Saturday, November 27, 2010

Plain Girl

Written by: Virginia Sorensen

First line: "Esther!"

Why you should read this book: Ever since her big brother, Dan, ran away from their traditional Amish family, nothing has been the same at Esther's house, and now that the men from the county say she must attend public school with the rest of the children, her father's convinced she's going to turn her back on her traditions as well. Esther loves her father, and she loves being a Plain Girl, but in school she learns that the rest of the world is not so terrible, not if it's full of little girls who want to be her friends and teach her to play jacks and even, maybe, trade clothes. Will Esther follow in her brother's footsteps, or can she help to bring her brother back into the fold and make her family complete again?

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't want to go back home.

Anything for a Friend

Written by: Ellen Conford

First line: The first time I saw Stafford W. Sternwood he was doing something weird with worms.

Why you should read this book: Saddled with a weird name for a girl and a father whose career ambitions have her changing schools every year, Wallis feels certain that she will never, ever have a real friend, let alone be part of the popular crowd. Her neighbor and classmate, Stafford W. "Stuffy" Sternwood, may be a bit of a con artist, but he promises that his schemes will propel her into the highest reaches of the social stratosphere. Wallis wants to get in with the in-crowd, but how long can she go along with Stuffy's plans, and how many people will get hurt on the way?

Why you shouldn't read this book: You think friends are overrated.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales

Told by: Virginia Hamilton

First line: Little Girl was always home.

Why you should read this book: With African-American women and girls at its center, this award-winning collection brings together little-known stories of mothers, daughters, grandmothers, witches, vampiresses, fairies, and heroines, along with three true narratives of the lives of real women whose long life experiences become fascinating tales in their own right. Combating a world where men or white people often sought to dominate their bodies, these wonderful and unusual stories demonstrate the power of women and their spiritual triumphs. There is something for everyone, and much to love, along with scholarly and historical information, lovely illustrations, and a real sense of historical import in this book.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You would keep a mermaid in a bell jar.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Name Was Hussein

Written by: Hristo Kyuchukov

First line: My name was Hussein.

Why you should read this book: In spare, even prose, it tells children the story of a Roma boy's life in Bulgaria, including the joyful customs of his family's celebration of the Muslim holidays. Then the government sends tanks to the village, prevents them from practicing their culture, and finally forces them to choose Christian names. Based on the author's true life story, this book proclaims the right of every individual to their own identity, and helps readers see the importance of tolerance.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You've deliberately changed your name.