Excellent Blog
2007 Inspiring Blog
Rockin' Girl Blogger

Saturday Book Review: “Rover Throws a Party,” by Kristin L. Gray & Scott Magoon; “Rumple Buttercup,” by Matthew Gray Gubler; “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read,” by Philippa Perry; and Dubravka Kolanovic’s “Hello, Bunny” & “Love You, Baby”

December 28th, 2019

December 2019 + old shots

Sky and ocean

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Yes, my loves. Here is another book review, this time with kids and babies in mind.

“Rover Throws a Party,”written by Kristin L. Gray, with illustrations by Scott Magoon (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers; scheduled for release March 31, 2020; ages 3-7; 40 pages; $17.99). This neat picture book is inspired by NASA’s Curiosity on Mars, and really, this is pretty cool, even for those of us who aren’t space geeks. The book will be released March 31, 2020, and is a good one to keep in mind, especially to gift a classroom teacher with.

The galleys look good — lots of reds, blues and purples. The illustrations and photos are great, and I always appreciate a good bibliography and a fact page, which this book includes. Lots of different fonts, plus science facts included with a sweet story about Rover’s one-year birthday party in space make for a fun read that will engage kids of all ages.

My apologies, because I wrote a draft review of this one ages ago, and forget to hit publish. Whoops. “Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself,” by Matthew Gray Gubler (who my big kids know from the show “Criminal Minds,” but of course) (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2019, all ages, $14.99).

Rumple Buttercup kinda looks like a mess, with his five crooked teeth, three strands of hair, green skin, and left foot which is slightly bigger than his right foot. But he’s the coolest guy. I think readers will really be able to identify with our hero, and his imaginary friend Candy Corn Carl.

The format of the book is cool — novel, graphic novel and picture book all in one, with simple illustrations in green, yellow and pink, on a cream background. The story is delightful.

Next up: Philippa Perry’s parenting book, “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read” (Pamela Dorman Books Life; scheduled for release Feb. 4, 2020; 300 pages; $24). It’s getting great reviews ’round the world and all. Perry is a psychotherapist and “agony aunt” with a couple of decades’ worth of experience behind her, who lives in London.

She’s funny (she’s not kidding around, though) and I like her thinking. Give it a read.

Last but not least… board books for babies!

Two new titles in the Welcome, Baby series, from author/illustrator Dubravka Kolanovic, “Hello, Bunny” and “Love you, Baby” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2019, ages 0-3, $7.99-$9.99 apiece). Kolanovic is a fantastic painter from Zagreb, Croatia. The books are beautiful — one shaped with scalloped edges, and one shaped with hearts. Perfect for spring or any other time. Fun rhymes and sweet critters.

Kolanovic has illustrated a ton of stuff, so go look up her work.

Bon appetit, babies.

Wacky Mommy

Thursday Book Review: “Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators,” by Ronan Farrow; “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball,” by Jeff Kinney; “Dog Man,” by Dav Pilkey; “From Freezer to Cooker: Delicious Whole-Foods Meals for the Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, and Instant Pot ™,” by Polly Conner & Rachel Tiemeyer; “The Power of Showing Up,” by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson

December 26th, 2019

December 2019 + old shots

(“Black n Blue,” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Hello, cats and kittens,

I generally don’t review everything all at once, I do try to break it down by genre (or “jenner,” as my friend Milly used to say), but today? All of it. Cuz we’re reading a lot this winter.

* A cookbook arrived, just in time for these cold, foggy, dark winter days. The recipes are mwaaah!! Perfecto. Cool recipes for breakfast (Denver Omelet Casserole, or Peanut Butter Cup Steel-Cut Oats); lunch (Creamy Tomato Basil Soup, or Asian Lettuce Wraps), dinner (Mouth-Watering Brisket with Balsamic Glaze, Fake-Out Lasagna) and snacks in between (Shredded BBQ Beef Sandwiches, anyone?).

Polly Conner and Rachel Tiemeyer (from the “Thriving Home” blog) have done a lovely job with their new cookbook, “From Freezer to Cooker: Delicious Whole-Foods Meals for the Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, and Instant Pot” (Rodale Books; on sale Jan. 14, 2020; 256 pages; $22.99).

The authors were inspired by memories of a freezer cooking club they were part of, back in the day, with some other mamas. For many of us, this is where we get our favorite recipes. They’ve done a cool switch-up with recipes that can be cooked in the slow cooker, or the Instant Pot ™. Ingredients can easily be adjusted accordingly, if you’re feeding two of you, or a big crowd.

I’m trying out the Autumn Chowder first, because I’m a soup girl. Followed by Potluck Pumpkin Chili, Vegetarian Tortilla Soup, and White Chicken Chili.

What else are we reading over here? Lots, lots, lots.

* “Hamlet,” by that one guy. Super depressing, but don’t let that stop you.

* “Crash & Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators,” Ronan Farrow’s extraordinary book about breaking the Harvey Weinstein story. Intense, and you won’t be able to stop flipping the pages, it’s that good. (And yes, I know this is quite the eclectic review, sorry about that.)

* “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball,” by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books, 2019, 217 pages, $14.99). This is the 14th book in the series that just continues to be a lot of fun. Love the “Dog Man” series by Dav Pilkey (“Captain Underpants”).

“The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired,” by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson is being released Jan. 7, 2020. (Ballantine, 2020, 256 pages, $27.00). I’ve been reading the advanced copy I was sent of this how-to — it’s interesting. I appreciate their perspective. Parenting is hard, dude.

Now I have to go grocery shopping, clean the house again, clean the chicken coop again, and declutter. Talk later.

Bon appetit!

Much love, and happy holidays to you, wherever you are,

WM

Sunday Book Review — Grown-up Books: “An Atomic Romance,” by Bobbie Ann Mason & “American Wife,” by Curtis Sittenfeld

December 1st, 2019

Sky and ocean

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Just started Bobbie Ann Mason’s “An Atomic Romance” (Random House, 2005, 277 pages). This “signed by the author!” copy came from my local Little Free Library. You know those little neighborhood free book kiosks that you see all over the place now? Especially if you live in Oregon? OK, maybe only in Oregon, since I never travel out of state. Kidding! I know it’s an international thing.

I’ve never read anything by Mason, but so far so good, babies. I’ll get back to you.

Just finished “American Wife,” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, 2008, 555 pages) and it’s something else. (I like writing book reviews on my own site, because I’m going to say whatever I feel like saying.) (Always.) (“Wow, this book was really neato.”) (Fresh, hot, daily, by Wacky Mommy.)

Both this and “An Atomic Romance” were good Free Library finds. The latter is a paperback copy, not shredded. “American Wife” is hardcover, in pretty decent condition, other than the cover being slightly battered. I like the notes, bookmarks and other telltale signs that you find with used books. This one is stamped on the inside: “No Longer Property of the Queens Library/ Sale of This Item Supported the Library.” The back inside cover has the Queens Library website on a sticker. The sticker on the back is from Cel-Hot Picks!, located on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica, N.Y. It traveled all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast (best coast), it had a life before it got here.

So I was already enamored of this book, as you can probably tell, before I even opened it.

Sittenfeld is quite brilliant, I do say, in the way she tells this elegant, thoughtful tale of a fictional politician’s wife, a character who may or may not be based on former First Lady Laura Bush, and her story. You get to hear the most intimate details of her life, in all their sexiness, matter-of-factness, candidness, tedium and every other emotion you can think of.

She became my friend, Alice, we became one-way confidants, even though she’s not real, even though she stepped into my life and stepped out again so gracefully. The supporting cast is great, too — well-rounded, funny, harsh. Human. Brilliant fictional humans.

It’s a crazy, backwards fairytale, this book.

OK, now back to those Little Free Libraries for a moment. They’ve been a thing for awhile now, and they’re pretty cool. I’ve passed along and picked up a number of copies. But… but… but… If you don’t want that book, especially if it’s really tattered, mildewy or moldy, probably no one else wants it, either.

In most of Oregon (not the High Desert, central and Eastern sections of the state), man does it get wet. So the Little Free Libraries, which are mostly outdoor, freestanding structures, can get musty and damp. Which is hell on books. So please rotate those collections, and replace the structures when needed. One of our neighborhood LFLs had a massive infestation of yellow jackets.

So that was fun, too.

This public service announcement brought to you by moi, WM.

Bon appetit!

Big, Big, Super-Duper Book Review! Or, What’s New on My Nightstand: “Thomas Paine and the Dangerous Word,” by Sarah Jane Marsh & Edwin Fotheringham; “Freya & Zoose,” by Emily Butler & Jennifer Thermes; Wee Society’s “Write On: My Story Journal” & “Yay! My Celebration Journal”; and “In the Night Kitchen,” by Maurice Sendak

November 11th, 2019

So many photos ❤️

(Dorothy & Alice art credit goes to… someone)

Oh, babies and big kids, get over here. Books! Some old, some new, and lots coming in for holiday reading and gift-giving.

“Thomas Paine and the Dangerous Word,” by Sarah Jane Marsh, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 8 and up, $19.99). He was expected to spend his life following his family’s tradition of sewing underwear, and that alone is enough to give readers a laugh or smile. Thomas Paine, an English corset-maker’s son, had different ideas. He met Benjamin Franklin, traveled to America, and the rest is the American Revolution and U.S. history. Really cool book about Paine’s writing and its impact, and the art is fantastic.

“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” Yes, yes.

He wrote essays protesting slavery, “…selling husbands away from wives, children from parents… is this doing to them as we would desire they should do to us?” which encouraged people to start abolitionists societies and end slavery.

When he was writing his pamphlet, “Common Sense,” he was warned by his peers to avoid the word “independence.”

So he used it 22 times.

Independence, independence, independence…

We need to remember Paine’s words today.

“Freya & Zoose,” by Emily Butler, illustrated by Jennifer Thermes (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2019, 208 pages, ages 8-12, $16.99). Now comes this sweet novel about Freya, a rockhopper penguin, and her unlikely traveling companion, Zoose the mouse. The book is set in 1897, at the time of S.A. Andree’s Arctic Balloon Expedition. This one is fun, and the illustrations help bring the story to life.

Two new ones from Wee Society: “Write On: My Story Journal” and “Yay! My Celebration Journal” (Clarkson Potter, 2019, ages 5 and up, $14.99 apiece). I’m torn on these books. (Torn? Page? Get it?) Well, I am. Because they’re very cool, but they look too much like books, and not enough like journals, and if a journal looks too much like a book, no one wants to “dirty it up.”

Nonetheless, they are neat, with lots of places to scribble, tear, create and write. I’m a big fan of writing prompts, and the way “Write On” has approached it is with scene, character and conflict cards. For example: You’re in a hidden forest, with a talking burrito and taco, and… they couldn’t stop dancing!

So that’s pretty fun. Go all crazy, y’all.

“In the Night Kitchen,”by Maurice Sendak (Harper Collins, 1970). This one is just for me and my own big kids.

This classic is as much fun as “Where the Wild Things Are,” but doesn’t get as much airplay. It often lands on “banned books” lists because our hero, Mickey, is nudie patootie. (“Mama! Papa!”) Man, do I love this book.

He hears a “racket in the night,” has a fit, falls through the dark and floats out of his jammies, “past the moon & his mama & papa sleeping tight” and into the Night Kitchen.

Love, love, love.

Bon appetit, babies! Have a great November.

Wacky Mommy

Book Review: Books for Babies (and one for the big kids)!! Bedtime Classics: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” by Lewis Carroll & Carly Gledhill and “The Nutcracker,” by E.T.A. Hoffmann & Carly Gledhill; Hello, World!: “Pets” & “Arctic Animals,” by Jill McDonald; plus “Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species,” adapted by Sabina Radeva

October 16th, 2019

This life...

(“Good morning, sunshine!” Photo by Rawley)

The fall books are arriving, and that makes life just a little sweeter, especially when the books are finally starting to reflect the actual country that we live in.

The majority of preschoolers in the United States today are non-white, aka “from a minority background.” This statistic has been accurate for several years now. (Since at least 2015, according to the people who pull the numbers together.) When the minority becomes the majority? That means, my friends, yes, America is a melting pot, which we already knew, and we love that.

Yet only 23 percent of children’s books published last year reflect this diversity.

Along comes Bedtime Classics, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” based on the Lewis Carroll story, and illustrated by the talented Carly Gledhill. Gledhill, an artist from the United Kingdom, did a lovely job with the Alice tale, and littles will be happy to meet the Cheshire Cat and the rest of Carroll’s crew in this sweet little board book.

Gledhill also illustrated a cool version (just in time for the holidays) of “The Nutcracker,” by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Both new releases are published by Penguin/Random House, 2019, cost $7.99 apiece, and are the first two in a new series, which will include “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “The Wizard of Oz” and other titles.

The Hello, World! series also has new books out. “Pets” and “Arctic Animals,” Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2019, $7.99 each, offer innovative ways to introduce the little ones to non-fiction info about animals, to identify colors and shapes, and voila! learn how to read, too.

The books are fun. We have a cute little rabbit, for example, with “long, floppy ears, whiskers, and a nose they can twitch,” a prompt to practice twitching your nose like a bunny, and some fun facts. (“Rabbits eat hay, fruits, and vegetables.”) Both books have the same style, and it’s just a fun way to work on a lot of educational stuff without being bossy about it. Lol.

Now, one for the big kids. Sabina Radeva, another artist from the U.K., has adapted and illustrated Charles Darwin’s classic, “On the Origin of Species” (Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House, 2019, ages 4 and up, 64 pages, $18.99 and worth every penny). This extraordinary adaptation gives us lots of science facts, distilled for the younger crowd, along with biographical information on Darwin.

“Wacky Mommy,” you might ask, “Is this really a book my niece/nephew is going to want? Shouldn’t I buy them another Captain Underpants book, instead?” Well. You should buy them Captain Underpants, because that series is great. But you should also buy this one, too. Kids dig non-fiction, biographies, autobiographies, and all sorts of unexpected stuff.

Happy reading! Bon appetit!

Wacky Mommy at Large

Thursday, Thursday, Picture Books! — “Five Minutes (That’s a lot of time) (No, it’s not) (Yes, it is),” by Liz Garton, Audrey Vernick & Olivier Tallec; “16 Words: William Carlos Williams & ‘The Red Wheelbarrow,'”; and “My Tiny Pet,” by Jessie Hartland

October 3rd, 2019

So many photos ❤️

(“White Chickens/Black/and Red” photo by Nancy Row Rawley)

I love this picture book’s title, y’all. “Five Minutes (That’s a lot of time) (No, it’s not) (Yes, it is),” written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Olivier Tallec (G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR, 2019, ages 3-7, $16.99).

This cheerful, goofy picture book takes just about five minutes to read, but you’ll probably end up need 20-25 minutes, total, because the kids will want you to read it four or five times. Five minutes is forever — or it’s not enough, depending on how a person looks at it. Visiting the puppies, bunnies and birds at the pet store? Five minutes is not enough. Just a little more sleep? Please, please more than five minutes. Waiting in line, anywhere? Five minutes takes an eternity. Clever story, sweet illustrations.

Visit the crew — Liz Garton on Twitter @LGartonScanlong, Audrey Vernick and Olivier Tallec.

I have many favorite poems, but this one is in the top five:

“so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white chickens.”

— William Carlos Williams

What is it about this poem? English majors and their professors, writers and poets, fans of chickens… we all worship it, analyze it, interpret it in different ways. It’s cool to see the poem dissected — and illustrated — in a new picture book, “16 Words: William Carlos Williams & ‘The Red Wheelbarrow,'” (Schwartz & Wade Books, by Lisa Rogers, illustrated by Chuck Groenink, 2019, ages 4-8, 40 pages, $17.99).

I love when this poem is used as a writing prompt; it frees us. It is simple, beautiful, deep, and everything a poem needs to be. Williams was a family doctor in Rutherford, New Jersey. Thaddeus Marshall, a neighbor, was one of his patients. His garden, his wheelbarrow, and the sale of his vegetables inspired Williams, who wrote in his spare time. Who knew? (English majors. Their profs. Writers and poets. #bigsmile)

The illustrations and the words wrap around the poem to give us a nice biography of Mr. Williams, and a beautiful tribute to Mr. Marshall. Enjoy.

For more about the author and illustrator, check Lisa Rogers and Chuck Groenink.

Next up, one just for you, science geeks and art lovers: Jessie Hartland’s “My Tiny Pet,” (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2019, ages 4-8, $17.99). They can survive radiation, the vacuum of space, or live at the bottom of the ocean. They can hibernate for centuries. Their biggest predator, though? You’ll never believe it. Snails.

What is this mysterious creature we’re talking about? Tardigrades! (Aka, “water bears.”) And now someone, believe it or not, has written and illustrated a beautiful, sweet, educational picture book about them. Hartland’s work (gouache) has been compared to Maira Kalman’s (one of the best artists, ever, in the history of the universe, people!) and yes. It does remind me of Kalman’s work.

A little girl and her family are downsizing and moving to the forest, and their pets are all rehomed. But she would really, pretty please, like one small pet? So much love for this book.

Check out more of Hartland’s work here.

Tuesday Book Review — What’s on My Nightstand: “The Penderwicks at Last,” by Jeanne Birdsall; “The Curse of the Werepenguin,” by Allan Woodrow; “The Beautiful,” by Renee Ahdieh; and “Rules for Vanishing,” by Kate Alice Marshall

October 1st, 2019

So many photos ❤️

(“Gleneden Beach, Oregon, USA — photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Hello cats and kittens,

I have a nice little round-up for you this week.

“The Penderwicks at Last,” by Jeanne Birdsall (Yearling/Random House Children’s Books, 2019, 294 pages, $7.99) is the final book in this series about six adventuresome siblings. (The other five books are “The Penderwicks,” “The Penderwicks on Gardam St.,” “The Penderwicks at Point Mouette”and “The Penderwicks in Spring.” It’s an old-fashioned kind of series, in the tradition of “The Boxcar Children” and “The Moffatts.” My students, when I taught, enjoyed the Penderwicks. It has that certain something that appeals to modern readers. The Penderwicks will be missed. Follow Jeanne Birdsall on Twitter @jeannebirdsall

“The Beautiful,” by Renee Ahdieh (Putnam, 2019, young adult, 425 pages, $18.99). New Orleans + intrigue + creatures of the night. Enjoy this scary tale. Follow the author at @rahdieh

“Rules for Vanishing,” by Kate Alice Marshall @kmarshallarts (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2019, young adults, 402 pages, $18.99). Marshall’s debut book, a young adult read, was “I Am Still Alive,”. It caught readers’ attention. “Rules for Vanishing,” her latest, is being released just in time for Halloween. Sara Donoghue’s sister Becca left a year ago, in search of Lucy Gallows, and no one has seen her since. Lucy, a ghost, has her own road, her own story, and her own plan. Sara and her friends from Briar Glen need to find Becca, and this isn’t an adventure that any of them really want to go on.

But it’s Becca.

“EXHIBIT A
Text message received by all Briar Glen High School students on Monday, April 17, 2017

DO YOU KNOW WHERE LUCY WENT?

SHE WENT TO PLAY THE GAME.

YOU CAN PLAY, TOO.

FIND A PARTNER.

FIND A KEY.

FIND THE ROAD.

YOU HAVE TWO DAYS.”

OK, now my heart is racing.

It’s a gripping book, and the format is intriguing, with the story, clues and interviews interspersed with cell phone calls and texts.

And now, for something fun: “The Curse of the Werepenguin,” by Allan Woodrow, illustrated by Scott Brown (Viking, ages 4th grade and up, 334 pages, $17.99). Funny, funny boys put this book together. First page:

“Prologue: The St. Aves Zoo

Fourteen penguins glared at me with haunting yellow eyes. They seemed disturbed, disdainful, disgruntled, discombobulated, and disagreeably disquieting. They squawked — loud, roaring barks — beaks frowning.

A chill rose up my back.

I sneezed.”

OK, good. Let’s go! Great story, captivating and humorous, and the drawings are perfect.

Happy autumn, happy reading.

WM

Sunday Book Review — What’s On My Nightstand: “Tricky Twenty-Two,” by Janet Evanovich; “The Time of My Life,” by Patrick Swayze & Lisa Niemi; “The Room-Mating Season,” by Rona Jaffe; “Quest Study Bible/New International Version”; “Left Neglected,” by Lisa Genova; and “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant,” by Anne Tyler

September 22nd, 2019

So many photos ❤️

(“Yeah, read a book.” Photo by Nancy Ellen Row)

Here’s everything, everything, everything I’m reading at the moment. The stack is toppling over:

* This Janet Evanovich is a lot of fun, I must say. I’ve been reading the Stephanie Plum, New Jersey Bounty Hunter books for awhile now. They’re great. I’m reading the fifth one, “High Five,” and the 22nd one, “Tricky Twenty-Two” at the same time, and that is total OK in the land of Ms. Plum. Book swap! Little Free Library! Take advantage, y’all.

* I found Patrick Swayze’s autobiography, “The Time of My Life,” in the same book swap shelves where I found five or six Stephanie Plum books. People, chances like this do not come along every day. It’s not just his story, though, although it’s definitely an autobiography. This one, co-written with his wife, Lisa Niemi, is one long love letter to their marriage, and that is just what this jaded divorcee needed.

Sometimes people tough it out. He did. She did. They did. They tried and were so strong and committed, to each other, to their careers, to fighting his health issues. And to have lost him so young seems like just a really shitty trick to me, God. I’m just saying.

* Now that I’m thinking about it, I think all of these books came from the free shelves. Rona Jaffe, my goddess, my hero, my inspiration on all-things-female since I found her at age 14, snuck one by me. “The Room-Mating Season” was published in 2003, but starts out in 1963, hello, “Mad Men.” And women. I just started it, so can’t say, but I do see it got some rotten reviews on Thee Internet. I don’t care, I love Jaffe. I just re-read “The Best of Everything” awhile back, and man, that book has aged well. Just like me!

* “The Quest Study Bible/New International Version”— lost and found. Pretty, pretty good.

* “Left Neglected,” by Lisa Genova — just started this one, too. Do you think I read too much? I think I don’t read enough.

* Anne Tyler’s “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.” I’ve been a fan of Tyler’s since I read “The Accidental Tourist” in a contemporary lit class in college. This one doesn’t disappoint. I bookmarked a bunch of pages with torn-up bits of grocery lists, but now that I’ve finished the book, and it’s captured me? I don’t feel like sharing. So there. It’s probably my favorite work of hers now.

Bon appetit, darlings.

WM

Saturday Book Review, for the kids: “Boy Mom: What Your Son Needs Most From You,” by Monica Swanson; “The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School,” by Kristin Mahoney

September 7th, 2019

Benton Co. Fair 2019

(“Fleurs,” by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

You might know Monica Swanson from her blog, and her most well-known post, “What a Teenage Boy Needs Most From His Mom.” She has four boys, a happy marriage, her faith and God, she lives on Oahu and grows tropical fruit. I wanna go over to her house right now, drink smoothies and hang out.

Her new book, “Boy Mom: What Your Son Needs Most From You” was just released. It’s great. (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2019, $15.99, 228 pages.) She takes on healthy eating, boundaries/freedoms, prayer and faith, technology and freedom and lots of other stuff. Engaging talk-talk, insight and stories.

Oh, I know Kristin Mahoney. She wrote “Annie’s Life in Lists,” the young adult novel I reviewed a while back. So here’s something new from her, that’s equally fun. “The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School,”(Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, Random House Children’s Books, 2019, $16.99, ages 8-12, 304 pages). What are the 47 types? They include, but are not limited to, the scary teacher, the gooser, the cackling eighth-grade boys, Officer Perry, Keira, all as described by Augusta “Gus” to her little sister, Louisa, “Lou,” who is wondering about middle school.

It’s a challenge, Lou. But you can do it.

The advice is going to be helpful for anyone heading into middle school, or already there.

Have a great weekend, y’all. Talk soon.

WM

Friday Book Review — Kids’ Books: “Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood,” by Marjane Satrapi; “Thurgood,” by Jonah Winter & Bryan Collier

September 6th, 2019

Silver Falls, Oregon

Silver Falls State Park, Silverton, Oregon, USA

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Of course I want to hear a story from someone who has a strong (and/or sad, intense, funny, moving) story to tell.

This is one heck of a story.

“Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon/Random House, Inc.; translation by L’Association, Paris, France; 2003; ages young adult and older) is the first in the series of four graphic novels, Satrapi’s account of growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. This is an astounding work of art.

We have another outstanding story in “Thurgood,” a new biographical picture book written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Bryan Collier (Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House Children’s Books, 2019, ages 5 and up, 40 pages, $17.99). Award-winning writer Winter has written a number of titles, including a biography about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the extraordinary “Lillian’s Right to Vote.”

Collier is, simply, one of those most gifted artists of our time. He has won four Caldecott Honors, including an award for “Rosa,” a book about Mrs. Parks, and one of my favorite picture books ever, which he collaborated on with poet Nikki Giovanni.

Thurgood Marshall, American hero, Civil Rights activist, and the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, was born in 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland, and died in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1993. What he did in the years in between is inspiring, incredible and intense. The book doesn’t pull any punches. He was the star pupil of civil rights attorney Charles Houston, who took him on a road trip to the Deep South to study white vs. black segregated schools.

“FACT: Unlike the white kids’ schools, the black kids’ schools had dirt floors and no restrooms. The students were malnourished and sad. ‘Separate but equal’? Yeah, right.”

Don’t ever think that kids can’t handle books like these, that pack so much honesty, violence, unfairness and truth between the covers. Kids are aware how unfair life can be, and they need tools to change their world for the better.

Enjoy these titles, and have a great weekend.

WM

Next Page »