Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Babies Ruin Everything

Written by: Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr

First line: My baby brother was born today.

Why you should read this book: A small girl, dethroned by her parents' newest acquisition, feels like they've gotten a defective and useless baby who should be returned or at least exchanged. As is usually the case, the narrator relents once the baby is able to do things and endeavors to teach the new sibling everything she knows. Finally, the two siblings are able to gang up on the parents to enact a new reign of terror in which the kids get their way.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You still don't accept your parents' decision to have more children.

Ladybug Girl

Written by: David Somar and Jacky Davis

First line: "I'm Ladybug Girl," says Lulu, zipping into the kitchen.

Why you should read this book: After her brother tells her she's too little to play baseball, Lulu must come to understand her own skill and independence and see that size is relative and there are plenty of things she can do, even if throwing from the outfield is not one of them. Motivational and empowering for little kids, it's a cute story with cute illustrations of a cute kid in a cute outfit. Good for reading out loud, especially as a bedtime book.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't let your pre-literate child out of your sight even for an instant.

In the Land of Milk and Honey

Written by: Joyce Carol Thomas and Floyd Cooper

First line: The waiting train huffs "Hurry, hurry, hurry!"

Why you should read this book: In free form poetry and gorgeous illustration, a young girl narrates her experience traveling by train from Oklahoma to California in 1948. Based on the author's real-life experience, the story depicts an optimistic child who comes to San Francisco and finds it good. Great for reading aloud and for instigating discussions about change with young readers.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't like to go to new places and experience new things.

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin

Written by: Duncan Tonatiuh

First line: Score! I just got a letter from my primo, my cousin, Carlitos.

Why you should read this book: Bilingual and epistolary, this interesting story compares and contrasts the lives of two boys, one who lives in New York City, and one who lives in a rural area of Mexico. The mixed-media illustrations make nice use of texture and teach some basic words in Spanish. I found the story very interesting, as I read it to a group of children whose world (a city near Mexico) doesn't look anything like either of the two landscapes described here, but the presentation seemed to encourage interest as the kids enjoyed translating the Spanish from context clues and learning about the different lifestyles of the two characters.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You hate New York City and rural Mexico.

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy

Written by: Lemony Snicket

First line: We are very curious about the Swinster Pharmacy

Why you should read this book: It is inexplicable, a word that here means that its existence can't be explained. Two kids find something vaguely sinister about a business in a neighboring town and make some numbered observations about it and their reaction to its presence, twenty-nine observations, in fact. If you like the bits of A Series of Unfortunate Events where things happen for no reason and without explanation, you will enjoy this book.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You like stories with plot, characters, obstacles that can be overcome, and a basic sense that something comprehensible has happened.

Fox and the Bike Ride

Written by: Corey R. Tabor

First line: It was the morning of the bike ride—the Annual Tour de Tip-Top, Slow-and-Steady, There-and-Back bike ride (plus snacks).

Why you should read this book: While the other other animals are excited for their animal excursion, Fox is bored of the dependable experience and decides to up the ante by throwing safety standards to the winds. Inexplicably left in charge of equipment, Fox dismantles everyone's bicycle and puts the pieces back together again to create a five-seat Frankenbike with no brakes. Hilarity ensues.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't let your kids go up the slide backward.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Hate U Give

Written by: Angie Thomas

First line: I shouldn't have come to this party.

Why you should read this book: This is the YA novel of 2017, a heart-wrenching, complex, and real story of a black teenage girl trying to navigate a world that can't even pretend to offer fairness or equality. After witnessing the death of her best friend in a drive by shooting, Starr is sent to a fancy suburban prep school, but not even her belief that she's now the Fresh Princess of Bel-Aire can protect her when she witnesses another friend murdered by the police. Starr wants justice for Khalil, but speaking out is scary, and now it feels like the cops, a gang lord, and even her white friends will turn against her no matter how hard she tries to do the right thing.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You've recently seen a child murdered by a police officer during a routine traffic stop.

Dandelion Wine

Written by: Ray Bradbury

First line: It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed.

Why you should read this book: The classic tale of a magical summer in which Douglas Spaulding, age twelve, is astonished to realize that he is really, truly alive and, therefore, that he must by necessity, one day die. In between, he makes a careful accounting of everything that is wonderful, confusing, and infuriating in his world. This perfect novel offers nostalgia, love, fantasy, horror, realism, history, and the full breadth of human experience, all unfurling in Bradbury's luscious prose.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't think there's anything better than spending an entire day glued to a monitor.

I Speak English for My Mom

Written by: Muriel Stanek

First line: When I was small, Mom helped me do everything.

Why you should read this book: A little girl explains the reality of being a bilingual daughter of a mother who does not speak the common language of her new home. Often, being her mother's translator helps her feel important and useful, but sometimes it's a nuisance being her mother's only connection to the English-speaking world. When financial troubles hit the little family, the mother realizes that she can put aside her fears and learn to speak English herself.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're still totally comfortable with the results of the 2017 election.

Butterfly Boy

Written by: Lawrence Yep and Jeanne M. Lee

First line: There once was a boy who dreamed he was a butterfly.

Why you should read this book: This kid spends so much time thinking he's a butterfly that he begins to see the world as a butterfly would and almost forgets he's human. This leads him to do ridiculous things like riding backward on a buffalo, drinking nectar from flowers at the market, and laughing at the army of an invading lord. The story is based on the writings of Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher who lived in the fourth century BCE.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're afraid of butterflies, or anyone with an imagination.