Friday, September 22, 2017

Fact Friday: ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z!: Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Olinguito, from A to Z!: Unveiling the Cloud Forest

¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z!: Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Olinguito, from A to Z!: Unveiling the Cloud Forest by Lulu Delacre. unpgd. Lee & Low Books, Inc., February, 2016. 9780892393275. (Purchased copy.)

Fact Friday features ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z!: Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Olinguito, from A to Z!: Unveiling the Cloud Forest. This colorful, bilingual, alphabet picture book invites readers to explore the Ecuadoran Andes searching for the elusive Olinguito. The Cloud Forest ecosystem is perfect for these racoon-like mammals. The language is simple and playful and the mixed-media illustrations are vibrant. Backmatter, which is also bilingual, includes more details about the plants and other animals that inhabit the Cloud Forest.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

#tbt: Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

Before We were Free by Julia Alvarez is our #tbt feature. it was published in 2002 and won the Pura Bel Pré Award. It is 1960 and Anita de la Torre is about to turn twelve. She lives in a compound with her extended family in the Dominican Republic. Her life changes when a dictator comes to power. The Secret Police visit the compound. People start disappearing. Anita and her mother have to hide in a closet. Eventually, she and most of her family flee to the United States leaving her beloved uncle behind. This story has a bit of a slow start, but suspense builds as danger nears. 

Before We were Free by Julia Alvarez. 176 p. Random House Children's Books, August, 2002. 9780375915444.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Arc review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. 304 p. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers, October 17, 2017. 9781481438254. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Will lives on the seventh floor of an apartment building where he shares a bedroom with his brother, Shawn. Make that shared a bedroom. Shawn has been murdered. Gunned down in the street while he was running an errand for his mother. Shawn has been killed as revenge for his killing of another and now it's Will's turn to step up. His turn to avenge Shawn's killing. Because there are just three rules in Will's world: 1. No crying. 2. No Snitching and 3. Take revenge.

Will knows where Shawn's gun is. He knows what he has to do. It should be a short elevator ride down from the seventh floor, but it stops at every floor. This would be annoying except that Will simply cannot believe who gets on at each floor. 

First, let me rave about that cover. THAT COVER! It's brilliant! I love it. Next, the design! The spattered pages, the elevator gates bookending the book, the chapter breaks. All ingenious! 

Now, the story. Intense. Gripping. Gritty. The language? The imagery? Gorgeous. 
   How do you small-talk your father
     when "dad" is a language so foreign
     that whenever yo try to say it,
     it feels like you got a third lip
     and a second tongue? (p. 205)

Reynolds' many fans will be tripping over each other to grab this title. Give it to your readers who want an intense, emotional read, readers who enjoy verse novels and readers who want to think. It is small wonder that Long Way Down was chosen for the NBA longlist. Expect to see it on all the year-end "Best" lists. Long Way Down is not to be missed. 

Waiting on Wednesday: by The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. 369 p. HarperCollins Publishers, March 6, 2018. 978006266804.

Publisher synopsis: Fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds will fall hard for this astonishing #ownvoices novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

I enjoy verse novels. I am also highlighting #ownvoices for Hispanic Heritage Month and found this. I am very excited to read this debut. I also adore this cover! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cover Coincidence - Girl in Profile

Cover coincidence is the occasional post that is prompted by the question, "Now, where have I seen that before?" The screen shot of the NBA Long List prompted not one but two cover coincidences!

Teen Tuesday: The Cipher series by Daniel José Older

Teen Tuesday features The Cipher series by Daniel José Older. Older made his YA debut in 2015 with Shadowshaper, the first book in this urban fantasy series. Shadowhouse Fall, the second, recently release. Sierra Santiago's summer plans include painting a mural on a wall of an abandoned building in her Bed-Stuy neighborhood and hanging with friends, but the a corpse crashes a party and another mural in the neighborhood appears to be shedding tears, Sierra realizes that she and a newfound friend might hold the key to protecting everyone. Shadowshaper is a pulse-pounding page-turner for fantasy fans. I cannot wait to read Shadowhouse Fall!


Monday, September 18, 2017

Middle Grade Monday: The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Regular readers of this blog might be thinking, "Wait, didn't she review this already?" You get an A for the day, faithful and observant reader! Yes, I have! But I recently reread it with my ears and it's the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. Unabridged Audiobook on 5 compact discs. 5 hours, 7 minutes. Read by the author. Listening Library/ Penguin Random House Audio, May, 2017. 9781524775179. (Audiobook purchased.)

I reviewed the arc here in April. I rarely get to reread books, but this was a book I didn't mind rereading with my ears when I learned that the author did the recording.

It sure was nice to visit with the Zamora family again! In April, I wrote that Arturo is an endearing character who clearly loves his large, boisterous extended family. The drama and sweetness of this debut held up on rereading. The author sounded suitably young and read his work well. I especially loved to hear the fluent Spanish words and dialogue.

Hispanic Heritage Month begins in the middle of September because September 15th is a significant date for quite a few Latin American countries, like Costa Rica, which gained their independence on this date. With the exception of Banned Books Week, I will be highlighting books written by Hispanic authors or about Hispanic characters until October 15.