Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Meet Dominguita!

Dominguita Melendez is a third grader who loves books! When her abuela (grandmother) has to move to Florida to live with her sister, Dominguita comes up with a way to share their mutual loves of books with one another: by finding adventures in all the books her abuela left her. Definitely Dominguita is a great intermediate series for kids – there’s an adventure that introduces them to classics titles in every book, and sets those stories on city streets, where kids can see themselves and even think about recreating their own favorite books.

Knight of the Cape (Definitely Dominguita #1), by Terry Catasús Jennings/Illustrated by Fátima Anaya, (March 2021, Aladdin), $17.99, ISBN: 9781534465039

Ages 6-9

Dominguita misses her abuela and her best friend, both of whom have moved away. She spends her recess time reading in the schoolyard until the school bully makes fun of her, her choice of reading – Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes – and tells her girls can’t be knights. Incensed, Dominguita is determined to become a knight AND have her brother Rafi write about her adventures to share with Abuela! She and Rafi put together an outfit worthy of a knight, and transforms into Dom Capote: Knight of the Cape! Along her travels, she gains a steed (the local stray dog, Roco) and a companion, Pancho Sanchez, who sees through her grand plans to keep things real. In this wonderful re-imagining of Don Quixote, a young girl uses her creativity and her love of books to see herself in her own stories, based on the classics. Dom is fun, likable, and smart; all of the characters receive backgrounds with a foundation to build future adventures, and black and white illustrations add visual reference for readers. A great new series to introduce to intermediate readers.

 

Captain Dom’s Treasure (Definitely Dominguita #2), by Terry Catasús Jennings/Illustrated by Fátima Anaya, (March 2021, Aladdin), $17.99, ISBN: 9781534465060

Ages 6-9

Dominguita and her friends, Pancho and Sarah, are back in their second adventure! This time, inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Dom goes from Dom Capote to Captain Dom and discovers a treasure map on a trip to the library! After some quick research, Dom and her friends discover that the map is linked to a robbery that happened in her neighborhood back in 1967 – a mystery that she and her friends need to solve and put things to rights! But a boy Pancho refers to as “Juan Largo” (Long John) has been following them around, saying he’s there to be a babysitter… a story that the group finds a lot of holes in. Can Dom and her friends find the treasure and save the day, or will Long John beat them to it? While it’s not necessary to read these books in order, it’s much more fun to see the progression of the characters from the first story to the second. The action unfolds with parallels to Treasure Island, and gives us an idea as to what the next adventure will be. Kids are going to love getting to know these characters and figuring out the mysteries with them. How much fun would a kids’ book club be, using Dom’s adventure as a jumping-off point for young reader versions of the featured classics?

Psst… All for One is due in August and Sherlock Dom is coming in November. You may want to start booktalking The Three Musketeers and Sherlock Holmes now.

Posted in Uncategorized

Books from Quarantine: Six Angry Girls

Six Angry Girls, by Adrienne Kisner, (Jul. 2020, Feiwel & Friends), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250253422

Ages 12+

This girl power teen novel is a fantastic story of friendship, knitting, and smashing the patriarchy. Raina Petree is on track to have a great senior year until her boyfriend dumps her, her drama club leaves her in the lurch, and her college dreams aren’t as secure as she initially thought they were. Meanwhile, Millie Goodwin is tired of being her father’s servant, and when her Mock Trial team votes her out in favor of lesser-qualified, newer guys – even after she’s been the backbone of the team for the last three years – she has HAD IT. Raina turns to an advice column for help on getting over Brandon, the ex-boyfriend, leading her to take up knitting as a hobby; a hobby that leads to a meeting of the minds with Millie, and the two come up with the ultimate idea: start their own Mock Trial team. There are no rules against it, and they manage to find a mentor in their school librarian. Now, they just have to fill the open spots on the team – with girls who are sick and tired of being discounted and looked down on by the boys and men who think they’re calling all the shots. It’s time to pick up the knitting needles, study those legal briefs, and take down the patriarchy.

With a fantastic cast of multicultural characters that smash the gender spectrum, Adrienne Kisner has given readers a group of characters that we’d all want to hang out with. They’re smart, driven, and fed up with B.S., whether it’s from a teacher, an ex-boyfriend or fellow student, or a parent. It’s such an upbeat book, filled with major crossroad moments and stand up and cheer scenes while taking on some very big issues. It’s an excellent discussion book that will spark deep conversations.

I loved this book and would gladly shout this out to my library teens. Give this to your Moxie fans and your Ashley Poston readers. And start a knitting club at your library to get them talking!

Check out Adrienne Kisner’s author webpage for more information about her books, links to her blog and social media, and to sign up for her newsletter.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Bethan Wollvin’s Girl-Power Fairy Tales: Rapunzel

Rapunzel, by Bethan Woollvin, (Oct. 2017, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-68263-003-7

Recommended for readers 3-8

Last year, Bethan Woollvin gave readers Little Red; her spin on Little Red Riding Hood. Little Red didn’t need a huntsman to help her out; she had things handled. Woollvin’s newest tale, Rapunzel, gives us another heroine who can take care of herself.

The story starts out the same: kidnapped by a witch, living in a tower, the witch climbs up her hair, snips it to sell, and threatens her. But Rapunzel isn’t worried – she’s too smart for that. She starts figuring out that if the witch can use her hair to get in, Rapunzel can use her own hair to get out. We see her exploring the forest, reading a book called, “How to Defeat Witches”, and we just know this isn’t a princess that needs saving. Heck, no prince even shows up in this story. When the witch confronts Rapunzel after discovering she’s been out, the girl takes matters into her own hands. Literally. And that, my friends, is that: Rapunzel is free and becomes the bane of witches everywhere.

I  love Woollvin’s flipped fairy tales! The two-color art stands out; it’s dramatic and bright. Where Little Red was black and red, Rapunzel is, naturally, yellow and red. The endpapers give readers the short version of the story: the opening endpapers show a witch pursuing Rapunzel through the forest, and the closing endpapers show her masked, on a horse, with two witches hiding from her this time. The art is simple, fun, and gets to the point. Readers can make their own Rapunzels and witches (or Little Reds) with printables aplenty – hold a flipped fairy tale/girl power storytime and let your readers transform!

A great add to storytime collections and fairy tale bookshelves everywhere!

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

Momma, let your babies grow up to be feminists: A look at Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie

Moxie, by Jennifer Mathieu, (Sept. 2017, Roaring Brook Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626726352

Recommended for readers 13+

This is one of the best books I will read this year. Vivian is a high schooler who is just DONE. She lives in a small Texan town that lets the football team run wild. They get away with chauvinist garbage all day long, from wearing explicit t-shirts, to telling girls to “make me a sandwich”, to groping in the hallways. The teachers – and the principal, whose son is the star player on the team – all dismiss the girls’ concerns. They have routine clothing checks to make sure the girls’ clothing doesn’t “tempt” the guys. This, my friends, happens every day in schools all over the U.S.

Vivian has had enough. The daughter of a 90’s Riot Grrl, she takes action by anonymously starting up a ‘zine called Moxie; initially, the ‘zine is her way of blowing off steam, but girls at school start responding. They answer Moxie’s call, whether it’s to identify one another by doodling stars on their hands, or showing up to protest dress code checks by wearing bathrobes and fuzzy slippers. Vivian isn’t the only one sick of the old guard. The girls’ soccer team has been wearing uniforms older than dirt, so Moxie Girls – as the girls name themselves – hold a bake sales and craft fairs to raise money for new uniforms. The girls at school unite thanks to Moxie, and before she realizes what’s happened, Vivian finds herself leading a movement from within.

I ADORE this book. It’s as empowering for women as it is for teens, who must read this book. I loved Viv’s mom as much as I did Viv, because I get that mom. She keeps her Riot Grrl stuff in a box labeled, “My Misspent Youth”; she’s working to pay the bills, relies on her parents probably a little more than she’d like, and she’s just damned tired. Riot Grrls don’t die; we’re still here, we just have a lot of stuff to do, man. But look to our kids. Viv may be the “good girl” at school, but once she’s fed up, she falls back on some solid third-wave feminism and makes a ‘zine while listening to Bikini Kill. It’s a call to action for every single person who picks up this book, and we’re not leaving the boys out this time: Viv’s boyfriend shows up for her, always supports her. But it’s Viv who is the strong character here, making him understand that the “not all guys” thinking is a cop-out, or even holding her relationship at arm’s length to figure things out.

Moxie is everything good and important about feminism and YA fiction, and if you haven’t added it to your TBR yet, you need to go do that right now. Go make a ‘zine while you wait; here’s a link to my meager Pinterest board so far. And if you can’t wait until Moxie hits shelves in a week, read an excerpt from feminist YA novel ‘Moxie’ from EW magazine.  Amy Poehler’s production company already has the film rights, so that should tell you volumes about the excitement behind this book.

 

Posted in Adventure, Espionage, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Bridget returns in Spy to the Rescue!

bridgetwilderBridget Wilder: Spy to the Rescue, by Jonathan Bernstein, (May 2016, Katherine Tegen Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062382696

Recommended for ages 9-13

Middle school spy-in-the-making Bridget Wilder is not having a great re-entry to “normal” society after being recruited by her former super-spy biological father in Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training. The agency that recruited her? Fake. Her super spy dad? Retired, and wants a “normal” relationship with his daughter (read: BORING). Her obnoxious brother is dating someone even more annoying, her best friend has moved across the country, and she’s being framed by someone for stealing cheerleading secrets AND ruining the birthday party of the season! Bridget senses something amiss, though; her spy instincts kick in and she decides to investigate.

Just when you think you’re about to read a fun, fluff middle school drama about mean girls, though, Jonathan Bernstein hits you with the real story: Bridget’s dad goes missing, and she’s pulled back into the spy game. Mean girls have nothing on an international crime syndicate, and Bridget’s going to need all of her skills, plus some new ones, to save her dad, her family, and herself.

I LOVED this book. Written in the first person from Bridget’s point of view, we get a narrator who’s 100% tween/teen girl: smart, funny, sarcastic, and a good kid who cares about her often wacky, extended family. I also love that we get an adopted heroine – yay for adoptees! – who refers to her parents and her siblings as her parents and her siblings, not her “adoptive family” like we see ad nauseum (I’m looking at you, Olympic coverage of Simone Biles and her family). Bridget has her family, and when her long-last dad reappears, he wants a relationship with her, but it’s her choice, and it involves her whole family; it’s not this long last dad appears, daughter runs off with him like the family who raised her never existed scenario, and I am grateful to Jonathan Bernstein for giving us a great, positive portrayal of an adoptee’s relationship to her family. Her entire family. It’s a bit of a touchy spot, being an adoptee myself, so when I find good writing, I applaud it.

But back to the story. Spy to the Rescue is fast-paced and fun. There’s some intrigue, there’s a lot of action, great dialogue, and continued strong character development. I booktalked Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training to my Corona Kids during my Spy Week program at the library, and they loved it, especially coming off the Spy Kids movie day, when they were empowered to be spies and save the grownups for a change. Wait until I put this one on the shelves, and let them know that a third book will be coming next year.

If you have action fiction fans, spy fans, or kids who enjoy a good book with a nice dose of girl power, add Bridget Wilder to your collection. Check out Jonathan Bernstein’s author webpage for more about Bridget and her author, Jonathan Bernstein.

Check out the book trailer for Spy in Training right here:

Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Blog Tour: Beautiful, by Stacy McAnulty

beautiful_1Beautiful, by Stacy McAnulty, (Sept. 2016, Running Press), $16.95, ISBN: 978-0-7624-5781-6

“Every girl is unique, talented, and lovable… Every girl is BEAUTIFUL.”

Sure, sugar and spice and everything nice, is fine for some, but snips, snails and puppy dog tails are pretty great, too. Stacy McAnulty’s Beautiful sends an empowering message: You can be beautiful when you’re dressed like a pirate, when you’re digging in the garden, or you’re creating your own robot army. Loving yourself is beautiful, and Stacy McAnulty’s empowering message is conveyed by Joanne Lew Vriethoff’s gorgeous artwork, which shows beautiful little girls in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities, laughing, having fun, being brilliant, and being beautiful.

This is the best kind of diverse book, because it encourages, it empowers, all kids to embrace life and joy. The message is clear, with pictures that interpret the text in the best way:

BEAUTIFUL_int.indd

BEAUTIFUL_int.indd

The endpapers carry this celebration of beauty by featuring a field of pink, with crayon-drawn butterflies and flowers, and overlaid with brightly colored frogs, bugs, and snails.

This book is for everyone: for the little girl who knows she wants to be the president-ballerina-astronaut when she grows up; for her mom, who wanted (and maybe achieved) the same. For the dad whose little princesses sing “Let it Go” while playing with their Transformers, and the brothers whose sisters are right next to them, scaling a tree on a lazy day. Boys and girls, men and women alike, all need Beautiful in their lives, to remind them to embrace all forms of beauty where they discover them.

You can pre-order Beautiful from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound. You can also add it to your GoodReads.

Make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the BEAUTIFUL blog tour!

8/29 Flowering Minds
8/30 Kids’ Book Review
8/31 My Word Playground
9/1 Stacking Books
9/2 Unpacking the POWER of Picture Books
9/3 MomReadIt
9/5 Enjoy Embrace Learning
9/6 Geo Librarian
9/7 A Foodie Bibliophile
9/8 MamaBelly
9/10 Diapers and Daydreams
9/11 The Late Bloomer’s Book Blog
9/12 Unconventional Librarian