My Reading Week #IMWAYR- August 3, 2020 / July 2020 Review

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

You can watch Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews on my YouTube channel.

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I’ll be posting there every Sunday and Wednesday.

A highlight of July was meeting up with friends for Kidlit Quarantine Book Club for Adults via Zoom.

Screenshot_2020-05-29 Earl Dizon ( earldizonwriter) • Instagram photos and videos

We discussed From the Desk of Zoey Washington by Janae Marks. You can watch my review here.

The next KidLit Quarantine Book Club for Adults pick is Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros. We’ll meet Thursday, August 13th at 6pm. (New time!)

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I decided to continue cooking a Filipino dish a month after taking last quarter off. I made arroz caldo (or aroskaldo) which is a kind of rice porridge comfort food, flavored with garlic and ginger. I topped it with a hard boiled egg and scallions. As usual, I didn’t put enough liquid or broth but, at least, the rice was flavorful.

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It was also my eight-year anniversary at work.

I first heard about civil rights hero Congressman John Roberts Lewis after reading his graphic novel memoir, March. I have been inspired ever since by his willingness to cause good trouble during bad times. I was comforted by the fact there were people like him fighting for what’s right and what’s decent. So it was with shock and sadness that I read of his passing. May we mourn his loss and celebrate his life. Let us cause good trouble as I’m sure he would want us to do.

I watched the wonderful documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble. It’s available to rent. You can watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/z_oEkOdIXdo

I also included a list of books by and about John Lewis. Shop online supporting independent bookstores here: https://bookshop.org/books?keywords=John+Lewis

There’s also a petition to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after Rep. John Lewis. Add your name here: https://johnlewisbridge.com/

And, remember to vote this upcoming election. Register or your check your status here: https://www.vote.org/

Get into some good trouble!

So far this year, I’ve read 254 books. The breakdown is:
7- Adult novels
12- Adult non-fiction
22- Graphic novels
42- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)
164- Picture Books and Board Books
7- Young Adult novels

of which
40- Nonfiction Pictures (Goal: 104)
23- Audio Books

And, now for book reviews…

Three Keys (Front Desk, #2)Three Keys by Kelly Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even though I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy for work awhile back, I was hesitant to actually read Three Keys since I loved Front Desk so much. But I needn’t have worried because Kelly Yang delivered an equally engaging story with this one.

The stakes are definitely higher but Mia Tang is determined to rise above them. Readers will be cheering her along as she makes sure her voice is heard against the injustices she and the people she cares about are faced with.

I was surprised by the complexity of the characters and how certain stories played out. I can’t wait until the book is released in September so people can experience it for themselves!

When You Trap a TigerWhen You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readers who love stories within stories will want to take a bite out of When You Trap a Tiger. Real life problems and Korean folktales are interwoven together in a captivating tale about a shy girl and her family who have to move in with her eccentric Halmoni (grandmother) and the sudden mysterious sightings of a might-or-might-not-be real tiger.

The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon, #2)The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The artwork and storytelling style reminds me a lot of Studio Ghibli. But Katie O’Neill manages to make something unique as well. I like that she always incorporates LGBTQ elements into her story but she doesn’t make a big deal out of it. I really enjoyed The Tea Dragon Society so was pleasantly surprised there was this follow up, really more of a companion, with the next and final one being a direct continuation of the first.

Aquicorn CoveAquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The artwork and storytelling style reminds me a lot of Studio Ghibli- and Ponyo, for this one. But Katie O’Neill manages to make something unique as well. I like that she always incorporates LGBTQ elements into her story but she doesn’t make a big deal out of it. And in this one she also has a strong message of taking care of our environment, especially our oceans.

Red, White & Royal BlueRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a rollercoaster of a read! At first, I was excited to see what all the buzz was about with this book, which sometimes has the effect of me not wanting to read a book. Then, it seemed a bit too fanfictiony and pandering but that could be my distaste of good-looking people having problems. I was annoyed that the characters had flaws that weren’t flaws at all- like the main character was short in the sense that he’s average height and his love interest was taller than him. Plus, as a gay man, I had other issues with some of the other depictions. I was tempted to give up after reading some of the negative reviews but I’m actually glad I stuck with it. If there was going to be another predictable rom-com novel, at least it featured gay characters, and they need these kinds of stories, too.

I listened to the audiobook and Ramon de Ocampo did a great job.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

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

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- July 20, 2020

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

Recent Posts:
-I updated my Bookstores and Libraries Visited blog so you can now read all of my library hopping adventures throughout the years.
-Don’t forget to check my YouTube channel for Earl’s Live One-Take KidLit Book Reviews.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Simonverse, #1)Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started listening to this first as an audio book but I couldn’t get into it. I then picked it up again as a physical book after all the buzz it’s been getting.

It was an enjoyable read with fortune cookie life insights here and there.

As I may have written in my other reviews before, I don’t really like teenage angst books and I’m particularly wary when it has LGBT characters. Sometimes their experiences (as with this novel) result in me feeling less connected rather than glad there’s a character representing my lifestyle.

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This movie was a big deal, being the first time a major Hollywood studio would film a teen romcom with a gay main character. While it was cliche in the ways that genre tends to be, it was still great to have this kind of representation on the big screen and in the mainstream. Although the fact it’s 2018 and this is the first time it’s happening is mind-boggling. Emotional, funny, and heartwarming.

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Despite my seemingly lukewarm responses to the “Simonverse” so far, I appreciate that these kinds of stories are being told. I was really excited for this series and to see some diversity in casting and financial situations. It was definitely binge-worthy. My only complaint was that it felt drawn out. I was hoping we’d get to the real issue earlier on in the series and the rest of the season would be the aftermath but that wasn’t the case. I’ll definitely watch a second season if there is one. After watching Love, Victor, it did make me want to revisit Becky Albertalli’s other books in the series.

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I ended up watching Hulu’s Love, Victor (a series sequel to the movie Love, Simon based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) and afterwards I decided to go back to Creekwood High to read the rest of Becky Albertalli’s novels.

I really enjoyed Leah’s voice. It was fresh and it was funny. I think I would have enjoyed this more if it focused less on typical high school crushes and more on the coming of age aspect of senior year.

The Upside of Unrequited (Simonverse #2)The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was surprised that the book I wanted to read the least in the Simonverse series would be the one I probably enjoyed the most.

I think it had to do with the fact the main character stayed likeable throughout.

Love, Creekwood (Simonverse, #3.5)Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t even know if this novella’s existence when I got into my recent Becky Albertalli binge-reading kick. After 3 books, a movie, and a series, this was a nice graduation of sorts to Creekwood and its students- at least, the ones from the Simonverse.

I listened to the audiobook version of this but I recommend reading it instead unless you like listening to email addresses being read aloud- and there are lots of email threads.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

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

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- July 13, 2020 / Reading the Rainbow BINGO Reading Challenge 2020 Recap

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

This week I wanted to recap my Reading the Rainbow BINGO Reading Challenge 2020.

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I ended up reading a couple of Becky Albertalli’s books for this challenge and you’ll be able to read those next week.

Most of the kidlit titles that helped me fill my board can be found in the following video reviews.

Video Reviews:

The online event I ended up using for this challenge was the book club meeting for the following book!

The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in PicturesThe Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures by Noelle Stevenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been a fan of Noelle Stevenson since Nimona. This chronicles her drive to create graphic novels while going through rather personal stuff that would eventually cause burn out. But it also tells the story of a resilient spirit that can rise out of the ashes to lead a happy life.

Everything Is Beautiful, and I'm Not Afraid: A Baopu CollectionEverything Is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid: A Baopu Collection by Yao Xiao

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wish I enjoyed this more. I was really looking forward to reading about the experiences of a queer Chinese immigrant. While there were a few spreads that was insightful, the whole thing lacked depth.

On Earth We're Briefly GorgeousOn Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Butterflies. Mothers. Fireproof. Grandmas. Milk. White hair. Stories. Ox tails. Mood rings. Soldiers. Flowers. Grandfathers. Tiger Woods. Memories. Nail salons. Phantom limbs. Tobacco fields. Apologies. First loves. Peaches. Chopin. Pizza bites. Exchanged truths. Colors. Gravity. Beauty. Replications. Commas. Placentas. Coca Cola. Veal. Stop signs. Buffalo. Green apple. Purple flowers. Funerals. Tables. Stories. Mother and son.

Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and FamilyBoy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family by Garrard Conley

A memoir that details a young man’s experience trying to figure out how he can exist in a world where he’s raised in a religious family and have feelings for other men. He undergoes ex-gay conversion therapy but realizes the cost to fit in may be too much to live with. Such a sad story that fortunately had a good ending but scary and frustrating that there are people who still fall for this life-damaging practice.

The House in the Cerulean SeaThe House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Change comes when people want enough.”

Adding this to my most favorite favorites list. Magical and romantic. A fun and heartwarming fantasy celebrating acceptance of one another’s differences with a gay love story at its core and the Antichrist thrown in for good measure. It’s like if Harry Potter was written by Jasper Fforde.

Sister Outsider: Essays and SpeechesSister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An important book to read at any time but particularly now.

Privileged people need to pick up a copy and start getting uncomfortable if they want to contribute to long lasting and positive change. And Audrey Lorde will do just that with her smart and insightful views on racism, sexism, and homophobia (just to name a few topics).

It may be a bit discouraging to read the same problems is as present now as it was back then but this is also a jolt to keep fighting the injustices.

Don't Call Us DeadDon’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t know what to expect coming into this poetry collection but I’m glad it showed up on my Google search. Very powerful. Very personal. Smart and funny. A great mix of topics ranging from racism, being black, being queer, being HIV positive. It’s about death and life, love, lust, dying, but ultimately living. I highly recommend getting your hands on “Dear White America.” Read it. Listen to it. Watch it.

I listened to this as an audiobook which is kind of weird in the sense that sometimes it took me awhile to realize that we’ve moved on to a different poem. And also, sometimes the poem’s form and format is lost as an audio (like a blackout poem)- although there was an interesting poem that was read that had some sort of effect (like overlapping background vocals) that I’m curious to see the poem written down.

I listened to the Making Gay History podcast- or at least some episodes particularly the special Stonewall 50 season.

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The issue I became interested in was conversion therapy. After reading Boy Erased (review above), I watched the movie. You can watch the trailer below:

And, the GLAAD Media Award 2019 winner (this year’s was cancelled due to Covid-19) for Outstanding TV Journalism- Newsmagazine was “Conversion Therapy: God Only Knows” from CBS Sunday Morning. You can watch it here:

I also watched VICE’s Living through Gay Conversion Therapy episode which I’m including here:

And, at the last minute, I ended up watching all the GLAAS Media Awards 2020 nominees for Outstanding Digital Journalism- Video or Multimedia. It included Refinary29’s “The Life Threatening Dangers Of Gay Conversion Therapy”.

Once again, I’m really glad I did this. It really challenged me to read even more outside the box of what I normally would.

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

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

#NFPB2020- July 8, 2020

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thetalk

The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth
Edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

Description
Perfect for readers of Flying Lessons & Other Stories, in this collection award-winning creators of books for children and young adults share stories and images that are filled with love, acceptance, truth, peace, and an assurance that there can be hope for a better tomorrow. So, let’s talk. Published in partnership with Just Us Books.

In the powerful follow-up to We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, thirty diverse and award-winning authors and illustrators capture frank discussions about racism, identity, and self-esteem. Here is an invitation to all families to be advocates and allies for change.

Featured contributors: Selina Alko, Tracey Baptiste, Derrick Barnes, Natacha Bustos, Cozbi A. Cabrera, Ra l Col n, Adam Gidwitz, Nikki Grimes, Rudy Gutierrez, April Harrison, Wade Hudson, Gordon C. James, Minh L , E. B. Lewis, Grace Lin, Torrey Maldonado, Meg Medina, Christopher Myers, Daniel Nayeri, Zeke Pe a, Peter H. Reynolds, Erin K. Robinson, Traci Sorell, Shadra Strickland, Don Tate, MaryBeth Timothy, Duncan Tonatiuh, Ren e Watson, Valerie Wilson Wesley, Sharon Dennis Wyeth

You can watch my review of the book here:

The book will be published on August 11, 2020. You can pre-order it now on Bookshop.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- July 6, 2020 / June 2020 Review

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

I can’t believe 2020 is halfway done. A part of me thinks, “Good riddance.” Hopefully, better times will be ahead but it looks like it’ll come later rather than sooner.

And, despite these difficult times, there were some bright spots. I loved getting to watch my nephew’s high school graduation even remotely. I’m so proud of him.

We all know June started off tumultuously and I felt overwhelmed with all the things I should do to help out and wondering what good will it do. But I told myself that I can only do what I can do and it will make a difference when grouped together with others doing their part.

One of the things I did, even though it’s unrelated to the Black Lives Matter movement, was to donate blood. I had put it off partly because of the quarantine but I decided it was pretty safe to do it now.

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I also went to a BLM march. I was conflicted about attending it because of social distancing issues but I was starting to hate myself standing by the sidelines during all these historical moments- and in my life in general. I know it’s a bit of a dramatic statement and I hope that makes some sense. I’m glad I went and I hope the momentum continues.

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You can click on any images of the murals- the first two are new and the last one has been around- and they’ll lead to different organizations that I ended up donating to.

Screenshot_2020-07-03 Earl Dizon ( earldizonwriter) • Instagram photos and videos(2)

June was also Pride month and was the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march which was held a year after the Stonewall riots. I remember Pride weekend 2011, I was eating lunch somewhere and saw the parade going by and I ached to be out there. But I was still ashamed of who I was. Then the next year, I came out. In 2016, I walked in my first Pride parade with a couple friends. That was just a few days after the Pulse mass shooting. And this year, there’s no Pride parade because of the pandemic. Some people are marching against racial injustice. From that night in Stonewall 51 years ago to the streets of today- not to mention all the other times in history, people have been fighting to be treated equally, to be seen and loved for who they are. Pride was- and is- a protest.

I’ll have another post recapping my Reading the Rainbow BINGO challenge next week.

I sent out more query letters for one of my picture book manuscripts and even applied for a We Need Diverse Books Walter Grant.

So far this year, I’ve read 198 books. The breakdown is:
6- Adult novels
11- Adult non-fiction
17- Graphic novels
31- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)
127- Picture Books and Board Books
6- Young Adult novels

of which
40- Nonfiction Pictures (Goal: 104)
23- Audio Books

I also folded Soul Boxes again since I had some extra paper lying around. And, someone from the cruise I went to last year with other volunteers said she was inspired to fold boxes after hearing me talk about it so I figured I should do my part.

And, my KidLit Quarantine Book Club met in June to discuss Rick by Alex Gino. You can watch my book review here:

Now for some book reviews:

This video:
Child of Galaxies by Blake Nuto with illustrations by Charlotte Ager
My Footprints by Bao Phi with illustrations by Basia Tran

This video:
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott wih illustrations by Geneva B.

The Dragon Thief (Dragons in a Bag, #2)The Dragon Thief by Zetta Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t wait to start reading this sequel to Dragons in a Bag. With more characters and more danger, readers are sure to enjoy seeing if or how the stolen dragon is reunited with its siblings. I love the world Zetta Elliot has created and can’t wait to read more of Jax’s adventures!

A Flicker of CourageA Flicker of Courage by Deb Caletti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this as an audiobook and was absolutely caught up in it. It would be a wonderful read-aloud harkening back to an old-fashioned adventure fantasy story. But if I were to make a more modern comparison, it reminded me of The Tale of Desperaux, a lighter and less scary Stranger Things, and a dash of Dangerous Book for Boys or Daring Book for Girls.

It involves four kids, a dog, a brother turned lizard, a tyrant, a sea captain, and a beautiful librarian. It’s a battle between good and evil. And, hopefully, the second installment is being worked on since I can’t wait to read more.

Apparently, the physical copy has illustrations so I should grab a copy to look at them.

Sister Outsider: Essays and SpeechesSister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An important book to read at any time but particularly now.

Privileged people need to pick up a copy and start getting uncomfortable if they want to contribute to long lasting and positive change. And Audrey Lorde will do just that with her smart and insightful views on racism, sexism, and homophobia (just to name a few topics).

It may be a bit discouraging to read the same problems is as present now as it was back then but this is also a jolt to keep fighting the injustices.

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.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

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

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- June 29, 2020/ Review: The Monkey and the Turtle

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

Recent Posts:
#NFPB2020- June 24, 2020
My Coast to Coast Vacation Revisited

The Monkey and the Turtle: A Philippine Folk Tale
Written by José Rizal
Illustrated by José Rizal
Digitally enhanced by Auri Asuncion Yambao and Mary Grace Asuncion

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I was pleased and excited that Tahanan Books, a Filipino publisher had a satellite office in Seattle, Washington. I couldn’t resist getting some titles to add to my library.

One of the books I bought was The Monkey and the Turtle, a Philippine folk tale retold- and apparently illustrated- by José Rizal. I only knew him as a Philippine national hero who wrote novels- his most famous being Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not)– that criticized the Spanish rule over the Filipinos.

You can watch my review here:

My ignorance is in full show since I didn’t even realize he spoke English. Tagalog and Spanish, sure, and maybe some Latin, but English didn’t cross my mind at all.

His version of the story was an excerpt from the 1889 article “Two Eastern Fables” (Trübner’s Oriental Record) which he compared two similar folk tales- one from Japan and one from the Philippines. It’s actually a pretty fascinating read.

This retelling is considered to be the formal beginning of Philippine children’s literature. So, of course, I had to have it!

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I’ll review the other books I bought on future posts.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

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

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Coast to Coast Vacation Revisited

No one could have predicted what 2020 had in store for us. So many things have changed- and will continue to change. Lots of things we did and maybe took for granted aren’t available to do in our present state. Lots of celebrations and other festive moments have had to be adjusted to accommodate current situations.

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June is Pride month and most of the events have gone virtual. While it’s great that that’s an option, it’s just not the same. Yet, I don’t really mind the change since Pride has sort of fittingly gone back to its roots in terms of rioting against the forces that try to oppress us.

With that being said, I wanted to share my coast to coast vacation where I traveled from San Francisco to New York and got to enjoy some gay history.

Growing up in San Francisco, I knew about The Castro neighborhood but never went there even though it called me. I wasn’t out until I was in my late 20’s, and even then- even now, sometimes- I was still ashamed for being gay. But, from my first sighting of a rainbow flag, I felt welcome.

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“Hope will never be silent”
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The Castro Theatre

While walking around, I noticed bronze plaques on the ground depicting LGBTQ figures throughout history. Being the completist I am, I made sure to see all 28 (and growing!) of The Rainbow Honor Walk. I know I want to go through the pics again and learn more about these amazing people!

I went to the GLBT Historical Society Museum. I was quite moved hearing a snippet of Harvey Milk’s last recording as part of their permanent exhibition, Queer Past Becomes Present.

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Harvey Milk’s presence was everywhere- from the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy

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… to the Harvey Milk Plaza…

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… to the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library…

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… and to plaques on the ground and murals on side of buildings.

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A Harvey Milk mural

My favorite place was Harvey Milk’s former camera shop which now housed the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Store. I just loved the fact that they preserved the space. The employee working there was quite nice as well.

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I can’t wait to go back and spend more time there.

And, from The Castro to The Stonewall Inn!

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Even though it was a long flight and it was late and I was still carrying my luggage, my friends were nice enough to take me to see it. What an electric place! It was really too dark to see anything, though.

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So, naturally, I went back in the morning to see it without crowds and to take in Christopher Street.

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I couldn’t have gone to New York for my first time at a better time since it was also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The New York Public Library had the exhibit Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50 up at their main branch.

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But my gay adventures didn’t end there since I spent a couple days at my friends’ house in Rochester where we visited Equal Grounds, a coffee house that’s LGBTQ owned and operated,…

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The Out Alliance, a nonprofit providing a safe space and resource center as well as offering various services to the LGBTQ community,…

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… and, of course, another library- this time, it was the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County- which had a Stonewall: 50 Years Out exhibit going on at the Anthony Mascioli Gallery.

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I’d been meaning to write this blog post for awhile now. It was great to relive this incredible spur-of-the-moment vacation. I hope you enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane with me.

Happy Pride!

#NFPB2020- June 24, 2020

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Watch my latest video for the review of The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner with illustrations by Adam Rex.

Watch for reviews of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds and This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on how to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell with illustrations by Aurelia Durand.

Watch for review of This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman with illustrations by Kristyna Litten.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- June 22, 2020

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

This week, I’m sharing old book reviews from an old blog I had focusing on libraries.

That Book WomanThat Book Woman by Heather Henson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the innovative ways people have thought up to get books into the hands of others! The Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky was one example of such.

That Book Woman (2008) by Heather Henson and illustrations by David Small is a fictionalized account of one boy’s perspective of a “book woman” who comes to his family’s home on a regular basis whatever the weather. It’s another great tribute to those traveling librarians- and the power of books. It was a wonderful moment when the boy asked his younger sister to teach him how to read.

My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the WorldMy Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World by Margriet Ruurs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Living in Portland, I’m definitely familiar with and spoiled by library love. Whether it’s the magnificent buildings of the Multnomah County Library, a bicycle-powered mobile library for the homeless, or mini lending libraries popping up all over the city, there are no shortages of access to books here. Because they are seemingly everywhere, it can be easy to take for granted this one of many (many, many) services libraries provide. In other countries, libraries can be rarities, which in turn means loss opportunities to enhance one’s mind, one’s self, and one’s community. Luckily, there are resourceful people who understand the power of books and are determined to reach these unserved populations.

“My Librarian Is a Camel” (2005) by Margriet Ruurs is a children’s non-fiction picture book that showcases the ingenuity of librarians, reading promoters, volunteers, and other literacy-minded individuals who do just that. From Australia to Zimbabwe, by boat, bus, camels, and practically any other mode of transportation you can think of, we see the value libraries bring to communities.

Recently you may have heard about Luis Soriano, a teacher who travels with his donkeys (Alfa and Beto) to bring books to children in his native Columbia. He was chosen as a CNN Hero in 2010 and the subject of a PBS documentary for his efforts. Last year alone, two children’s picture books were published about him and his Biblioburro or Donkey Library.

“My Librarian Is a Camel” introduced me to and reminded me of people like Luis Soriano who do these incredible things to ensure books get in the hands of children.

Other Noteworthy Non-fiction (or Based on True Stories) Children’s Picture Books about Libraries and Librarians (and Other People who Give out Books!)
*The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq- Jeanette Winter
*Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq: Inspired by a True Story- Mark Alan Stamaty
[The above two books are about Alia Muhammad Baker, an Iraqi librarian who saved the books in her country during wartime. You can read more about her here: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/27/wor… ]
*Biblioburro- Jeanette Winter: A True Story from Colombia
*Waiting for the Biblioburro- Monica Brown
[The above two books are about Luis Soriano. More information about the documentary can be found here: http://www.pbs.org/pov/biblioburro/

Librarian on the Roof! A True StoryLibrarian on the Roof! A True Story by M.G. King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Earlier in the month, I read a picture book “Librarian on the Roof!” by M.G. King with illustrations by Stephen Gilpin. Based on a true story, it was cool to learn someone actually schemed up an original idea to raise money for their library to have a children’s section that kids would actually want to visit. The storytelling fell flat to me but kudos to RoseAleta Laurell of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas for what she did!

Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of KentuckyDown Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the innovative ways people have thought up to get books into the hands of others! The Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky was one example of such.

Down Cut Shin Creek (2001) by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer gives a more detailed account of this program. It was inspiring to read about the women (and men) who took part in this- all of whom seemed very courageous and determined. And I’m glad people appreciated their dedication. Families with nothing to give still managed to find something to offer them as a token of their gratitude whether it be a quilt pattern or a family recipe.

This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us AllThis Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve wanted to read “This Book is Overdue!” by Marilyn Johnson ever since it came out in 2010. It was getting a lot of buzz within my circle of friends. Not surprisingly, since most of them are book people and library lovers like me- if not librarians themselves. I don’t know why only now did I finally get around to it but I’m glad I did.

Even from its subtitle “How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All,” readers can expect that this won’t just be a typical look at libraries and librarians of yesteryear but also sharing how they are constantly changing in these days of information overload. Marilyn Johnson manages to cover these topics in an easy, conversational manner.

Of course, she’s preaching to the choir with me. I can’t say enough how important libraries are in people’s lives and as an integral part of any community. I can’t say enough how awesome librarians are in being of service to the public. This book just reconfirmed all my beliefs and strengthened them every time I read more.

Through blogging, publishing zines, and even creating digital version of themselves in cyberspace, they’re there to help. With fighting for patrons’ right to privacy and information, protecting important pieces of history, and changing the world through the use of technology, a librarian’s job is never done.

In a way, reading this book was long overdue. Don’t let that happen to you and check out a copy now! If you just can’t enough, be sure to check out the website of the same name, which includes the entire epilogue from the paperback edition, updates, and bonus features!

Quiet, Please: Dispatches From A Public LibrarianQuiet, Please: Dispatches From A Public Librarian by Scott Douglas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This week, I finished Scott Douglas’s humor memoir “Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian.” I kind of hated it put I couldn’t put it down. It definitely started off fun and promising then spiraled into a whiny, exaggerated, humorless book. Having worked at libraries, I definitely knew people like he wrote about.

Central Library: Portland's crown jewelCentral Library: Portland’s crown jewel by Richard E Ritz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Multnomah County Library is currently in a very critical position in its history. They’re poised to lose two-thirds of their funding which means layoffs and less service hours. They are hoping to raise awareness so they can keep continue being the excellent community institution they are known for. Find out what’s at stake and ways to help their campaign at the Libraries Yes website. http://www.librariesyes.com/

With all that said, I love it when I’m able to find a book that is reflective of what’s going on in my life or around me. I’ve seen “Central Library: Portland’s Crown Jewel” on display at the Friends Library Store but, for some reason or other, it wasn’t something that I felt like reading- until now.

This is a great book for any library lover out there. Central Library has a rich history that mirrors a lot of what’s happening now. Richard E. Ritz introduces us to the key players who’ve shaped MCL into how we currently know it and provides many pictures and documents to accompany this tour through time.

From recognizing the need for a library in the first place and then letting it become free to the public and having to continually reinvent and renovate itself to stay relevant in the changing times, I discovered a city of readers who supported their library through a lot. And, it was their library, as it is now yours, mine- ours. And, I hope Portland is still full of people who will unite and keep the Multnomah County Libraries open.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

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

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- June 1, 2020 / May 2020 Review

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

One of the highlights of May was holding my first KidLit Quarantine Book Club for Adults. We talked about Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Screenshot_2020-05-29 Earl Dizon ( earldizonwriter) • Instagram photos and videos

You can watch my review here.

Next up, we’ll be reading Rick by Alex Gino and discussing it on Thursday, June 11th at 7pm Pacific. Do join if you’re interested!

Plus, I held a Virtual Silent Reading Party and will probably hold another one in June.

Screenshot_2020-05-29 Earl Dizon ( earldizonwriter) • Instagram photos and videos(2)

Screenshot_2020-05-25 Earl Dizon ( earldizonwriter) • Instagram photos and videos

My friend and I also started our Reading the Rainbow BINGO Reading Challenge 2020 as a way to celebrate Pride month!

bingocard2020

I’ve been pleased to be able to dedicate at least minutes every day to writing.

Screenshot_2020-05-29 Earl Dizon ( earldizonwriter) • Instagram photos and videos(1)

I also had a rather fun Zoom chat with family.

So far this year, I’ve read 152 books, which is super low compared to other years. The breakdown is:
4- Adult novels
8- Adult non-fiction
15- Graphic novels
26- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)
97- Picture Books and Board Books
2- Young Adult novels

of which
28- Nonfiction Pictures (Goal: 104)
16- Audio Books

Some faves of the past month:

How are you holding up? What are some of your highlights for May?

Since May was Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I wanted to share some recent books by Asian Pacific American authors.

We Dream of SpaceWe Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting read about three kids whose orbits hardly ever cross despite being siblings and living in the same house. And their school is counting down the days until the launch of the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger. I wish there was more about the aftermath of the shared experience.

Doorkeeper: A Graphic NovelDoorkeeper: A Graphic Novel by Scott Lee Chua
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An epic graphic novel event from the Philippines featuring the Doorkeeper, an immortal being and the guardian of time. He shows up at pivotal moments of people’s lives to reveal the consequences of their actions.

With the collaboration of several graphic novelists, we are presented multiple stories that span different time periods from the distant past all the way into a far off future featuring a wild mix of characters. It’s in these stories, these people, that makes the Doorkeeper do something he never did before. He interferes.

Touching on Phillipine history and literature, readers are in for a wild ride.

The creators have made it available for free to read here: https://issuu.com/scottchua/docs/door…

On Earth We're Briefly GorgeousOn Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Butterflies. Mothers. Fireproof. Grandmas. Milk. White hair. Stories. Ox tails. Mood rings. Soldiers. Flowers. Grandfathers. Tiger Woods. Memories. Nail salons. Phantom limbs. Tobacco fields. Apologies. First loves. Peaches. Chopin. Pizza bites. Exchanged truths. Colors. Gravity. Beauty. Replications. Commas. Placentas. Coca Cola. Veal. Stop signs. Buffalo. Green apple. Purple flowers. Funerals. Tables. Stories. Mother and son.
I listened to this on audiobook and it’s always a treat to listen to the author narrate since you hear how the author meant it be read. I think that adds a different layer to the whole experience. And I can’t believe I put this off until now. The writing is the kind I like to say makes you fall in love with a book. One of the other time I felt like this was with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Review Notes
***= Liked It
****= Recommended
*****= Favorite

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

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!