Friday, October 23, 2020

Fact Friday: Marjory Saves the Everglades by Sandra Neil Wallace

Marjory Saves the Everglades: the story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon. 56 p. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster, September, 2020. 9781534431546. (Review of finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.) 

Fact Friday is late today! In "never too old for picture book news, Marjory Saves the Everglades: the story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas is our Fact Friday feature. This brilliantly illustrated slightly longer picture book for older readers highlights the long and illustrious life of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. 

Marjory's love for Florida, more specifically Florida's everglades was born over a hundred years ago, when she was a child visiting her father, the founder of the Miami Herald. She grew up in the north, went to Wellesley College, married briefly and returned to Florida and began work as a reporter for her father's newspaper. When World War I broke out, she joined the Red Cross. Upon returning home from the war, she found that developers were planning on draining the Everglades in order to develop the land. She researched; she wrote; she enlisted supporters. Eventually, she and her supporters changed minds; but it had to be done again and again over the years as developers tried to drain the Everglades. She even had to battle the US Army Corps of Engineers when they straightened a river and that led to damage to the fragile ecosystem. Her life of environmental activism is an inspiration and a reminder that the environment continues to need our protection. 

Plentiful back matter includes a timeline and tons of extra information and resources to learn more. This is a welcome addition to my picture book biography unit. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

#tbt: King Arthur Continued: The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland

The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland. 342 p. Arthur A. Levine Books/ Scholastic, 2001. 9780439263263. (Own.)


We'll conclude our #tbt theme about King Arthur this week with The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland. This is a complicated reworking of the legend. It is told from the first-person viewpoint of Arthur de Caldicot, a wealthy teen who is eager to become a knight. He is given a piece of obsidian by his father's friend, Merlin. Arthur sees another world and another Arthur in the stone. Who is this Arthur whose life closely mirrors his own? Is this Arthur's future? The past? Or are there other universes? 

The Seeing Stone was published in the UK in 2000, where it won The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. It was published in the US in 2001 and is the first book of a trilogy.

This collection of #tbts is just a few of my favorite King Arthur retellings. There are many more I've read as well as a heap of retellings I haven't yet gotten to.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Picture Book Review: Ronan the Librarian by Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie

Image: Macmillan

Ronan the Librarian by Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie. Illustrated by  Victoria Maderna. unpgd. Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan, April, 2020. 9789781250189219. (Review of finished copy courtesy of authors.)

The way to a librarian's heart is through a picture book that depicts the importance of libraries. Think Library Lion by Michelle Knudson or Bats in the Library by Brian Lies to name two of my faves. Ronan the Librarian just begs to be read aloud with your ham on. The rhythm is jaunty as we learn that Ronan was a barbarian's barbarian. "He invaded. He raided. And back home, he traded."

But one pillage didn't go as expected. He came home with a pile of books. "Barbarians didn't read books." After considering using them for kindling, origami and, gasp, toilet paper, Ronan settles down with a book...and gets sucked in. A reader is born! He has trouble convincing his fellow barbarians about how wonderful reading is. "Barbarians do not read books." 

Like any good librarian, he used food as bait and soon his horde was gobbling books as well.

The humor in the energetic text is complemented by colorful illustrations that contain quite a few visual gags for sharp-eyed readers/ listeners. I just loved this one and can't recommend it enough. It makes me wish I was back at my K - 8 school to share it with younger students!

Waiting on Wednesday: Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli


Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli. 400 p. HarperCollins Publishers, April 20, 2021. 9780062643834.

Heads up fans of Becky Albertalli! Waiting on Wednesday features
Kate in Waiting! The blurb on this fun-looking book says, "Break a leg, not your heart." The publisher synopsis is a bit long to copy here but best friends + theater + shared crush = disaster? (Click on the publisher name under the image to read full synopsis.) I happen to love theater books as well as everything Ms. Albertalli has written and personally cannot wait to read this come April, 2021.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Teen Tuesday: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn


I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn. 314 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., 2019. 9781338302882. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Teen Tuesday features I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn. Seventeen-year-old Kimi Nakamura's future seems set. Poised to be accepted into a prestigious art institute, she just needs to finish her portfolio and she's stuck. Her mom's been nagging and for the first time in her life, she has no inspiration because secretly, she doesn't want to go to art school. Fashion is her passion. She deconstructs old clothes and remakes them adding textiles and textures into Kimi Originals. When a letter arrives from her estranged grandparents in Japan offering airfare for a visit, Kimi jumps at the opportunity to get away from her problems and meet her grandparents for the first time and explore Japanese culture. 

Upon her arrival, she's greeted warmly by her grandfather, but rather coldly by her grandmother, who reminds Kimi of her own disapproving mother. She soon loses herself in the beauty of Kyoto and meets a cute boy who dances as a mochi mascot for his uncle's mochi shop. He offers to show her around and romance blossoms. 

This adorable romance goes down sweetly but has some subtle depth as Kimi muses about racism, micro-aggressions and cultural belonging. I Love You So Mochi is a must-read for romance fans.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Picture Book Review: Sometimes a Wall by Dianne White

Sometimes a Wall by Dianne White. Illustrated by Baroux. unpgd. Owlkids Books, October, 2020. 9781771473736. (Review of finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

Sometimes teachers need to help younger students think beyond themselves. Sometimes this is hard to do. Teachers looking for a book to aide in SEL, Social-Emotional Learning need look no further than this lovely picture book.

Attractively designed with plenty of white space, splashes of color and sturdy pages, young readers are introduced to some types of physical walls in gentle, simple language accompanied by colorful appealing illustrations. The shift to the metaphorical is totally relatable and should elicit sounds of sympathy and spontaneous sharing as well as room for plenty of valuable discussion. Should you need assistance, the publisher's website has a valuable guide. Sometimes a Wall is a valuable addition to any school, public or classroom library.

For more information about the author and illustrator: A conversation with a friend got author Dianne White thinking about different kinds of walls, both physical and metaphorical. Sometimes a Wall . . . is an exploration of these, and with it, an invitation to take down barriers and find common ground. Dianne's other books include Green on Green and Who Eats Orange? A long-time elementary school teacher, she lives with her family in Gilbert, Arizona. To learn more, and to download discussion guides and more, visit Dianne's website at diannewrites.com.

Twitter: @diannewrites
Facebook: Dianne White


Barroux lives in Paris, France, and has studied photography, art, sculpture, and architecture. His work has been published in The New York Times and The Washington Post. He believes that the world needs fewer walls and more trees.
Instagram: @barrouxillustrations


Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: The Last Mirror on the Left by Lamar Giles


The Last Mirror on the Left by Lamar Giles. Illustrated by Dapo Adeola. 168 p. A Legendary Alston Boys Adventure #2. Versify/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 20, 2020. 9780358129419. (Review of e-arc courtesy of publicist.)

Middle Grade Monday wishes a happy book birthday to author, Lamar Giles and The Last Mirror on the Left. The second installment of A Legendary Alston Boys Adventure releases tomorrow and fans of the first adventure, The Last Last Day of Summer, will not want to miss it!

Cousins Otto and Sheed are back in school a short while after their epic adventure fixing the time freeze. Unfortunately, no one in Fry remembers what happened. Or so they thought. Mrs. Nedraw, owner of the Rorrim Mirror Emporium knows that the boys used one of her precious mirrors without her permission to fix the mess and now, she's threatening them with the law unless the boys help her. The mirrors are actually prison cells and the boys accidentally cracked the mirror they "borrowed," allowing a most notorious criminal to escape. He, in turn, freed a gang, then escaped through the last mirror on the left into an alternate universe town of Fry, where people and places are a bit...off.

The action is non-stop and totally mind-bending! While the humor is high, the boys contemplate criminal justice as they confront the ways in which the truth can be bent to serve those in power. The boys' devotion to each other is also tested as Sheed becomes annoyed by Otto's weirdness. (No spoilers here!) The spot art by Dapo Adeola adds to the humor and enjoyment.

Don't miss these two books! I hope to see more of Otto and Sheed, their antics, their brotherhood and their joy, in the future.