This week, Ali over at Worducopia is hosting Diversity Roll Call. With June being Gay Pride Month, we are asked to recognize it how we see fit. I thought I would link to all my reviews this year featuring gay and lesbian characters. Also few books I loved preblog.
In Mike We Trust by P.E. Ryan - It's been awhile since I read this but I still remember the story and that's saying alot considering how much I read. 15yr old Garth is gay, his mom wants it to be their secret.
Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger This novel was so much fun and it gives the reader a little Tacoma, Washington history. Unlike Hartinger's previous novels, none of the main characters are gay (Dave's Uncle's are in a committed relationship). Kudos to the author, the stories a writer tells shouldn't be limited by gender, race, sexual orientation or any of the other boxes we are forced to check in life.
Say The Word by Jeannine Garsee - This is only Garsee's second novel but I am a fan. I had no idea what his book was going to be about but I knew I was going to read it.
Shawna's mother left her father for a woman when she was seven. Now 17, Shawna's estranged mother is dead. Shawna must decide if she'll have a relatiohship with her moms partner Fran and their two sons. Shawna's father is very spiteful, the book shows what can happen when a partner has no legal rights.
No Such Thing as the Real World by Various Authors - When I reviewed this collection of short stories by various authors I didn't get a chance to talk about Jacqueline Woodson's, and I felt bad about this omission- I loved this story. The Company. It's about a Black gay dancer in New York. The character and story Woodson's created are fully drawn and beautiful. There aren't many Black gay males in YA . Not every 15yr old is ready for James Baldwin, and if they are maybe they want to read about a character who is more of their times.
M+O 4EVR Tonya Hegamin Opal is in love with her best friend, Marianne and wants to save her from their small town.
It Chicks by Tia Williams Featuring four girls who attend a performing arts school in N.Y. I am a big fan of this series. Regina begins to question her sexuality in book one. She runs into Nick, a new student at a GLBT meeting for teens in the City. Regina gets a girlfriend in the sequel Sixteen Candles Has much as I enjoy this series thought the author had too many characters in the first book but she does a good job of making it work. Williams trims down the characters in the second book.
Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin- I loved this novel, it was a National Book Award finalist. The language of this book reminded me of when I read the Bluest Eye in high school. Set in 80's Brookyln about a Haitian family that is abused by the father. The main character Karina finds some comfort with Rachael. Touching Snow one of the best opening lines. "The best way to avoid being picked on by high school bullies is to kill someone. Anyone will do. Accidental killings have the same effect as on- purpose murder. Of course, this is just my own theory. My sister Delta would say that my sample size isn't big enough to draw such a conclusion. But I bet I'm right."
If that doesn't make you want to Read the excerpt. there's nothing I can do for you.
Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole I am right there with Susan , when it comes to loving Down to the Bone.
The Reapers by John Connolly- Connolly is the author of the best selling mystery series featuring Charlie Parker. In the Reapers, Louis a secondary character from this best selling series is the featured character. Louis gay and Black. Louis's partner in life and work is Angel. This is a great mystery, the action was perfect. The characters are well developed and believable. The author does well by Louis and Angel's relationship. This can be read and enjoyed without have read any of the other book in the series.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Toeshoe Trouble by Whoopi Goldberg. This is the second book in the Sugar Plum Ballerina series. I loved the first one, Sugar Plum Ballerinas, my review. The sugar plum ballerinas are a group of eight friends who met at ballet class. The first book features Alexandrea, the new girl. Toeshoe Trouble is Brenda's story. Brenda loves dance like the rest of the ballerinas and wants to be a doctor. Her idol is Leonardo da Vinci. Brenda's rich cousin, Tiffany comes to stay for a few days. Tiffany is always bragging about all her expensive things. Brenda wants Tiffany to feel a little jealous of her for a change, so she tells her she owns a pair of Camilla Freeman, toeshoes. The other sugar plums help Brenda, "borrow", Ms Debbe's (teacher) prized Freeman toeshoes. The shoes are ruined. The sugar plums must figure out a way to replace the shoes or Brenda will be kicked out of dance class. Toeshoe Trouble is as enjoyable as the first one I like that these friends share a love of ballet, but they're allowed to have individual interest. With so many girls to choose from it will be easy for a young girl to find a character or two to relate to. Of course it works out in the end, its a lot of fun watching how. Ages 7up
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez - When 11yr old Tyler Paquette returns home to the family farm, he discovers his parents have hired Mexican workers. Before Tyler went to visit family in Boston, is father had a farming accident. Tyler's parents crunched the numbers, the only way they could afford to keep the farm was to hire undocumented Mexican workers. They hired three brothers. One of the men, Mr. Cruz has 3 daughters, the oldest, Mari is Tyler's age. Throughout the novel, Mari writes letters to her mother who had to make a trip back to Mexico and now she's missing. Tyler is coming to terms with the death of his grandfather, and the chance that his family may lose the farm. The story alternates between Tyler and Mari. I loved the voices of both young protagonist. Alvarez writing is a joy. It takes a special kind of author to make, me laugh and cry in the same sentence. It happened towards the end, thanks to Alvarez writing being beautiful and unpredictable. This novel addresses undocumented Mexican workers, working in the United States. And, yes there's much to learn about immigration like the dangers Mexicans face crossing the border (Coyotes), or the dilemma law abiding American farmer owners face with regards to employing illegal workers. However, right now I just want people to know what a great read Return to Sender is, it moves without effort. I highly recommend Return to Sender. Ages 10 up
"He finds the gifts Mr. Cruz asked for, and from himself, he decided on a packet of glow in the dark stars Mari can paste to the ceiling in the trailer. That'll bring a smile to her face. Christmas tears are just the worst unless they're the kind that spring to your eyes when you are so touched, your happiness has to borrow from your sadness."
Monday, June 22, 2009
Blood Brothers by S A Harazin This cover made me want to read the back flap. I quickly decided I was going to read Blood Brothers , the Gail Giles blurb on the front didn't hurt. I wasn't disappointed. The novel is set in a small unnamed Georgia town. 17 yr old Clay Gardener is a level 1 med tech at the local hospital. There isn't much money in it but he wants to be a doctor, and he likes the experience. Clay's only friend is Joey Chancey. The two met years earlier when the Gardener's arrived at the Chancey's doorstep on Christmas Eve. Blood Brothers opens, with Clay working a shift at the hospital. The day before Clay had an agrument with Joey. After Clay watches a teenage girl die in the E.R., he decides his fight with Joey is trivial. He goes to Joey's house right from work. Clay good intentions are forgotten, he must defend himself against a crazed Joey. The two have claimed the Chancey shed as their own. On that night its trashed, Joey's naked, and attacks Clay with a hoe. In self defense Clay knocks Joey to the ground. Clay's worried his hit is responsible for landing his best friend in the intensive care unit. To clear his name and find out what really happened, Clay retraces Joey's steps. Harazin's created a great three dimensional character in Clay. From the first chapter we get a sense of who he is, it continues throughout the novel. Unlike all the other teens including Joey, Clay is not rich. He didn't get a car for graduation.
"Joey was class valedictorian. He was voted most likely to succeed. I was voted the most likely to pedal a bike the rest of my life. There's a picture in the yearbook of me on my bike next to the cafeteria Dumpster with the caption twenty years from now. "
"Joey was class valedictorian. He was voted most likely to succeed. I was voted the most likely to pedal a bike the rest of my life. There's a picture in the yearbook of me on my bike next to the cafeteria Dumpster with the caption twenty years from now. "
The author's background in nursing adds to the realism to the hospital scenes.
"Clay! Take over compressions." I put on a face shield and move to the side of the gurney. The other EMT steps out of the way. I position my hands in the right spot and press. This is not the plastic dummy I practiced on when I was getting certified. This is a real person. Not too hard. Press down an inch. Don't break the ribs. I count. I'm shaking, sweating, gasping. A properly trained person can do effective CPR. You don't have to be a doctor. Any CPR is better than none. "
Author uses medial jargon that doesn't seemed forced or out of place. The story away from the hospital is as strong. Clay's imperfections and uncertainties make him that much more real. Harazin's writing is smooth, she does an excellent slow reveal of what really happened to Joey. Ages 13up
Saturday, June 20, 2009
CORA Diversity Roll Call, This weeks host is Susan at Color Online , actually this post is a week late at least. Ali already has the new Roll Call up at Worducopia. Any blogger is free to answer the Roll Call at anytime. This weeks call, post a poem. I almost skipped this one . I simply couldn't find the right poem. I flipped through many poetry books, and some where close but they just weren't right. When it comes to poetry I can't post what I don't feel. This is not a poem but it feels right.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Surf Mules by G. Neri Growing up Logan's two best friends and surfing partners were Fin and Z-Boy. Recenlty Logan's and Fin's friendship has been strained before they can work it out Fin's killed by a wave. Logan and Z-Boy are approached by a young drug dealer named, Broza with a chance to make some quick cash as mules. Z-Boy feels this is his only options and quickly says yes. Logan is unsure, though he eventually says yes, in hopes of relieving some of the financial pressure from his mother. Logan and Z-Boy drive cross country from California to Flordia, in a car lined with pot. I loved how well this story moved. I thought the beginning was great, the author places readers right in the middle of the action. Logan and Z-Boy are in Texas and have a run in with some Texas surfers. I was quickly intrigued by Texas surfers, a car chase and a bloody nose. Thanks to that fast start, Neri has made Surf Mules hard to put down, even for the most reluctant readers. Logan's plans to go to college after graduation are put on hold thanks to his fathers gambling debt. Logan wants to do this run once, with Z-Boy. Z-Boy believes this is a start to one day taking over for Broza. I really enjoyed Surf Mules. The characters have a very realistic feel to them. On Logan's and Z-Boy's trip, there is heart behind the well paced action. The author takes the time to develop secondary characters like Broza making it that much more interesting.
Check out this great trailer
The author reads the beginning
Check out this great trailer
The author reads the beginning
Monday, June 15, 2009
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan - This is the fifth and final book in the bestselling Percy Jackson series. I read it the week it was released. I loved this series but this final book left a bad taste in my mouth. In the first book Lighting Thief discovers his father is Poseidon and that's he's a half blood. During the summer Percy spends much the summer with other half bloods at camp half blood. The author introduces other half bloods by name, though only Beckendorf is said to be African American.
"After the Ares kids came the Hephaetus cabin- six guys led by Charles Beckendorf, a big fifteen year old African American kid. He had hands the size of catchers mitts and a face that was hard and squinty from looking into a blacksmith forge all day. He was nice enough once you got to kow him, but no one ever called him Charlie or Chuck or Charles. Most just called him Beckendorf." (Sea of Monsters p. 55)
The introduction of an African American character was unexpected and greatly appreciated. In the second book, Sea of Monsters Beckendorf is referenced a few times, he's great with metals and is the only camper who will work with Percy's half brother Tyson, a cyclops. So not only did the Riordan have an African American character, he also made use of him.
Now I'll get to my issue with the final book. (which I should've seen coming)
Here are the clues- 1) Beckendorf first appears on page 10. Beckendorf is a secondary character he has never mentioned so early in the previous books. 2) Beckendorf goes on a mission with Percy. Beckendorf is not in Percy's inner circle. So for him to go on a mission with Percy in the first chapter is a serious red flag. I shame my people for not recognizing these obivious clues. To be fair I was blinded by my love of Percy, I was so happy to have the final book in my hands I couldn't see straight. My eyes cleared up right quick when I saw what was about to happen. The plan was for Beckendorf and Percy to plant a bomb on a ship and make their escape. The two are captured before they can get away.
"I swallowed. One of the giants had his hand around Beckendorf's neck. I was in no shape to rescue him, and even if I tried, he would die before I got there. We both would. Beckendorf mouthed one word. Go. I shook my head. I couldn't just leave him. The second giant was still rummaging through the peach cans, which meant Beckendorf's left arm was free. He raised it slowly- toward the watch on his right wrist. I wanted to scream, No!. Beckendorf closed eyes tight and brought his hand up to his watch. I had no choice. I threw my sword like a javelin at Kronos. It bounced harmlessly off his chest, but it did startle him. I pushed through a crowd of monsters and jumped off the side of the ship. The Princess Andromeda blew up from both sides, a massive fireball of green flame roiling into the dark sky, consuming everything. Beckendorf, I thought. Then I blacked out and sank like an anchor toward the bottom of the sea." (pgs.26-27)
Also I didn't see this coming because its 2009, I thought the sacrificial death of the one black character so the white character can live was a thing of the past. I pointed out the problem I had with this book to two co workers, who also read this series, neither remembered Beckerdorf's African American. Riordan, establishes Beckerdorf's race in Sea of Monsters and doesn't feel the need to do so again in the Last Olympian. It's the only decision regrading him in this final book that I agreed with. It's easy for my co-workers to forget, it such a small detail when you're the majority but when not many characters look like you in bestselling series, its unforgettable. So does every reader of color remember Beckerdorf's race? No, nothing a 100%, though I would put it at a high percentage.
Beckendorf's sacrifice was bad enough but Riordan seemed to be pushing my reading bottoms. He would not let it go.
"Poseidon stroked his beard. "Percy, Beckendorf chose a heroic death. You bear no blame for that." (p39)
"Percy, Beckendorf's sacrifice wasn't in vain. You have scattered the invasion force." (p40)
"We'd already lost so many people over the summer, but this was the worst. With Beckendorf gone, it felt like someone had stolen the anchor for the entire camp." (p47)
The anchor of the entire camp, Really! Reading that made me sick. If you've read this series, you know there is nothing in the previous books gives weight to that, Beckendorf was never talked about like that before. Its not enough that Riordan decided to sacrifice the only African American character, he also had to make him bigger and more important than what he was in death.
"Nico tapped his sword on the ground. A tiny mound of animal bones erupted from the dirt. They knit themselves together into a skeletal field mouse and scampered. "I was sorry to hear about Beckendorf." A lump formed in my throat. "How did you" "I talk his ghost." "Oh... right. I'd never get used to the fact that this twelve year old kid spent more time talking with the dead than living. "Did he say anything?" "He doesn't blame you." "He figured you'd be beating yourself up, and he said you shouldn't" (p. 85)
Again I say, Really!, Because a white hero should never feel quilt, so even in death Beckendorf finds a way to get a message to Percy's to ease his conscious.
I didn't have a problem with Beckerdorf dying. The half bloods are raged in a war throughout the entire book, so characters will die. Did I want him to live? Yes. Did I think he would? No 1) He's African American, 2) he's a secondary character the author developed so the readers will feel his loss more. So I was perfectly fine with Beckendorf dying in battle and I expected it. But, this sacrificial death was uncalled for and not appreciated. I did a few engine searches with key words but nothing popped up about how and why Beckendorf died. It got me to thinking maybe I am being oversensitive (previous word surrounded by air quotes) but than I thought to myself, no. I see what I see because of who I am and I will not apologize or dismiss my feelings.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger - 17yr old Samar (Sam) lives with her mother in New Jersey. Sam's mother felt too restricted by her Indian parents, cutting all family ties. Sam knows many things but she is clueless about her Indian heritage. Her mother made it a point to stress their sameness, the two have fully assimilated into Western culture. Everything changes when Uncle Sandeep, knocks on their door. Sandeep, seeks out this lost family branch after the attacks of 9/11. Sam doesn't know what to make of this turban wearing man at her door but she quickly deems him a nice guy. With Uncle Sandeep entering Sam's life again she wants to know more about what it means to be an Indian, Sikh. Many teens of color will be able to relate to Sam's attempts to find balance - hanging with the majority, while still claiming who she is and hanging with her people. Sometimes this can be difficult and Sam doesn't have an easy time with it. I think its nice for teens of color to see a character of color struggle with finding where they fit in. What makes this novel so good is Sam. Meminger has created a wonderful character in Samar, I loved her. The author creates two opposing characters in Sam's best friend Molly and boyfriend, Mike. Sam begins to evaluate who her friends are, Mike doesn't make the cut. Its nothing overly oblivious, subtle things Sam may have missed or dismissed before Uncle Sandeep knocked on their door. I really enjoyed Shine Coconut Moon, the author writes with wonderful ease. Ages 12up.
Read First Chapter
Finally, if this sounds good try Skunkgirl by Sheba Karim, another wonderful new release for 09.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look illus. LeUyen Pham
Alvin is going into the second grade, and is afraid of pretty much everything. Alvin does a lot of talking at home but at school he can't say a word. I loved this book, from the opening page Alvin Ho is a character you'll want to know. The story begins with Alvin listing six things we should know about him. He also introduces his older brother, Calvin and younger sister Anibelly. Alvin's voice is real, fun and thoughtful, young readers will love it. He's shares his anxiety about school and making friends. I know I am making this book sound serious, and it is partly but the authors does it with a fun light touch.
" I wanted to say no way. Nobody wants a girl desk buddy, except for maybe a girl. The scary thing about girls is that they are not boys. Most girls are no good at robbery and mayhem. They can't punch. But they can kick, which hurts. They skip rope too fast. They are boring. I opened my mouth to tell her all this, but"
This book is great on many levels. There's Alvin at school trying to make friends and not be scared of everything. There's Alvin at home getting advice and bugging his older brother, playing baseball with his grandfather ( GungGung), and the time he spends with his dad. Throughout the book Alvin recalls the rules of being a gentleman his dad taught him. Fans of Blume, Cleary and Clements will love Alvin Ho. The chapters are short and the book has wonderful illustrations making it perfect for reluctant readers. There aren't many books geared toward this age featuring non White characters, making Alvin Ho that much more special. This book is now out in paperback. The second Alvin Ho Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters will be out soon. Ages 7up.
Other (more complete) Reviews
Catching Fire: The Second Book of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- This is not a review. Anyone who reads YA fiction knows how popular the Hunger Games book was last year. (for those who don't I'll say Harry Potter big) At the store I work at six people have read and LOVED Hunger Games. We've all been looking forward to the September release of Catching Fire. I never ever thought the bookstore I work at would get an ARC but we did and I MISSED IT. It was the one time I wished my co-workers didn't realize what goodness could be found in YA. But luckily, the person who got it is letting the book make the rounds. I am third person to read it the second in the store. I was reading Catching Fire on the way to work today and I put it away as soon as I entered the store I didn't want flaunt the book in front of my co-workers who are a few weeks from reading it. That would just be mean. I am usually very rough on arcs not this one, I treated it very well because it must make the rounds and find it way back to its owner. I didn't eat or drink around it. I would only lay it down flat not spine open. The only thing I didn't do was wear gloves. Right now its under a large book to get the close shape back.
Whenever I thought of putting the book down something unexpected would happen and I'd have to keep reading. Sometimes the second book in a series will fall flat, reading like a transnational book preparing the reader for the upcoming action of the third book. Catching Fire has the strength of the first book. I loved it. I plan on reading the finished book in September. Copies of this arc are being sold on ebay, this totally sickens me. The author has written a wonderful series and this is how people thank her, by buying or selling an unfinished copy which she will receive no financial compensation for. I don't understand why anyone would pay $40 for an unfinished work in paper back no less. Why should someone who got a arc for free profit from it? Too bad there's no way to track the sellers and buyers. Would it be lovely if someone from Scholastic purchased one of these arcs. Like Hunger Games, this will be a best seller, Collins should get credit for every sale.
Monday, June 8, 2009
The Ghost Sonata (Gilda Joyce) by Jennifer Allison To read Gilda Joyce is to love Gilda Joyce. This is the third book in the series. 13 yr old Gilda is a practicing psychic investigator. She doesn't seek out cases they simply find her. I love Gilda she's smart, independent, sassy with an interesting fashion sense. Allison's done a wonderful job of fostering friendship between Gilda Joyce and her best friend Wendy Choy. In this third book, Wendy Choy's character is no longer secondary. She is chosen to compete in a music competition in England. Resourceful Gilda finds a way to make the trip, as the official page turner. Before they arrive in England, Wendy has these awful dreams, and an unknown piece of music keeps playing in her head. At the competition unexplainable things keep happening, like contestants finding tarots card depicting death. Together Gilda and Wendy solve the mystery. I haven't read the fourth book yet, (which is out now) so this answer will probably change but right now this is my favorite in the series. This one is slightly darker and more intense.
Allison's writing is layered and wonderful.
"Gilda huddled under the covers and listened to the gurgling and rumbling of pipes and the hissing of radiators in the old house. It's like being trapped inside the digestive system of an old gassy person, she thought. "
I was trying to think of something smart before sharing these next few lines but I came up empty.
"Wendy, I don't think you're weird at all. I just think you're crazy." "The thing I love about your jokes, Gilda is that they're so well timed. It's like you can tell I'm just sitting here wishing that someone would make fun of me as my entire life falls apart"
This series is perfect for tweens or 10 yr olds who are looking for a more sophisticated read. Yes, you can start with this one but I highly recommend starting with the first book. Do not cheat a young reader out of all the goodness that is Gilda Joyce.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything by Lenore Look illus. Anne Wilsdorf This is the second book in the Ruby Lu series. I haven't read the first book yet but I definitely will, I loved Ruby Lu. This is a wonderful series that will hook many young readers. The Lu's get a nice surprise and a fuller house, when family from China emigrate to the U.S. 7yr old Ruby is excited her cousin Flying Duck will be moving in. From the first chapter, where Ruby Lu's talks about all the great things about immigration, I loved her voice. She's lovable, sweet, and not too perfect. A few chapters in, its revealed that Flying Duck is deaf. Flying Duck deafness is not a big deal, merely a fact. This is Ruby Lu's world but everyone is included from her family, to her classmates and neighbors. This book is great on so many different levels. Look's writing is effortless and smooth. The author seamlessly includes literary nuances that are possible, thanks to the main character being Chinese American. I highly recommend this series.
Read 1st chapter
More Ruby Lu Reviews
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Chess Rumble by G. Neri illus. by Jesse Joshua Watson This book was published in 2007 and chosen has a quick pick for reluctant readers by American Library Association (ALA) There was much to love about Chess Rumble. This is Marcus's story told in verse. Marcus is filled with anger, after his sister's death and his dad leaving the family. He wants to fight everyone from his little brothers to his classmates. Latrell used to be Marcus's best friend, now they hate each other. Marcus is a big kid to get under his skin Latrell calls him names like Fat Albert. Marcus gets into a lot of trouble at school and his teacher, Ms. Tate is frustrated. Finally instead of the regular punishment, Ms Tate tries something new, introducing Marcus to CM. CM teaches young men to play chess, so they can fight it out on the board. This wasn't a quick fix, it still took time for Marcus to come around. It's one of the things I loved about Chess Rumble, its seems more realistic that Marcus would be hesitant to trying chess. Neri has created a very believable character in Marcus. Young readers will be able to relate to Marcus, everyone understands anger. Neri's writing is great, he does not waste a word. A few pages in I was reminded of two awarding winning books Anita Hope Smith's Keeping the Night Watch and Zetta Elliott's Bird . Two more books featuring Black male protagonists who are trying to work through some things. Watson's illustrations are a great visual glimpse into Marcus's world. One of my favorites - Marcus is holding Latrell by his shirt and he's about to punch him again. There is much expression on Marcus's face, everything from anger to a frustration scream.
G. Neri and Jesse Joshua Watson both have new books out this year
G. Neri's new release is Surf Mules Its a YA book about surfers. Action, mystery and danger, what more do you need. Apryl, you probably know a few surfers who would enjoy this
A while back I mentioned artist Common's online book club for teens The Corner Book Club. I don't think I did right by it, so I am going to do it a little louder this time. Its great site and its easy to find your way around. I especially enjoy the celebrity interviews. Since its a site about books everyone is asked what their favorite book is. I always enjoy finding out what books celebrities love and are reading. Common's interview, where he shows some love to libraries. So far they have done some really great books. The April selection was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. At the end of each month the authors stop by for a live chat. I love that authors are taking the time to participate in this new project. The last book was Pemba's Song by Marilyn Nelson and Tonya C. Hegamin. On Tuesday June 9 at 7:30 est. Nelson and Hegamin will be chating live at the Corner about Pemba's Song. A book I loved my review
Friday, June 5, 2009
Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon illus. by Tony Ross This is a number one chapter book series U.K. It is now finally available in the U.S. thank you Sourcebooks. This was so much fun to read, I laughed out loud many times. When I finished it my first thought -what took it so long to get State side. The majority of the early chapter books I see coming are so girly. Publishers, not every girl wants to read about princesses, fairies or ponies. A little variety would be nice. The Horrid Henry series makes me a very happy bookseller. The covers are great, Horrid Henry always has a mischievous look on his face. Each book includes four stories about 20 pages per story. In this one Henry is in dance class and does not want to be a rain drop. Since this is already sold in 27 countries I won't spend much time telling you how wonderful the writing is, just check out the preview link below and see for yourself. Ages 6 up
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Baseball Talmud: by Howard Megdal - You don't have to be Jewish to love this book but you have to be a baseball fan. I wanted to get my hands on this ever since I heard about it on the Harper Collins website. The author breaks down and compares each position starting with the catcher. You can do like I did and read it from beginning, or simply skip to your favorite position. Medgal goes as far back as 1800's. Including Jewish born and converts alike, as well as the stars and those who only got a quick taste. Even if they never made it to the show but spent their entire career in the minors they are mentioned. There are some great stories . One of my favorites is catcher Moe Berg
"It's hard to add anything to the legend of Moe Berg, backup, spy and linguist, though certainly not in that order" A catcher and a spy, what's not to love.
There's also first baseman Hank Greenberg, a star player in Detroit, where Henry Ford was doing his best to make Jews feel unwelcome.
"Ford published a newspaper that unceasingly railed against Jews, and a collection of the newspaper's columns was published in book form as The International Jew- the World's Foremost Problem. Reportedly, Hitler was one of his readers and admiers. Ford went on to blame international Jewish Bankers for WW II after receiving the highest award a foreigner could recieve from Hitler's government."
With all of that going on Greenberg put up some very nice numbers and he lost some years fighting in the war. So baseball fans can truly appreciate how good Greenberg was, the author uses Baseball Prospectus EQA, comparing his numbers to hall of famer Willie Mays and current stars like Albert Pujols.
Finally I'll end with a story too good not to share about second baseman Jimmy Reese.
"Reese grew up Hymie Solomon, and changed his name, as many Jews did, to avoid anti- Semitism. The decision worked out well - in a charity game, catcher Ike Danning and pitcher Harry Ruby decided to forgo signs and communicate in Yiddish. Reese the covert Jew, went 4 for 4"
The Baseball Talmud is a must for all baseball fans. This would make a great Mitzvah gift. Ages 12up
You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter, illus. by Andre Carrilho. This book is gorgeous before the first page. The cover is a hologram of Koufax pitching off the mound. Winter's captures all that is The Sandy Koufax. The six years he was king of the mound with his fastball. Winter also tells of the pre-super star Koufax, who had little control and almost quit the game of baseball. The author gives the reader many facts about Koufax and baseball in under 40 pages. Winter's found a very creative way to include baseball facts. On some pages what appears to be a baseball ticket - facts are placed. One fact - Koufax last season 1966 was the greatest of any pitcher. 27 -9 with a 1.73 ERA, 27 complete games and 5 shut outs. That line is crazy good. Young baseball fans will appreciate those numbers and the beauty of Koufax's fastball. The illustrations are wonderful. Its steeped in Dodger Blue throughout. I can't do the artist justice so check out what was said about him over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast If you've never heard of Sandy Koufax, there isn't a better introduction than this book. Loved it. There is so much action in this book it would make a great read aloud. You don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it but it may turn a few young people into fans. Ages 5 up
Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins- I finished this book a few weeks back and since my love for it has grown. I really enjoyed Secret Keeper while I was reading it but I've had time let the characters and story marinate in my mind. Secret Keeper is set in India 1970's. Asha's father has lost his job, he heads to NYC in search of new opportunities. Asha, her older sister Reet and mother will go live with their father's brother and his family in Calcutta. Asha is the athlete, Reet is the beautiful one. Asha is continually being put down for being too dark. The sisters don't let how others see them effect their relationship. The Calcutta house is filled with family, 6 members in all. Asha finds privacy on the the roof to write in her journal. Perkins has written a wonderful novel with three dimensional characters that readers will love. I read some great reviews of the book online and I heard there would be tears shed. I had about 20 pages left, with still dry tear ducts. I thought I had made it past all the it will make you cry parts, I was wrong. Ages 10up
Finally a new post. Happy Happy Joy Joy. Susan from Color Online has announced the summer book drive for Alternatives for Girls library. Why give here? Because its a small library, and one book will be appreciated as much as 10. Because its a small library, and when your book arrives, Susan won't say, "oh its just another book and drop it to the send to sit for weeks." No Susan will tear that package open and say "Yes another book with a silent thank you to the sender" Because its a small library there is no red tape. There's not of that oh there's Gay character we can't use this, or they said the F word, thanks but no thanks. All realities are welcome. Your donations are going straight to small D Town library and will be appreciated read and loved upon arrival. The Book Drive