Friday, August 7, 2020

Fact Friday: Breaking Through: How female athletes shattered stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties by Sue Macy

Breaking Through: How female athletes shattered stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties by Sue Macy. 96 p. National Geographic, February, 2020. 9781426336768. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Fact Friday features Breaking Through: How female athletes shattered stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties by Sue Macy. While viewership of female professional sports teams does not (yet) match the viewership of male teams, having the opportunity to watch female athletes compete is not extraordinary nowadays. It was a scant one hundred years ago that the idea of women being physically fit, let alone competing, was scandalous. 

Ms. Macy's author bio on the back flap of this intriguing  and utterly engaging book states that she was obsessed with time travel books as a child. Reading this narrative feels like traveling back in time with Ms. Macy's conversational storytelling and the plentiful archival photographs placing the reader firmly into the decade of flux that became known as the "Roaring Twenties." 

Following a forward by Notre Dame Women's basketball coach, Muffet McGraw and an introduction by the author, the decade is broken up into five chapters. Each chapter not only features a pioneering female athlete, but also historical context. Text boxes feature mini-biographies and snippets of newspaper articles from the time period. An epilogue brings the reader through the latter part of the twentieth century up to the groundbreaking Title IX amendment of the Education Amendments to the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibited schools that received federal funding from discrimination in sports. Back matter includes a timeline of "Defining Moments in Women's Sports," an author's note, a list of resources that includes websites and videos, two pages of quote sources and notes, illustration credits and an index, making this an excellent source for young researchers.

Friday Memes: Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 256 p. Dial Book for Young Readers/ Penguin Random House, August 11, 2020. 9781984815682.

Publisher synopsis: Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf–her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

In this powerful novel that explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse and leavens an intense tale with compassion and humor, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells a story about two sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.

First Line: My new tattoo is covered by a Band-Aid, but halfway through recess, the Band-Aid falls off.

Page 56: The trickiest part of shopping off Francine's list was figuring out exactly where everything was in the grocery store. The trickiest thing was figuring out what Francine actually meant. "Wonder Bread: sounds easy enough until you realize that there's classic white sandwich, small classic white sandwich, and giant white sandwich. Turns out plain classic white was the correct answer, which I guess right based on how many sandwiches that sized loaf would make.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

#tbt: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. 149 p. Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster.

#tbt features Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. This year marks the 50th anniversary of a short (149 p.) little book that rocked the children's book world. Twelve-year-old Margaret Simon moves from New York City to NJ and wants nothing more than to make friends and fit in. She thinks this might happen when she's invited to Nancy, Gretchen and Janie's secret club. They are shocked to discover that Margaret has no religious affiliation since one parent is Jewish and the other Christian. She is spiritual and has a relationship with God. She finds comfort in talking out issues such as why she hasn't yet had her period and breast development is nowhere in sight.

The book soon became beloved by legions of young girls who found comfort in Margaret, but also landed on the annual list of banned books for its frank discussion of puberty and religion. The cover has undergone many iterations over the years. Check out Wikipedia for an image of the original cover. Simon & Schuster has a special anniversary issue that is pictured below. In 2018, Ms. Blume finally gave her approval to have the book adapted for film, but is apparently still in production.

As a side note, a year later, Then Again Maybe I Won't was published, which focuses on the male experience of puberty. These books have withstood the test of time. They may seem relatively tame compared to some of the issues now explored in children's and young adult literature; but the books were groundbreaking.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: Descent by Roland Smith

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Descent by Roland Smith. Peak Marcello Adventure Series #4. 240 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 13, 2020. 9780544859760.

Publisher synopsis: In this thrilling new novel from best-selling author of Peak, Roland Smith, Peak Marcello, mountain-climbing extraordinaire and prodigy, faces his toughest challenge yet as he descends into Tibet and goes head-to-head with an old enemy.

Peak and his team need to descend into Tibet after surviving an avalanche on the remote and isolated mountain of Hkakabo Razi. The only catch is that Peak's famous mountaineering father, Josh, and climbing guide, Zopa, are both wanted by the Chinese government. As a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse ensues, making it off the mountain won't be the end of this team's struggles, only the beginning...

Heart-pounding action and political drama converge in this epic conclusion to the Peak Marcello's adventures by bestselling author Roland Smith.

This series is enormously popular at my school!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Image: Disney
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. The Belles #1. Unabridged downloadable audiobook read by Rosie Jones. ~11 hours. Blackstone Publishing, 2018. 9781538540626. (Review of e-audiobook borrowed from public library.)

Happy Tuesday! It's a lovely, rainy day to curl up with a great book! Teen Tuesday features The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. This fantastic fantasy was Ms. Clayton's debut. A former eighth grader found it in the YA section and read it. When she returned the book, she asked if I had read it. Contrary to popular belief, I have not read every book in TMS library and had not read The Belles. She told me to try it. Since I try to read any book a student recommends, I put it on my list and read it with my ears. Wowzers!

If you enjoy fantasy, you will love The Belles. Everyone on the island nation of Orleáns is born with gray skin, red eyes and awful hair. Legend has it that the goddess of beauty blessed certain humans, the "Belles" with the power to grant beauty by using their gifts, arcana, to reshape any human form in any way as many times as the human desires, as long as they can pay for it and stand the pain. Orleáns is ruled by a queen, whose eldest daughter has been in a coma for several years and whose younger daughter is prone to cruelty and bizarre experiments. Camillia Beauregard is the queen's new favorite Belle, a position she has wanted all her life. Once inside the court, Camillia begins to unravel the history of the Belles and the truth behind their powers. 

Terrific world-building, ever-increasing suspense after a slow-ish start lead to a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers panting for the next installment. The performance by a new-to-me narrator was also well-done. Unique voices and well-paced. I do wonder though about the penchant for audiobook producers to hire British narrators for fantasy. Orleáns felt vaguely NOLA or French to me. Still, it was an intriguing listen.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: Doodleville by Chad Sell.

Image: Penguin Random House
Doodleville by Chad Sell. 288 p. Alfred A. Knopf BFYR/ Random House Children's Books/ Penguin Random House, June, 2020. 9781984894717. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

Middle Grade Monday features Doodleville by Chad Sell. Mr. Sell was one of the authors of the wildly popular Cardboard Kingdom from a year or so back; so fans of that book should really take a look at this one. Doodleville is Sell's first solo graphic novel. 

Drew may not be the best artist, but she sure does love to draw. Readers see a three-year-old Drew enthusiastically making art in her booster seat at her parents' diner. As she grows, her scribbles become doodles with a penchant for jumping off the pages of her sketch book and getting her in trouble. By age nine, she's using rolls of white paper intended for the diner tables to create homes for her many doodles - Doodleville! She and the art club are headed to The Art Institute where the club will study the masterpieces and practice drawing. Drew gets into trouble when one of her doodles pops out and onto a masterpiece. The guard thinks she has drawn on the art. Then, another doodle decides to steal the hat from a baby in another painting and Drew is suspected of defacing the art! 

All of this conflict is added to feelings Drew already has about not being as good an artist as the rest of her club-mates. When her doodles decide to jump out of Drew's sketchbook and into the other's art, things get a tad tense. Then, Drew creates Levi - short for Leviathan. He's huge and toothy and is supposed to be nice. As Drew's emotions get out of hand, so does Levi. Jeweled purple predominates in the mostly earth-toned art. Panels are dynamic and light and darkness are effectively used as Drew battles demons without and within. Doodleville concludes, but with the promise to return. Hand this charmer to fans of graphic novels and/ or budding young artists. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Friday Memes: The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

Image: Scholastic
The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg. 394 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc. September1, 2020. 9781338324058.

Publisher synopsis:

Aaron and Tillie don't know each other, but they are both feeling suicidal, and arrive at the George Washington Bridge at the same time, intending to jump. Aaron is a gay misfit struggling with depression and loneliness. Tillie isn't sure what her problem is -- only that she will never be good enough.

On the bridge, there are four things that could happen:

Aaron jumps and Tillie doesn't.

Tillie jumps and Aaron doesn't.

They both jump.

Neither of them jumps.

First Line(s): 
Can't I have this one moment to myself, please?
     This thought sears in Aaron Boroff's mind as the sobbing girl passes behind him. She's interrupted his solitude as he stares down at the undulating Hudson River from the south side of the George Washington Bridge. 

Page 56:
     "I'm sorry," he says when he can't keep quiet any longer.
     "Whatever for?"
     "You shouldn't have to have a son who has a broken brain. You didn't sign up for this."
     His dad kisses him on the top of the head and grasps his hands.
     "I most definitely did sign up for this," he says.
     Aaron knows it's the truth.
     The hand squeeze tells him it's true. But he can just barely feel the truth of it. 

Wow. I took this book with me yesterday when I had a morning filled with tests and a physician's appointment. I was riveted and, almost didn't mind when my doctor was running over an hour behind schedule. Almost.