Last Stop On Market Street by Matt De La Peña

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Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: A young boy and his grandma taking the bus through their city.

What made me pick it up: I actually got a few pages into this a year or so ago but didn’t get to finish it. When I saw it available in our Overdrive collection I checked it out.

My favorite things: This has vibrant illustrations and a powerful message of community. I liked the grandmother’s openness to all the people around them and how that rubbed off on her grandson. It is a simple, beautiful story.

Who it’s great for: Littles who want things they can’t afford. Anyone who seeking a story of community. Readers who try to find beauty wherever they look.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Charlottesville

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Image created by beloved Charlottesville store Rock Paper Scissors. Learn more at: https://www.thinkrpscville.com/

As we all begin to move forward after the horrendous Charlottesville violence of August 12, Abby and I thought we would share some books that might make for good reading to further inform on issues of racial and social justice.

Books We Have Reviewed Before
Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color by Marilyn Nelson
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram Kendi
March (series) by John Lewis

Other Titles We Recommend
The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson
Voice of Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
The Crunk Feminist Collection by Brittney Cooper
Hidden Figures by Margot Slatterly
Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Homegoing by Yaa Gayasi
Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon

Enjoy these books and pursue other reading that opens you up to new ideas and the experience of people different than you. Most importantly going forward, treat each other with understanding, kindness, and love.

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don’t! by Elise Parsley

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A picture book about a child who promises to use her indoor voice and not make a mess if only she can bring her circus into the library.

What made me pick it up: I was looking for new books with faces on them for #bookfacefriday when I saw this and grabbed it off a cart to read because libraries.

My favorite things: This is hilarious! I totally understand the spunk of the main character and all of her sincere, if misguided, attempts to make a circus library friendly. Turns out the library isn’t the best place for a circus, but I loved the message of how reading stories is a good alternative. It also has vibrant illustrations.

Who it’s great for: Fans of libraries or circuses. Children who have great, if ill-advised, ideas.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this title at Amazon(affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Sea Otter Heroes by Patricia Newman

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Proof that otters are even more amazing than we thought (because they save ecosystems).

What made me pick it up: I don’t know if you know this yet, but I really, really like otters.

My favorite things: I appreciated how much scientific explanation was in this book. It was a little text heavy for a picture book but perfectly detailed for an older reader. It’s separated into chapters to make reading with your little one easier by breaking it up into segments. And of course, I’m always rooting for the otters. I’m so glad they are being protected so we can discover how beneficial it is to have them around.

Who it’s great for: Budding scientists. Otter lovers.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Before I Forget by B. Smith, Dan Gasby and Michael Shnayerson

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This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Model, restaurateur, and lifestyle guru Smith and her fight against early onset Alzheimer’s.

What made me pick it up: A patron called asking about it and it sounded interesting. I originally thought it was Smith writing about her husband’s early onset diagnosis. I was incorrect.

My favorite things: This is powerful. It is mainly told by Gasby with small sections by Smith. I listened to the audio and hearing how slightly vacant she sounds is heartbreaking. I appreciated their honesty about difficulties they face with her new capabilities and how her continued decline is likely inevitable since the science isn’t ready to fight back quite yet. I admired Gasby’s dedication to Smith even after losing her as the partner she used to be. It made a strong impression of the importance of health insurance, health education, and fundraising for more research to be done. It reminded me a little of Pat Summit’s memoir after her early onset diagnosis which stays with me to this day. I also was glad to learn that there now is a definitive diagnostic test on live patients for Alzheimer’s, although it is cost prohibitive and not usually covered by insurance. *sigh*

Who it’s great for: Individuals or family members of someone with Alzheimer’s. Those curious about the disease.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this title at Amazon or in your local library.


 

Hunger by Roxane Gay

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Roxane Gay reflects on her life in her body. She explores struggles with size, eating disorders, assault, and what it’s like to exist in a world that wasn’t designed to accommodate your body.

What made me pick it up: I love Roxane Gay’s work and I thought this book sounded important.

My favorite things: Take a deep breath before you dive into this because it is deep, raw, and painfully honest. She doesn’t shy away from details of her assault or the ways she thinks of her assailant to this day. She even takes the time to explain why she’s more comfortable identifying as a victim of sexual violence rather than as a survivor – without condemning or questioning those who do identify as survivors. The courage and openness throughout Hunger is consistently inspiring.

Who it’s great for: Fans of Roxane Gay’s other work. Memoir readers looking for something heavy to dig into.

Abby’s rating: five-shells


Find this book at Amazon or in your local library.


 

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

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This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2017

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 did Henry’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.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon or in your local library.