Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

#SockontheLoose!

We’ve all been there. We open the dryer, we start sorting the socks… and there’s one missing. Where could it have gone? You know you put all the socks in at the same time, right? Well, friends, Conor McGlauflin has the answer for you…

Sock on the Loose, by Conor McGlauflin, (Feb. 2021, Roaring Brook Press),
$18.99, ISBN: 9781250304575
Ages 3-6

Sock on the Loose is about all the adventures our socks are having while they take a break from being stuck in our drawers or on our feet. They’re learning to tie bow ties and hiding out in watermelon caves! Riding moose and dancing the  polka! Watercolor and gouache artwork show colorful socks in a variety of pastimes, and his rhyme is infectiously cheery. Get some socks of your own – you know you have a pile of mismatched ones at home – and wash ’em again, either handing some out for sock storytime or decorating for your own virtual storytime use. TwistyNoodle has printable sock coloring sheets for you to hand out – let your kiddos decorate them, cut them out, and send them on their own adventures! Publisher Roaring Brook Press also has a free, downloadable Sock On The Loose Activity Kit that includes a maze, matching game, and draw your favorite sock activities.

If you wander over to Twitter (@roesolo) or Instagram (@roesolo), you’ll find out what my own sock has been up to – Roaring Brook Press and Conor McGlauflin have been kind enough to send me a sock of my very own to chronicle adventures.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hats, Hats, Hats!

Now That’s a Hat!, by Heath McKenzie, (Jan. 2021, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781684642212

Ages 3-6

A customer strolls into a hat store and would like a new hat. But that one’s too big, and that one’s too small… the proprietor is showing off everything he’s got, will they be able to find the just right hat? Hilariously manic, with a rhyme scheme that gets progressively more frantic with each outrageous hat. The story is almost Seuss-like, with a dog and a goat going back and forth on presenting and refusing the wild headgear: stripes, Roman helmets, potties, tacos, nothing is too wild for this hat store! The twist ending will make readers gleefully giggle as they imagine events happening all over again. Artwork and endpapers are bright, bold, and feature hats of all shapes and sizes. A fun readaloud that should definitely lead to silly hat making. Get your construction paper out!

Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Booktalk this Book: Dress Coded

Dress Coded, by Carrie Firestone, (July 2020, GP Putnam), $17.99, ISBN: 9781984816436

Ages 9-13

I’ve been killing myself with anticipation over this book since I received the early galley last year. I finally put everything else aside and finished this in a day, because it’s that good. Told in short chapters and including podcast transcripts, text messages, and letters, Dress Coded is a perfect snapshot of what it’s like being a young woman in middle school today. Molly Frost is fed up: fed up with her vape-addicted brother, who’s wreaked havoc on her family; fed up with feeling invisible at school, and fed up with the school’s dress code, which seems hardwired solely to embarrass and harass female students of a certain body type. It all blows up the day her friend Olivia is humiliated by the dean and principal for wearing a tank top at school and refusing to take her sweatshirt off her waist to put it back on – a reason that makes itself clear as the story progresses. Several of Molly’s friends have been “dress coded” for similar offenses, and the humiliation and frustration are far greater than the suspected offense. Molly starts a podcast, Dress Coded, where girls speak up about their dress coding experiences and the mental and emotional fallout from run-ins with staff. The podcast grows into a movement to remove the dress code, and Molly, at the center of it, finds the power within her to stand up to her brother and the school bully, and the ability to help other girls find their voice. A primer in middle school activism and a scathing indictment of how women’s bodies are weaponized and sexualized from a young age, Dress Coded is simply essential reading. Please, educators, put this on your summer reading lists!

Dress Coded is author Carrie Firestone’s middle grade debut. I can’t wait to see what else she’s going to give my middle graders. The book is a Booklist Editors’ Choice Selection, a Texas Lone Star Reading List Selection, and a Rise: Feminist Book Project Selection. It has starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. Submit your own dress coding story at Carrie Firestone’s author webiste, and learn about her other books, workshops, and author inspiration, too.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

No Ordinary Jacket: memories preserved in clothing

No Ordinary Jacket, by Sue-Ellen Pashley/Illustrated by Thea Baker, (Aug. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536209662

Ages 3-7

Amelia’s got a special jacket. It’s no ordinary jacket; it’s “soft, like dandelion fluff… warm, like the afternoon sun… comforting, like a hug from y our favorite teddy bear. And it had four dazzling buttons down the front”. She wears the jacket everywhere, but eventually, she grows out of it. Her sister Lilly inherits the jacket, and she loves it, too. Lilly also grows out of it, but she puts it on her favorite doll, and later, uses the jacket to keep her cat and brand new litter of kittens warm. When Mom rediscovers the old, dirty jacket covered in cat fur, she decides it has to go. But how can you let go of such a wonderful jacket with so many memories? Luckily, Mom comes up with an even better idea that makes everyone happy. A heartwarming story about memories and physical objects, readers will love this comforting story. It’s reassuring to know that favorite objects don’t have to outlive their use and can take on new life as something different; sharing and making new memories as the years pass. The collage artwork is beautiful, giving texture and life to each spread. The tapestry jacket looks comfortable and warm; you can almost feel the soft cuffs and the woven cloth of the jacket.

These days, upcycling is even more popular; I’ve been making sure to suggest crafts using common household products when I’m doing virtual programming. There are great upcycling ideas for kids all over the Web: Red Tricycle has some good ideas here.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

I loved Under My Hijab!

Under My Hijab, by Hena Khan/Illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel, (Feb. 2019, Lee & Low), $17.95, ISBN: 9781620147924

Ages 4-8

This rhyming tale stars a young girl who observes members of her family and her scout leader, when they wear hijab, and when they don’t. Grandma wears it to work at the bakery, but at home in her kitchen, her hair is up in a bun. When Mama, a doctor, is seeing patients, she wears a pretty, bright hijab tucked into her coat, and at home, her hair is down as she plants her flowers. Auntie, an artist, has a funky hijab with a jewel, and when she’s home helping our narrator hang her own paintings, she’s got an equally funky hairstyle, complete with pink and purple streaks! Each woman in our main character’s life wears a hijab as individual as they are, and as our little friend tries on her own hijab at home, she plays with accessories and dreams of the bright future in front of her.

What a wonderful way to explain hijab to young readers! The colorful, bright Photoshop artwork speaks of individuality and fun, giving realistic, playful life to the upbeat, lively, and informative rhyme. Back matter explains the meaning of hijab and how some women choose to wear it, while others may not, noting that “it can be a beautiful expression of the Islamic faith”.

An absolutely must-add to your collections and storytimes.  Display and booktalk with Saadia Faruqi’s fabulous second grader, Yasmin, author Hena Khan’s award-winning middle grade novel, Amina’s Voice, and Aisha Saeed’s Amal Unbound. There are great Muslim middle grade and YA resources out there, too: here’s a list of picture books from No Time for Flash Cards; list of books from Diversity in YA; here’s a list from Goodreads, and a great list from Teaching While Muslim. There’s a great interview with author Hena Khan on kidlit ambassador extraordinaire John Schu’s blog, too!

Posted in History, Non-Fiction

Book Review: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, by Gina De Angelis (Chelsea House, 2001)

Recommended for ages 10+

The shirtwaist was a high-necked, long-sleeved blouse design popularized by the iconic Gibson Girl image in the early 1900s. At this time, New York boasted about 450 shirtwaist factories, but building codes and labor laws left a lot of room for interpretation. As a result, on March 25, 1911, a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in the Asch Building in downtown Manhattan. Multiple factors – locked doors to prevent workers from leaving early or stealing materials; ineffective and too few fire escapes and elevators, and crowded office conditions among them – caused the deaths of 146 workers, mostly women, many recent immigrants. The fire and the ensuing trial – which exonerated the company’s owners – gave rise to movements pushing for stronger building safety standards and unionization of garment workers, which would help them lobby for better working conditions and better pay.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire of 1911 tells the story of the fire and the aftermath. Black and white photos taken at the scene and the makeshift morgue bring home the pain of the event and drive home the magnitude of the fire. Readers learn that the owners, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, went on to continue business and continue the business violations that caused so many deaths at the Asch Building, having been cleared of any wrong doing because the Asch Building was legally sound. The owners made money after the insurance settlement, causing an outcry among the deceased’s family members. The book also details the story of the garment workers labor movement and takes the reader into present-day sweatshop conditions and the continued fight for safe working conditions and a living wage. 

Cornell University’s Kheel Center for Labor Documentation’s web exhibit with primary and secondary sources, a link to a transcript of Blanck and Harris’ trial, and a bibliography. Nonprofit organization Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, seeking a permanent memorial to the victims, offers an open archive where contributors add their own modern-day remembrances and information and a names map which lists the name, country of origin, New York address, and final resting place of the identified victims.

Short PBS documentary on the Triangle Fire.