Archive for June, 2019

Review of I Am Farmer, by Baptiste & Miranda Paul, illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

I Am Farmer

Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon

by Baptiste & Miranda Paul
illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon

Millbrook Press, 2019. 36 pages.
Starred Review
Review written April 20, 2019, from a library book

This picture book biography tells about Farmer Tantoh of Cameroon, who ever since he was a small boy loved the soil and wanted to be a farmer. So much so that he took that as his name in high school and purposely flunked an exam that could have given him an office job.

Later he did go on to college, and to this day he works to bring clean water throughout his country and spreads good farming practices and cooperation.

The book follows Farmer Tantoh from childhood, through his college years when he caught typhoid from contaminated water, through his work today.

Here’s an example from one spread:

One project leads to another and another. Farmer Tantoh founds Save Your Future Association, a nonprofit organization to which people around the world can donate money and supplies. With local and international support, he finds a way to bring clean water to Njirong, a village suffering after a thirty-year conflict.

He begins a water delivery service for blind students. He hires engineers to design stairways, railings, or ramps for villagers with physical disabilities. In places with large populations, communities build reservoirs so that in times of drought, people can get the water they need.

The book is beautifully illustrated with Elizabeth Zunon’s wonderful collage artwork, and there are photographs on the endpapers which bring home that this is a real person. I like the Author’s Note, which tells us, “We traveled to northwest Cameroon in 2017, and we were overwhelmed by the number of villagers – from the very young to the elderly – who were beyond eager to tell or show us how Tantoh’s work had changed their lives.”

This is an inspiring story that I’m so glad to have read about.

baptistepaul.net
mirandapaul.com
lizzunon.com
lernerbooks.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/i_am_farmer.html

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.

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 The Stone Sky, by N. K. Jemisin

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

The Stone Sky

The Broken Earth, Book 3

by N. K. Jemisin

Orbit Books, 2017. 416 pages.
Starred Review
2018 Hugo Award Winner
Review written May 18, 2019, from a library book

The Stone Sky finishes off The Broken Earth trilogy, the first trilogy ever to have all three books win Hugo Awards, and the first time an author has won three consecutive Hugo Awards. You should definitely read the books of this trilogy in order, because it would be very confusing without the background laid in the first two books.

The strength of this trilogy is in the world-building, though perhaps I should say in the world-breaking. The planet has literally been broken apart and humanity is dying and all life is struggling in this latest Fifth Season, with the sky full of ash and the earth unstable. There are two people who can do something about that – Essun and her daughter Nassun.

But Essun and Nassun are far apart from each other. Both have been growing more powerful as the trilogy progressed. Nassun has been taken under the wing of Schaffa, the Guardian Essun once thought she’d killed. Essun has been wanting to get to her daughter all this time, but other matters of survival got in the way. By now we wonder what will happen when they come together.

Besides orogeny – feeling and manipulating the forces of earth – the two are learning to manipulate the silvery magic in all living things – including the earth itself – and to harness the power of the obelisks, made by ancient people centuries in the past. But using that power comes with great risk.

The reader also learns more about the Stone Eaters. They were human once, long ago, about the same time that the obelisks were made. In this volume, we hear more of their stories.

I can’t say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading these books. Lots of death and destruction in the middle, and this final book was awfully cerebral – I felt like I sort of understood the mechanisms of magic and orogeny and the obelisks, but not completely.

All the same, this book is unlike anything I’ve read in a long time, and I am amazed at the author’s mastery of world-building and unusual narrative structure. It works, and all tells a fascinating story about family, love, and the fate of the world.

nkjemisin.com
orbitbooks.net

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/stone_sky.html

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.

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?

Summer Reading 2019!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

It’s that time of year — when the children’s library staff go out to the local schools and talk about the summer reading — and some books the kids might enjoy reading.

I need to make a list of the books I’m booktalking, with covers, so that when the kids come to the library and can’t remember the title, they can browse the list. A fun place to put that is my blog. I will provide links to my reviews — though since this was my Newbery year, not all the reviews are posted yet.

[Just a note: Last year I couldn’t publish a list because of being on the Newbery committee. Many of my favorites and 2018 Sonderbooks Stand-outs got booktalked last year.]

My list is more ambitious than I actually end up having time to talk about. But here are the books I booktalked this year, very loosely organized by grade:

Kindergarten to 1st grade:

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, by Ryan T. Higgins

Crash, Splash, or Moo!, by Bob Shea

Thank You, Omu!, by Oge Mora

Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales

We Are Brothers, by Yves Nadon

Kindergarten to 2nd grade:

Two nonfiction books about chickens:

The Hen Who Sailed Around the World, by Guirec Soudee

Hawk Mother, by Kara Hagedorn

Two nonfiction books about geography:

Water Land, by Christy Hale

Animal Antipodes, by Carly Allen-Fletcher

1st to 2nd grade:

Rabbit and Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits, by Jason Gough

(Reading about why rabbits eat their own poo is a sure-fire hit!)

A Is For Elizabeth, by Rachel Vail

2nd to 3rd grade:

Three picture books about inventions:

The Boo-Boos That Changed the World, by Barry Wittenstein

Magic Ramen, by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz

Pass Go and Collect $200, by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Steven Salerno

Like dragons? Both of these begin new series:

Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott

Knights vs. Dinosaurs, by Matt Phelan

Two chapter books for animal lovers:

Saving Winslow, by Sharon Creech

My Father’s Words, by Sarah MacLachlan

4th to 6th grade:

For these grades this year, I start with “my” Newbery winners!

Merci Suarez Changes Gears, by Meg Medina

The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani

The Book of Boy, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

The winner for our own library’s Newbery Book Club:

The Flight of Swans, by Sarah McGuire

Two about Escalator Trades:

The Eleventh Trade, by Alyssa Hollingsworth

The Season of Styx Malone, by Kekla Magoon

Two partly told in pictures:

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, by M. T. Anderson

The Faithful Spy, by John Hendrix

Two about space for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing:

To the Moon, by Jeffrey Kluger

We’re Not From Here, by Geoff Rodkey

Two for Inventors:

Calling All Minds, by Temple Grandin

The Doughnut Fix, by Jessie Janowitz

Two great graphic novels:

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, by Rey Terciero

Be Prepared, by Vera Brosgol

Two more wonderful novels:

Sweep, by Jonathan Auxier

Nowhere Boy, by Katherine Marsh

As you can see, I had far too many favorites to get to talk about them all at each school. But it was fun to share those I could, and maybe they’ll check a few more from this list.

Review of New Kid, by Jerry Craft

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

New Kid

by Jerry Craft
with color by Jim Callahan

Harper, 2019. 250 pages.
Review written March 12, 2019, from a library book

Navigating middle school is the perfect subject for graphic novels and fictionalized memoirs. I’m thinking of Smile, Roller Girl, Real Friends, All’s Faire in Middle School, and Be Prepared — and then realize that none of those I mentioned have a boy protagonist. So, okay, it’s time.

New Kid is about Jordan Banks, an African American boy who’s being sent by his parents to start seventh grade at a fancy private school. Jordan wants to go to art school, but his mother thinks this is such a wonderful opportunity, he needs to go Riverdale Academy Day School.

This graphic novel is about navigating middle school as the new kid – and a new kid who’s one of the few African American students. We notice things like teachers consistently calling him by the wrong name, and other students looking at him when financial aid is mentioned, and assuming he’ll especially like the one teacher who’s African American.

And there are other quirks of middle school. Making friends. A girl who carries a puppet on her hand and talks in a puppet voice. A mean kid and his friends. A nice kid who’s really rich. What your parents want for you versus what you want (art school). Keeping up with friends who don’t attend the private school.

I hope this book is as popular as the ones I named above. It’s a lot of fun, and it throws in some insights along the way.

jerrycraft.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/new_kid.html

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?

Review of More Glimpses of Heaven, by Trudy Harris

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

More Glimpses of Heaven

Inspiring True Stories of Hope and Peace at the End of Life’s Journey

by Trudy Harris, RN

Revell, 2010. 204 pages.
Review written May 30, 2019, from a library book

I don’t remember what I read that prompted me to check out this book, but I’m glad I did. My mother is in the last stages of Alzheimer’s, and recently a dear friend from college died of colon cancer – and this book is deeply comforting.

I read this book in small doses, a couple of stories per day. It’s a collection of true stories from hospice nurses – including Trudy Harris herself – about people finding peace at the end of their lives. Many of the stories have an element of the miraculous – some surprising vision or amazingly perfect timing – but many of the stories don’t, and are simply stories of how someone found peace and love around them as they faced their own death.

I haven’t read Trudy Harris’s first book, Glimpses of Heaven, but intend to do so. This second book was written after other hospice professionals showered her with letters telling her about their own experiences similar to what she had shared.

Here’s what she says about the stories:

Each one is a real-life account of a patient who was dying, and in each instance, the caregiver sensed something greater than themselves at work. These stories lend credence to the belief that when our time arrives, we will not be alone. I remember well hearing these stories told by many of the nurses when we gathered for Hospice team meetings in the past. I am most grateful to them for recounting their experiences here for you.

In these stories you will find God’s loving presence reflected in both the lives of those He is calling home to Himself as well as those caring for them. Look for the compassion, forgiveness, generosity, and tenderness of Jesus’s own heart. Do you recognize Him in those who make life easier and more peaceful for others as they are both living and dying? Do you see His humanity and humor reflected through their kindness? He shows us His face in our everyday lives, and if we pay attention, we will see and hear Him. He is inviting us to become part of the kingdom of God here on earth – and what a wonderful invitation it is!

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/more_glimpses_of_heaven.html

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.

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?