What it’s about: The is a celebration of America, its diversity, and its flag.
What made me pick it up: I really like this illustrator, Kadir Nelson — he didHenry’s Freedom Box and If You Plant a Seed— although I didn’t realize that until I got the book. It must have been reviewed well somewhere or sounded intriguing, so I placed a hold on it.
My favorite things: The illustrations are beautiful! Combined with the spare prose this is a powerful book. It really conveys the message of the American flag across history and throughout the vastness of the country, its people, and its customs. I enjoyed such a simple, yet positive, message.
Who it’s great for: Anyone who needs a small reminder of why America is great, especially when it might not feel that way. Readers who enjoy great illustrations and want to feel briefly that they are in an art gallery while reading a book.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman because I like his other stuff. Whereas by Layli Long Soldier because Native American poetry. White Working Class by Joan C. Williams because I read White Trash and am just on a jaunt on that subject.
What it’s about: COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg considers her own experiences and gives advice for women on investing fully in career and life. You can also read Erica’s review of Sandberg’s later book Option B.
What made me pick it up: I’ve been meaning to check it out for a while and the audiobook was available to check out.
My favorite things: Some will argue that this is geared only toward certain women, but Sandberg does a great job of identifying her own privileges and trying to adapt her advice to women who may not have the same opportunities. She also encourages women to fully commit to whatever decisions they make even if they aren’t the same ones she would make.
Who it’s great for: Women looking for advice on career and life or insight into one woman’s rise to the top. Readers who enjoyed Sandberg’s later book, Option B.
What it’s about: In this second book of the Lowriders in Space series, three friends close their garage and journey to the center of the earth to rescue their cat, Genie, from Mitlantecuhtli the Aztec god of the underworld.
What made me pick it up: This was recommended and lent to me by a coworker.
My favorite things: Camper’s liberal use of Spanish vocabulary (with translation in footnotes and a glossary at the end of the book) adds depth to the story. The translations appear after only the first time each Spanish word appears and I appreciated the assumption that the readers are capable of learning terms that might be new to them. The art, making use of only blue, red, and black, is fun and engaging and has the feel of something that might have started as a (very impressive) doodle.
Who it’s great for: Tweens looking for a fun adventure with a bit of mythology thrown in the mix.
What it’s about: A family who escaped slavery and their journey to join the colony of maroons in the middle of Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp to live freely.
What made me pick it up: A coworker came down to tell me she was working on her book talk for it and I realized I had read the author’s previous work (Serafina’s Promise) and love a novel in verse so I took it from her when she offered and checked it out.
My favorite things: This book is powerful. The verse nature of the writing makes it go very quickly. The first-person narration helps bring to life the experience of slavery for Grace. As someone who once was a nine-year-old who had trouble keeping her thoughts in her head and not saying whatever she thought, it really brought home how that once had much worse consequences. I could relate to all of Grace’s emotions — especially guilt. Even though you are fairly certain of the outcome, it’s still an edge-of-your-seat read as Grace and her family flee for their lives.
Who it’s great for: Anyone who wants to learn more about a lesser known group of runaway slaves/slave settlement. Readers who want an emotional portrayal of the slavery and runaway experience.
What it’s about: Feminist scholars Hannah and Marcelle re-read and watch all of the Harry Potter books and films and tear them apart. With love.
What made me tune in: There was no chance I would pass up a podcast with both the perfect premise and the perfect name.
My favorite things: If you love something, rip it to shreds. Or, that seems to be the guiding idea behind this podcast. Hosts Hannah and Marcelle rejoice in the strong characters and engaging storytelling that make Harry Potter what it is, but still aren’t afraid to challenge various aspects of the books and films that are problematic. I think my favorite recurring segment is the one where they consider that Harry’s narration may be unreliable and that the story should be read with a grain of salt. A very big grain of salt.
Who it’s great for: Anyone who loves the Harry Potter stories but has struggled with some of the details. If you’ve tuned in to listen to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text you might enjoy the way this podcast approaches the books from a new angle.
Find it for free wherever you access your podcasts. Or here.
What it’s about: Third grader Hazy starts having premonitions about what will happen the next day and the results of her trying to use those fuzzy visions to prevent (or maybe cause) catastrophe.
What made me pick it up: I saw it recommended a couple times by our children’s librarians for reader’s advisory requests. I looked into it and thought it might be something my soon-to-be third grade niece might like for Christmas so I placed a hold on it and read it as a gift preview.
My favorite things: This book is really fun. I like giving my niece books that contain characters that get up to high jinks but really only have good intentions. Previously I gifted her The Astounding Brocoolli Boy and this is similar in tone. I liked Hazy’s realistic relationships with siblings, parents, and friends. It nailed being a third grader and all the complications that can come with that. It also has a good acceptance of self and others story line. I look forward to future Hazy books.
Who it’s great for: Third graders. Kids who stumble and blunder their way through sometimes. Readers looking for tiny adventures.