreach group for Catholic business leaders, it does not mean that the diocese agrees with every value of corporate America. Nor does it mean that the church has sanctified everything that every businessman or businesswoman says or does. No one suggests that. Why not? Because people understand that the diocese is trying to help the members of that group feel more connected to their church, the church they belong to by virtue of their baptism.

The three things he focuses on are in the subtitle: Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity. And he’s not talking only in one direction, but says that both groups need to work on building the bridge from both sides.

On this bridge, as in life, there are tolls. It costs when you live a life of respect, compassion, and sensitivity. But to trust in that bridge is to trust that eventually people will be able to cross back and forth easily, and that the hierarchy and the LGBT community will be able to encounter one another, accompany one another, and love one another.

But I especially liked the section after the essay on bridge-building, because I didn’t expect anything like it when I picked up this book. This section has the title “Biblical Passages for Reflection and Meditation.” The biblical passages that follow are accompanied by questions for reflection and would be interesting to use in a small group setting. No, these are most definitely not the “clobber passages” used to assert that homosexuality is sinful, or explanations for how they should be interpreted. Instead, we have passages about how the church is one body, about the good Samaritan, about Jesus’ encounters with people who’d been excluded by the religious authorities of his day.

I like the passage about the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and especially this question: “At various points in your life, your eyes may also have been ‘kept from recognizing’ the presence of God’s grace in the life of your family member or friend. What opened your eyes?”

Finally, the book ends with “A Prayer for When I Feel Rejected.”

What a lovely book! I heartily hope that someday something similar will be written for the evangelical church. While we are waiting, there is much that Christians of any flavor can find to value in this one. Let’s build bridges, too!

JamesMartinSJ.com
harperone.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate

by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Candlewick Press, 2017. 90 pages.
Starred Review

A fifth book about the Princess in Black! I like the way she’s maintaining her secret identity, but now her friends are emulating the Princess in Black with their own attempts to fight monsters.

At the start, the Princess in Black and the Goat Avenger drive a monster back into Monster Land. But then the Princess in Black has mysterious plans and must leave. What she doesn’t tell the Goat Avenger is that she has a playdate with Princess Sneezewort.

But a very sneaky monster follows her to Princess Sneezewort’s kingdom! It interrupts the playdate. Princess Sneezewort, inspired by the Princess in Black, becomes the Princess in Blankets. (After all, blankets make a good disguise.) As it happens, she discovers exactly the ninja skills needed against a super-sneaky monster.

I like the way these books inspire everyone to become a hero, battle monsters – and then celebrate together!

squeetus.com
candlewick.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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Review of A Christmas Return, by Anne Perry

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

A Christmas Return

by Anne Perry

Ballantine Books, 2017. 176 pages.

Anne Perry’s Christmas murder mysteries have become a holiday tradition for me. They’re cozy; they’re short; and reading one is a nice way to indulge myself as Christmas approaches.

A Christmas Return features Charlotte Pitt’s grandmother Mariah Ellison, who is asked for help with a striking message – a Christmas pudding with a fake cannonball inside. She’s being told that someone is digging up the case about an old friend who was killed when his bookcase fell over and a decorative fake cannonball struck him, which happened twenty years before.

The dead man’s grandson is asking for her help. He was only ten years old when the death happened. Now he wants Mariah’s help clearing his grandmother’s name. Mariah was there at the time, so she alone can help.

These Christmas mysteries are short, but Anne Perry gives us enough back story to care. And there’s something nice at Christmas about seeing justice done and good people vindicated.

anneperry.co.uk
randomhousebooks.com

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?