What I’ve Been Reading….

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Hot days. Cool coffee shops. I’ve finally had a good reading stretch and don’t want to be reminded that August begins this week!

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Cinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit – a retelling of Cinderella by the author of Men Explain Things to Me. This one stresses kindness and the true meaning of beauty. As I read, I thought about how much I would have loved this version of Cinderella when I was a young girl and how much I’m looking forward to eading it with students during the school year ahead. It’s exciting to read Cinderella as a young woman with power over her own life and decisions.

Turbulence by David Szalay – I heard Dwight Garner, a book critic for the New York Times, talking about this short novel on the NYT Book Review podcast and it intrigued me enough to buy it that day and read it immediately.  Sometimes it’s good to trust your instincts – and this was one of those times. Szalay’s book plays with the idea of “six degrees of separation” in a really interesting way. Plane flights are what connects these stories together, but most of the “turbulence” is on the ground.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds – Sometimes I read interviews with “book people” in which the person is asked to name a book they should have read by now, but haven’t.  Until last week, this would have been my answer. Reynolds’ books received lots of starred reviews. It won awards. I’ve read many of the author’s other titles. I reviewed one of them for School Library Journal – and yet, Long Way Down was still in my “to read” stack. As Kirkus described it in their starred review, the book is truly “astonishing.”  The story centers on Will, a 15-year-old boy who sees his brother killed on the streets. Will decides to seek revenge, but he has to go down the elevator of his apartment building first.

The New Yorker – It’s kind of strange to include this on my list of reading, but I had set aside weeks of articles and finally got through them – until a new issue arrives this week. Particularly notable was Jane Mayer’s article, “The Case of Al Franken” in which the writer thoughtfully explores the accusations against Senator Franken that led to his resignation from the U.S. Senate. It appears in the July 29 issue.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei – A graphic memoir about Takei’s family’s incarceration during the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.  I have never seen one episode of Star Trek, the show that made Takei famous, but I knew about his work as an activist. Takei’s memoir feels urgent. The story he tells of his own experience is moving, but the parallels he draws with the present are powerful reminders that every person deserves to be treated with respect and fairness.

What I finished:

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips – This will be the highlight of my reading this year. A demanding and immersive novel that led me to stop between chapters to “youtube” videos about the  Kamchatka peninsula where the book takes place. Phillips’ book is, on one hand, a suspenseful story about two sisters who go missing. But to read it as a mystery is to miss what it is really about: people living in a remote and complex place, community, the lives of women, ethnicity.

And what I’m now reading:

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead – I’m not far enough in to talk about this novel, but it moved to the top of my list based on Frank Rich’s glowing front page review in the New York Times Book Review.

Summer is also about bookstores!  And I was recently able to visit one of my favorites: The Bookloft in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

And a new one…

The Book Barn in Niantic, Connecticut is a used book store that is more like a theme park for books. It’s set up like a little village and each location is stacked floor to ceiling with used books. Given the amount of stock they manage, the store is remarkably well organized. After we spent an hour (and a few dollars) there, the staff member caring for the goats gave us directions to an ice cream shop!

The Book Barn also wins the prize for the best book shop sign ever!

Happy Reading…

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Highlights from our Middle School List….

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been featuring some of the titles on Inly’s summer reading list, beginning with picture books for young readers. This week – our middle school students. Books for “tweens” have changed a lot over the past ten years. The books still focus primarily on identity and self-discovery because that’s what kids between the ages of 12 and 14 are figuring out. The difference is that contemporary novels grapple with issues on the front burner far more directly than they did when I was in middle school (or junior high as we called it in Ohio). Today’s young adult books tackle, among other issues: gender identity, social media, climate change, refugees, race, social justice issues, and sexual orientation. Young people have a lot to navigate, but there are lots of good books to pave the way.

Here are five of my favorites on Inly’s middle school list:

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

“…Alicia D. Williams’s stunning debut novel…explores racism within the black community, creating a fully realized family with a history of complex relationships to one another, and to their own skin colors. The suburban school where Genesis finds herself navigating a diverse cast of friends and foes is no less vivid…But the standout voice in this tender and empowering novel—reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, but appropriate for a much younger audience—belongs to Genesis herself, as she discovers a truth that we adults would do well to remember: Growing up isn’t just about taking responsibility for the happiness and well-being of others. It’s also about learning what you can and should fix, and what you cannot. As Genesis discovers, there is no true reinvention without self-acceptance.” (New York Times Book Review)

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

“Gansworth, himself an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, explores the boys’ organic relationship with generosity and tenderness and unflinching clarity, sidestepping stereotypes to offer two genuine characters navigating the unlikely intersection of two fully realized worlds…. And although Gansworth manages the weighty themes of racism and poverty with nuance and finesse, at its heart, this is a rare and freehearted portrait of true friendship.” (Booklist, starred review)

Beast Rider by Tony Johnston

Beast Rider is a short book, coming in at 176 quick pages, a good choice for readers toward the younger end of the Y.A. spectrum…Given that the plight of Latinos fleeing to the North is such a big and important subject, it’s impressive how much information Johnston and Fontanot de Rhoads are able to share, so economically: the violence migrants face during their journey to the States, the help from strangers they receive along the way, the danger that can be found at the border, and the challenges that new immigrants face when they’re in the United States. This novel is as sharp as it is brief.” (New York Times Book Review)

Operatic by Kyo Maclear

“Taking on friendships, crushes, cliques, and music culture, Maclear offers an honest, deeply respectful look at what is at the core of belonging and isolation for teenagers. Charlie Noguchi narrates her middle-school existence through the lens of her music teacher’s assignment to “choose a song for this moment in your life and write about it.” She pines for Emile, a quiet aspiring entomologist, and wonders about the mysterious prolonged absence of Luka, a femme boy who sings like an angel and once disturbed kids and adults at school with his unapologetic fabulousness…When Charlie, Emile, Luka, and friends find the courage to express themselves together, their music creates a rainbow. With poetic words and pictures, Maclear and Eggenschwiler create a synesthetic experience that captures all the high and low notes of youth.” (Publishers Weekly)

White Rose by Kip Wilson

“Sophie Scholl was a young German student who wanted to see the end of Hitler and the Nazi regime. She gave her life for that cause. As children, Sophie and her brother Hans were enthusiastic members of Hitler Youth organizations. But as the Nazis’ chokehold increased and the roundups and arrests of dissenters and Jews escalated, they became determined to resist. After conscription into the National Labor Service, Hans, Sophie, and trusted university friends formed the secret White Rose resistance group. Hans began to compose treasonable leaflets, promoting an uprising against Hitler. Sophie helped get the leaflets out to influential people as well as to other university students. Their work attracted the attention of Nazi sympathizers, who informed the Gestapo of suspicious activities—and they were ultimately caught by a university custodian. Intensive interrogation and imprisonment, followed by a sham trial led by a fanatical judge, led to the sentence of death by guillotine. Organized in repeated sections that move forward and backward in time, readers hear Sophie’s thoughts in brief, pointed, free-verse poems in direct, compelling language…..Real events made deeply personal in an intense, bone-chilling reading experience.” (starred review, Kirkus)

School is out for the summer so I’m going to step away from the blog for a few weeks. I have lots of reading to do! And so, apparently, does this baby —

Happy Reading!

Summer Reading: Part Two

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Last week I listed some of the new titles for young children that are on Inly’s summer reading list. This week – middle grade. There are so many critically acclaimed books being published for readers between the ages of 8 and 12.  Here are ten highlights, listed in order from books for kids on the younger side of middle grade to more challenging reads.

Cilla Lee Jenkins (a series) by Susan Tan (I reviewed the second book in this delightful series for School Library Journal.)

“Cilla Lee-Jenkins is back. The spunky protagonist readers first met in Cilla-Lee Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire is now writing “a classic” with a focus on family traditions. Cilla, who is half Chinese and half white, is now in the third grade and Gwendolyn, her baby sister whose arrival Cilla was dreading in the first book, is beginning to crawl. Cilla is an observant child, an important quality for an aspiring author. She recognizes and is curious about the differences between her Chinese-American grandparents and her white grandparents, and she wonders about her place in a biracial family. While Cilla is trying to understand how families work, she’s increasingly jealous that her “best best friend,” Colleen, is beginning to share jokes and playdates with another classmate. Cilla loves the traditions she shares with Colleen, but she experiences a few bumps and bruises while learning that it’s possible to remain friends with Colleen while welcoming others to join them. The most important event of Cilla’s third grade year is her Auntie Eva’s upcoming wedding, a celebration that gives Cilla many opportunities to explore traditions, romance, and adventure….Cilla’s year is full of lessons about family and friendship, and Tan successfully gets into the head of an inquisitive and exuberant young girl.”

The newest installment is Cilla Lee-Jenkins: The Epic Story

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech (This was one of the top check-outs in the Inly Library this year. A gentle and sweet story about a boy and a baby donkey. Recommend this one to fans of Charlotte’s Web.)

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome (When I met the author at a conference last month, I told her that Finding Langston reads like a love letter to libraries. Set in 1946, Finding Langston is the story of a young boy who, with his father, moves from Alabama to Chicago where he discovers that, unlike in Alabama, he’s welcome in the public library. The Horn Book review read, in part: “Written in short chapters, this crisply paced book is full of historical details of the Great Migration and the role a historic branch library played in preserving African American literary culture.”)

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon (I love this book. It’s fun and fast paced and the perfect summer time read. The story of two brothers who have a new neighbor – Styx Malone – who encourages them to participate in a scheme that doesn’t turn out well!)

Sweeping Up the Heart by Kevin Henkes (This is a quiet book, but it sneaks up on you. I find myself thinking about it more than other books I’ve read in the past few months. The story centers on Amelia, a seventh grade girl who wishes she were going away for spring break like other kids in her class, but when she goes to the local art studio and meets Casey, things begin to change.)

A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata (Kadohata, the author of many excellent books for young readers, won the Newbery Medal for Kira-Kira. Her new novel focuses on twelve-year-old Hanako’s journey back to Japan after WWII.  The Kirkus review reads in part: “Superb characterization and an evocative sense of place elevate this story that is at once specific to the experiences of Japanese-American expatriates and yet echoes those of many others. . . . Full of desperate sadness and tremendous beauty.”)

Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby (I reviewed this one for School Library Journal)

“Eleven-year-old Fig craves normalcy. But with a hurricane approaching, both literally and figuratively, Fig will have to navigate her way to calmer waters. She lives with her father, a once-renowned pianist, who now suffers from dramatic mood swings that make it impossible for him to work or for his daughter to connect with him. Although she is more comfortable in the science arena, Fig enrolls in an art class hoping it will shed some light on the way her brilliant but troubled father’s mind works. Through the class, Fig meets three people who guide her to a deeper understanding of herself: a supportive art teacher, a boy who genuinely wants to be Fig’s friend, and Hannah, a high school student on whom Fig develops a crush. It is Fig’s introduction to the works of Vincent van Gogh, though, that inspires her to learn more about mental illness….”

How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons (Set in the mid-1940s, eleven-year-old Ella lives in South Carolina with her grandparents. Her mother lives in Boston where she is pursuing a jazz career. When Ella goes to stay with her mother in Boston, she discovers a very different world.)

Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (I reviewed this one too!)

“Eleven-year-old December not only knows everything about birds, she’s convinced she is one. As December, whose mother left her as a young child, moves between a series of foster homes, she’s waiting for the moment when her “wings will finally unfold” and she is strong enough to take flight. But when she arrives at her newest foster home and meets Eleanor, things begin to change. Eleanor has bird feeders and volunteers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. She is also patient and kind, giving December the space and time she needs to build trust. Among her many acts of gentle support, Eleanor introduces December to Henrietta, a red-tailed hawk who, like December, is recovering from trauma and needs encouragement to fly. Despite her reluctance to hope for a real home, December finds herself wondering if living with Eleanor could be permanent. Of course, that would mean abandoning her dream of flight and December wrestles between her pull skyward and the emotional and tangible comforts of life on the ground. At school, she befriends a trans girl named Cheryllynn. When a group of girls December refers to as “the Vultures” cruelly mock Cheryllynn, December stands by her new friend who is, like December, experiencing transformation. Throughout it all, December holds on tight to the one gift she has from her mother, a book called The Complete Guide to Birds Vol. 1, but painful memories of her mother slowly emerge, allowing December to embrace her rich new life.  A heartbreaking and hopeful story about a young girl who learns the power of kindness and the beauty of belonging.”

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (Told in verse, the story of a young girl who leaves Syria for a  new life in America.) Two of the glowing reviews:

“Warga portrays with extraordinary talent the transformation of a family’s life before and after the war began in Syria.… Her free-verse narration cuts straight to the bone… [and] confront[s] the difficult realities of being Muslim and Arab in the U.S. Poetic, immersive, hopeful.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Warga’s middle-grade debut puts its hands around your heart and holds it, ever so gently, so that you’re aware of your own fragility and resilience: just as Jude is while her life changes drastically… Other Words for Home should find its way into every middle-grade reader’s hands.” (ALA Booklist (starred review)

The picture at the top of the post highlights the number of books checked out by our 1st through 3rd grade students this year!

Happy Reading…

Required Books, Toddler Books, and My Books

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It’s summer reading list season! As always, I began by selecting the required books for each level. This is Inly’s “one book” program – a book to create a starting point when the kids return to school September. This year’s titles are:

Children’s House

The Kitten and the Night Watchman by John Sullivan (This gentle story of a watchman who finds a kitten on a construction site is a 2018 picture book standout. As the man continues his rounds, he keeps his eyes open for his new little friend, and of course, they are reunited. What struck me the first time I read Sullivan’s book is how rarely a picture book puts a man in the role of protector and caregiver – not to mention that man must be the only security guard who is at the center of a picture book. This book celebrates work, family, and caring.)

Lower Elementary

Our grade 1-3 teachers are trying something new. I shared some ideas with them, and faced with so many good books, they selected three – and are asking their students to select one (or all three!) to read over the summer. The books are:

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal (a 2019 Newbery Honor book)

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson (the 2016 winner of the Newbery Medal and a Caldecott Honor book)

Night Job by Karen Hesse and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (the recipient of three starred reviews, this book is the story of a bond between a father and his son. The New York Times review read, in part: “Karas’s dusky paneled art gives a feel of enchantment and adventure as the boy sweeps floors, shoots hoops, reads and falls asleep while Dad finishes working. He’s added an extraordinary dignity and tenderness to this picture of working-parent reality and a loving, physically close father-son bond.”)

Upper Elementary

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (A classic – and Newbery winner – that we’ve selected as summer reading before, but the kids and the teachers love it. Applegate’s novel about the friendship between Ivan, a captive gorilla, and Ruby, a baby elephant, is a powerful story about friendship and courage.)

Middle School

New Kid by Jerry Craft (A new graphic novel about a black boy navigating life in two different worlds: an upscale private school where he is one of the few kids of color and his Washington Heights neighborhood)

And the Toddlers…

Our toddler program does not have one book, but rather they receive a list of new books for very young children. I wanted to look beyond the toddler classics like We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, as wonderful as they are, and suggest books that were published in the past couple of years.

B is for Baby by Atinuke

And Toddlers!  This story is more than a book about the Letter B.  Look at the illustrations closely to see what happens after the Baby falls into a Basket of Bananas.

And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner

A celebration of summer’s unique joys: lemonade, fireworks, parades!

Eric Carle’s Book of Many Things by Eric Carle

It’s all in here – food, feelings, things in the ocean and on the farm – with Carle’s signature tissue paper and watercolor art work.

Rhymoceros by Janik Coat

A funny book about a blue rhinoceros and rhyming words.

Snakes on a Train by Kathryn Dennis

This train’s passengers – and crew – are snakes.  Bright colors and wonderful word play.

Oink by David Elliot

A pig thinks he is going to have a quiet bath time, but a horse, a sheep, and a donkey have other ideas.

These Colors are Bananas by Jason Fulford

An innovative and interactive approach to colors that will expand your child’s view of the world around them.

Puppy Truck by Brian Pinkney

A little boy wants a puppy, but gets a truck.  That’s okay with Carter – he puts a leash on his truck and they head to the park!

One Is a Pinata by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Count in English and Spanish while looking at colorful seasonal festivals.

How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps by Nicola Winstanley

An “off-screen” narrator gives a little girl five steps to bathe her cat, Mr. Flea.  To put it mildly, Mr. Flea has other ideas!

My Reading…

I finished three books this week:

The Omnivores Dilemma: Young Readers Edition by Michael Pollan (the book we are currently reading in middle school)

It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime (Adapted for Young Readers) by Trevor Noah (We are considering adding the young readers edition of Noah’s best selling memoir to the middle school curriculum so it moved to the top of my stack. I had been interested in reading Noah’s book for awhile so it was a happy assignment that did not disappoint. Noah’s story of growing up in South Africa with a black mother and white father is incredible.)

Green Almonds: Letters from Pakistan by Annaele and Delphine Hermans (Published in France in 2011, this graphic memoir/collaboration is a true story about two sisters: Annaele is in Palestine working for an aid organization while her sister, Delphine, remains at home in Belgium. Annaele’s experience traveling between Palestine and Israel helped me to understand what life is like for people living in occupied territories. It takes a complex situation and makes it real – and even more tragic.)

Currently reading:

The Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin

And that picture at the top of the post…..sisters at their first Red Sox game. One of them brought two books along. Good idea – baseball games move slowly!

Reading on a Snowy Saturday….

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It’s Saturday and snowing. We haven’t had a particularly snowy winter, but now that it’s March, winter seems to be reminding us not to get too excited about spring just yet.  I spent the morning finishing a new “upper middle grade novel” called Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams.

Upper middle grade is an evolving subcategory of children’s books. There are not defined rules for what makes a middle grade novel an upper middle grade novel, but it’s an important distinction. The protagonists of middle grade novels are usually between 9 and 11 years old. Upper middle grade novels feature characters who are 12 or 13.  Upper middle grade also addresses topics that are typical of young adult novels: sexuality, war, identity, and more complicated family issues.

Genesis Begins Again fits squarely in the upper middle grade category. At the center of the novel is Genesis, a thirteen-year-old African American girl who is embarrassed by her dark skin.  She desperately wants to look like her light-skinned mother. Instead, she looks like her father, who is unreliable and often drunk. Genesis also struggles at school, desperate to make friends while carrying the pain of her family’s precarious economic situation and her increasingly painful (for her and the reader) efforts to lighten her skin. Her grandmother does not help. She carries a deep and misguided belief that “”marrying up” means to marry someone with lighter skin.

Genesis has loving people in her corner though: her supportive mother, new friends, and a chorus teacher who recognizes Genesis’ gifts and encourages her to use her voice. It’s a moving and powerful book, one that I’ll encourage some of our students to read over the summer.

Before that, I read a book opposite in every way from Genesis Begins AgainJeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott.  Here’s how I decided to read a new novel based on the classic stories by P.G. Wodehouse:

While I was on medical leave, I read alot. I wrote about most of those books in my last blog post. When I finished Belonging, the graphic memoir by a woman uncovering her family’s WWII story, I felt exhausted. All of the books were wonderful and interesting in their own way, but between the books and the real life daily news, I was ready for something brighter. I looked back at my list and realized that my reading had addressed: the Holocaust (Belonging), race and identity (Inventing Victoria), Brexit (Middle England), a woman who feels alienated from society (Convenience Store Woman), WWII (Someday We Will Fly) and an intelligent but complex story about the lives of two young women in Dublin (Conversations With Friends).  I started thinking a palate cleanser was in order – too many strong flavors!  And just in time, I read a wonderful review of Ben Schott’s “homage” to Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster and his valet, Jeeves, Jeeves and the King of Clubs.

It was perfect. The pages were almost fizzy, and something on every page (usually incredibly clever wordplay) made me laugh out loud. The plot is entertaining: taxi chases, a dinner that goes wrong, lots of bubbly at various clubs, and, of course, Jeeves reliably being two steps ahead of everyone.

Time to start a new book, but here are two pictures from this past week in the library….

Best Children’s Books of 2018

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It was a pleasure to spend Sunday afternoon talking about the best children’s books of the year with Nancy Perry, the children’s librarian at the Norwell Public Library, during our annual program at the James Library. The rain made it a perfect day to be in a cozy room looking at books. Below is an abbreviated list of the books we talked about:

Picture Books

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall (hands down the most beautiful picture book of the year!)

Stories of the Night by Kitty Crowther

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers and Genevieve Godbout (this would be a good gift to pair with movie tickets to see Mary Poppins Returns!)

The Elephant by Jenni Desmond

Night Job by Karen Hesse (my favorite picture book of the year – a warm and beautiful story about a father and son)

Kitten and the Night Watchman by John Sullivan

Middle Grade

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon

Love to Everyone by Hilary McKay

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder by Nie Jun (four sweet graphic adventures about a little girl and her grandfather)

Gift Books

Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid

Lovely Beasts by Kate Gardner

Everything & Everywhere by Marc Martin

A History of Pictures by David Hockney and Martin Gayford

Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year edited by Fiona Waters

One book on our list came to life when Sophie Blackall, the author and illustrator of Hello Lighthouse, visited  Inly this past Friday!

And the best picture of the week…..a student waiting for her book to be signed!

Happy Reading!

New Books, a City of Dreams, and Beliefs….

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I’m not proud of this, but sometimes I select new school library books to read the same way I did when I was in 6th grade at the Xenia, Ohio public library – a realistic fiction novel about a girl facing some kind of challenge in her family life. Those are the books I’m drawn to. I order a wide variety of books for our students, but I don’t always read the “adventure story” or the “dragon fantasy.” But when Susan Hood’s new novel, Lifeboat 12, came in, I decided it was time to read something different to recommend to students.

It was a good choice. Lifeboat 12 is the exciting – and true – story of a British boat carrying young evacuees during WWII, that is torpedoed by a German ship. Told from the point of view of thirteen-year-old boy named Ken, who leaves war-torn England for Canada, Hood’s novel in verse captures the excitement of the beginning of their passage on the City of Benares and the terror of the eight days Ken and some of his fellow passengers spent on a lifeboat with a limited supply of food and water. The fact that Ken’s adventure is based on his experiences will make this exciting novel more appealing to reluctant readers and fans of historical fiction.

Next, I read the new novel, Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya. Marcus is a big boy – literally. He towers over his classmates and walks younger students home from school to protect them from bullies (for a small fee!). Marcus lives with his mom and younger brother, and although he was born in Puerto Rico, Marcus has not been there since he was two-years-old. After Marcus gets into some trouble at school, his mom decides to take him and his brother, who has Down syndrome, to Puerto Rico where, Marcus hopes, he will be able to reconnect with his father. This novel has a big heart. I loved Marcus from the first page.

Cartaya’s novel also made me want to try a sandwich called a Jibarito: “a fried plantain sandwich with garlic mayonnaise, tomato, onions…” In fact, there are many references to Puerto Rican culture in this story about a boy trying to make sense of his family’s history.

 

A City of Dreams

When my husband and I were in New York a few weeks ago, one of our priorities was to see the Bodys Isek Kingelez exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. Kingelez was a Congolese sculptor who imagined and built colorful and whimsical cities. When looking at his sculptures, you can’t help but imagine what it would be like to live in Kingelez’s utopian fantasy land.

This I Believe

Inly’s middle school students are writing their annual This I Believe essays. Based on Edward R. Murrow’s 1950s radio show and the 2005 NPR revival, the goal is to encourage kids to think about what they believe and to respect the beliefs of others. The students are writing their own personal narratives around a statement of belief. To get the process started, we asked them to start brainstorming beliefs about simple things: pizza or burgers, Maine or the Cape. Here are pictures of the kids beginning the process:

 

 

Lastly, I was in Newport last week and visited Chateau Sur Mer, the first of the Newport mansions to be built in 1852. During our tour, these tiles around the fireplace caught my eye:

It turns out they have a children’s book connection. The tiles were designed by Walter Crane, the English artist best known for his illustrations in children’s nursery books.

The Library is getting busier every day. These boys look like they are trying to prevent the “Wild Thing” from participating in their conversation about Chris Van Dusen’s picture books: