My Reading Week #IMWAYR- January 30, 2023

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

This Is Not My HomeThis Is Not My Home by Vivienne Chang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful reverse immigration story that, as someone who experienced something similar, I really appreciated since no one really talks about reverse culture shock.

All the Beating HeartsAll the Beating Hearts by Julie Fogliano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lyrical exploration of life and what unites us all.

Just Like GrandmaJust Like Grandma by Kim Rogers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has many surprising wonderful elements that readers will love.

Tia Isa Wants a CarTia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because Meg Medina was recently appointed as the latest National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and I have a Reading Challenge to read their notable books as a way to celebrate.

This is a sweet story about a girl helping her aunt- her Tia Isa- buy the car of her dreams. It perfectly captures the immigrant family’s mindset (at least, it reminds me of my family) of having a dream that benefits others and postponing it for awhile to help others. And, of course, I loved seeing how the niece contributed.

A Color of His OwnA Color of His Own by Leo Lionni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet story of finding a place where one can belong just by being yourself.

Try a Little Kindness: A Guide to Being BetterTry a Little Kindness: A Guide to Being Better by Henry Cole
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A sweet book about different ways of being kind with very cheeky illustrations.

I Love My Mommy Because...I Love My Mommy Because… by Laurel Porter-Gaylord
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A perfect read aloud for mother and baby.

Cut!: How Lotte Reiniger and a Pair of Scissors Revolutionized AnimationCut!: How Lotte Reiniger and a Pair of Scissors Revolutionized Animation by C.E. Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful picture book about a pioneer in animation. I didn’t even know about Lotte Reiniger until a couple years or so ago and am glad that there have been books like this one to shine a light on her talents.

Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone OperatorsGrace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators by Claudia Friddell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting read about a subject I wasn’t familiar with. I wish the author had included their struggles after coming home rather than bury it in the back matter.

Georgia O'Keeffe: She Saw the World in a Flower (What the Artist Saw)Georgia O’Keeffe: She Saw the World in a Flower by Gabrielle Balkan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What the Artist Saw is a new picture book biography series that introduces readers to artists and includes activities they can do themselves. This one focuses on Georgia O’Keeffe. What I appreciated is that there were images of some of her work to help me better understand her art. I will definitely continue checking out the other books in this series.

Claude Monet: He Saw the World in Brilliant Light (What the Artist Saw)Claude Monet: He Saw the World in Brilliant Light by D.K. Publishing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What the Artist Saw is a new picture book biography series that introduces readers to artists and includes activities they can do themselves. This one focuses on Claude Monet. What I appreciated is that there were images of some of his work to help me better understand his art. I will definitely continue checking out the other books in this series.

Donut Feed the Squirrels (Norma and Belly #1)Donut Feed the Squirrels by Mika Song
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two squirrel friends come up with a plan to satisfy their donut cravings much to the annoyance of the owner of the food cart selling such treats. But while they learn they may not get exactly what they want, something else may come out of it.

LinkedLinked by Gordon Korman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don’t think I’ve read a book recently that has elicited such strong conflicting feelings in me like this one. I was ready to rave about this book saying how thought-provoking it was and still is. But the book just rubbed me the wrong way after the twist was revealed. There just seemed to be no consequence to the person and it almost seemed like a dismissal of “Boys will be boys” especially when the whole town seemed to bend over backwards to help the kid out. Maybe I just need to be a more forgiving person but I wanted more when other people wouldn’t have had a second chance to redeem themselves. I think I could go off on a rant about this book for awhile. Anyway, the main point after my mood soured against this book was that one of the scariest things we can come across when faced with hate is indifference.

The StrangerThe Stranger by Albert Camus
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It’s been a week of disappointing reads for me. The latest WTF read was The Stranger by Albert Camus.

The only good thing I have to say about it was that it was a short read.

Maybe I’m missing something so please inform me if I am but I also don’t want to think any more about this when I didn’t find it good at the most basic level.

If I wanted to read about life’s inconsequentiality and how comically tragic things can happen, I would just pick up my journal.

You can view all my reviews over on Goodreads. Please consider supporting independent bookstores when you want to buy any of the books I’ve mentioned via Bookshop.org or Libro.fm.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

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My Reading Week #IMWAYR- January 23, 2023

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

This week, I was able to visit one new bookstore and two labyrinths.

I also posted about the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature- Meg Medina– including book reviews for the reading challenge I have with that.

Whoever You Are: A Baby Book on Love  GenderWhoever You Are: A Baby Book on Love Gender by Josephine Wai Lin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An affirmation of unconditional love with unique illustrations.

My Strange Shrinking ParentsMy Strange Shrinking Parents by Zeno Sworder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has been showing up on kidlit social media pages and deservingly so! I loved the quiet storytelling style used to present the sacrifices- especially of immigrant- parents make to ensure their child has a future better than theirs.

GibberishGibberish by Young Vo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun book tackling a difficult situation lots of immigrant people experience when moving to a new country. It reminded me a little bit of Shaun Tan’s Arrival. Great for educators teaching about language and also readers who love to figure out what was trying to be said.

BeneathBeneath by Cori Doerrfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful subtle book about empathy, to be able to see beyond the superficial.

Berry SongBerry Song by Michaela Goade
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’d been putting off reading this book but I’m glad I did since I want to live in the illustrations.

The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His NameThe Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name by Sandhya Parappukkaran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another good “importance of names” book. I just wished the boy either did more to speak up (which I know was one of his problems) or that it showed his friend was picking up signs of what he was trying to say before she acted the way she did.

Very Good HatsVery Good Hats by Emma Straub
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun read-aloud if you’re looking for something to pass the time.

Mister Kitty Is Lost!Mister Kitty Is Lost! by Greg Pizzoli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Greg Pizzoli delivers another fun and surprising book that will delight young readers.

Love without Bounds: An IntersectionAllies Book about FamiliesLove without Bounds: An IntersectionAllies Book about Families by Chelsea Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From the same team who brought IntersectionAllies: We Make Room for All, Love without Bounds (or previously known or sometimes titled as KINtersectionAllies) celebrates all kinds of families with extensive backmatter.

Nikola Tesla (Little People, BIG DREAMS)Nikola Tesla by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is there a series that you’ve continued reading even though you really don’t want/need to? Little People, Big Dreams is that for me. I was definitely excited when this biography picture book series came out and I’ve kept up with it since then but the consistency has been all over the place. To be fair, it’s fine otherwise why would I even bother especially when they’ve been getting sort of hard to find. All that to say, this was about Nikola Tesla which was an easy way to learn about him but there are other books you should check out.

Gigi and Ojiji: What's in a Name?Gigi and Ojiji: What’s in a Name? by Melissa Iwai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been charmed by this new leveled reader. In this one, Gigi tries to find which of her names fit her best.

Rainbow Revolutions: Power, Pride, and Protest in the Fight for Queer RightsRainbow Revolutions: Power, Pride, and Protest in the Fight for Queer Rights by Jamie Lawson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An accessible history of LGBTQ+ movements and moments around the world covering topics from Stonewall in the US to Section 28 in the UK, from sit-ins to ball culture, from riots to pride. Perfect for middle and high school libraries and hopefully will be used as stepping stones to learn more about the people and places mentioned.

You can view all my reviews over on Goodreads. Please consider supporting independent bookstores when you want to buy any of the books I’ve mentioned via Bookshop.org or Libro.fm.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature: Part 8

“The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature raises national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.”
-from the website
National_Ambassador_for_Young_People's_Literature_-_logo
The 2023-2024 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is Meg Medina!

Her platform is “Cuéntame!: Let’s talk books.” And according to the website, this was “inspired by the phrase Spanish-speaking friends and families use to catch up with one another, “Cuéntame!” encourages connection amongst families, classrooms, libraries, and communities by talking about books—both those books that reflect the readers’ lived experiences and those books that expose readers to new perspectives.”

I have to admit I’m not really familiar with her books so I’m excited I have this ongoing Reading Challenge to read notable works by the current ambassador. But here are the ones I have read…

Mango, Abuela, and MeMango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you liked Last Stop on Market Street, you’ll enjoy this book. A girl’s grandma moves in and despite the language barrier they teach one another the language they speak. Touching.

Evelyn del Rey Is Moving AwayEvelyn del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Daniela’s best friend is moving away. They try and make the most of their last day together which isn’t hard because they have so much fun together. Unfortunately, too soon, Evelyn and her family have to go and it’s a bittersweet goodbye between two best friends. The illustrations are as evocative as the text.

Tia Isa Wants a CarTia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because Meg Medina was recently appointed as the latest National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and I have a Reading Challenge to read their notable books as a way to celebrate.

This is a sweet story about a girl helping her aunt- her Tia Isa- buy the car of her dreams. It perfectly captures the immigrant family’s mindset (at least, it reminds me of my family) of having a dream that benefits others and postponing it for awhile to help others. And, of course, I loved seeing how the niece contributed.

She Persisted: Sonia SotomayorShe Persisted: Sonia Sotomayor by Meg Medina
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been a fan of the She Persisted series ever since they’ve come out. These chapter books are great biographies to learn about some amazing women. I liked the section in the end of each book sharing ways the readers can emulate who they just read about.

Meg Medina has a short story “Sol Painting, Inc.” in this anthology…

Flying Lessons & Other StoriesFlying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great anthology that not only showcases diversity but will give readers an introduction to some of the finest YA writers around right now. I hope people will enjoy the stories and that they will reflect on their own stories- the ones that they alone can tell shaped by their unique background and culture and experiences.

Which of her books have you read that you would recommend?

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- January 16, 2023

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

It feels a bit weird that I’ve been consistently posting again- and, not just that, but also commenting on other people’s blogs. WordPress still frustrates me but I’ll take what I can get, I guess. Click on the image to read about a Bookish Adventure I had earlier this month.
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And, now, for the book reviews…

Little Black Lives MatterLittle Black Lives Matter by Khodi Dill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This board book celebrates and empowers and introduces Black Lives Matter to the littlest readers. I wish this was actually a picture book with additional information on the people mentioned here.

It Had to Be YouIt Had to Be You by Loryn Brantz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet message is paired with high contrast illustrations- black and white with splashes of red- in this board book.

For Your SmileFor Your Smile by Loryn Brantz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Playful animal sounds paired with a sweet message in this board book of high contrast illustrations- black and white with splashes of red.

Brantz B&w Board Book #3Brantz B&w Board Book #3 by Loryn Brantz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This board book of high contrast illustrations- black and white with splashes of red- gives caregivers milestones to celebrate (or look forward to) in a toddler’s life.

Anzu the Great ListenerAnzu the Great Listener by Benson Shum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A surprising message that many people need to know. Sometimes the best way to help others is not to fix it for them but to listen to them. Perfect for kids who love Pokemon and the Stillwater books by Jon Muth.

Gigi and OjijiGigi and Ojiji by Melissa Iwai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Intergenerational. Cross-cultural. I enjoyed the relatable clashing when Gigi welcomes her grandfather from Japan to live with them. I can’t wait for more in this new levelled reader series.

The Secret Explorers and the Smoking VolcanoThe Secret Explorers and the Smoking Volcano by S.J. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Super popular series in the bookstore and glad I finally read one since I enjoyed it. It’s like the Magic Tree House series but more science based and featuring a more diverse cast of characters. I like all the extra materials in the back including a glossary and a quiz.

Wretched Waterpark (Sinister Summer, #1)Wretched Waterpark by Kiersten White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Mysterious Benedict Society will enjoy this quirky and kooky middle grade series. Something sinister surrounds a trio of sibling’s summer break when their parents sends them off to stay with an aunt who may not be all there and who promptly sends them off to spend some time at a water park where the weird and wretched come aplenty with admission.

The Midnight ChildrenThe Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was surprised by how much I didn’t resonate with this book considering I’ve enjoyed other books by the author. I was quite squeamish in the beginning of the novel especially with the scenes in the slaughterhouse and I thought the bullying was a bit much to have to stomach at the same time. The writing was good although the reader does have to be in a particular mood to enjoy it. There were moments in the book I was really engrossed and I wished it was more of that and less of the other things I mentioned.

The Mythology Class: A Graphic NovelThe Mythology Class: A Graphic Novel by Arnold Arre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Mythology Class should be considered alongside Watchmen as a classic graphic novel. Originally published as single-issue comics in 1999 in the Philippines, Arnold Arre’s masterpiece makes it US debut in this special edition.

Audacious and epic are just two words to describe this graphic novel featuring a hodgepodge collection of college students surprisingly and suddenly bound together to battle supernatural beings.

There are moments that were definitely signs of its times and doesn’t age well yet there is a timelessness with the story that will leave readers enthralled and completely anticipating what comes next for the characters in the upcoming sequel The Children of Bathala.

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- January 9, 2023

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

Keep DancingKeep Dancing by Cristina Oxtra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first heard about this book while doing a random Google search for Filipino books. And I wasn’t even sure this was a book I’d actually get to read since it seemed so obscure but when I was doing (yet another) random search for Filipino books on a library’s database, not only did they have it but they also had it in.

I didn’t realize this early reader chapter book was part of a series introducing young readers to different sports- in this instance tinikling which is a Filipino folk dance involving bamboo poles.

Lito is teased by some boys when they overhear he dances but his family helps him overcome it to help shine a light on his Filipino culture.

An American StoryAn American Story by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first must read picture book of 2023. Kwame Alexander uses his skills as poet to write about a very difficult- but necessary- topic to broach in the classrooms. Dare Coulter’s various art throughout the story compliments the powerful text and will hopefully give readers plenty to think and talk about.

The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and FriendshipThe Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihaj Muhammad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet companion to The Proudest Blue with the sister of the main character from the first book having her turn to learn about herself and others.

My Uncle Is Coming Tomorrow / Mañana viene mi tíoMy Uncle Is Coming Tomorrow / Mañana viene mi tío by Sebastián Santana
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A random pick while browsing the library shelves. I thought it was going to be a wacky tale of anticipating a relative’s arrival but I was surprised and impressed that this very sparse picture book was actually about “disappearing people” due to government/military involvement causing a neverending source of grief and pain to their loved ones and usually offering no sort of closure.

Maya's SongMaya’s Song by Renée Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Renée Watson does it again in this appropriately lyrical biography of the celebrated writer and activist Maya Angelou. Also contributing to the awesomeness of this book is Bryan Collier’s always impressive artwork.

Vincent Van Gogh: He Saw the World in Vibrant Colors (What the Artist Saw)Vincent Van Gogh: He Saw the World in Vibrant Colors by Amy Guglielmo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What the Artist Saw is a new picture book biography series that introduces readers to artists and includes activities they can do themselves. This one focuses on Vincent Van Gogh. What I appreciated is that there were images of some of his work to help me better understand his art. I will definitely continue checking out the other books in this series.

Hope Is an Arrow: The Story of Lebanese-American Poet Khalil GibranHope Is an Arrow: The Story of Lebanese-American Poet Khalil Gibran by Cory McCarthy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As someone who’s read and enjoyed The Prophet, this picture book biography caught my eye. I didn’t realize the author had lived in Boston (which, of course, made me reminisce about my visit there) and was just fascinated by his life. The back matter material was very insightful. The collage artwork were beautiful.

J.D. and the Great Barber BattleJ.D. and the Great Barber Battle by J. Dillard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun and unique premise about an eight year old who starts his own barbershop business after he discovers he has a knack for cutting hair. I wish the character was a bit older for some reason.

Welcome to FeralWelcome to Feral by Mark Fearing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful. The perfect blend of spooky and silly perfect for fans who’ve outgrown Desmond Cole, Ghost Patrol and ready to sink their teeth into Goosebumps-style scary stories. Can’t wait for the next book.

You can view all my reviews over on Goodreads. Please consider supporting independent bookstores when you want to buy any of the books I’ve mentioned via Bookshop.org or Libro.fm.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- January 2, 2023

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

Happy New Year! This week, I’ll be sharing my 2022 reading recap and my Favorite Books I read in the past year!

In 2022, I’ve read 523 books.

The breakdown is:
17- Adult novels
8- Adult non-fiction
44- Graphic novels
76- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)
364- Picture Books and Board Books
14- Young Adult novels
of which
149- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)
55- Audio Books
32- Books by Filipino Authors and/or Illustrators
78- Books by LGBTQ+ Authors and/or Illustrators

Picture Books

FarmhouseFarmhouse by Sophie Blackall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely stunning
starting with the book itself
as a physical object
the feel of the dustjacket
and the surprise art underneath
even the smell of the pages
And then there’s the story
of the children
of the family
of the house
of the story, of the book
stories within stories
And the illustrations
and the so many details
to delight one’s eye
if one just takes the time
to look, to see
until another thing
makes itself seen.

PatchworkPatchwork by Matt de la Peña
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my favorite picture books of the year! Beautiful message of being more than just one thing, that we are a patchwork of all our emotions and our experiences. Also, I loved that it says we aren’t confined by one label, that we contain multitudes. The artwork is stunning.

Bathe the CatBathe the Cat by Alice B. McGinty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hilarious picture book about a family trying to get their household ready for their grandma’s visit- and a cat willing to do everything to avoid getting a bath. I love that it features two gay dads but it’s not made a big deal of.

Nigel and the MoonNigel and the Moon by Antwan Eady
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A boy wants to be so many things but doesn’t know how to share it with others. Plus, he can’t help compare what his parents do with others during Career Week at school. Such an uplifting story.

The Boy with Flowers in His HairThe Boy with Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of those beautiful picture books dealing with complex emotions. Perfect for kids and grown-ups because we’re all going through stuff!

The Legend of Iron PurlThe Legend of Iron Purl by Tao Nyeu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first I was put off by this picture book because it seemed a bit wordy but it was a sweet and surprising story that’s perfect for read-alouds and anyone who loves to pore over the illustrations carefully.

Non-Fiction Picture Books

Sanctuary: Kip Tiernan and Rosie's Place, the Nation's First Shelter for WomenSanctuary: Kip Tiernan and Rosie’s Place, the Nation’s First Shelter for Women by Christine McDonnell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved getting to read about Kip Tiernan and the dignified approach she dealt with women’s issues. Very inspiring. It’s sad that we’ve turned a blind eye for so long and now it’s a problem that’s unavoidable and must be addressed.

Love in the LibraryLove in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Probably one of my favorite books of 2022 already. A beautiful hopeful story set during a very dark and scary time based on the author’s grandparents. It really is amazing and miraculous that love could have bloomed in hateful places like internment camps and how that was a forced way of life for some- especially children who had to grow inside one. I loved the illustrations and appreciated the backmatter.

Middle Grade and Early Readers

Fancy Pants (Jo Jo Makoons, #2)Fancy Pants by Dawn Quigley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jo Jo Makoons is a great character to read about because you never know what kind of scrapes she’ll get into even though she’s just trying to be helpful. I really enjoyed the wrong readings of different body language she encountered throughout the book.

Those Kids from Fawn CreekThose Kids from Fawn Creek by Erin Entrada Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Erin Entrada Kelly has written a beautiful novel reminscent of the books Stargirl and Each Kindness with a hint of Carrie and the movie Mean Girls. When a new girl arrives at Fawn Creek K-12, the seventh-grade students find themselves having to face who they are- and who they aren’t. Picking up this book was like planting a seed. Reading it was like watching a plant grow. Every page was some sort of blooming. And by the end, it will have rooted itself in your heart.

The Lucky OnesThe Lucky Ones by Linda Williams Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As soon as I finished this book, I knew it was one I couldn’t wait to recommend to others. And, luckily, I ran into a customer at the supermarket and I did just that, telling her this was a fantastic historical novel with a kind character.

This would be perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and Amal Unbound.

Answers in the PagesAnswers in the Pages by David Levithan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

David Levithan does it again with his timely middle grade novel about books being banned. Alternating between three pairs of duos- including excerpts from the book (within the book) being challenged-, readers who know the life-saving/life-changing importance of representation will follow along until they learn the outcome of the book’s fate. One of the storylines was what I can only describe as pure which got me quite emotional. One of my favorite novels of the year.

HummingbirdHummingbird by Natalie Lloyd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been awhile since I’ve read any of Natalie Lloyd’s novels even though A Snicker of Magic is one of my 52 favorite books of all time. I really didn’t think I’d like Hummingbird because I admit I’ve grown quite cynical over the years but it was the perfect book to remind me there are (still) whimsy and wonder in the world- and in words. And I loved that I listened to the audiobook version since Natalie Lloyd did an outstanding job narrating it. So, if you want a feel good and uplifting story, look no further.

Sisterhood of SleuthsSisterhood of Sleuths by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorite middle grade novels of 2022! I love a good mystery and anything bookish so when the main character discovers a box of original Nancy Drew novels at her mom’s store’s door, she ends up having to solve where they came from and why. I enjoyed learning about the fascinating history of Nancy Drew (the character and it’s writers) as well. I also liked the friendship dynamics the main character had to navigate which I think lots of the book’s intended audience can relate to. But the most tangential aspect I enjoyed about this was the students able to turn in a major project within a two-week time span which tells me I need to set up deadlines for myself, lol.

A Rover's StoryA Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fans of The Wild Robot and The Lion of Mars will love this middle grade novel that alternates view points from the rover and from one of the scientists’ daughter. The friendship spans a period of time that I think is unusual for children’s books. Will make for a great read-aloud.

Older Titles

The Best at ItThe Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit I originally didn’t want to read this since it was written by an actor but it’s probably one of the top books I’ve read this year. If you’re looking for a feel good #lgbt #mglit that will make you cringe and cheer for the character, look no further than The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy. You will laugh out loud, shed some tears, and probably rave about it to anyone who will listen. The main character is endearing as he tries to find his place. Perfect for fans of Front Desk and Melissa.

Red, White, and WholeRed, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel in verse is a tearjerker but worth all the tears as you’re immediately drawn in by the beautiful writing and the story of a girl who’s trying to find her place in a world where she always feel neither here nor there.

The Birchbark House (Birchbark House, #1)The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t believe I put off reading this book for so long. It’s now one of my most favorite favorites.

Readers of Little House on the Prairie will enjoy this look into the pioneer life era told through the eyes of an Ojibwa girl.

Graphic Novels (All ages)

Crunch (Click, #5)Crunch by Kayla Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always enjoy catching up with Olive and what she’s up to. And what she’s up to in this one is a lot! A very relatable topic for both kids and adults.

Your Pal FredYour Pal Fred by Michael Rex
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An optimistic robot wakes up in a dystopian future where two warlords are battling it out to have complete control of everything. A refreshing, uplifting book.

Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race MassacreAcross the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre by Alverne Ball
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An important graphic novel that explores a dark incident in America’s history- Tulsa Race Massacre.

A Career in Books: A Novel about Friends, Money, and the Occasional Duck BunA Career in Books: A Novel about Friends, Money, and the Occasional Duck Bun by Kate Gavino
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my favorite books of the year!

I just happened to run across this graphic novel on the shelves and, of course, I was intrigued by the title. And, then, even more so, when I realized it was written by a Filipino author and featured a couple of Filipino characters- one of whom was a lesbian.

This follows three friends in their twenties trying to find meaning and purpose in their various jobs within the book world. I enjoyed seeing how they navigated the ups and downs of life. It was also refreshing that it focused on their friendship and didn’t have (too much) of a relationship subplot.

isugid pinoy
Isugid Pinoy: Epochal Shift by Don Ellis Aguillo and Raf Salazar. “Isugid Pinoy” translates to “Tell it Pinoy” in the Philippine Bisayan language. I bought this graphic novel when I got to visit Arkipelago Books back in 2019 in San Francisco’s SOMA district. I’m glad I finally decided to read this! This community-based project is a celebration of the people who have been revitalizing Filipino presence in the Bay Area. The three stories within showcases just a few organizations making sure Filipino history and new stories don’t die out.

Young Adult and Adult

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too.: Our Story. Our Way.My Name Is Jason. Mine Too.: Our Story. Our Way. by Jason Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant! I even love the table of contents. 

Saints of the HouseholdSaints of the Household by Ari Tison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moving story told through the perspectives of two Bribri American brothers- one in prose and one in verse- as they try to forge a future beyond what their life’s circumstances and small town’s expectations has for them. Hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time, I couldn’t help but see how everything would play out for them when the cards seemed stacked against them.

Where You See YourselfWhere You See Yourself by Claire Forrest
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Utterly engrossing through and through. A fun senior year novel told through the eyes of a spunky teenager fighting for disability rights. I was rooting for Effie to find her voice, to get the guy, and to go for the future that would make her happy.

The Davenports (The Davenports, #1)The Davenports by Krystal Marquis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fans of Downton Abbey will gobble this historical YA novel featuring young African American women navigating a changing world beyond their somewhat sheltered upbringing. Opulent scenes. Complicated romances. The only downside for me was that apparently it’s a series and I want the rest already!

There Goes the NeighborhoodThere Goes the Neighborhood by Jade Adia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun yet insightful. This reminded me of if Scooby Doo and the gang had to solve a mystery in a neighborhood dealing with gentrification. I loved the initiative shown by the characters to do everything in their power to stay together.

Older Titles

Annie on My MindAnnie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This has been on my radar for awhile and I finally picked it up after it was mentioned in another book. I really enjoyed the book- a good mix of teenage angst and joyful first love. I was worried when one of my friends said this was sad so I started feeling apprehensive that this would go the way of many LGBTQ books of many decades ago.

Playing the PalacePlaying the Palace by Paul Rudnick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A privileged good-looking guy (who both attracted an actor and a prince) from a well-to-do family prays for true love before he turns 30. Soon he finds himself swept up in a whirlwind royal romance. It’s an utterly predictable but highly entertaining read full of clichés but at least this one features gay male characters- and written by a gay man. The final obstacle was a bit eye-rolling but it’ll leave readers happy.

The Haunting of Hill HouseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great psychological horror novel.

84, Charing Cross Road84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sure, I may have had 4 other books already started but I couldn’t resist this volume of correspondences between an American writer and a British bookseller as well as others characters that have benefited from the friendship between the two booklovers.

You can view all my reviews over on Goodreads. Please consider supporting independent bookstores when you want to buy any of the books I’ve mentioned via Bookshop.org or Libro.fm.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- December 26, 2022

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

Happy holidays! This week I’ll be sharing the festive kids books I read this year.

I also read Grace Lin’s Christmas board books which you can read here.

Strum and Drum: A Merry Little QuestStrum and Drum: A Merry Little Quest by Jashar Awan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My favorite Christmas book of 2022 offers a nice surprise (if one doesn’t read the official description online) that makes it completely fun and refreshing.

The Christmas PrincessThe Christmas Princess by Mariah Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A cute Christmas fairy tale to herald a new picture book series featuring Little Mariah. The sometimes rhyming text may have come off better if it was an audio book narrated by Mariah herself. The plot is best if not really paid much attention to. I think young readers will be dazzled by the illustrations and just be caught up in the feeling of holiday magic.

The Christmas Book FloodThe Christmas Book Flood by Emily Kilgore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I felt like it was only a matter of time before someone would publish a picture book about this Icelandic bookish tradition when it became more common knowledge a few years ago. And this one is lovely.

The Christmas MagicThe Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A charming story of Christmas coming with beautiful luminous illustrations.

It's Christmas Everywhere, Celebrations from Around the WorldIt’s Christmas Everywhere, Celebrations from Around the World by Hannah Barnaby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun shaped book that shares ten Christmas traditions around the world.

Hershel and the Hanukkah GoblinsHershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read this since people seem to have fond memories of this story. And I can see why. A clever slightly spooky tale of perseverance and celebrating Hanukkah.

Red and Green and Blue and WhiteRed and Green and Blue and White by Lee Wind
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Based on a true story of how one family stood up against a hateful act of not accepting someone else’s faith and another family standing by them to not let darkness prevail.

Hanukkah BearHanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought I’d read this before but I couldn’t find a review of it or any mention of it on my blog or spreadsheets of books read. The way I recommend it to our customers makes me sure I’ve read it. Anyways, it’s a hilarious tale of an elderly lady who accidentally invites a bear (mistaking him for her rabbi) for Hanukkah dinner.

I had been trying The StoryGraph for the first half of this year to avoid the Amazon-owned Goodreads. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide the convenience Goodreads offered so I’m back using Goodreads.

You can view all my reviews over on Goodreads.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- December 19, 2022 / Grace Lin Book Reviews

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!


This year, I decided to read all of Grace Lin’s books that I hadn’t yet. I’ve been a fan since I read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon back in 2012. (The second book in that series Starry River of the Sky is one of my 53 favorite books of all time!) Over the years, I’ve read more books by her and have enjoyed them so I figured why not just read everything she’s done. I’ve also been a fan of her podcast Book Friends Forever with her friend and editor Alvina Ling which I’m a patron of!

This was what I was working with at the beginning of the year…

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I would find some books I didn’t include (mostly when she was the illustrator but not the author) and make a correction with one of the titles and will take one off because it’s out of print and may not have actually been widely available to begin with.

Without further ado, here are the reviews…

Where the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first working at a children’s bookstore (back in 2012) and asked kids which books they would recommend to me, this was one of the more popular titles so, of course, I had to read it. Luckily, I loved it and it’s become one of my favorite books to recommend to others. I say it’s a cross between The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia but with Chinese fairy tales and folk tales interwoven into the main story. Plus, there are beautiful woodcut illustrations throughout.

(Read in October 2012)

Starry River of the SkyStarry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grace Lin recaptures the magic of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon in this equally enchanting tale of a boy in search of the missing moon and himself. It’s about the magic in the stories we tell others and ourselves. It’s also about family and forgiveness.

(Read in August 2013)

When the Sea Turned to SilverWhen the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my favorite middle grade of 2016! I love the entire series, comparing it often to The Wizard of Oz. Grace Lin manages to get better with each book. I love the smaller stories of Chinese fairy tales and folk tales interwoven to the larger narrative and the moment every time the connections are made. The illustrations are stunning as well.

The Year of the DogThe Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d been meaning to read this for awhile now since I love the Where the Mountain Meets the Moon series and enjoyed most of her other books as well and am such a fan of the Book Friends Forever podcast. This was like getting to visit with old friends even though you may never have actually met in person. In addition to seeing how their friendship began and getting to read an entertaining story with Asian characters, I enjoyed the sort of behind the scenes glimpse of becoming a writer and where ideas come from.

The Year of the RatThe Year of the Rat by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved getting to visit Pacy’s world in this sequel to The Year of the Dog.

The Year of the Rat brings a lot of changes to Pacy’s life including her best friend moving away to the opposite end of the country. Navigating all new scenarios through her lens seemed very realistic and relatable.

I can’t wait to read the final book in the series eventually but already I know I’d want more to read about Pacy and her family and friends- maybe her and Melody would grow up to have a podcast together where they can talk about books and what’s going on in their lives!

Dumpling DaysDumpling Days by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The final installment in the semi autobiographical middle grade series serves as a culinary travelogue as Pacy and her family go to Taiwan over the summer. While she enjoys spending time with her extended family , she can’t help but feel like she doesn’t really fit in since all she’s known is America. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again but I wouldn’t mind reading more of Pacy’s life.

Ling & Ting

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! (Ling & Ting, #1)Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I decided to reread this book as I prepared to read the entire Ling & Ting series as part of my Grace Lin Reading Challenge for the year. I’m surprised how much more I enjoyed it than the first time. I really appreciated the simplicity and the structure of Grace Lin’s storytelling style that was able to infuse humor, surprise, and a cohesiveness that readers of all ages will enjoy.

(First read June 2016; Originally 3 stars)

Ling & Ting Share a Birthday (Ling & Ting, #2)Ling & Ting Share a Birthday by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m reading the entire Ling & Ting series as part of my Grace Lin Reading Challenge for the year. I really appreciated the simplicity and the structure of Grace Lin’s storytelling style that was able to infuse humor, surprise, and a cohesiveness that readers of all ages will enjoy.

Ling & Ting: Twice as SillyLing & Ting: Twice as Silly by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m reading the entire Ling & Ting series as part of my Grace Lin Reading Challenge for the year. I really appreciated the simplicity and the structure of Grace Lin’s storytelling style that was able to infuse humor, surprise, and a cohesiveness that readers of all ages will enjoy.

Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather (Ling & Ting, #4)Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m reading the entire Ling & Ting series as part of my Grace Lin Reading Challenge for the year. I really appreciated the simplicity and the structure of Grace Lin’s storytelling style that was able to infuse humor, surprise, and a cohesiveness that readers of all ages will enjoy.

I read these board books in October 2020. I loved the diversity in the illustrations and the fun way of introducing mathematical concepts to the youngest of readers. The titles are also available in English/Spanish bilingual editions.

The Ugly VegetablesThe Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolutely delightful. I can see why this story is still going strong after all these years. Great to include in garden-themed collections.

A Big Mooncake for Little StarA Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read an advanced copy of this picture book in late 2017 and I was blown away the illustrations. There will lots of details to observe and enjoy. It’s a sweet story between a mother and a daughter incorporating both preparing a special treat and learning about the phases of the moon.

A Big Bed for Little SnowA Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin

A companion to A Big Mooncake for Little Star and homage to The Snowy Day, Grace Lin offers a wintry bedtime story.

Dim Sum for Everyone!Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun read-aloud showcasing the delights of dim sum.

Fortune Cookie FortunesFortune Cookie Fortunes by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pacy’s family is back and this time they’re enjoying Chinese food! Pacy ponders if their fortunes will come true. Includes backmatter information of the possible origins of fortune cookies.

Bringing In the New YearBringing In the New Year by Grace Lin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A simple look about how one family ushers in the Lunar New Year. A fun read-aloud with a fold-out surprise.

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon FestivalThanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun introduction on how one family celebrates the mid-autumn moon festival. Includes backmatter going into a little bit more detail on the traditions and customs.

 

Kite FlyingKite Flying by Grace Lin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The family from some of Grace Lin’s other books is back and ready to have some fun. Includes some backmatter information on the significance of kite flying in China.

 

Okie, Dokie ArtichokieOkie, Dokie Artichokie by Grace Lin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A cute story about two neighbors and a misunderstanding. A package delivered to the wrong place helps sort things out.

Olvina FliesOlvina Flies by Grace Lin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting series featuring Olvina the chicken (in more ways than one). This time she faces her fear of flying.

Olvina SwimsOlvina Swims by Grace Lin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting series featuring Olvina the chicken (in more ways than one). This time she faces her fear of swimming.

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy TaleThe Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful example of how times have changed. Back when this was first published, I would have loved that this kind of story existed. The intention is sweet and tugs at the heart. But, now, it just hits differently.

Robert's SnowRobert’s Snow by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun winter story about a little mouse excited about snow and the surprise visitor who helps him when he’s caught out in the cold.

Lissy's FriendsLissy’s Friends by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For some reason, I missed including this on my Grace Lin reading challenge so I’m glad I ran across this picture book. A lonely girl folds origami animals to make up for the friends she doesn’t have. 

These Christmas board books were hard to find. I read each set of three individually but they were apparently available in these editions with CDs of songs performed by Peggo & Paul.

Christmas Carols: Lets All Sing! features Away in a Manger, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and Silent Night and a cast of human characters. Again, it’s having the main characters people of color makes it unique. The last two titles were reissued a year or so ago.

Merry Christmas: Lets All Sing! features Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, and The Twelve Days of Christmas. The cast of animal friends makes these board books fun.

Mulan: Before the SwordMulan: Before the Sword by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually put off reading this novel because I was worried some of Grace Lin’s storytelling style would be somehow diminished since this was under Disney’s supervision. But I needn’t have worried. I soon found myself magically swept into the story.

She Persisted: Maya LinShe Persisted: Maya Lin by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grace Lin gets to tell architect Maya Lin’s story as part of the She Persisted series.


Co-Authored Books

I Am an American: The Wong Kim Ark StoryI Am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story by Martha Brockenbrough
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This nonfiction picture book tells another piece of American history that I’m sure not a lot of people were familiar with nor taught about in school.

Our SeasonsOur Seasons by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grace Lin writes the haiku and does the art work for this picture book following four kids throughout the seasons. Ranida T. McKneally provides the facts behind the topics.

Our Food: A Healthy Serving of Science and PoemsOur Food: A Healthy Serving of Science and Poems by Grace Lin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Grace Lin writes the haiku, Ranida T. McKneally provides the facts behind the topics, and Grace Zong does the art work for this picture book about the food groups and “healthy” eating. Somehow, the information being presented was giving me 80’s/ early 90’s vibe.

Illustrations Only

When You Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for YouWhen You Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for You by Eleanor Roosevelt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This updated edition of how the government works features illustrations by Grace Lin which is why I picked it up in the first place. But the more I learn about Eleanor Roosevelt and the things she did (including creating this primer of sorts for kids), I’m just amazed.

Round is a Mooncake: A Book of ShapesRound is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun primer about shapes.

Red is a Dragon: A Book of ColorsRed is a Dragon: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Thong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun primer about colors.

One Is a Drummer: A Book of NumbersOne Is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers by Roseanne Thong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun rhyming text with lively illustrations from the same team who did Red is a Dragon and Round is a Mooncake.

The Seven Chinese SistersThe Seven Chinese Sisters by Kathy Tucker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A cute story- a retelling of a Chinese folk tale- about a dragon stealing the baby sister and the other six sisters going to save her. I decided to read this as part of my Grace Lin Reading Challenge even though she didn’t before this one. It’s great when an illustrator has a signature style.

Where on Earth Is My Bagel?Where on Earth Is My Bagel? by Frances Park
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun little story about a boy in Korea suddenly craving a New York style bagel. When the pigeon he sends to order one fails to deliver, he turns to the people in his neighborhood for help. I thought this would include the recipe.

The Big Buck AdventureThe Big Buck Adventure by Shelley Gill
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A rather frantic financial fiasco involving a girl deciding how to spend her dollar.

One Year in BeijingOne Year in Beijing by Xiaohong Wang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As some of you may or may not know already, I’m hoping to read all of Grace Lin’s bibliography this year. I seem to be constantly coming across picture books that I didn’t realize she illustrated including this one!

The Jade NecklaceThe Jade Necklace by Paul Yee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fascinating story I probably wouldn’t have known about if it weren’t illustrated by Grace Lin- and even then that would have been iffy since I didn’t even know she had done the art in this book.

A New Roof (Rookie Readers)A New Roof by Cari Meister
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A boy watches workers put up a new roof after a particularly rainy day.

One For Me, One For YouOne For Me, One For You by C.C. Cameron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A simple story of counting and sharing.

View all my reviews

I picked up the following anthologies because Grace Lin contributed to them…

Flying Lessons & Other Lessons edited by Ellen Oh. Grace Lin’s contribution is “The Difficult Path.”

Flying Lessons & Other StoriesFlying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great anthology that not only showcases diversity but will give readers an introduction to some of the finest YA writers around right now. I hope people will enjoy the stories and that they will reflect on their own stories- the ones that they alone can tell shaped by their unique background and culture and experiences.

The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson. Grace Lin’s contribution is “Not a China Doll.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evqbXic_vBE

Our Story Begins: Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids edited by Elissa Brent Weissman- It was so fun to read what inspired some kidlit creators to start writing and/or drawing. Grace Lin shared the story that won her fourth place in a writing contest when she was in elementary school that she alluded to in The Year of the Rat. I enjoyed art pieces of a young Dan Santat and a young Brian Selznick as well as journal entries from camp kid Tim Federle.

The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection edited by Colby Sharp- People from the Book World and the Education field take turns giving one another story ideas and coming up with their own. For Grace Lin’s short story, I was impressed how different her voice and subject is and would love to see her venture more into this territory. I enjoyed the prompt responses by Sophie Blackall, Dan Santat, and Victoria Jamieson.

Been There, Done That edited by Mike Winchell. A write what you know prompt followed by an original story. Grace Lin shares a funny story inspired by her mom’s travel to the US. I also read Nathan Hale’s contributions involving a costume.

And, that’s it. I think I got everything. Please let me know if I missed anything.

The only ones I wasn’t able to get my hands on were Robert’s Snowflakes and My Favorite Foods (written by Dana Meachen Rau).

I’m excited for her upcoming releases in 2023- and beyond!

Thanks for reading my blog! Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- December 12, 2022 / Books to Get Excited For in 2023

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Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

This week I’ll be sharing Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of books coming out in the next few months.

Middle Grade March 7, 2023 Boundless (Scholastic Focus)Boundless by Chaunte Lowe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Inspiring memoir of Olympian high jumper Chaunte Lowe. I liked her no-nonsense, go-getting approach to rise above her difficult childhood. Very straightforward but enough personal anecdotes to interest any reader.

March 14, 2023 Turtles of the Midnight MoonTurtles of the Midnight Moon by Maria Jose Fitzgerald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful middle grade eco-mystery that brings two girls from different backgrounds together as they try to stop poachers from stealing turtle eggs. I enjoyed the little bit of magical elements interwoven into the story.

Young Adult January 31, 2023 The Davenports (The Davenports, #1)The Davenports by Krystal Marquis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fans of Downton Abbey will gobble this historical YA novel featuring young African American women navigating a changing world beyond their somewhat sheltered upbringing. Opulent scenes. Complicated romances. The only downside for me was that apparently it’s a series and I want the rest already!

March 7, 2023 There Goes the NeighborhoodThere Goes the Neighborhood by Jade Adia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun yet insightful. This reminded me of if Scooby Doo and the gang had to solve a mystery in a neighborhood dealing with gentrification. I loved the initiative shown by the characters to do everything in their power to stay together.

March 28, 2023 Saints of the HouseholdSaints of the Household by Ari Tison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moving story told through the perspectives of two Bribri American brothers- one in prose and one in verse- as they try to forge a future beyond what their life’s circumstances and small town’s expectations has for them. Hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time, I couldn’t help but see how everything would play out for them when the cards seemed stacked against them.

April 11, 2023 Bianca Torre Is Afraid of EverythingBianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything by Justine Pucella Winans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun Rear Window vibes about a fearful teenager who gets caught up with a mysterious murdering cult. Such a unique read incorporating coming to terms with one’s sexuality, navigating a first crush, and trying to avoid being killed.

May 2, 2023 Where You See YourselfWhere You See Yourself by Claire Forrest
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Utterly engrossing through and through. A fun senior year novel told through the eyes of a spunky teenager fighting for disability rights. I was rooting for Effie to find her voice, to get the guy, and to go for the future that would make her happy.

May 9, 2023 If Tomorrow Doesn't ComeIf Tomorrow Doesn’t Come by Jen St. Jude
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating premise about a teenage girl on the day she was going to kill herself finds out that the world is about to end. I liked that it tackled a deep issue like attempted suicide and mixed it with an apocalyptic premise while throwing in trying to figure out one’s place in a world when one doesn’t quite know who they are yet.

I had been trying The StoryGraph for the first half of this year to avoid the Amazon-owned Goodreads. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide the convenience Goodreads offered so I’m back using Goodreads.

You can view all my reviews over on Goodreads.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- December 5, 2022 / My November Recap

New-2020-IMWAYR-Button
Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

We’ve come to that period of the year where time just seems to be flying by!

Some highlights for me in November were visiting some new bookstores like Saint Rita’s Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary and enjoying some time off to just see what the day had to offer.

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And, of course, I voted during the midterm elections.I worked on a couple of scholarship applications to hopefully win some free membership to some online writing communities.

I was actually able to start my “December Days of Delights” a day early by checking out a Gingerbread Masterpiece unveiling at a nice hotel. They even had hot cocoa with whipped cream and gingerbread cookies. I didn’t actually stay to watch the reveal because I was feeling claustrophobic with all the people there so I just explored other parts of the hotel I hadn’t been to before. I had the lower level all to myself.

I’ll have to go back another time to check out this year’s design.

bensontree

So far in 2022, I’ve read 479 books.

The breakdown is:
16- Adult novels
7- Adult non-fiction
41- Graphic novels
73- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)
328- Picture Books and Board Books
14- Young Adult novels
of which
134- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)
51- Audio Books
30- Books by Filipino Authors and/or Illustrators
75- Books by LGBTQ+ Authors and/or Illustrators

The People Shall ContinueThe People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As important and relevant as it was when released 45 years ago, this rhythmic retelling of the Native American People in the United States will be eye opening to some readers and hopefully a wake up call to all come together to fix a broken world.

Phoenix Gets GreaterPhoenix Gets Greater by Marty Wilson-Trudeau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Based on actual experiences of the authors, this picture book celebrates being oneself even when it doesn’t fit society’s idea of normal. This also introduces the Two Spirit identity within some Indigenous cultures.

A Song for the Unsung: Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the 1963 March on WashingtonA Song for the Unsung: Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the 1963 March on Washington by Carole Boston Weatherford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been excited about this book since I first heard about it. More people should know about Bayard and his contributions. A dream team of collaborators.

Too EarlyToo Early by Nora Ericson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet start of the day story even when the main character chooses to wake up too early. The simple text pairs well with the luminous art.

Beatrice Likes the DarkBeatrice Likes the Dark by April Genevieve Tucholke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is perfect for precocious readers and celebrates siblings.

I Don't CareI Don’t Care by Julie Fogliano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A dreamy collaboration between two illustrators who have very distinct styles but works complementary with one another and the fun text.

Butterfly ChildButterfly Child by Marc Majewski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful story about being oneself and how support from people we love can lift us up.

Knight OwlKnight Owl by Christopher Denise
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adorable and a little dark.

Symphony for a Broken Orchestra: How Philadelphia Collected Sounds to Save MusicSymphony for a Broken Orchestra: How Philadelphia Collected Sounds to Save Music by Amy Ignatow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The audio book was delightful.

The Christmas Book FloodThe Christmas Book Flood by Emily Kilgore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I felt like it was only a matter of time before someone would publish a picture book about this Icelandic bookish tradition when it became more common knowledge a few years ago. And this one is lovely.

My Name Is MalalaMy Name Is Malala by Malala Yousafzai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now even the youngest readers can learn about and be inspired by Malala!

Sisterhood of SleuthsSisterhood of Sleuths by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorite middle grade novels of 2022! I love a good mystery and anything bookish so when the main character discovers a box of original Nancy Drew novels at her mom’s store’s door, she ends up having to solve where they came from and why. I enjoyed learning about the fascinating history of Nancy Drew (the character and it’s writers) as well. I also liked the friendship dynamics the main character had to navigate which I think lots of the book’s intended audience can relate to. But the most tangential aspect I enjoyed about this was the students able to turn in a major project within a two-week time span which tells me I need to set up deadlines for myself, lol.

Key Player (Front Desk #4)Key Player by Kelly Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was surprised when this came out since I didn’t know about it and I thought Mia’s story ended perfectly with Room to Dream. With that being said, I’m always happy to read more of her and her friends and can’t wait for the next installment.

Marikit and the Ocean of StarsMarikit and the Ocean of Stars by Caris Avendaño Cruz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fans of Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Erin Entrada Kelly’s Land of Forgotten Girls will love this middle grade debut seeped in Filipino folklore. A young girl finds herself suddenly on a magical adventure where she must fight vengeful gods, hungry monsters, and other creatures who’ll do anything to stop her from fulfilling her destiny. I’m glad that readers will get a glimpse of Filipino mythology in Marikit’s story.

Brackenbeast (Thirteens #2)Brackenbeast by Kate Alice Marshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this for a book committee I was on and liked it enough to want to continue with the series. Interesting premise for fans who may like a scarier version of The Land of Stories.

The Door of No ReturnThe Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This first book in a planned trilogy is destined to win some awards. The scope of the story it’s trying to tell is impressive and reminds me of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. I can’t see how things actually play out.

Akata Witch (The Nsibidi Scripts, #1)Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been curious about this book/series and am glad I finally took the time to dive right in. Fantasy fans will love the world in this one- having enough unique elements that doesn’t seem like a copy and paste of others before it. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Black Internet EffectBlack Internet Effect by Shavone Charles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great installment in this nonfiction series of different people in various fields of interests. Quick reads but satisfying enough to have readers want to learn more about the subject or the person.

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian StoriesThe Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories by Kel McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here’s an “extra” #FilipinoReads that I read in November that for some reason I wasn’t going to feature even though the graphic novel anthology has lots of Filipino creators.

The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Tales edited by Kel McDonald is the fourth collection in the Cautionary Fables and Fairytales series exploring different countries’ folklore and mythology with this one containing selections from Fiji, Hawaii, and the Philippines. What’s odd is the uneven distribution since, out of the 16 stories, only 1 is from Fiji and Hawaii has 6 and the Philippines has 9. (Maybe there’s a different version with more countries being represented because the publisher’s official description mentions 24 stories and New Zealand?)

I enjoyed “The Story of Benito” and “The Ibalon Epic: a Retelling of Baltog” the most.

84, Charing Cross Road84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sure, I may have had 4 other books already started but I couldn’t resist this volume of correspondences between an American writer and a British bookseller as well as others characters that have benefited from the friendship between the two booklovers.

A Song of Comfortable Chairs (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, #23)A Song of Comfortable Chairs by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It seems that even after 23 books, I’ll just keep reading this series until it ends. I’m wishing something more substantial would happen now and then to change things up and add some spark back to the stories.

Trese Vol. 5: Midnight TribunalTrese Vol. 5: Midnight Tribunal by Budjette Tan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s always exciting when a new Trese comes out. While I was feeling the last volume was getting repetitive, this latest installment seemed fresh and exciting. Maybe because we dig deeper into Alexandra Trese’s life that she seems more human and we as readers care what happens to her?

In this one, more masked avengers are coming in to save the day but Alexandra discovers they’re more than nuisances but a bigger threat than she anticipated.

I love the change in format with these stories so I can’t wait to see what comes up next.

I had been trying The StoryGraph for the first half of this year to avoid the Amazon-owned Goodreads. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide the convenience Goodreads offered so I’m back using Goodreads.

You can view all my reviews over on Goodreads.