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

Authors explore an explosive year in 1789

1789: Twelve Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change, edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti, (Sept. 2020, Candlewick Press), $22.99, ISBN: 9781536208733

Ages 12+

America wasn’t the only one feeling growing pains in 1789. Marc Aronson and Susan Campbell Bartoletti, who edited and contributed to 2018’s 1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change, have put together another stellar examination of a contentious year in global history with 1789: Twelve Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change. All-star authors, including Aronson and Bartoletti, Tanya Lee Stone, Steve Sheinkin, Joyce Hansen, and Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson, take on the big events and questions that rocked the world that year: what does “The Rights of Man” mean? White men? Nobles and kings? What about enslaved people and indigenous people? The Bill of Rights was ratified in the United States while France burned toward revolution; fishwives took to the streets and Marie Antoinette’s portrait artist captured the human side of an untouchable royal. Sailors mutinied, slaves told their stories, and mathematicians calculated the digits of pi. Organized into sections entitled “Exhilaration”, “Abomination”, “Inspiration”, and “Conclusions”, essays cover the excitement of change and discovery, the horror of enslavement, and the journey toward progress. It’s a truly holistic view of a pivotal year in history, and each essay broadens the reader’s world as they connect the dots to come away with a full picture of how one event can, like a snowball rolling downhill, engulf all in its path.

Publisher Candlewick offers a sample chapter on their website as well as an educator’s guide. Back matter includes comprehensive author notes, source notes, and a bibliography. 1789 has starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

Posted in Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Rural Voices tells the real stories, no stereotyping

Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America, edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536212105

Ages 13+

When the word “rural” comes to mind, more often than not, so do a certain set of images, not usually complimentary. This anthology, with stories in verse, prose, and art, tells the story of rural life from the points of view of 15 authors across the U.S.: Virginia, Alaska, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, Idaho, Texas, West Virginia, Michiga, and Utah all have representation here, and the storytellers are diverse, giving readers richer insight into rural life. Authors write about studying in McDonald’s before school, because that’s where the decent wifi is; life as a Tejano teen living at the border; coming out to family; being a person of color in a mostly white community. Every story is revealing and does its part to chip away at harmful assumptions.

Posted in Uncategorized

Build up your 5-Minute story libraries!

5-Minute Story collections are big news in my library. Parents love being able to get a volume full of storybooks and only carry one book home. Sometimes, they take the place of the 3 or 4 picture books that are out at the moment, so kids can still take home their favorite story. They’re great gift ideas, too; they economical in an age where we’re laying out upwards of $15 for a picture book. I’ve got a couple to crow about here.

5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown, (Sept. 2019, Silver Dolphin Books), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684128495

Ages 1-6

For anyone who thought Margaret Wise Brown only wrote Goodnight, Moon and The Runaway Bunny, I have news for you: publishers have been working with her estate to publish recently discovered books with new artists for a few years now. This collection of 5-Minute Stories includes eight stories by Ms. Brown, and all have that wonderfully calm cadence that kids love to listen to. Most rhyme, all have the repetition of concepts and sounds that help kids grasp the narrative and jump in after a couple of pages. The stories explore concepts and seasons (Count to 10 With a Mouse; A Song for All Seasons; Sleep Little Angel; All the Families); adventure (Away in My Airplane); nature (The Tickly Spider); and soothe at bedtime (Sleep Little Angel; All the Families; Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears; Wish Upon a Dream). They’re fully illustrated and unabridged, so readers will lose nothing from the picture book to this collection.

It’s a lovely anthology of stories, illustrated with calming pastels and muted colors, featuring adorable mice, spiders, bears, butterflies, and kids. 5-Minute Stories by Margaret Wise Brown is a good volume to keep on hand for your readers, a nice way to introduce reaaders to Margaret Wise Brown beyond her two most famous stories, and a good gift idea to hang onto, whether it’s for a baby shower or for the holidays.

 

Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds, (Sept. 2019, Studio Fun International), $12.99, ISBN: 9780794444341

Ages 2-6

Who loves Mickey Mouse? Any of your Disney fans will love this anthology of 14 stories, all starring the original Mickey Mouse crew: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Huey, Duey, and Louie, Daisy, and Pluto are all here. Stories run about 12-14 pages long; each story is brightly illustrated, has bold, brief sentences, and are good for kids starting at 2 and going up to at least 6. Kids will love seeing Mickey and his friends go camping, help put on a parade, visit an airport, and give a cow a bath! Throw in some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse songs in between stories for extra fun, and have Mickey and friends coloring sheets available.

These are especially helpful for libraries like mine, where many Disney/Mickey books are hard to find, or in formats that get quickly beaten up in circulation. A nice volume like this is a quick and easy go-to for anyone who wants Mickey Mouse stories, and a nice all-in-one to have on hand at home.

 

Disney Stories for 3-Year-Olds, (Sept. 2019, Studio Fun International), $12.99, ISBN: 9780794444358

Ages 3-7

More Disney 5-minute stories! Slightly longer and wordier, these 14 stories are simplified versions of favorite Disney movies, including classic favorites like 101 Dalmations, Lady and the Tramp, and Alice and Wonderland, and newer picks like Aladdin, The Lion King, and Hercules. The colorful pictures depict favorite scenes from each movie, and stories run about 12-14 pages long; sentences are slightly longer and there’s more text on each page, making this a good start to read with 3-year-olds, and to keep reading all the way up through the early grades. I’ve been reading through these with my 2nd grader, and he loves them – he can read most of them on his own, and I love the chance to curl up on the couch with him and read these to him at the end of a long day. Familiarity with the movies brings the chance to talk about the scenes as you read (fair warning: Bambi and Dumbo are in here. My family knows I have refused these two movies since I was 5, and this goes for the stories, too. Get a stunt reader in for you if you need to.) Pair with Disney coloring pages, or pull up your Disney DVDs and make an afternoon of it.

As with Disney Stories for 2-Year-Olds, this is a nice anthology to have handy for kids who want to read through their favorite Disney movies, but are finding the pricing for each book a little much or just can’t find each book available.

Any of the 5-Minute Stories are great gift ideas, great anytime books, and handy go-to books on your storytime shelves.

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

1968: A year of revolution, through the eyes of YA authors

1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change, edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti, (Sept. 2018, Candlewick), $18.99, ISBN: 9780763689933

Ages 12+

1968 was an intense year: we lost Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy to assassins’ bullets; the Vietnam war raged overseas while protests raged here in the States; Olympic athletes raised their hands in protest and military police marched on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Mexico City, killing students and civilians during a protest. Fifty years later, where are we? You may be surprised. Fourteen authors share their memories and discuss pivotal events in 1968 in this anthology. David Lubar (Campfire Weenies and Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series) discusses stand-up comedy in 1968, while Lenore Look (Alvin Ho and Ruby Lu series) researches  the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1968 and the lasting impact on China’s citizens. National Book Award longlist nominee Elizabeth Patridge (Boots on the Ground) unites the anthologies with a running “Nightly News” prose poem that gives readers the stark cost of war: month by month tallies of American combat deaths, Vietnamese enemy combat deaths, and Vietnamese civilian deaths.

Each and every piece in 1968 is oustanding; it’s nonfiction that reads like fiction, bringing readers back to that contentious year. Black and white photos throughout capture moments like the Olympic Black Power salute and choppers over Vietnam. There are small moments and sweeping movements, but each observation helps draw important parallels between where we were and where we are; how much we have changed, and how much we have, sadly, remained the same.

The contributor list is an all-star cast of middle grade and YA writers: Jennifer Anthony, Marc Aronson, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Loree Griffin Burns, Paul Fleischman, Omar Figueras, Laban Carrick Hill, Mark Kurlansky, Lenore Look, David Lubar, Kate MacMillan, Kekla Magoon, Jim Murphy, and Elizabeth Partridge. Publisher Candlewick offers a sample chapter on their website, and I’d love to see a reader’s/educator’s guide written, too. 1968 is an essential add to YA collections, and I’d love to see this on summer reading (and school year reading) lists. This needs to be added to curriculum, DOE.

1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Posted in Historical Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Get Radical with Fierce Young Women from U.S. History!

The Radical Element, edited by Jessica Spotswood, (March 2018, Candlewick), $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-9425-8

Recommended for readers 13+

This anthology gives readers snapshots of young women at pivotal moments in their lives and U.S. history, from 1838 to 1984. Written by YA literary powerhouses including Anna-Marie McLemore (Wild Beauty), Marieke Nijkamp (This is How it Ends), Dhionelle Clayton (The Belles), these 12 stories are about young women who are the “radical element” in their time periods; their communities; their families. A young Jewish woman living in 19th century Savannah, pushing to learn more about her faith; a Cuban immigrant, living in Queens (whoo hoo!) and walking the line between her parents’ traditional world and the new, modern world; a 1950s debutante whose idea for her future doesn’t quite line up with her mother’s.  All of their stories are here, expertly told and starring a fabulous and diverse group of females: multicultural and LGBTQ characters all find a home here.

The authors alone make this a must-add to bookshelves and book collections; the stories contained within present strong characters and exciting adventures, with backstories that still hold relevance for readers today. Characters here deal with gender identity, racism and religious persecution, and sexism. These are perfect for quick reads or to binge read like the best Netflix series. Contributor bios at the end introduce readers to the authors.

The Radical Element, a companion to A Tyranny of Petticoats (2016), has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in Uncategorized

Belfast Noir – Gritty, dark stories from the Emerald Isle

belfast noirBelfast Noir, edited by Adrian McKinty & Stuart Neville (2014, Akashic Books) $15.95, ISBN: 9781617752919

Recommended for ages 18+

Belfast Noir is one of the latest in Akashic Books’ Noir series, spotlighting different cities across the globe. I hadn’t read a good noir story in a while, and I’m always interested in reading a good Irish author, so why not pick up an anthology of Irish noir?

This was my first entrée into Askashic’s noir series, and I was blown away with what I read. The stories, all by Irish writers, all take place in the city of Belfast – a city with a lot of history. That history, particularly the time known as “The Troubles” (the ethnic and nationalist conflict), finds its place here in Belfast Noir, as do other gritty crime stories. Many stories, while dark, are infused with the dark Irish humor I adore. There are 14 short stories in this anthology, including a story from Lee Child, who you may know from the Jack Reacher stories, or his work with Douglas Preston.

This is a great anthology of modern-day noir. The stories are gritty, exploring topics including drug use, brutality, death, and weapons-running. I wouldn’t suggest these for anyone younger than 18, but I do highly suggest them for any adult collection.