Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Megan's Island

Written by: Willo Davis Roberts

First line: There was one week of school left on the day peculiar things began to happen.

Why you should read this book: Megan is excited to spend the summer swimming and roller skating with her best friend, but instead she and her brother find themselves whisked off to their grandfather's cabin at the lake before school even ends, forbidden to share their whereabouts with anyone. While they try to settle in to this unsettling turn of events, Megan and her brother meet another kid staying on the lake, and, because this is a Willo Davis Roberts book, they soon begin to notice that the adults who are supposed to be protecting them are too self-involved to do so, and that other, less loving adults seem to hanging around with bad intention. Why is Megan's mom so anxious, and why have they moved so often, and why can't Megan just tell her friend why they left town so suddenly?

Why you shouldn't read this book: You are suing for grandparents' rights to children who don't even know you exist.

Anglerfish: The Seadevil of the Deep

Written by: Elaine M. Alexander and Fionna Fogg

First line: Far, far below the ocean's surface where no trace of sunlight can reach, Anglerfish makes her home.

Why you should read this book: An informative, nonfiction picture book that makes the life cycle of the strange, deep sea creature called the anglerfish feel like high drama. Living in the blackest depths of the ocean, this creature has developed intriguing strategies for feeding and reproduction that make their ordinary lives read like science fiction, all engagingly illustrated here. Also includes a detailed appendix with further factual details about the ocean, hunting and mating, related species, and even a glossary. 

Why you shouldn't read this book: You find this creepy nightmare demon fish terrifying.

Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness

Written by: Maria Gianferrari and Pete Oswald

First line: Can you be like a dog?

Why you should read this book: Living mindfully, completely engaged in the moment, can be difficult for human beings, but it comes easily and naturally to our favorite companion animals. This book advises readers about how to "be like a dog": to remain present in the body, to breathe and eat and play, to feel ones feelings and release them, to interact with the world with an open heart and an open mind. There's even a section that prompts children to use all five senses as a dog would, along with extra facts about dogs, and a final page to return the reader to the human experience with instructions for mindful breathing.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're a cat.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Chew

Written by: John Layman and Rob Guillory

First line: Prologue: slow-simmerd shredded chicken, vegetable, and three-bean soup.

Why you should read this book: Tony Chu is a detective who receives psychic impressions from almost anything he eats (except beets), which means that he can't enjoy any food whatsoever (because he doesn't like beets) and also that he can solve murder cases by cannibalizing the victim's corpse. When his stakeout is interrupted by a federal agent (with the FDA), he stumbles onto a serial killer case, loses his partner and his job, and ends up working for the Food and Drug Administration. With a new boss who hates him, a new partner who's ever weirder than he is, and a new infatuation with a restaurant critic whose work allows him to enjoy food for the first time in his life, he is plunged into the cut-throat world of black market meat—specifically a Yakuza chicken smuggling operation—and mysteries he has to eat to believe. 

Why you shouldn't read this book: This book is equal parts hilarious and gruesome, so if that doesn't sit right with you, probably best to skip this one.

The Cookie Maker of Mavin Road

Written by: Sue Lawson and Liz Anelli

First line: Benedict Stanley and his cat, Audrey Mae, live at 23 Mavin Road.

Why you should read this book: Although it is never explicitly stated that Benedict Stanley, who lives with his cat at 23 Mavin Road, is a widower, and very lonely, it's obvious that he is a lonely widower, and while he is constantly reaching out to speak to his neighbors, nobody ever answers until a little boy named Rory admires Benedict Stanley's cat and shares his hope that the tooth fairy will visit tonight. Inspired, Benedict Stanley uses his wife's cookbook to bake Rory some missing-tooth inspired cookies, and then begins baking thematically appropriate cookies and delivering them anonymously to neighbors to celebrate the milestones of their lives, big and small. When Benedict Stanley falls ill and the magical cookie deliveries stop, only Rory can guess why, and he leads all the neighbors to Benedict Stanley's house, where they give back to the cookie maker, who gets well and is never lonely again.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You would never eat a plate of baked goods of unknown origin that mysteriously appeared on your doorstep. 

Babysitting Is a Dangerous Job

Written by: Willo Davis Roberts

First line: I knew the minute I saw the Foster kids that I wasn't going to like being their babysitter.

Why you should read this book: Darcy can see from the get-go that Jeremy, Melissa, and Shawna are out of control and will be nothing but trouble despite being very small, but their parents are so rich and offering such a great rate—not to mention access to the swimming pool—that she can't say no. And these kids are as difficult as she suspects, and more, but they're nothing compared to the clumsy kidnappers who take the whole lot, including Darcy, hoping for a fat ransom. Locked in a farmhouse and guarded by three desperate men and two angry dogs, Darcy must use everything she's learned about babysitting, her young charges, and life in order to outsmart their captors and save their lives.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Like many of Roberts's books, the abuse of children is treated so casually.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

Written by: Nora Krug

First line: Hansaplast is a brand of bandage developed in 1922.

Why you should read this book: Meticulous and emotional, this graphic memoir seeks to solidify evanescent memory, combining the author's own recollections with painstakingly acquired material artifacts and oral histories, as she comes to terms with her German family's experiences in the Third Reich. As a child, Krug learned in school of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust, a carefully constructed narrative of national culpability relegated to the past, but after coming to America as a young woman, she begins to wonder about the particulars of guilt: what were her own grandparents doing during the rise and power of National Socialism? Through trips to Germany, deep dives into bureaucratic records and resources, thrift shop finds, photographs, letters, and interviews, she begins to create a picture of her own ancestry and the roles of ordinary Germans in a time of great tragedy. 

Why you shouldn't read this book: Cowardice.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Penny and Her Song

Written by: Kevin Henkes

First line: Penny came home from school with a song.

Why you should read this book: Penny, a school-aged mouse girl, wants to share her song with her family, but her mother is afraid that singing will wake the babies, and doesn't allow singing at the dinner table, and the song must stay unsung. However, Penny is patient and persistent and eventually finds a time when it is appropriate to sing her song, to the great enjoyment of her entire family. Penny's song spreads joy and delight and shows the importance of self-expression, especially at the right time, in the right place, for the right audience.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't see why you should have to wait your turn and you don't care about the babies.

Wise Child

Written by: Monica Furlong

First line: Juniper was different from us.

Why you should read this book: Wise Child's mother abandoned her long ago, her father is always away at sea, and her grandmother dies when she is nine, so by the customs of her medieval Scottish village, the community gathers to determine who will care for her, and the best candidate for the job is Juniper, the unmarried woman who lives outside of town, never attends mass, is quite obviously a witch. With some apprehension, Wise Child begins a new life, learning Latin and the healing arts and cleaning up after herself and a whole host of skills she could not imagine in her old life, until she finds that she loves her new foster mother and might even want to follow in her footsteps. But there are dangers in her new life—her biological mother, who is a very different kind of witch, wants her back, and the village priest doesn't want any kind of witches alive anywhere—and Wise Child must learn to solve problems and make fast, grown-up decisions while she is still a little girl.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You are one of those completely humorless Christians who believe that anyone who doesn't attend your particular church must be in league with the devil,

Cuentos: The Bilingual Latinx+ Illustrated Mythology Anthology

Edited by: Andres D. Bravo

First line: I grew up in a house decorated with Aztec warrior and gods. 

Why you should read this book: This ambitious volume showcases the work of a number of Latinx artists from around the world, featuring full color illustrations in a variety of styles, most of which are paired with short stories, written in both Spanish and English. These run the gamut from old religious myths like Xipe Tótec to newer urban legends like chupacabra, and every kind of legend in between, some told like fairy tales, others like personal narratives or encyclopedia entries. A creepy little book that will appeal to fans of mythology, horror, Spanish cultures, and deviant art. 

Why you shouldn't read this book: You never once listened to any warning given to you by an adult who had your best interests in mind and was leaving you home alone for some reason.