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Looking Back at 2018

[Note: My computer has died so I won’t be blogging for awhile. I had started the following post and decided to publish as is and unfinished. I will try to post more on this blog’s Facebook page so please make sure to follow that. With that, Happy Reading! Happy New Year!]

2018 was a tough year. Even my one little word- RESIST- was a sort of preemptive battle cry to the year ahead.

Resistance was much needed when things went from bad to worse with the seemingly endless gun violence epidemic as an example. Some of my absolute heroes were the Stoneman Douglas High School students who mobilized themselves and the whole country after what they went through on February 14th. March for Our Lives was a great example of what can be done when people come together but it is obviously just one step to make actual change for gun control legislation.

Another way I resisted was to continue volunteering. For me, one way to combat hate is to do good. 2018 was a great year for me in term of volunteer recognition. I received a Multnomah County Volunteer Award through my work for the Multnomah County Library. (You can read a Volunteer Spotlight here.)

And, recently, I was nominated by Hands On Greater Portland to be a Cabot Creamery Co-operative “community celebrity.” I’ll be going on a cruise next fall of New England and Canada with other volunteers. I’m looking forward to hearing their stories! You can read my profile here.

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My Favorite Books of 2018- Part 2

Don’t miss Part 1 of My Favorite Books of 2018.

Make sure to read twelve of my other favorite books which were part of my Picture Book It Challenge!

pib

Picture Books

Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, Corinna Luyken

Alma and How She Got Her NameAlma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alma is a little girl with a long name. She finds it problematic at first until she discovers what each one means. Great for classroom use about the importance of and power behind names.

Hello LighthouseHello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sophie Blackall delivers another outstanding picture book this time telling the story of a lighthouse and its keeper. Her research is evident in the details she included in the text and the art. Includes an author’s note and beautiful art under the dustjacket.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh CutCrown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bravo! What a great celebratory book about something most people probably experience (even if it’s just a typical haircut) and yet not really written about that often- and definitely not in this way! I love the note from the author at the end. It got me thinking about how barbershops are kind of like community centers and a lot can be accomplished in them.

As a writer, it was a great reminder that sometimes it’s in the mundane things that we find something worth sharing.

Anh's AngerAnh’s Anger by Gail Silver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great find of dealing with anger in a very creative way. A young boy gets frustrated and angry when his grandfather tells him to stop playing to eat his dinner. After lashing out and getting sent to his room, he meets his anger personified. This has a unique message of letting anger run its course by acknowledging it and discovering its source. Collage illustrations make it a visual treat as well.

My Pet Wants a PetMy Pet Wants a Pet by Elise Broach

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This picture book tells the story of a boy who wanted a pet- and got it. Then, his pet wanted a pet- and got it. See what happens when the pet’s pet wants their own pet to take care of! I love the message of the rewards of taking good care of something or someone.

Baby Monkey, Private EyeBaby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A new Brian Selznick book is always an event! In Baby Monkey, Private Eye he works his magic for up and coming readers in a delightful early chapter and picture book hybrid format.

Baby Monkey is ready to solve any mystery as soon as he can put on his pants! With repetitive and predictive texts, readers will build enough confidence to tackle surprise developments in these short stories. And sharp eyed sleuths will delight in the visual references Selznick incorporates within each case. (He also includes a key to these at the back of the book!)

Juvenile Nonfiction

Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women by Kate Schatz

Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth CottenLibba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love nonfiction picture books with great back matter material. In her author’s note, Laura Veirs writes about how this story came about and provides more information about Elizabeth Cotten. This is a great story of a girl who was meant to play music despite all the things going against her.

The illustrations are outstanding.

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice)Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d been meaning to read this book for awhile now and I’m glad I finally did. Very timely with what’s going on and the fact that Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution is recognized in a few states on January 30th.

I’m looking for future titles in the Fighting for Justice series.

I have to admit that I was initially put off by the layout but grew to appreciate it as I got more comfortable with it. In fact, ultimately, it’s a great way to present all the information this book gives.

Each chapter starts off with a biography in verse of Fred’s life in increments from childhood to wartime to imprisonment to reparations. Then with timelines and focus on certain topics as well as a built in glossary, readers are able to go a bit deeper with what they’ve read.

A couple things I appreciated were the discussion prompts and the paintings done by Japanese Americans. There’s so much in this book that seems perfect for classrooms and libraries. I hope people check it out.

It reminded me, too, I should renew my ACLU membership!

Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston MarathonGirl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon by Annette Bay Pimentel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not so long ago, in 1966, females weren’t allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon because the officials thought females weren’t capable of doing so. Bobbi Gibb’s love of running and dedication to prove them wrong gave her the incentive to cross the finish line. And she did but it still didn’t change the minds until many years later. But she continued to race and more and more girls joined her. Readers will be cheering Gibb on as they learn of her story.

ImagineImagine by Juan Felipe Herrera

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This gorgeous picture book details the life of United States Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera told in verse with lush artwork. It also serves as an invitation to readers to imagine what they can be after hearing his story.

Middle Grade

Bob by Wendy Mass, Rebecca Stead, Nicholas Gannon
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Front DeskFront Desk by Kelly Yang

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my favorite books- probably of all time. I would have loved this growing up, to be able to see someone like me within the pages of a book. Mia’s family is in charge of running a motel owned by a mean man. She helps out by running the front desk where she’s she sees and experiences how immigrants are treated unfairly and sometimes even from within one’s own race. There were a couple situations in which she’s trying to fit in but doesn’t that was so heartbreakingly earnest and relatable. She’s the type of girl who is solution oriented and tries to help out as many people as possible. And Mia has a plan to turn her and her family’s fortune around that requires keeping a secret from her dad and proving her mom wrong.

She has a little outburst towards the end of the book which is probably one of my favorite scenes in literature.

This is my Newbery pick.

The War I Finally Won (The War That Saved My Life, #2)The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t believe I didn’t read this as soon as I got a copy because I absolutely loved this book as I suspected I would!

Continuing from The War that Saved My Life, Ada learns that in life, you win some, you lose some. And even when good things happen, there may be complicated unforeseen consequences. In addition, there are new problems to deal with as the war ramps up.

I don’t say this lightly, but I would say Ada is almost as great a character to get to know as Anne Shirley of Green Gables!

ReboundRebound by Kwame Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s incredible how much I hated The Crossover but ended up loving Booked and now Rebound. Expect Kwame Alexander’s storytelling style through poetry to move you. And fans will love the bonus graphic novel style elements found throughout.

The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlThe Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lucy may be a genius- thanks to being struck by lightning at a young age- but she finds out there’s no clear cut solution to the problems middle school presents. Fans of Wonder will love this novel.

 

My Favorite Books of 2018- Part 1

Young Adult

The Inexplicable Logic of My LifeThe Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve loved Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe so much that I didn’t want to read anything else by this author. But I’m so glad I did. Another book that makes you fall in love with the story and its characters. A coming of age story that tackles family and friendship.

I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip.I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip. by John Donovan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve recently been in an Ursula Nordstrom rabbit hole and discovered this Young Adult gem that she published almost fifty years ago. It has the distinction of being one of the first books of its kind to mention homosexuality. I would have loved to have read this in high school. Such unique voices and captures the complexities of being a teenager without all the angst.

Graphic Novels

Be PreparedBe Prepared by Vera Brosgol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Based on her own childhood experiences, she recalls one summer of camp full of shifting alliances, Russian lessons, and nightmarish outhouse situations. Full of heart and humor, this will surely find its way alongside Smile, Roller Girl, and El Deafo.

Crush (Awkward, #3)Crush by Svetlana Chmakova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorite graphic novels of 2018. It’s just so good. I just love that it seems to tackle situations teens and preteens may encounter so it’ll be great to read about it beforehand.

View all my reviews

Lafayette!: A Revolutionary War Tale (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, #8)Lafayette!: A Revolutionary War Tale by Nathan Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hamilton fans may have heard of Lafayette and Nathan’s Hale Hazardous Tales are always a fun way to learn about history and historical figures and this is no exception. Included is a section about Benedict Arnold.

It was a real treat to have Nathan Hale do a reading at the store. He was great with the kids. We had one customer who showed up 90 minutes early to the event because he was so excited. That’s a great indicator of how good these books are.

View all my reviews

Adult Fiction

Call Me by Your NameCall Me by Your Name by André Aciman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wanted to read this book before watching the movie which has been getting lots of positive reviews. I was pleasantly surprised that one of the film’s actors Arnie Hammer read the audio book although it was a bit disconcerting since he was reading from a diiferent character’s perspective.

Let me tell you how worried I was about this book. Because this was an LGBTQ novel set primarily in the 80’s and told as a remembrance of a summer spent with a past love/lover, I thought it was going to end how those kinds of books tend to end.

Without spoiling anything (more), this did break my heart- not only with certain things that happened throughout the course of the novel but also because the beauty there was in it.

This book will make readers fall in love with the language, with the characters and with their stories.

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun, entertaining read before the movie comes out. Peek into the outrageous lives of the rich and famous full of backhanded compliments, designer clothes, delicious food, and family secrets. A page-turner, for sure.

View all my reviews

China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians, #2)China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As addictive as Crazy Rich Asians. At first I was worried, it was going to focus on different characters but I’m glad the stories continued for familiar characters. Can’t wait for the next one!

Rich People Problems (Crazy Rich Asians, #3)Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crazy Rich Asians has been a delight to read this year. In this last installment of the series, the families are faced with what may be their biggest problem. But even then drama and hilarity ensues- all the delicious soap opera goodness readers have come to expect. This book included one of the most romantic engagements. I wish some of the antagonists got their comeuppances better. There was a lot of storylines packed in this one and the ending seemed a bit rush.

Exit WestExit West by Mohsin Hamid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I originally gave this a lower review because I thought it was rather depressing. But the more I thought about it and after attending a book club to discuss it, I changed my mind which just goes to show that sometimes you need to let the words sink in and not always go off your first reaction.

This wasn’t what I was expecting. The magical element caught me off guard and I think ultimately added something to it. It probably made the story more effective had it just been a straight out narrative tackling the topical issues of migration and refugees.

Although a short book, it’s the kind that makes you ponder after reading a few pages.

The mini stories within Saeed and Nadia’s were curious asides often through provoking. Lots of the book club members enjoyed them too. They found many passages to highlight and bookmark and wanted to share.

One of my favorite passages: “Perhaps they had grasped that the doors could not be closed, and new doors would continue to open, and they had understood that the denial of coexistence would have required one party to cease to exist, and the extinguishing party too would have been transformed in the process, and too many native parents would not after have been able to look their children in the eye, to speak with held high of what their generation had done.”

Originally, I thought the book to be too depressing but at the end I think it was ultimately hopeful. That despite everything- the inevitability of change and the good and bad that arises from it, the uncertainty of things- we can still hope for a better future, of happier days.

Adult Nonfiction

Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom by Ursula Nordstrom, Leonard S. Marcus

It's a Bunny-Eat-Bunny World: A Writer's Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today's Competitive Children's Book MarketIt’s a Bunny-Eat-Bunny World: A Writer’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Competitive Children’s Book Market by Olga Litowinsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed learning about the picture book publishing history and getting behind the scenes glimpses of the process once a book is signed. Definitely a must read for any aspiring kidlit creator.

Let Her Fly: A Father's JourneyLet Her Fly: A Father’s Journey by Ziauddin Yousafzai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I loved about this book is that it dispels the misconception that in order for girls to get equal rights in school- and in the world- that it’s going to be taken away from boys. And that’s simply not the case. I also appreciated the sections where he talks about his relationships with his wife and two sons as well.

Audio Books

Charlotte's WebCharlotte’s Web by E.B. White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently reread “Charlotte’s Web” and I love this classic more now than I did back when I was younger! It was easy to get comfortable in the world of E.B. White. Things seemed much simpler and innocent back then even though life and death were always present. Then there were the characters- Wilbur, who was such a pig, in the best sense of the word, and matter-of-fact Charlotte who was a mother and friend anyone would be lucky to have. This book, as she would say, is “terrific.”

It was such a treat to have E.B. White be the narrator for Charlotte’s Web. Rereading Charlotte’s Web at this time has added a different layer. Whose life hasn’t been saved or changed for the better by a wonderful female figure who doesn’t get the credit she deserves? I am completely a Wilbur and I am forever grateful to the Fern’s and the Charlotte’s in my life.

The Trumpet of the SwanThe Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great read! The Trumpet of the Swan is probably the least known of E.B. White’s books for kids, if that’s even possible. But there’s something about it that makes it the closest thing to perfection one can read! The characters are memorable. Louis is a trumpeter swan who can’t speak but decides to learn how to read and write. He also learns to play the trumpet to try and communicate and hopefully win the heart of Serena, the object of his affection. His father is a poet who tends to ramble on and goes to great lengths to help Louis out. I love their relationship. Then, there’s Sam, a human who helps them out because he believes all life (including animals) should be treated fairly. There’s plenty of action and conflict to keep anyone interested but it’s not show-offy or anything, just the right amount. There was one scene I kind of cringed at in which Louis done something to show his dedication in becoming a great musician. I actually thought it was going to ruin the whole book for me but it remains almost like the perfect gift, wrapped up, packed up, ribbon with a bow on it, ready to be enjoyed!

To revisit this tale with E.B. White himself narrating the audiobook is such an experience. I didn’t realize I raved about it so much during my first reading of the book. And I can’t think of anything to add except to experience it for yourself!

Rilla of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables, #8)Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After meeting a kindred spirit at the store, I decided to give Rilla of Ingleside another try. I love Anne Shirley and finished all the books in the series except this because they became less about Anne. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this more than I ever thought I would. We get plenty of Anne and it was nice to see her grow up. And Rilla definitely has her mom’s personality and tendency to get into situations. It was so fascinating to read about World War One and it was gut wrenching to “experience” all the trials and tribulations that goes with it with them.

I listened to the LibroVox audio recording of this book and I was really impressed with the narrator. There were a few times when I got so wrapped in the story. This was a perfect way to end the series.

Maybe of constantly redoing Anne of Green Gables they should adapt this one instead.

 

December’s Picture Book of the Month Pick- Part 2

picturebookit

As part of my Commitment to Literacy: Picture Book It challenge, I wanted to spotlight one book that I’m completely in love with. Throughout the month, I’ll do multiple posts based on the book. I hope you will end up picking up the book and joining in on the conversation.

Previous posts:
All posts pertaining to previous Picture Book of the Month picks have been archived over at Picture Book It.
December’s Picture Book of the Month- Announcement

December’s Picture Book of the Month is Poe Won’t Go by Kelly DiPucchio and Zachariah Ohora.

poe

Poe Won’t Go
Text by Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora
[Hardcover, Ebook]
Published by Disney-Hyperion
October 16, 2018

Review
An elephant has set himself down in the middle of town, causing much confusion and frustration with the residents. And, soon, they start devising plans to get rid of him. Readers will enjoy the silly and sillier ways they come up with. But only a surprising course of action by a little girl can solve the problem. I appreciated the message of kindness amid all the chaos and humor.

Discussion
Have you read Poe Won’t Go? Share your thoughts. I’ll share my review next time!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

— — — — — — — THANK YOU FOR READING! — — — — — — —

 

December’s Picture Book of the Month Pick

picturebookit

As part of my Commitment to Literacy: Picture Book It challenge, I wanted to spotlight one book that I’m completely in love with. Throughout the month, I’ll do multiple posts based on the book. I hope you will end up picking up the book and joining in on the conversation.

Previous posts:
All posts pertaining to previous Picture Book of the Month picks have been archived over at Picture Book It.

December’s Picture Book of the Month is…

poewontgo

Poe Won’t Go
Text by Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by Zacharia Ohora
[Hardcover, Ebook]
Published by Disney-Hyperion
October 16, 2018

Summary
When an elephant plants himself in the road and refuses to move, the people of Prickly Valley try all sorts of methods to get him to go-but one thoughtful little girl works up the courage to do what no one else has done: ask him.

Balancing both hilarity and sensitivity, Poe Won’t Go has the feel of a contemporary classic, reminding readers that there is power in one, power in listening, and power in being a friend.

Discussion
Have you read Poe Won’t Go? Share your thoughts. I’ll share my review next time!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

— — — — — — — THANK YOU FOR READING! — — — — — — —

 

 

November’s Picture Book Pick of the Month- Part 4

picturebookit

As part of my Commitment to Literacy: Picture Book It challenge, I wanted to spotlight one book that I’m completely in love with. Throughout the month, I’ll do multiple posts based on the book. I hope you will end up picking up the book and joining in on the conversation.

Previous posts:
All posts pertaining to previous Picture Book of the Month picks have been archived over at Picture Book It.
November’s Picture Book of the Month- Part I- Announcement
November’s Picture Book of the Month- Part II- Review

November’s Picture Book of the Month is Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

omu

This week, I wanted to share an interview with Oge Mora from Matthew Winner’s wonderful The Children’s Book Podcast. Listen to it here:

http://www.matthewcwinner.com/single-post/Oge-Mora

What are your thoughts on Thank You, Omu!?

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

— — — — — — — THANK YOU FOR READING! — — — — — — —

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2018- November 21, 2018

nfpb2018

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus BoycottPies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great spotlight on someone who played a role during a crucial period of the Civil Rights movement. I love learning about someone who I’ve never heard of before. It’s like getting a piece of a puzzle I didn’t know I was missing. I hope it inspires people that they can do practically anything they can think of to do good in the world and that they should do it. Includes an author’s note and a pie recipe.

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

— — — — — — — THANK YOU FOR READING! — — — — — — —