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

Finding comfort in the unthinkable: Morning Sun in Wuhan

Morning Sun in Wuhan, by Yin Chang Compestine, (Nov. 2022, Clarion Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780358572053

Ages 8-12

Award-winning kidlit, YA, and cookbook author Yin Chang Compestine brings readers into the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic’s early days in Wuhan, China. Mei is a 13-year-old girl grieving the loss of her mother and spending her days playing Chop Chop, an online cooking game. One of her friends asks for Mei’s help in getting medical attention for her ill grandmother, who can’t get a doctor’s appointment. Mei, whose father is a doctor at the local hospital, heads to the hospital when she can’t get in touch with her father, only to discover that the hospital is overcrowded, its staff stretched to their limits. Mei returns home and discovers, via the news, that a virus is spreading across Wuhan; determined to help her community, Mei turns to her friends to come up with a game plan: to turn her passion for cooking into a way to keep the people in her community fed.

Morning Sun in Wuhan gives readers a glimpse into the fear, uncertainty, and panic that COVID brought to Wuhan, but it’s ultimately an uplifting story of family and community.. Mei, grieving her mother’s death and feeling torn between her maternal aunt and her father, finds purpose in these early days. She uses the tools available to her: food, computer skills, and a talent for organizing, to bring her friends together to cook, pack, and deliver meals to the people in her neighborhood where the local services stumble. She is able to keep an eye and an ear on her neighbors, giving the elderly the comfort of knowing someone is there and cares.

Yin Chang Compestine’s writing brings the sights, scents, and sounds of Wuhan to readers, with rich descriptions of the historic and present-day city. Her cookbook authorship shines through in her mouth-watering descriptions of her food, and her characters come to life in her pages. Originally from Wuhan, Yin Chang Compestine’s Morning Sun in Wuhan is a love letter to the resilience of Wuhan’s people.

An incredible book that should make its way to current events reading lists. Keep your eyes on Yin Chang Compestine’s author webpage; many of her books have free downloadable resources available, and as the pub date for Wuhan gets closer, I expect we will see some good resources available.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Life in the Extraordinary Pause

The Extraordinary Pause, by Sara Sadik/Illustrated by Karine Jaber, (Sept. 2021, Eifrig Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9781632333070

Ages 4-8

As we finish up Year 2 of… *sweeping gesture* all of this, it’s comforting to have a book remind you of things we’ve gained. The Extraordinary Pause is one of those books. Beginning with a recap of where we were before: our nonstop society, consumed by devices, had stopped noticing our surroundings; even each other. And at that point, the virus – depicted as a spiky orange monster – creeped in, and we all stayed home, where we discovered each other – and our surroundings – once again, on a more personal level. We cooked together, played together, learned together, and slowly, that “extraordinary pause” brought everything back. Sure, things are different now, but we’re figuring out how to live with things the way they are now. Illustrator Karine Jaber brings Sara Sadik’s quiet storytelling to life, touching on things kids will remember most from the pause that went for almost two years: empty classrooms, shuttered stores, isolated parks and playgrounds. Together, they also mention the things kids will remember with fondness, like learning at home, parents at their sides; sharing family time; and most important of all, those hugs we missed when reunited with family and friends. Karine Jensen uses color with great thought, giving weight to the things we “forgot” before the pause, like green spaces, as we rush around in our monochromatic lives. Home spaces and interactions are warmly colored. Back matter includes questions to think about with readers, inviting them to think and talk about how their lives changed during the pause. A QR code lets readers scan for more resources.

A good addition to social-emotional learning collections, and a strong testament to what we’ve come through.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Always look for the rainbows.

There Is a Rainbow, by Theresa Trinder/Illustrated by Grant Snider, (Jan. 2021, Chronicle Books), $15.99, ISBN: 9781797211664

Ages 4-6

Written in the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, There is a Rainbow is about coming through the dark times to the other side. Presented in simple statements, it’s a story of opposites; of going through the hard to get to the better; of our connections to one another, and ultimately, about rainbows. There are kids learning on screens; there are Black Lives Matter signs; there are thank-yous to heroes, all reflecting moments we lived through last year. There is also a thread of hope, in the form of the ever-present rainbow, encouraging us to keep going, because, as the book notes, “On the other side of a storm, there is a rainbow. On the other side of today, there is tomorrow.” For those of us who have come through so much, it’s a supportive message that pushes us to keep moving toward that light at the end of the tunnel. For future generations, There Is a Rainbow will stand as a testament to a moment in time where we stood, resilient, together against unbelievable events. An author’s note talks about writing the book during the pandemic. Grant Snider’s colored pencil artwork adds a gentle touch to the text, but shows strength in the details: trees standing in the wind, a chalk rainbow refusing to wash away in the rain, a series of cheery rainbows hanging in the windows, celebrating our first responders. Download a free activity kit and encourage your littles to talk about their feelings from the past year. Pair with Smriti Prrasadam-Halls and David Litchfield’s Rain Before Rainbows for an inspiring storytime.

School Library Journal calls There Is a Rainbow the “perfect pandemic book”. Can’t put it any better than that. There Is a Rainbow has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Books about masking up

Welp, it’s almost the end of the year and we’re still wearing masks. I remember back in April when I ordered masks for my Kiddo and I and thinking, “Geez, they’re backordered 8 weeks? By the time I get them, we won’t need masks anymore.”

So here we are, still masking up – most of us, anyway, but that’s not for me to get into here. It’s hard to explain to littles that they need to keep their masks on, sometimes for an entire school day, depending on where you are. Once again, children’s book authors have our backs. Here are a couple of new ones to help kids work it out.

We Wear Masks, by Marla Lesage, (Nov. 2020, Orca Book Publishers), $19.95, ISBN: 9781459828797

Ages 3-5

This rhyming book takes all the stress out of wearing a mask by showing kids all the people who wear masks for their work or hobbies: ranchers, who wear bandanas around their faces to keep bugs out of their noses and mouths (yuck!); jet pilots, who wear them to breathe; deep sea explorers, actors, and superheroes all wear masks! Transitioning into current events, the verse moves into “everyday heroes” wearing masks, like doctors and nurses, and how wearing a mask can be super helpful: a stinky diaper isn’t so bad when you’re wearing a mask, after all! By encouraging fun, imaginative play, finding a mask that matches one’s style, and emphasizing that we wear masks to show we care for and respect others, this is a lovely little book for younger readers. The artwork is colorful and soft, with a variety of characters wearing a variety of masks in different situations: for example, a duo uses masks with a clear area around the mouth while communicating via sign language; the picture illustrates how different masks are available to accommodate different needs. A cute story that will work nicely in storytimes. Add some fun by handing out mask coloring pages and let kids design their own. There are so many great freebies on Teachers Pay Teachers, like this super-cute mask and social distancing coloring page set, and this super-cute clip art set with animals in masks!

 

 

 

Remember to Smile, by Shannon Q. McDonald, (Aug. 2020, Independently Published), $12, ISBN: 978-0578745497

Ages 4-7

Another cute rhyming book about masks, this is all about finding a mask that fits your style: you can wear a shell mask, like a mermaid, wear a team mask to cheer on your favorite football team, and you can wear masks while hanging roasting s’mores. Just don’t let a dragon wear a mask, unless you want the whole place to burn down! It may not be fun to wear a mask all the time, but remember to smile and have fun. That’s the best thing we can do while we keep the germs away, right? A cute story, illustrated with pastels and loaded with fantasy artwork like mermaids, dragons, and unicorns, this is more about boosting your spirits and looking for the fun in the middle of the chaos. The decorate your own mask crafts I mentioned above will work really well here; encourage kids to find their style!

Remember to Smile supports the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Teachers and Students through the nonprofit organization AdoptAClassroom.org. For more information, head over to RememberToSmile.org.

Posted in Uncategorized

New York Families: You can still get remote learning devices for your children!

Hi all, figured as a New Yorker, this was the easiest way for me to get the word out and around. If you have NYC public school students, you are STILL ABLE to get a device for your kids to continue Remote Learning from home. Please read the below message from the NYC Department of Education.

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) has translated information into multiple languages. Please view here.

Families that want to request a device should call DOE at 718-935-5100 and choose Option 5 on the menu for help getting a device with internet connection. Or they can fill out the Remote Learning Device Request form at https://coronavirus.schools.nyc/RemoteLearningDevices. DOE will use the contact information provided on the form to reach out to the family to schedule delivery of the device.
Everyone who fills out a request form online, with a staff member, or over the phone, will be sent follow up emails and texts.
 
  • Priority will be given to students most in need.
  • All devices are granted on a temporary basis and will later need to be returned.
  • There is a limit of one device per student. You must fill out a separate form for each student who needs a device.
  • There is no need to call the DOE or 311 to check on the status of the device.
 
PLEASE get your kids the technology they need! Be safe.