Friday, January 17, 2020

Fact Friday: A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the speech that inspired a nation by Barry Wittenstein

Image: Holiday House

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the speech that inspired a nation by Barry Wittenstein. Illustrated by Jerry Pinckney. 48 p. Neal Porter Books/ Holiday House, August, 2019. 970823443314. 

As we head into MLK weekend, it is apropos for Fact Friday to feature A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the speech that inspired a nation by Barry Wittenstein. This is simply a most beautiful book. Author Wittenstein takes the reader to the lobby of the Willard Hotel the night before the 1963 March on Washington. Dr. King is conferring with his most trusted advisors about what to say. They are working in the lobby because his hotel room is probably bugged. 

In spare but vivid blank verse, Wittenstein depicts the collaboration between Dr. King and his advisors. There was some disagreement about what the text of the speech should contain. Ultimately, Dr. King retired to his room to write the speech he would deliver.

Jerry Pinkney's illustrations stun. Each spread is meant to be studied, not rushed through. The portraiture of each of Dr. King's advisors are helpfully labeled. Mini-biographies in the back matter elaborate and serve as an introduction to each. Other back matter consists of an author note; an illustrator note; the roster of speakers at the protest and source notes.

I had the privilege of attending a keynote speech given by illustrator, Jerry Pinkney last May at SLJ Day of Dialog. He shared many,  if not all of the collages from the book and spoke about his creative process and what he hoped to achieve with the art. Attendees received a sampler that I got signed by both the author and illustrator. 

There is no such thing as too many books about the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Make room for A Place to Land.  I hope it wins lots of medals next week in Philadelphia for it is truly distinguished.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

#tbt: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Image: Candlewick Press

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Chaos Walking series #1. 496 p. Candlewick Press, September, 2008. 9780763639310.

#tbt features The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. This sci/fi dystopian is book one of the Chaos Walking trilogy and was published in 2005. Todd Hewitt is the last boy left in Prentisstown. He's about to turn thirteen and become a man when he learns a terrible secret about the town's past and why it is populated by only men. Readers may need to adjust to the dialect, but the rich worldbuilding, scary characters and fast pace will soon make the book un-put-downable. I especially recommend reading this with your ears. Nick Podehl's performance through all three books is riveting. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Muhammed

Image: Penguin Random House

Waiting on Wednesday features When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohammed. 264 p. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers, April 14, 2020. 9780525553915.

Publisher synopsis: Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Image: HarperCollins

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~10 hours. Read by Imani Parks. HarperAudio, May, 2018. q. (Review of e-audiobook borrowed from public library.)

Teen Tuesday features Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. This unnerving mystery portrays the lengths to which a best friend will go to get a straight answer. When Claudia returns home from her annual summer visit with her grandmother to start eighth grade, she's anxious to reconnect with Monday, who hasn't been answering her phone. The two besties are like sisters who insulate themselves to protect them from bullies at school and Monday's scary mother. But Monday doesn't answer her phone. Nor does she show up at school and Monday never misses school. When Claudia investigates, she receives conflicting stories. Her parents suggest that perhaps the friendship is over, but Claudia knows something is terribly wrong. The first-person account zig-zags, leaving the reader disoriented as Claudia discovers why Monday's not coming.

Taut writing and a fascinating community of characters keep the reader engaged and reluctant to do anything but rush to the end. The inner city social and economic dynamics are vividly portrayed as are the social skirmishes and pecking order of high school. Imani Parks delivers a performance equal to the writing. 

Monday's Not Coming is a resonant, powerful book that will stick with the reader for a long time. Highly recommended!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Image: Disney/ Hyperion
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia. Tristan Strong series #1. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~11 hours. Read by Amir Abdullah. Listening Library, October, 2019. 9780593149584. (Review of downloadable e-audiobook borrowed from public library. Own hardcover copy.)

Middle Grade Monday features Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia. This terrific debut is a mythology-based fantasy that centers around thirteen-year-old Tristan Strong, an up and coming boxer in Chicago. He has just lost his very first bout much to the disappointment of his father and grandfather who expect him to continue their legacy. He's also grieving the death of his best friend, Eddie and treasures the notebook where Eddie wrote down the stories his grandmother told. 

While visiting his grandparents in Alabama, that journal is stolen by a ten-inch, sap-covered, sassy doll named Gum Baby. When Tristan tries to catch her, he punches a tree in fury. Turns out it's a magical tree on the farm and he and Gum Baby end up in another world. Unfortunately, evil from our world follows them in as well. Some of the residents of Alke may be familiar to readers, John Henry, Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. But the others are gods and goddesses of West African mythology, such as Anansi. 

New-to-me narrator Amir Abdullah paced his performance well and he mastered quite a few distinct voices. Looking forward to seeking out more audiobooks narrated by him as well as the next book in the Tristan Strong series.

If you enjoyed Rick Riordan's myth-based adventures, you will love Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky! It's the first book of a planned series, so get on board!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

I'll Bite: 2020 Audiobook Challenge

So I came across this audiobook challenge and was intrigued. I have been an audiophile for some 30+ years. We would listen to audiobooks as a family whilst driving to ski trips. That quickly morphed into always having an audiobook going in the car. I came across this challenge and wondered. I didn't consistently count my audiobooks until 2015. Let's check out my lists. 

I blogged at LiveJournal from December of 2008 to December of 2012 then switched over to Blogspot. For some reason, I did not make a separate list of audiobooks on the blog until 2012, when I read 83. I have no idea why I didn't keep track of audios in 2013, my first year at Blogspot or 2014. I dropped to 74 in 2015 but read 107 books with my ears in 2016. The next three years were solidly between 93 and 95 audiobooks. 

2012: 83
2015: 74
2017: 93
2018: 94
2019: 95

Okay, I will shoot for the 100+ club at Hot Listens. Unfortunately, my first two audios of 2020 are hefty! Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky clocked in at almost 12 hours and I am presently 72% through Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Virtue and Vengeance, which is nearly 13 hours long!

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For Review:
Image: Albert Whitman & Company

Quack by Anna Humphrey. 234 p. Albert Whitman & Company, April1, 2020. 978080756067.

Publisher synopsis: Ten-year-old Shady Cook struggles with selective mutism caused by anxiety. His best friend, Pouya, gets it—despite being the class clown, he has his own hang-ups lurking just below the surface. Shady's parents, however, are eager to find a way to help their son start talking more, so when a live duck waddles into their lives and Shady starts to respond, they reluctantly decide to give Svenrietta the emotional support duck a chance. Before long, Shady, Pouya, and their diaper-wearing duck are working to help all of the underdogs (or is it underducks?) at their school—and there are many.

Purchased: Nothing! But I did get a bunch of AZ cards as holiday gifts!

If you leave a comment, leave the link to your stack. I will pop by and to check out your stack!