This book is brilliant and so incredibly innovative... and it's really hard for me to say a book is innovative given the number of picture books I read every year. This book is still my top contender for the 2023 Caldecott medal.
As with all of Natalie Lloyd's books, it is full of magical realism. There’s a teacher in the story that says a pen is a direct line to a person’s heart. Well, Natalie Lloyd’s pen draws a whole lot of lines to readers’ hearts.
As Berlin falls further and further into the authoritarian grip of the Nazis who are scapegoating Jews and the queer community, Hilde along with the employees and patrons of Café Lila continue to remain quietly hopeful and defiant... until trouble comes loudly knocking on their door.
Just as the title suggests, this YA historical fiction in verse by Kip Wilson is dazzling. Berlin is my favorite city on earth, mostly because there has always been a provocative, defiant, avant-garde, and counter-cultural energy about it. That was true in 2004 when I visited for the first time, and it was certainly true when this novel takes place.
But just as this book is a window into 1930s Germany, it's also an alarming mirror to societies, including American society, that allow idealogues and populists to rise to power.
I’ve never felt so seen and understood as when Cain talks about why people with bittersweet personalities find such joy and satisfaction listening to sad music… because longing is active. It moves us. It compels us. It makes us feel like a missing piece of your soul was just added to the puzzle that is your life. So the next time I sit down at the piano to play Moonlight Sonata and feel that sense of longing despite the fact that I’ve played it dozens of times before, or the next time I get chills listening to a song I love for the first time, I’ll remember why I continue to be moved by the bittersweet.