Friday, December 31, 2021

Favorite Books of 2021

2021 was such a hard year of reading for me. I constantly found myself not wanting to even pick up a book let alone being able to immerse myself in the pages of a book. Despite that, I still managed to read over 400 books this year (most of them picture books) and these were some of my favorite books published in 2021. 

This was my last book I read in 2021 and so I was elated that it was one of my favorites given my reading rut this year. I hope this will give me a little momentum and motivation in 2022. I loved the lightheartedness of the humor and despite the hyperbole of the cultural touchstones discussed in this book, there is also so much truth to it. As a born and bred Midwesterner, I felt seen reading this book. 

In The Wild Light by Jeff Zentner
I actually finished reading the ARC of this book on Christmas of 2020, but was published in August of 2021 so that's why I'm including it on my list of favorite books of 2021. One year later, I can't stop thinking about it. This book's exploration of gentle masculinity, of loving familial and platonic male relationships, is one that will stay with me for a long time.

The Storyteller by Dave Grohl
I've always loved the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl ever since I learned he was the drummer for Nirvana and then became the guitarist and frontman for his own band after Kurt Cobain died. Foo Fighters is very much a band of my generation. I listened to the audiobook of The Storyteller which Grohl narrates so it felt more like I was sitting with him at the kitchen table while he regaled me with stories from his life in rock n roll. I love how salt-of-the earth Grohl is, managing to stick pretty close to his humble roots despite having a life in an industry that can get you swept up in the fame, money, and vices pretty quickly. But Grohl is quick and frequent to credit his public schoolteacher of a mother who recognized that her son would never be fit for the academia track and let him go to pursue his dreams of being a musician before he even finished high school. What a gift that was to him to live his own life rather than trying to get him to fulfill her dreams that she had for him. Prior to listening to The Midwest Survival Guide, this was my favorite audiobook of 2021. But it's still pretty high up there. 

This is a book that I would have never picked up had I not already been a longtime fan of John Green's writing. He sets up the book in the introduction perfectly, reminding readers what a gifted writer he is, compelling you to keep turning the pages, even if you're not particularly interested in the topic of the essay you're currently reading. What you soon come to realize, however, is that these essays are not just about the topic listed in the chapter heading. That title is just an entry point for Green's meandering, yet purposeful style of writing. 

Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy
Huda F Are You? is a compelling, humorous, and page-turning graphic novel that also deals with serious and sometimes heavy issues like identity, family, and Islamaphobia. And it wins for best book title in the history of book titles. 

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
2021 marked the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, a shameful moment in our nation's that most Americans didn't even know about until recently. For families that want their children to learn actual history and not just "feel-good" history that seems to be what state legislatures are forcing in schools, add this book to your collection. 

Niki Nakayama: A Chef's Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak & Debbi Florene Michiko, illustrated by Yuko Jones
This picture book biography is a feast for the senses. After I read this book even sought out the episode of Chef's Table that Nakayama was featured on so I could learn more about her and the type of cuisine in which she specializes. If you have a budding chef in your life or just want to learn more about badass women busting glass ceilings, I highly recommend this wonderful book.

Oliver Jeffers ingeniously uses vellum throughout this book as a way to overlay pages so that, in a brilliant use of dramatic irony, the reader sees the ghosts but the main character does not. Before Halloween, I read this book to all of my library classes, K-8, because I knew when I first read this that it would be one of those books that every age group will love... and I was right. Even my 8th graders were completely rapt and engaged when I read this book to them. 

Survivor Tree by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker
Recently there have been quite a few picture books to come out about the 9/11 Survivor Tree, so it takes a lot to make each one stand out. With this book, what stands out is when the single turn of a page makes you gasp and leave you speechless, you know you've experienced something special. 

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd, illustrated by Christian Robinson
A stunning tribute to Nina Simone. The writing is engaging while the pictures draw you in and beg you to pore over them and ask questions. I could totally see a Caldecott sticker on this next month. 

More Than Sunny by Shelley Johannes
The playful language in this book just oozes joy and coziness for each and every season (even the ones we don’t like). 

Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin
This quiet but powerful story will leave a lasting impression with its complicated but nuanced approach to immigration, family, culture, and inter-generational tensions. I wouldn't be surprised if this book also has a Caldecott or even a Newbery sticker come January.


What were your favorite books of 2021? 


Purchasing books from any of the above Bookshop affiliate links support independent bookstores and gives me a small percentage of the sale. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Midwest Survival Guide: How We Talk, Love, Work, Drink, and Eat... Everything with Ranch by Charlie Berens

Charlie Berens is a journalist and comedian known for his hilarious videos on social media that celebrate life in the Midwest. Some of my favorites are his series on Midwest Nice:

What Charlie Berens does so brilliantly in The Midwest Survival Guide is that he made the culture of being a Midwesterner not just a source of poking fun, but also of pride. Despite his hyperbolic cultural touchstones of the Midwest, there's also a great deal of truth in his hyperbole.

As a born and bred Midwesterner, I have often felt that sense of being excluded from distinctive cultural humor and conversations of the United States. Not only is the Midwest considered flyover country, it also tends to get overlooked in terms of discussions about what makes a person culturally Midwestern. We hear all the time about what makes a person a Southerner or a New Englander, for example, but rarely do we talk about the culture of the Midwest. So when Charlie Berens talks about the fashion of the Midwest, the debate over casserole vs. hotdish, the long goodbye, and of course, the beauty, humor and practicality of the word "Ope," I have to say... I felt seen.

After a difficult year that left me in quite a reading rut, I read/listened to this book in less than two days. I highly recommend reading and listening to this book concurrently because you miss something from only doing one or the other. If you only listen to the book you miss out on all the charts, maps, and illustrations. If you only read the book, then you miss the very best part of the book in my mind, which is hearing Charlie Berens' endearing and exaggerated Midwestern accent.

This will definitely be one of my favorite books of 2021.

The Midwest Survival Guide: How We Talk, Love, Work, Drink, and Eat... Everything with Ranch by Charlie Berens*
Published: October 5, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow/Harper Audio
Pages: 272
Audiobook length: 6 hours, 5 minutes
Genre: Humor/Nonfiction
Audience: Adults
Disclosure: Library Copy/Audiobook provided by publisher

*Purchasing the book from the above Bookshop affiliate link supports independent bookstores and gives me a small percentage of the sale. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading? 12-20-2021

 

I
t'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.


Books I recently read and enjoyed:
All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson
A book that will undoubtedly make (and has made) many readers uncomfortable but is going to be and likely already has been a life-saving book for so many queer adolescents and young adults.


The Longest Letsgoboy by Derick Wilder, illustrated by Catia Chien
A beautiful book with tender and innovative language. For anyone who's loved an old dog.


Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham, illustrated by C.G. Esperanza
Soul Food Sunday deals with some of my favorite picture book topics:

Food
Family
Joy
Celebration


Dad Bakes by Katie Yamasaki
“Home smells like warm bread.”

A young girl’s father gets up before dawn to go to work at a bakery and despite being tired when he returns home, spends quality time baking with his daughter.


Dougie doesn't want anyone to know that he's a dung beetle who eats poop, so he hides his lunch under a rock on the playground and doesn't eat in front of his classmates. But a situation on the playground soon causes him to have to either reveal his true identity or betray a fellow classmate who isn't afraid to be who he truly is.

Despite the silly title, this book actually has an important message of embracing and loving who you are as well as honoring the identities and differences of others.


Currently reading: 
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys


Currently reading with my ears:

Monday, November 22, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading? 11-22-21

 

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'm still having tons of fun making book-related content over on TikTok. Here is my favorite one from the past few weeks:
@bibliophilebeth

##schoollibrarian ##librariansoftiktok ##librarianlife

♬ original sound - NicolandiašŸŒž

Last week I reviewed: 
 


Picture books I enjoyed last week:
The Creature of Habit by Jennifer E. Smith, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
A book that challenges the concept of "well that's just how we've always done things here" and examines the joy and possibility of new perspectives.

Words to Make a Friend: A Story in Japanese and English by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Naoko Stoop
A beautiful story that shows friendship can transcend language.

Currently reading:




Note: Purchasing the books from any of the above Bookshop affiliate links supports independent bookstores and gives me a small percentage of the sale. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Audiobook Review: The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

I've always loved the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl ever since I learned he was the drummer for Nirvana and then became the guitarist and frontman for his own band after Kurt Cobain died. Foo Fighters is very much a band of my generation.  I listened to the audiobook of The Storyteller which Grohl narrates so it felt more like I was sitting with him at the kitchen table while he regaled me with stories from his life in rock n roll. I love how salt-of-the earth Grohl is, managing to stick pretty close to his humble roots despite having a life in an industry that can get you swept up in the fame, money, and vices pretty quickly. But Grohl is quick and frequent to credit his public schoolteacher mother who recognized that her son would never be fit for the academia track and let him go to pursue his dreams of being a musician before he even finished high school. What a gift that was to him to live his own life rather than trying to get him to fulfill her dreams that she had for him.

Despite my love for Grohl as a person, his writing, and hearing his rich yet gravelly baritone voice narrate his story, I did find  it frustrating that the book didn't follow a linear timeline and there were holes that I wanted to know more about (how did he meet his wife? Why are his oldest daughters talked about frequently but his third daughter only gets two passing mentions?) And yet, despite my frustration with this, I think the tone of the book was meant to be more about telling stories rather than a linear memoir, I am willing to overlook those criticisms because I loved listening to him tell his stories so much. By far the best audiobook I've listened to in 2021. 

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl*
Published: October 5, 2021
Publisher: Dey Street Books/Harper Audio
Pages: 376
Audiobook length: 10 hours, 35 minutes
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adults/Rock music lovers
Disclosure: Audiobook purchased from Libro.fm, which supports independent bookstores

*Purchasing the book from the above Bookshop affiliate link supports independent bookstores and gives me a small percentage of the sale. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain by Tom Vitale

When Anthony Bourdain died by suicide in June of 2018, the devastation was immediate and lasting for so many, including me. It felt like a good friend died, even though I'd never met him.

Someone who did know Anthony Bourdain was author of In the Weeds, Tom Vitale. Having worked with Anthony Bourdain for over 15 years as a producer/director on No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown, Tom Vitale knew Tony better than almost anybody. In the Weeds is Vitale's story of working with such a complicated, mythical figure as Anthony Bourdain.

When I started reading In the Weeds, it was initially slow-going because it felt like Vitale was telling Tony's story from his backseat/behind-the-camera view. But as the story progressed and when the book started to feel the most engaging, was when Vitale became more confident in asserting his own story of traveling around the world rather than just describing Tony's reaction to everything. Some of my favorite moments in the narrative are when Tony isn't even present, like when Vitale went scouting locations for the Jamaica shoot of Parts Unknown and he and producer Josh Ferrell made all manner of absurd proposals just to spite the new line producer who was slashing costs left and right and forced their team to get pre-approval on any cost over $200 despite the fact that they were never extravagant with money. I also really appreciated his story of having dinner with Asia Argento in Rome after Tony's death because he did a something that I don't think Laurie Woolever's oral biography did, which was to take care not to come off as blaming Argento for Tony's death. One thing that has bothered me in the collateral damage of Bourdain's death is the misogynistic hot takes that have plagued Argento, essentially saying that she is the one responsible for his death by suicide. While Vitale does not absolve Argento, going so far as to say to her, "Everyone thinks he killed himself because of you," he also allows readers to come to their own conclusions and even manages to give her some grace. And finally, I found his telling of the behind-the-scenes chaos, drama, and choreography that was required to pull off that one short scene with President Obama in Vietnam in 2016.

Die-hard Bourdain fans will be initially be drawn to this book for untold Tony stories, but they will ultimately stay for Vitale's own gifted storytelling.

In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain by Tom Vitale*
Published: October 5, 2021
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Memoir
Audience: Adults/Travel lovers
Disclosure: Library copy

*Purchasing the book from the above Bookshop affiliate link supports independent bookstores and gives me a small percentage of the sale. 

Monday, November 8, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading? 11-8-21

 

I
t'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'm having tons of fun making book-related content over on TikTok. Here is my favorite one from the past few weeks:

I recently reviewed:
Niki Nakayama: A Chef's Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak and Debbie Michiko Florence, illustrated by Yuko Jones


I recently read and loved:
Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy
When Huda Fahmy moves to Dearborn, Michigan, a city that has the highest percentage of Arab Americans in the nation, she’s suddenly not the only hijab-wearing Muslim at her school, which leads her to question her own identity and what makes her special.

Huda F Are You? is compelling and page-turning while also dealing with serious and sometimes heavy issues like identity, family, and Islamaphobia.


Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography by Laurie Woolever
Anthony Bourdain contained multitudes. He was equal parts
Sensitive and badass
Quiet and brash
Introverted and confrontational
Narcissistic and empathetic

His life was full of contradictions. Which is what made him such a compelling writer and TV personality.

This biography is a collection of interviews of people who knew him well to help readers gain insight into the parts of Bourdain that his fans didn't know or didn't see.


The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi, illustrated by Loveis Wise
This collection of poetry in a chronological narrative of the history of African Americans is absolutely stunning. 


The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith
A beautiful and important book


Currently reading: 

In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain by Tom Vitale 


Currently reading with my ears: 

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Niki Nakayama: A Chef's Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak and Debbie Michiko Florence, illustrated by Yuko Jones


Niki Nakayama grew up in Los Angeles in a traditional Japanese family. As a child she loved creating her own recipes and trying new foods.  When she expressed a desire to go to culinary school and become a chef, she was told she was too small and delicate to work in a restaurant kitchen. It seemed like people at every turn were telling her that a woman couldn't be a professional chef. 

Not only did Niki prove the doubters wrong about her ability to stand toe-to-toe with the best Japanese sushi chefs, she eventually decided to fulfill her ultimate dream of becoming a kaiseki chef, which is a type of cuisine that focuses on quality ingredients, technique, and story-telling. 

This picture book biography is a feast for the senses. As I read the book I became more and more intrigued by the idea of kaiseki and even sought out the episode of Chef's Table that Nakayama was featured on so I could learn more about her and the type of cuisine in which she specializes. If you have a budding chef in your life or just want to learn more about badass women busting glass ceilings, I highly recommend this wonderful book. 


Niki Nakayama: A Chef's Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak and Debbie Michiko Florence, illustrated by Yuko Jones
Published: September 14, 2021
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 40
Genre: Picture book biography
Audience: Primary/middle grade
Disclosure: Library Copy
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

Monday, October 18, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10-18-21



I
t'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.

Hi friends! Over on TikTok, I am having fun making book and dog-related content. Sometimes at the same time:

@bibliophilebeth

“I see you have tacos (and dragons). I too, enjoy tacos.” –Hazel Grace ##StudentSectionSauce ##tacos ##fyp ##foryoupage ##booktok ##frenchiesoftiktok

♬ Taco Dragon Tango - Puppy Songs


Last week I had the honor of participating in the blog your for Anne Ursu's new book The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy



I also recently read and enjoyed:
Survivor Tree by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker
Recently there have been quite a few picture books to come out about the 9/11 Survivor Tree, so it takes a lot to make each one stand out. With this book, what stands out is when the single turn of a page makes you gasp and leave you speechless, you know you've experienced something special.


Let Me Fix You a Plate: A Tale of Two Kitchens by Elizabeth Lilly
A heartfelt and nostalgic celebration of family, diversity, and food


Tomatoes for Neela by Padma Lakshmi, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
A mouth-watering book about food, family, and tradition


Every Cake Has a Story by Christina Tosi, illustrated by Emily Balsley
I love that Christina Tosi of MILK BAR wrote a children's book about expanding your palate beyond just plain old vanilla cake. Not only did this book make me hungry, but it made me want to order a cake from MILK BAR as soon as humanly possible.


There's a Ghost in This House by Oliver Jeffers
Oliver Jeffers ingeniously uses vellum throughout this book as a way to overlay pages so that, in a brilliant use of dramatic irony, the reader sees the ghosts but the main character does not. I can’t wait to read this one to my students.


Currently reading: 

One Life: Young Readers Edition by Megan Rapinoe






Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Blog Tour: The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu

 Today is the publication date for Anne Ursu's beautiful new novel The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy. Thank you to Walden Pond Press and HarperCollins for inviting me to be part of the blog tour and giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy.  

I am going to let you in on a little secret, dear reader. I normally have a major aversion to fantasy novels. I prefer reading books in this world because I know how to navigate it and fantasy always seems like so much work to me. We all have our biases as readers, right? However, I always make an exception to Anne Ursu's novels because I know that despite the fantasy world she has built, she is  making a social commentary on the world in which we are currently living. And The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is no different. Like Ursu's previous novels, this book deals with themes of feminism and girl power, this time with a particular focus on women and girls who have to follow along with the leadership of mediocre men (and women who want proximity to power) who gaslight them.

About the Book:

If no one notices Marya Lupu, it’s likely because of her brother, Luka. And that’s because of what everyone knows: Luka is destined to become a sorcerer.

The Lupus might be from a small village far from the capital city, but that doesn’t matter. Every young boy born in Illyria may possess the rare ability to wield magic, to protect the country from the terrifying force known only as the Dread. For all the hopes the family has for Luka, no one has any for Marya, who can never seem to do anything right. But even so, no one is prepared for the day that the sorcerers finally arrive to test Luka for magical ability, and Marya makes a terrible mistake. Nor the day after, when the Lupus receive a letter from a place called Dragomir Academy — a mysterious school for wayward young girls. Girls like Marya.

Soon she is a hundred miles from home, in a strange and unfamiliar place, surrounded by girls she’s never met. Dragomir Academy promises Marya and her classmates a chance to make something of themselves in service to one of the country’s powerful sorcerers. But as they learn how to fit into a world with no place for them, they begin to discover things about the magic the men of their country wield, as well as the Dread itself — things that threaten the precarious balance upon which their country is built.

About the Author:

Anne Ursu is the author of the acclaimed novels The Lost Girl, Breadcrumbs, and The Real Boy, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. The recipient of a McKnight Fellowship Award in Children’s Literature, Anne is also a member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Minneapolis with her family and an ever-growing number of cats. You can visit her online at www.anneursu.com.


PRAISE FOR THE TROUBLED GIRLS OF DRAGOMIR ACADEMY

A wonderful and inspiring feminist fantasy.” – Kirkus

"An accessible, timely school story with a rather Transylvanian flavor to its fantasy setting. Ursu explores girls’ conditioning in timidity and shame in a male-dominated world and, ultimately, envisions a hopeful, female-determined future of magical ability." - Horn Book Magazine

“A suspenseful tale woven with secrets and magic, with a gasp-worthy twist at the end, The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is everything I love about fantasy. Spell-binding.” - Christina Soontornvat, Newbery Honor-winning author of A Wish in the Dark

“Anne Ursu practices her own brand of sorcery—the ability to craft wondrous, magical stories that are unlike anything you’ve ever read. Another extraordinary tale from a remarkably talented author.” - Erin Entrada Kelly, Newbery Medal-winning author of Hello, Universe

"A thoughtful and incisive story of lies told to control people and the complicated girls who ask questions, push back, and keep fighting." - Tui Sutherland, New York Times-bestselling author of the Wings of Fire series

“It’s no secret that Anne Ursu is a gifted storyteller. The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy is intricately plotted and compulsively readable, with characters who will stay with you long after you stop reading. I could not put it down.” - Aisha Saeed, New York Times bestselling author of Amal Unbound

"The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy manages the particular magic of being both a true fantasy novel and a clear-eyed reflection of the here-and-now. Bighearted, generous, and outstandingly original, this is a story only Anne Ursu could write."- Elana K. Arnold, award-winning author of The House That Wasn't There


Here are two upcoming virtual author events with Anne Ursu:

Tuesday October 13, 2021 at 7 pm CT Anne will launch her book in a virtual conversation with Laura Ruby, hosted by the RED BALLOON BOOKSHOP in St. Paul Minnesota.Click here for more information. We hope you will join us!

October 26, 2021 at 6 pm CT Anne will be in conversation with Kelly Barnhill, hosted by WILD RUMPUS BOOKS in Minneapolis.Please click here for more information. We hope you will join us then as well!


BLOG TOUR STOPS

October 12 A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust

                     Unleashing Readers

October 13 Read Wonder

October 14 Nerdy Book Club

October 15 A Library Mama

October 16 Maria’s MĆ©lange

October 17 By Singing Light

October 18 Bluestocking Thinking

October 20 Insatiable Readers

Monday, September 27, 2021

It's Monday! What are you reading? 9-27-21

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.

Hi friends! Over on TikTok this week, I was busy making some fun book-related videos:

@bibliophilebeth

But also, I’m gonna interrogate you about your likes and dislikes cuz I got lots of recommendations but we’re gonna need to narrow it down ##booktok

♬ Its What I Do by teezeesounds - teezeesounds

@bibliophilebeth

When you have to replenish book displays after 7th grade leaves ##happylibrarian ##librariansoftiktok ##schoollibrarian ##booktok

♬ Happy - Pharrell Williams

Last week I read and enjoyed:

When We Make It by Elizabet Velasquez
Fans of Elizabeth Acevedo will devour this novel in verse by Elisabet Velasquez. This is the story of Sarai and the daily struggles of living in poverty in Brooklyn as the child of first generation Puerto Ricans. The writing in this novel in verse is beautiful; I particularly love that Velasquez uses Spanglish throughout the narrative, but doesn't feel compelled to translate for her monolingual readers, choosing instead to ask them to use context clues or to seek the translations on their own. While the writing was beautiful and kept me turning pages, the story is a difficult read and one that felt short on hope, which is ultimately why it took me longer to read this book than it typically does for a novel in verse. Sarai's family situation -- an emotionally distant mother in addition to their dire financial situation-- is one that many young (and not-so-young) readers will certainly identify with, but doesn't make it any less difficult to read about. I chalk this up to a book that is a necessary but difficult read.


Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd, illustrated by Christian Robinson
A stunning tribute to Nina Simone. The writing is engaging while the pictures draw you in and beg you to pore over them and ask questions. I could totally see a Caldecott sticker on this in January.


Magic Like That by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Geneva Bowers

A book filled with all kinds of Black Girl Magic as a young girl admires all the ways her hair is adaptable as it is styled by her mama.

Kids love reading about poop. And this book pairs poop with a water-borne disease epidemic that is certain to make this an interesting and timely read for kids.


War by Jose Jorge and Andrea Letria
With both spare text and illustrations, and each page a new metaphor for war, this book will get (older) kids thinking about the toll and cost of war and lead to fruitful discussions.


Currently reading:

The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy by Anne Ursu


Currently reading with my ears: 

Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai