Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Magnolia Flower introduces children to Zora Neale Hurston

Magnolia Flower, by Zora Neale Hurston, Adapted by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi/Illustrated by Loveis Wise, (Sept. 2022, Amistad Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9780063098312

Ages 4-8

National Book Award Winner Dr. Ibram X. Kendi adapts Zora Neale Hurston’s short story, “Magnolia Flower”, for children in this gorgeous tale of an Afro-Indigenous girl and the man she loves. Magnolia Flower is the daughter of an escaped slave named Bentley and an Indigenous woman named Swift Deer, who “had fled her own trail of tears”. Their daughter, Magnolia Flower, falls in love with a man of letters, but Bentley wants more for his daughter and tries separating the two; Magnolia Flower makes a decision to follow her heart. Dr. Kendi beautifully retells Hurston’s tale for young audiences, assuring that her legacy will continue. Loveis Wise’s digital illustrations have a gorgeous folk art quality to them, with vibrant color and a strong connection to nature. Colorful magnolias embellish the endpapers. Back matter includes a historical note on the setting of “Magnolia Flower” and an author’s note on Hurston’s work. This is the first of six classic works by Hurston that Kendi will adapt for younger audiences. A breathtaking book that deserves a place in any collection.

For more information about Zora Neale Hurston, including reading group guides, excerpts, and syllabi, visit the official website of Zora Neale Hurston’s estate.

Magnolia Flower received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

Posted in Non-Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Chem Class just got even better: Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements : The Powers, Uses, and Histories of Every Atom in the Universe, by Lisa Congdon, (July 2021, Chronicle Books), $22.99, ISBN: 9781452161594
Ages 10-16
Artist/Illustrator and former science teacher Lisa Congdon brings her love of art and science together with this beautifully illustrated book on the elements, and punches it up with trivia, humor, and profiles on the elements and scientists. With sections like “Pee-ew! You Stink!” (sulfur, selenium, bromine, tellurium, and osmium, the stinkier elements) and “The Deadliest Elements” (plutonium, arsenic, lead, polonium, and flourine… kind of self-explanatory), this book brings readers in with interesting facts and fun observations. Did you know that Napoleon’s hair samples showed that he had one hundred times the normal arsenic level in his system when he died in 1821? Or that three different elements are named after a Swedish village where they were discovered? Colorful artwork and a breakdown of the periodic table will keep readers engaged and makes this an essential desk reference. A glossary and an index make up the back matter. Put a copy into circulation, but keep one in your reference section, too; this will be in demand when the new school year begins. A great book for burgeoning scientists!