My Reading Week #IMWAYR- June 7, 2021 / May Review

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I wasn’t even going to post this week but I figured if I just kept it short and simple, I’d have done it and I could move on.

May has been full of walks exploring wish trees, labyrinths, and bridges. You can check out my other blog for some of these adventures.

So far this year, I’ve read 236 books. The breakdown is:

7- Adult novels

17- Adult non-fiction

14- Graphic novels

36- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)

158- Picture Books and Board Books

4- Young Adult novels of which

56- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)

25- Audio Books

Now, for the book reviews…

Skate for Your LifeSkate for Your Life by Leo Baker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am such a huge fan of the Pocket Change Collective series and I think every middle school and high school libraries should carry them. They’re basically long essays about experiences specific to the person writing about it. In Skate for Your Life, Leo Baker shares their story falling in love with skateboarding at a young age, pursuing it as a career and the obstacles it presented to them as gender-queer nonbinary person.

ContinuumContinuum by Chella Man
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am such a huge fan of the Pocket Change Collective series and I think every middle school and high school libraries should carry them. They’re basically long essays about experiences specific to the person writing about it. In Continuum, Chella Man shares his story living in the intersections of his multiple identities as a Deaf, genderqueer, trans-masculine, Chinese, and Jewish person.

ParachutesParachutes by Kelly Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been a Kelly Yang fan since Front Desk and this has been on my radar since it came out last year but admittedly I’m not that much of a YA reader. I did want to intentionally read another AAPI book since it seemed I started my LGBTQ reading challenge a bit early.

Parachutes is Crazy Rich Asians meets Speak. It is engrossing and nerve wracking. It is powerful, inspiring, and infuriating. I loved the diversity not only of the characters but the situations and the topics tackled.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 31, 2021

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Sharice's Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a CongresswomanSharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman by Sharice Davids
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sharice Davids shares her story of overcoming obstacles and other people’s perceptions to become the first LGBTQ Native American Congressperson. Learning about and experiencing firsthand the unequal treatment she and her people have endured over the years, she used her voice to make a difference. An inspiring picture book autobiography that will introduce readers to an incredible political figure who spoke out not just for her rights but for others.

Llama GlamaramaLlama Glamarama by Simon James Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun book that celebrates being who you are. Larry the Llama has a secret and he’s scared that if it comes out the other llamas won’t like him anymore. But when he can’t deny who he really is any longer, he goes out to follow the beat of his own drum to find himself at a surprising destination full of music, colors, and acceptance!

Daddy  DadaDaddy Dada by Ryan Brockington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Simple text makes this a perfect picture book for even the youngest of readers to see how families come in all sorts of configurations as narrated by a young girl who has two dads.

The Bare Naked BookThe Bare Naked Book by Kathy Stinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Updated to be even more inclusive, this picture books celebrates body diversity.

A New Alphabet for Humanity : A Children's Book of Alphabet Words to Inspire Compassion, Kindness and PositivityA New Alphabet for Humanity : A Children’s Book of Alphabet Words to Inspire Compassion, Kindness and Positivity by Leesa McGregor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A feel good and positive book that will hopefully start conversations and inspire action.

The Cardboard KingdomThe Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chad Sell oversees a group of graphic novel illustrators in telling the adventures of neighborhood kids who’ve created personas of themselves and all living in the Cardboard Kingdom. While full of imagination and creativity, the “real” moments of figuring oneself and navigating complicated feelings are what sets this graphic novel series apart from the rest.

The Cardboard Kingdom #2: Roar of the Beast

The Cardboard Kingdom #2: Roar of the Beast by Chad Sell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The kids of the Cardboard Kingdom are back just in time for Halloween and facing their biggest challenge ever. When a mysterious beast suddenly appears out of nowhere, it’ll take all of them setting aside their differences and working together to put an end to its sudden reign of terror.

Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the WorldAgatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World by Mark Aldridge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Agatha Christie being my favorite author of all time and Hercule Poirot being one of of my favorite literary characters ever, the little grey cells didn’t have to work too hard to figure out this was something I was going to read no matter what! To celebrate a century since his first appearance, it was nice (if not a bit tedious at times) to read an extensive overview about his cases, his endeavors from the printed pages, and his relationship with his creator.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 24, 2021/ Reading the Rainbow BINGO

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With June coming up, it’s time for another Reading the Rainbow BINGO. My friend, who I’ve been doing this Reading Challenge with the past two years, isn’t up to it this year- although we’re going to have a Pride month book club- but I love continuing a tradition even if it’s by myself! Feel free to join me if you’re interested!

Come up with 25 different categories (24 if you want to use the center square as a free space.) As you can see, I also put in some non-reading categories like “watch a documentary” or “attend an (online) event.” Basically, it should challenge you a bit but it should be fun for you. Then use a random number generator to fill in your board. Officially, it starts and runs through June but you can backlog with anything you’ve read starting May 16th.

Here’s my simplified game board for this year and the categories I’m using…

I noticed most of my reviews of the James Baldwin books I’ve read started with “I’d been meaning to read this…” so I just decided to dedicate some time reading his books which I’m dubbing the Season of Baldwin. The bulk of this reading challenge would be to get through all his novels and maybe read other works that people recommend. Usually I’ll set up other rules like read them in chronological order but I’m treating this with the impression that I’ll read the right book at the right time. And, starting off with Going to Meet the Man proved it was the right decision because… wow!

Going to Meet the ManGoing to Meet the Man by James Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of short stories were incredible. I liked all of them except “The Man Child.”

I enjoyed “The Rockpile” and “The Outing” and because they involved the same characters I thought all the stories were going to be related and loosely interwoven. I’m excited to stick with these characters for my next Baldwin read, Go Tell It to the Mountain.

“Sonny’s Blues” contains some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read so I think everyone should read that.

The titular story was ugly, horrible, and difficult to read- subject-matter wise. The writing was superb as usual.

“This Morning, This Evening, So Soon” was probably my favorite. I felt lots of the experiences the narrator shared stemmed from Baldwin’s real life. But I admit I don’t know much about his life so I have to remedy that, too!

Here are the other James Baldwin books I’d read in previous years…

Giovanni's RoomGiovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’d been meaning to read this and I’m glad I finally did because it’s become one of my favorite favorites. The writing is superb immediately drawing you into the story. And even though you know how it’s going to turn out, James Baldwin has created something so alive that you think it might somehow change.

The Fire Next TimeThe Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d been meaning to read this and admittedly I didn’t know much about it coming into it. I thought this was a collection of essays but it was actually just two works. The first is a short letter to his nephew on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. The second, which is the rest of the book, is about his faith and the racial injustice in the US. Both are powerful in their own ways that reveals a cold hard look at the realities of his time- and sadly our time as well.

Little Man, Little Man: A Story of ChildhoodLittle Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood by James Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A most unique picture book- James Baldwin’s sole children’s book. Leave it to him to capture experiences that are hardly told- and maybe at the time of its original publication, never told at all. It may seem gritty to our older sanitized selves but the honesty is refreshing. Adult situations and adult problems can never truly be separated from children’s lives as much as we would want to protect them from it as long as we possibly can. I wish there was a more cohesive thread to these vignettes and a stronger sense of a story structure to give it some sort of closure.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 17, 2021

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BunnybearBunnybear by Andrea J. Loney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually listened to this as a story time over the phone! I checked out an ebook so I can enjoy it with the illustrations. A sweet book about being yourself.

Adventures with My DaddiesAdventures with My Daddies by Gareth Peter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Story time leads to all kinds of adventures in this inclusive picture book celebrating family and imagination! Full of rhyme and vibrant illustrations, readers will be charmed by the family here and, despite maybe having a different family configuration, may see their own reflected back in the way that stories are able to bring people together!

Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named PenelopeBorn Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope by Jodie Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adapted from the adult memoir The Bold World, this picture book tells the story of Jodie Patterson’s child letting others know who he really is- a boy named Penelope. While a difficult subject to broach, Penelope knows that he’s no ordinary kid and with his ninja-like skills- and the help of his mom, he’s confident he can show he was born ready to be who he truly is!

Have You Ever Seen a Flower?Have You Ever Seen a Flower? by Shawn   Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A stunning book of taking the time to see/smell/experience a flower.

Time FliesTime Flies by Eric Rohmann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very imaginative wordless picture book about a bird who gets trapped in a dinosaur exhibit at a natural history museum and finds themselves in the time of living dinosaurs!

Maybe Maybe Marisol RaineyMaybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Award-winning author Erin Entrada Kelly offers up her first illustrated chapter book. Marisol Rainey is half-Filipino, likes to name inanimate objects, and has a BFF one would wish to have in real life.

Readers will empathize with the fears and anxiety that run through her head. But they will also cheer her on when she decides to deal with her problems head on. A delightful introduction to a new series.

Arsenic and Adobo (Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, #1)Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cozy mysteries have come a long way from when I was kid! I usually viewed them taking place in small towns or villages where, if I lived in real life and a murder consistently took place, I would immediately move somewhere else.

Arsenic and Adobo is a breath of fresh air even if it relies on the tropes of cozy mysteries and Hallmark movies. (And why not make this into a movie series? More diversity, please!)

We have a twenty-something Filipina helping out with the family business- her aunt’s (Tita Rosie) Filipino restaurant- and trying to rebuild her life after what happened in Chicago. Being the prime suspect in a murder doesn’t help matters!

I loved seeing the diversity within the characters- really refreshing to see non-white characters be center stage rather than in the background.

There’s also the prerequisite love triangle.

The most difficult thing was reading all the descriptions of the Filipino food and wanting to eat all them! (The book does include recipes at the back as well as preview of book two- Homicide and Halo-Halo- which comes out next February.)

I read the audiobook narrated by Danice Cabanela.

If you’re a mystery fan and foodie, pick this book up!

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 10, 2021

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First, I wanted to share some books I’ve been spotlighting on my Instagram as part of my #FilipinoReads.

Asian-Americans Who Inspire UsAsian-Americans Who Inspire Us by Analiza Wolf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Asian-Americans who Inspire Us is a picture book biography compilation- by Analiza Quiroz Wolf (a FilAm author) with Michael Franco- similar to Awesome Asian Americans which I’ve shared on a previous post a few months ago.

Usually I read these and become fascinated by a few people I hadn’t heard about before and end up wanting to learn more.

The Filipino inspirations shared in this book are workers advocates Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz.

Lakas and the Makibaka Hotel / Si Lakas at ang Makibaka HotelLakas and the Makibaka Hotel / Si Lakas at ang Makibaka Hotel by Anthony D. Robles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually read this back in 2011 but for some reason I didn’t write a review. Rereading it, I really enjoyed the format of both languages (English and Filipino) typed up. The lively illustrations really paired well with the cast of colorful characters including a drummer, a dancer, and a karaoke king.

This companion to Lakas and the Manilatown Fish/Si Lakas at ang Isdang Manilatown has Lakas, a Filipino-American boy, trying to save the hotel where his new friends live. The story was inspired by the gentrification that was going to force residents of Trinity Plaza Apartments out of their homes.

You can watch a storytime of this book with both the author Anthony D. Robles and illustrator Carl Angel on San Francisco Public Library’s YouTube page as part of their AAPI Heritage Month program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRViEHUeoAs

You can purchase a copy of the book on Bookshop to support independent bookstores: https://bookshop.org/…/lakas-and-the…/9780892394111

Pan de Sal Saves the Day: A Filipino Children's StoryPan de Sal Saves the Day: A Filipino Children’s Story by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An English/Filipino bilingual picture book about a girl who learns to appreciate being herself. Set in a school in the Philippines, all the kids are named after different types of breads and pastries. The tale is kind of like a mix between Chrysanthemum and Yoko.

You can watch a storytime of this book on Maya Espiritu’s (MaiStoryBook) YouTube page as part of her API Interactive Read Aloud every weekday this month. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cBdM7OFtzI

You can purchase a copy of the book on Bookshop to support independent bookstores: https://bookshop.org/books/pan-de-sal-saves-the-day-an-award-winning-children-s-story-from-the-philippines-new-bilingual-english-and-tagalog-edition-9780804847544/9780804847544

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World (Aristotle and Dante, #2)Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was ecstatic to be able to read this sequel to one of my favorite books of all time. It’s incredible to fall in love with a book and have the words enter your being. This book comes out October 12th and I know I’ll be rereading it by listening to the audiobook.

Here’s my review of the first book…

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante, #1)Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“i ❤ falling in love w/a good book, getting lost in its words, living in a world of pure imagination.”

I tweeted that after reading a few pages of Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” which now has made my list of favorite favorite books, which currently has 37 titles.

I wasn’t even aware of it until the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards where it won multiple awards- the Pura Belpre (Author), the Stonewall, and as a Printz Honor Book.

Official Summary:

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Immediately, I wanted to read it. Plus, I love long titles!

I literally couldn’t put the book down. I was so engrossed with the story, the characters. I wanted to know what happened next. I wanted to see how the inevitable conflicts were handled. I wanted to make sure they were in a good place when I said goodbye to them.

I wasn’t particularly in love with the ending. It’s not that it was bad, it was just a bit overdramatic. But the majority of the book was great.

It’s when you can’t stop thinking about the characters even after the last page that made “Aristotle and Dante” a favorite of mine. And, I relate when there’s an issue of identity, when the characters show actual, realistic growth. This was more than a book about being gay, though. Sáenz’s words were powerful and emotional. He put his characters in beautiful and awful situations- just like life.

After finishing this, I wondered what it was that made a book truly stand out to make it be not just a favorite book of mine but a favorite favorite. I really shouldn’t have overanalyzed because the answer was simple. It’s when I feel grateful that a book like that exists in the world and “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is definitely one of those!

UPDATED TO INCLUDE MY REVIEW OF THE AUDIOBOOK:

“I love it when the books I’m reading seem to be the right ones for me to be reading at the time. The words become as important as the air I breathe.” –Shared on Facebook

I listened to the audiobook version of Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. (I hadn’t planned on doing so but it was narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I don’t know if it’s even called a coincidence but Alexander Hamilton was mentioned in the story.) I loved it when I first read it a couple of years ago. I may love it even more now.

The fact it’s regarded as a great LGBT YA novel- with award stickers on its cover- may actually deter readers from it. Ultimately, it’s a coming of age story about two Mexican-American boys on the brink of manhood who become friends over one summer. It’s also a look into their family lives, of secrets and expectations.

The words are absolutely beautiful. There was a moment toward the beginning of my rereading that I panicked. I had the irrational fear that the story I knew was going to change on me.

I found myself taking longer walks because I wanted to listen more to the story. I fell in love all over again with all the characters- not just the titular characters but their parents as well.

I wish I had read a book like this when I was a teenager. I’m glad this book is now part of my life.

I was beyond thrilled to discover there would be a sequel to be published within the next two years. I can’t wait!

Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I hadn’t been truly captivated by a book for awhile as I’d been with Parable of the Sower. And I knew I was going to change my reading schedule to make sure to read this sequel.

Even though this was published in 1998, it was so eerily prescient of what was to happen in 2015 and the next four years. Bone-chilling. I actually thought someone read this book and decided the antagonist was an exemplary person to model themselves after. But that’s giving them too much credit, that they would actually pick up a book, let alone read.

The tone of the book is immediately different and I would recommend not to read this one first. Without spoiling any details too much, we continue Lauren Olamina’s quest to build Earthseed as a belief system and a community. But she encounters terrifying opponents to her point of views who would stop at nothing to stop her.

And, there were sections in the book that was absolutely brutal to get through. So much pain and suffering. It seemed endless.

Even though Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents were intended to be part of a trilogy, readers will feel a closure with Lauren’s story.

I also went on a Storywalk at one of the many libraries I can visit. It was for Catch that Chicken! by Atinuke with illustrations by Angela Brooksbank.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 3, 2021 / April Review

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April was an interesting month. (Quick tangent: “Interesting” is an interesting word. It can be used with both positive and negative intentions. For me, it’s become my default in trying to mask a less than favorable opinion. Do you tend to use “interesting” this way as well?)

I had one of my saddest days this year- in terms of just being emotionally incapable of feeling anything positive or joyous. And, it fell on my birthday which is, on one hand, ironic and fitting. since birthdays are such emotionally charged days. But luckily I’m feeling better. It just had to happen- this too shall pass- but the time during it is incredibly difficult.

My extreme days of both emotions tend to happen once a month and alternately. In January, I had a really truly good day just walking around and enjoying the sun. In February, I had an extremely bad day trudging through snow. Last month, I had another good day and this month was a bad day. At least, if the pattern holds, I’m bound to have another good day in May.

And even if I didn’t make progress on some of the goals I had set for myself, I did get some things done: -Finished part one of my responsibilities of a reading committee I’m on

-Donated books to various Little Free Libraries throughout the past few weeks- these were books I had from another reading committee I was part of

Went on a library hop

-Filed my taxes

Of course, the big thing was that I got both my vaccination shots with minimal side effects. I hope everyone gets theirs so we can feel safer to travel and to be able to see family and friends in person again!

So far this year, I’ve read 134 books.

The breakdown is:

4- Adult novels

14- Adult non-fiction

12- Graphic novels

30- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)

123- Picture Books and Board Books

3- Young Adult novels

of which

45- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)

19- Audio Books

Now, for the book reviews…

Lakas and the Manilatown Fish/Si Lakas at ang Isdang ManilatownLakas and the Manilatown Fish/Si Lakas at ang Isdang Manilatown by Anthony D. Robles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s considered to be the first English/Tagalog bilingual picture book set in the US when it was initially published in 2003. It follows Lakas, a Filipino-American boy, as he meets a talking fish that leads to wild chase through San Francisco’s Little Manila or Manilatown. It also features “manongs” (a term usually referring to older male people) who were the original residents living there.

I actually read this and its sequel back in 2011 but for some reason I didn’t write reviews for them. Rereading it, I really enjoyed the format of both languages typed up. The lively illustrations really paired well with the text especially during the fast paced scenes.

The sequel is Lakas and the Makibaka Hotel /Si Lakas at ang Makibaka Hotel.

The Farmer and the ClownThe Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this wordless picture book, a farmer gets an unexpected guest in the form of a young clown who gets separated from his circus family. A charming story of how people can come into our lives even fleetingly and change it for the better forever.

The Farmer and the MonkeyThe Farmer and the Monkey by Marla Frazee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this sequel, the farmer gets another guest but this time it provides a welcome distraction. Marla Frazee continues to convey so much through her illustrations in this wordless picture book.

The Farmer and the CircusThe Farmer and the Circus by Marla Frazee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After getting visited by the clown and the monkey, it’s time the farmer visited his new friends at the circus. This wordless picture book trilogy ends with a wonderful message that life is full of surprises- and that family is not just who you’re born into but who you find to make it one.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- April 26, 2021

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Wonder WalkersWonder Walkers by Micha Archer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Simple text about a pair of siblings who go on one of their wonder walks. It’s a great way to encourage being outdoors and observing nature and asking questions.

Bee-bim Bop!Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Food is always a fun way to learn one aspect of a different culture. And I enjoy picture books that feature making food and includes a recipe. This is perfect for fans who enjoyed Cora Cooks Pancit. Here, a young girl is excited to help make her favorite Korean dish- bee-bim bop- from buying the ingredients, prepping the food, setting the table and enjoying the meal!

Bilal Cooks DaalBilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Food is always a fun way to learn one aspect of a different culture. And I enjoy picture books that feature making food. This is perfect for fans who enjoyed Cora Cooks Pancit and Bee-bim Bop! Here, a boy is excited to share his favorite meal- daal! They help his dad prepare it but as they wait for the South Asian dish to cook, and it does take awhile, he begins to worry they may not like it because it might be too different from what they are used to. Includes a recipe in the back.

We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should KnowWe Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know by Traci Sorell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An educational companion to We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, this raises issues Native Americans have faced and continue to face since the settling of this country. A lot of these- if any at all- weren’t covered in the history textbooks I used as a child and that’s why this book is so important to have in schools and libraries and homes.

Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

can’t believe I hadn’t read this dystopian novel before. And, really, I figured if I was going to start reading Octavia E. Butler’s work, it would be Kindred. But I did want to read outside my comfort zone in terms of genre as well.

Lauren Olamina should be a more popular literary character not only for what she had to endure but for what she dared to envision for herself and others- Earthseed.

Set in the not too distant future, the world has become even a badder and more dangerous place when it’s not safe to ever travel alone or to venture outside the walls of one’s community. For an empath like Lauren, it’s even more dangerous.

When a tragedy unlike any other she’s ever experienced before strikes, she must learn the balance of being able to stand one’s on ground and being able to trust others. It’s a life and death situation.

I also love the idea of Earthseed. I can see how this could have influenced my beliefs had I read this at a younger or more impressionable age. But, as it is, I already recognize a lot of what it has to say.

A new favorite book of mine. I’m already starting on its sequel- Parable of the Talents.

The Agatha Christie CentenaryThe Agatha Christie Centenary by Lynn Underwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A treat for Agatha Christie fans. It really is incredible how her appeal has lasted for so long. Some parts do get repetitive. I enjoyed reading some of her earlier works and the lists of her complete films, plays, and books were much appreciated.

Agatha Christie Close Up: A Radio Investigation Into the Queen of CrimeAgatha Christie Close Up: A Radio Investigation Into the Queen of Crime by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love any time Agatha Christie is celebrated and this is through BBC radio archives from 1955, 1975, and 1982 with a 2015 feature with Agatha’s grandson, Mathew Pritchard, sharing snippets of the writer’s 1965 recordings when she was working on her autobiography.

It does get repetitive and I would skip the third segment altogether to avoid spoilers. You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page. Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- April 12, 2021

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WatercressWatercress by Andrea Wang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bittersweet story about family, the immigrant experience, wanting to fit in, and honoring the past. I love that there are these slice of life stories and I hope they find their audience.

Zonia's Rain ForestZonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the intent of the book. The message was great. I loved the backmatter material including a translation of the story in Asháninka. As for the execution of the story, it left me wanting a lot more.

It Isn't Rude to be NudeIt Isn’t Rude to be Nude by Rosie Haine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A celebration of body types. I enjoyed the positive message. There was a sentence I didn’t particularly care for but I’m glad there’s a book about this topic.

PeacePeace by Baptiste Paul
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful in its simplicity.

My Name Is YoonMy Name Is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful story about a Korean girl trying to fit in in her new school in America. She doesn’t want to write her name in English and ends up with a new name everyday until one day she discovers she can still be her old self in a new place.

Yoon and the Christmas MittenYoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t realize Yoon had more adventures. In this one, she learns about Christmas and tries to get her parents to celebrate but they say it’s not part of their Korean tradition. On one hand, I remember how we wanted to do just what everyone else did to fit in. On the other hand, certain things are forced upon us to the detriment of our individuality. I’m glad Yoon was able to get a taste of both worlds.

Yoon and the Jade BraceletYoon and the Jade Bracelet by Helen Recorvits
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I hadn’t realized there were more Yoon books. In this one, a girl tries to pass off a jade bracelet that belonged to Yoon and her family. Even as an adult reading, this was giving me anxiety. I wish they had incorporated the actual Korean tale about a little girl and a tricky tiger into the story or even as backmatter material.

Cora Cooks PancitCora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What was the first mainstream picture book featuring a Filipino character that you read? For me, it may have been Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina Lazo Gilmore with illustrations by Kristi Valiant, originally published in 2009. I first read it back in 2012. It’s so rare to find books with Filipino characters so I gobbled this one up! Recipe for pancit is included.

I recommend this a lot especially when customers tell me they’re Filipino because I know the importance of seeing oneself being represented in media. And I see lots of educators buying this when trying to diversify their collections.

The MatsThe Mats by Francisco Arcellana
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Mats was an interesting find thanks to the library catalogue about the people we may have lost but will never forget. Very touching. It’s based on a short story first published in 1938!

The Library BusThe Library Bus by Bahram Rahman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love books about libraries and all the creative ways people have found to promote literacy and education especially for girls. I would have loved to have had more information about the first mobile library in Kabus this was inspired on. Luckily I was able to Google it.

Frankie Sparks and the Class PetFrankie Sparks and the Class Pet by Megan Frazer Blakemore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this on audiobook. Enjoyable early chapter book series that focuses on STEM.

The Chupacabras of the Rio GrandeThe Chupacabras of the Rio Grande by Adam Gidwitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun series for fans of The Wild Robot and the Dragonmasters books that can be enjoyed and understood without reading them in order or if any at all. Elliot has somehow involved himself in a secret society protecting mythical creatures and this time they are off to protect the chupacabras. I love that there’s plenty of fun and adventure but also an underlying message of inclusivity and there’s also a timeliness as this tackles building a wall and immigration.

The Galleons: PoemsThe Galleons: Poems by Rick Barot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For my Filipino Reads challenge and since April is National Poetry Month, I wanted to spotlight The Galleons by Filipino poet Rick Barot. Even if poetry is not your cup of tea, I think you’ll get something out of this collection. Some are snapshots of everyday life. Some are unexpected. You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page. Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- April 5, 2021 / March Review

New-2020-IMWAYR-Button
Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!
Not to sound like a broken record but March was another tough month. Some days, I feel like I’m just going through the motions, just surviving. Yet, I also had a Happy Day which I’m grateful for. I didn’t meet all of my quarterly goals but I’m trying to remind myself that I did get some things done. And, I don’t want to use it too often as an excuse, but the pandemic has really taken its toll on all of us in ways that we probably won’t be able to pinpoint all of them. Then there’s the continuing and increasing Anti-Asian violence which is a lot to process. Plus, there were some high profiled deaths including Beverly Cleary’s that just added to the melancholy. I’m looking to getting vaccinated later this week and I hope that just signals that better days are ahead! So far this year, I’ve read 134 books. The breakdown is: 1- Adult novels 11- Adult non-fiction 8- Graphic novels 22- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52) 90- Picture Books and Board Books 2- Young Adult novels of which 39- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104) 12- Audio Books Now, for the book reviews…

UmbrellaUmbrella by Taro Yashima
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readers will fall in love with Momo (which means “peach” in Japanese) who can’t wait for a rainy day to use her new umbrella. This classic picture book is a perfect pair-along with Rain! by Linda Ashman and Christian Robinson.

In My MosqueIn My Mosque by M.O. Yuksel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In My Mosque is a vibrant look into the world’s second largest religion. Readers are invited to learn about what happens inside these places of worship for Muslims which function as both sacred places to pray and centers to build community. Great backmatter material is included.

The Incredible Painting of Felix ClousseauThe Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful little story about an artist whose paintings have a mysterious quality to them which gets him in trouble and also makes him a hero.

Kenny & the Book of BeastsKenny & the Book of Beasts by Tony DiTerlizzi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wish I enjoyed this more since I really liked the first one and I wanted to have another series that would transport me to somewhere magical. But I felt this had too much “growing up” problems when I already have my own “grown up” problems to deal with. Despite that, it was nice to revisit these characters.

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.

Super Detectives (Simon and Chester Book #1)Super Detectives by Cale Atkinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A cute graphic novel continuation of characters we first met in picture book formats. Young readers will enjoy the humor. I loved that I finally got back into a reading groove with the graphic novel continuations of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.

Katara and the Pirate's Silver (Avatar: The Last Airbender, #0.5)Katara and the Pirate’s Silver by Faith Erin Hicks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed being able to dive back in the world of Avatar. Katara is such an incredible character so it was cool to see her have her own adventure. It made me wish the series didn’t end so soon!

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of The Legend of Korra series. I felt the pacing of the series was all wrong. And, it’s like when popular TV shows set in high school outgrow the original premise and they end up going to college and experiencing “real world” problems. It doesn’t appeal to me anymore. But I love they were able to have a strong LGBTQ+ main character! In Turf Wars, Korra must find a way to have the Human and Spirit Worlds exist in the same plain. But there are forces who will do anything to take advantage of this new situation. In Ruins of the Empire, democracy is at stake when an old foe threatens to ruin an upcoming election. A familiar face from the original makes an appearance which is a breath of fresh air. You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page. Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- March 29, 2021

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

I have two books to spotlight for my monthly Filipino Reads feature- and they’re both kids books…

When Lola VisitsWhen Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not only is this a celebration of family but also of the Filipino culture as a girl looks forward to her grandma’s annual summertime visit from the Philippines and all the things they do together. The illustrations are gorgeous.

Mischief and Mayhem #1: Born to Be BadMischief and Mayhem #1: Born to Be Bad by Ken Lamug
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fans of Dog Man will enjoy this new series about a girl just trying to fit in and who decides to lean in on her misunderstood personality by becoming a villain.

My Antiracism Reading Spotlight for this month is…

Caste: The Origins of Our DiscontentsCaste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Caste is an eye-opening reading experience reframing American racism jn a way that may be more universally understood through the lens of the caste systems in India and during the Nazi regime. It is not an easy read because of all that has transpired and continues to happen to this day. For me, the lynching done by the dominant caste (which they also celebrated and marketed through the selling of postcards depicting scenes of these atrocities) are not really products of the past but have just taken on a new form via the police brutality- often recorded- that have killed many Black men- and despite evidence to the contrary, the perpetrators are hardly ever held accountable for their actions. It’s almost like a public warning of “This is what we can do since we are the ones in power.” Naturally it is not all police who do this but those who get away with it are usually those of the dominant caste.

Reading Caste during this time when a white gunman shot and killed 8 people in Atlanta was really chilling because even the fact he was captured alive when other suspects who have done far less- or even nothing at all- have been mistreated and/or killed- not to mention his hate crime was explained partly by him having a bad day- is unnerving.

The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the CountryThe Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country by Amanda Gorman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember hearing this poem for the first time and how I was immediately taken in by the words and filled with a sense of promise and possibility- like listening to a sermon I had nothing but praise for- that I instantly put it on repeat. Reading a poem in one’s own voice as opposed to listening to the poet or a good orator is a different experience.

This was part of my Inaugural Poems Reading Challenge which you can read here: https://thechroniclesofachildrensbook…

Cycle CityCycle City by Alison Farrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love recommending this book for its cute story and the detailed illustrations. It’s like a great mix of Richard Scarry’s books and Where’s Waldo? and a celebration of cycling vehicles.

Bicycle BashBicycle Bash by Alison Farrell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun companion to Cycle City where readers can enjoy seek-and-find element of the story while also taking a trip through the history of cycling.

Someone Builds the DreamSomeone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A joyous celebration of teamwork. Spotlights those who may not get credit for a job well done.

3 2 1 Awesome!: 20 Fearless Women Who Dared to Be Different3 2 1 Awesome!: 20 Fearless Women Who Dared to Be Different by Eva Chen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun approach to introduce counting and mini biographies to the youngest readers as they countdown from twenty and learn about amazing women along the way.

Hello, World! MusicHello, World! Music by Jill McDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hello World! is a board book series that introduces the youngest readers to nature and science concepts. Colorful images and question prompts are mixed in with the story text. A fun introduction to musical instruments and the sounds they make.

Greystone Secrets #2: The DeceiversGreystone Secrets #2: The Deceivers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The stakes are higher for the kids in this sequel. When everything and everyone aren’t what and who they seem, who can they trust? I can’t wait to see how the series wraps up.

The Bridge HomeThe Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the play on words of the title. I’m always attracted to siblings stories especially when they have to overcome their station in life whether they were born or brought into it. I love seeing people have triumphs despite the fact their main problems haven’t been solved. I wish I was more satisfied with the ending- maybe it brought up too many personal associations for me?- but it was still a powerful and affecting read!

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!