Thursday, May 5, 2016

Forget Me Not

Written by: Nancy Van Laan and Stephanie Graegin

First line: I remember when Grandma was still her old sweet self, doing the things she had always done, exactly the way she had always done them.

Why you should read this book: This is a little girl's perspective on her grandmother's descent into Alzheimer's, which becomes gradually terrifying as her loved one slips further and further away from her. It's a fairly accurate portrayal, with the early memory loss being laughed off, until suddenly the situation is dire and the family must intervene. It's a good story for explaining the condition to young people and helping them understand this horrible disease, while letting them know how to best continue loving the person who is disappearing before their eyes.

Why you shouldn't read this book: It's a book for children about Alzheimer's.

Jane, the Fox, and Me

Written by: Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

First line: There was no possibility of hiding anywhere today.

Why you should read this book: Helene is in the midst of that most middle-school of misadventures: for reasons she doesn't understand, all her former friends have cut her, so that so is completely lonely at school, where she is constantly subject to rude graffiti that makes untrue assertions about her weight. Her only respite is the novel Jane Eyre, but when the school decides to send her entire class to camp for four days, there is no escape. This fast and friendly graphic novel illustrates both the depths of despair and the heights of hope with love and accuracy.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're terrified of camping.

The Thing about Luck

Written by: Cynthia Kadohata

First line: Kouun is "good luck" in Japanese, and one year my family had none of it.

Why you should this book: After nearly dying of malaria, Summer has become obsessed with mosquitoes, drenching herself in DEET whenever she steps outside and compulsively drawing and sculpting the insect whose bite caused her so much pain, but even if she can keep the bugs away, everything else in life seems beyond her control. Her unusual brother can't make any friends and her parents have to fly back to Japan, leaving the children to go harvesting with their strict grandparents. A quiet story filled with the realistic moment of a girl's development, this book is a delightful slice of life.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You did die of malaria.

Indian Killer

Written by: Sherman Alexie

First line: The sheets are dirty.

Why you should read this book: A complex murder mystery with a large cast of suspects, this smart, fast-paced novel develops along a perfect timeline, bringing its characters to life, investigating the killings, and exposing the never ending experience of microaggression and unseen racism experienced by Native Americans. Throughout the novel we return again and again to the character of John Smith, a mentally ill Indian man raised by his adoptive white parents, to Marie, the angry Indian activist student, and to the white men who, in their desire to embrace native culture, inadvertently fan the flames of racism even higher. Well written and lovingly constructed, this novel performs both its function--solving the murder and exposing racism--with fluency and grace.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're one sixty-fourth Cherokee on your mother's side, which is why you have such a special connection to the earth.

Sing-Along Song

Written by: JoAnn Early Macken Lellyen Pham

First line: Robin greets the morning from the sycamore tree, Chirpin' to the risin' sun, her babies, and me.

Why you should read this book: A little boy experiences joy as he hears the special song of all the people and animals he encounters in his day. Everything he does is accompanied by its own music, inspiring the child to sing along. Written in rhyme and warmly illustrated with happy and loving scenes.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You hate music, children, and animals.

When I Woke up I Was a Hippopotamus

Written by: Tom MacRae and Ross Collins

First line: When I woke up, I was a hippopotamus.

Why you should read this book: In rollicking rhyme, a little boy with an active imagination recounts his day in various uncooperative incarnations--a monkey in class, a monster on the playground--getting "told off" by various authority figures for his behavior. Eventually, his parents ask him to be someone nice instead, so he decides to be himself and has a lovely evening. Fun for reading out loud, but not likely to solve any behavioral problems.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're a rock, and rocks don't have eyes or ears.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Peace Is an Offering

Written by: Annette Le Box and Stephanie Graegin

First line: Peace is an offering.

Why you should read this book: A gentle introduction to the concepts of peace, love, friendship, and understanding, including a meaningful segment on how we can lean on these ideals in times of fear and trouble. Perfect for reading aloud to young children and teaching kindness, with simple, happy illustrations. A feel good book.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're a terrible human being who enjoys starting fights and ruining everything for everyone else. Trigger warning for subtle 9/11 reference that hits you right in the feels.


Written by: Jenny Offill and Christ Appelhans

First line: I wanted a pet.

Why you should read this book: Undeterred by her mother's insistence that she can only own a pet that doesn't need to be walked or bathed or fed, a little girl enlists the librarian's aid and settles on an animal that fits the bill. After her new sloth is delivered, the girl starts working out how to enjoy sloth companionship, but not everyone understand the appeal. After some fits and starts, the girl decides to accept her friend's limitations and love him as he is.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You actually raise sloths and know that they do need to be bathed and fed.

Erandi's Braids

Written by: Antoni Hernandez Madrigal and Tomie dePaola

First line: "Erandi, it's time to wake up," Mama whispered.

Why you should read this book: Erandi and her mother are poor but they work hard and have a good life. One day, Erandi learns that the hair buyers are coming to her small village, offering to pay lot of money to buy the long, beautiful braids of the village women. Will Erandi's mother sell Erandi's hair so their little family can survive?

Why you shouldn't read this book: You go around telling strangers that they should donate their body parts while they're still alive. 

Nod Away

Written by: Joshua W. Cotter

First line: (It's not exactly clear what the first line of this book is.)

Why you should read this book: Fans of the author have been waiting a long time for this first volume in a planned seven-book series. Dr. Melody McCabe has been reassigned to work on the space station Integrity, where she'll continue studying the hub, a clairvoyant child whose mind has been exploited to connect the billions of "innernet" users who employ a neural interface to tap into each other, all the time. Melody is sincere and serious, but nothing going on around her is exactly as it seems, and terrible things are about to happen in minute and astonishing graphic detail.

Why you shouldn't read this book: It's big and full of confusing moments that probably won't be resolved for thousands of pages.

A Glance Backward

Written by: Pierre Paquet and Tony Sandoval

First line: They say there's nothing nicer than reaching the streets of paradise.

Why you should read this book: Eleven-year-old Joey knows that kids can imagine all kinds of crazy things, but the day he buys fireworks he knows his mother doesn't want him to have, he takes a journey of the imagination through some very dark territory. Joey's travels through his own mind are treacherous and beautiful, and, although the reader might not understand until the end, intensely meaningful. Well worth the trip from confusion to enlightenment.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You want to understand now.


Written by: Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger

First line: This is your fault.

Why you should read this book: Did you like anything about Guardians of the Galaxy? If so, you might like something about this silly graphic novel, featuring everyone's favorite space-Ent and his not-a-talking-raccoon companion as they do their very best to hitchhike to Earth. Jolly and light-hearted and amusing.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You demand some gravity in your graphic storytelling.

Black Canary Volume 1: Kicking and Screaming

Written by: Brenden Fletcher, Annie Wu, Pia Guerra, Sandy Jarrell

First line: We got 'em! We got 'em!!

Why you should read this book: It's a different kind of superhero story, featuring a talented fighter with a decent superpower trying to leave the lifestyle behind to pursue a career in music, even though she's not really into music and she can't stop fighting. There are some nice, crazy details and some special appearances from surprise characters. Also, aliens, which always liven things up.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're all about the music.