Monday, February 10, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2-10-2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

I feel like I say this a lot, but it's been a minute, friends. Walden Award reading and a grad school class I'm taking has been keeping me away from my own personal reading. So here are a few books I've read and loved in the past couple months that I actually CAN share on my blog.

I recently reviewed:

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan

I recently read and enjoyed:

New Kid by Jerry Craft
An important book that explores themes of race, friendship, identity, microagressions, and privilege -- all in the package of an appealing middle grade graphic novel. I especially love that New Kid takes on a new meaning at the end of the story. A wonderful choice for the 2020 Newbery medal.

Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Loveis Wise
Even thought Zetta Elliott said that she doesn't consider herself a poet in the introduction of this book of poetry, but I'd venture to say that she's a legit, real-deal poet. I'd love to see more books of poetry by her in the future.

Facts Vs. Opinions Vs. Robots by Michael Rex
In a media landscape where everyone seems to have their own set of facts depending on their partisan beliefs, it's clear that it's time to revisit the difference between facts and opinions, starting with very young children. But also, it wouldn't hurt for some adults to read this book either. I especially love that this book doesn't just break down the difference between facts and opinions, but also discusses what can happen when we dismiss other people's opinions, especially when they're our friends.

With All My Heart by Stephanie Stansbie, illustrated by Richard Smythe
A sweet book about a parent's love as they see their child grow. Loved the cute cutouts from page to page.

The Cool Bean by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald
A fun book that reminds us all that we don’t have to be friends with everyone but it’s still cool to be kind and respectful to everyone.

Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall by Derek Hughes, illustrated by Nathan Christopher
If Dan Santat’s After the Fall were created by Edward Gorey... but not, because despite the dark and dismal setting, it manages to still end on a somewhat hopeful note.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis
Gorgeous writing and illustrations about the winter solstice.
Read this book when you’re getting your hygge on.

We Love Babies by Jill Esbaum
We love babies, yes we do. We love babies, how about you?
Having a bad day? Need some cuteness in your life? Look no further.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." -- Jorge Luis Borges

Jamie Bunn was only trying to help the boy she had a crush on, but she ends up getting herself caught up in a cheating scandal at school. So her punishment is to do community service at her town's public library.

While spending her summer at the library, she comes face to face with members of the community she would not normally interact with: an elderly patron who tries to downplay his health issues, a man who has come on financial hard times, and even the girl who humiliated Jamie in front of her entire class.

But as the summer continues on, Jamie soon realizes that her summer of punishment is actually a blessing in disguise. Not only does she see firsthand what value the library holds for her community, but she also gets to have a front row seat to civic participation at work when her town's mayor is on a mission to close the library in order to save the town money.

A Kind of Paradise is the middle grade book answer to the The Public, the 2018 movie starring Emilio Estevez, about a renegade librarian who is on a mission to save his job while he gets himself caught up in a sit-in with homeless patrons who refuse to leave due to the extreme cold outside. Just as The Public is not a perfect movie, A Kind of Paradise has its flaws, but enumerating a long list in this book review would be missing the point of the book, which is to show kids and remind adults that libraries are important centerpieces of our community and they mean more to so many people than just borrowing books. The library is one of the few places that you can go in America today where you are not expected to spend any money, especially even more so now that many libraries are doing away with fines.

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan
Published: April 30, 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 303
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade
Disclosure: Audiobook copy provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound