Knit Together

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.
Knit Together.jpgTitle: Knit Together
Author/Illustrator: Angela Dominguez
ISBN: 9780803740990
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Dial Books for Young Readers, published b the Penguin Group, c2015.

The unnamed narrator likes to draw and admires her (single?) mother’s fiber arts creations. After trying her own hand at knitting and failing, they collaborate on a creation they can both use. It’s disappointing that she doesn’t ultimately learn how to knit, but it’s also refreshing in a way that a picture book allows the main character to quit trying at something they are unsuccessful. It doesn’t always work that try try again will eventually yield results. It’s a sweet story well-themed for Mother’s Day sharing with bright illustrations.

Homesick for Another World

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.
Homesick for Another World.jpgTitle: Homesick for Another World
Author: Ottessa Moshfegh
ISBN: 9780399562884
Pages: 294 pages
Publisher/Date: Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, c2017.

A collection of short stories that all emphasize the desperate, the desolate, the depraved, and the depressed nature of people as they question and search for connections in their restricted social spheres. A older man attempts to seduce a much younger neighbor during her separation. Another guy tries to seduce his neighbor’s wife into having an affair. A third guy suspects his dead wife of cheating on him during their last vacation together. A struggling actor runs away from home in search of his big break. Two musicians get locked in a practice room. It’s difficult to describe these characters sufficiently in a short blog post. All of them though seem to be seeking validation from others of their worth and existence. Honestly it was a depressing read, and not one I expected or want to repeat.

A Greyhound A Groundhog

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Greyhound A Groundhog.jpgTitle: A Greyhound A Groundhog
Author: Emily Jenkins
Illustrator: Chris Appelhans
ISBN: 9780553498066
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, c2017.

A hound.
A round hound.
A greyhound.
A hog.
A round hog.
A groundhog. (unpaged)

Wordplay is the name of the game in this simply told tongue twister of a story featuring the titular characters romping through a field together and ultimately startling butterflies into the air. Appelhans’ watercolor and pencil illustrations feature minimalist backgrounds that contribute to the charm, with the round beady eyes staring at you from the pages and capturing your attention as the brindled hog and Merle dog enjoy the simple things in life. Made for sharing on a clear spring day, it’s begging to be followed by finding your own dog (or hog) for romping recreation, and a satisfied collapse in a heap, just like the characters.

Jazz Day

Jazz Day.jpgTitle: Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph
Author: Roxane Orgill
Illustrator: Francis Vallejo
ISBN: 9780763669546
Pages: 55 pages
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2016.

In 1958, Art Kane had a crazy idea. Gather as many jazz musicians as possible in one place for a big black-and-white photograph, like a kind of graduation picture. (ix)

A collection of poems inspired by a famous photo of jazz musicians from almost 60 years ago, I’m unsure how much appeal or interest children will have in picking up this publication. Jazz is not something that is played regularly on the modern radio, and has been relegated to a stereotypical niche markets of listeners, such as NPR donors or college students who swing dance. Learning the stories behind the people featured in the photo are interesting, but not the primary goal of the book, which means you can’t even promote it as a collective biography, even though there are short biographies of a select few participants in the back. It’s good that the original photo was included along with a chart for identification purposes, but including the chart in the back matter might mean some readers will miss it entirely. The illustrations, primarily in sepia tones, seem more successful when focusing on a single person or small group than when trying to squeeze the entire group onto a page. There is little action to propel the story since it’s basically the story of how a photo was taken, and the poems cover vignettes of either the participants’ previous experiences or embellished accounts of the day. While I can recognize and pay homage to the historical significance of the photo, it’s going to be a hard hand sell for anyone who isn’t already interested in the topic.

nonfiction mondayThis review is posted in honor of Nonfiction Monday. Take a look at what everyone else is reading in nonfiction this week.

Parachute

Parachute.jpgTitle: Parachute
Author: Danny Parker
Illustrator: Matt Ottley
ISBN: 9780802854698
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (US), (First published by Little Hare Books an imprint of Hardie Grant Egmont (AU)) c2013.

Toby always wore a parachute.

Toby requires a parachute to accomplish his day-to-day tasks like getting out of bed, brushing his teeth, and playing on the playground, because it allows him to feel safe. When stranded in a treehouse without it, Toby takes it step by step to get to safety, and slowly grows our of requiring his safety net. Minimal text allow the digital graphics to show the reality of the situation alongside how Toby must see things with dizzying perspectives, bringing sympathy and understanding to his fear of heights. Whether it’s a real parachute is up for debate, but the fear is definitely real and the conclusion gives hope that someday readers might also overcome their own fears, whether it is of heights like Toby or of something else. Pair with Leslie Patricelli’s Higher! Higher! for two very different view points.

Ghost

Ghost.jpgTitle: Ghost
Series: Track #1
Author: Jason Reynolds
ISBN: 9781481450157
Pages: 181 pages
Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2016.

So on and on it went, the whistle blowing, one by one, boys and girls on the line, sprinting down the straightaway. Each of their times being recorded. Some were faster than others. Actually, most of the vets were pretty fast, but nobody was faster than the pretty boy, Lu. Nobody. And the coach kept saying stuff like, “Lu’s still the one to beat,” which was kinda pissing me off because . . . I don’t know. It just made me think about this kid Brandon at school, who always . . . ALWAYS picked on me. Not even just me, though. He picked on a lot of people, and didn’t nobody ever do nothing about it. They just said stupid stuff like, Can’t nobody beat him. Same kind of rah-rah this bowling-ball-head coach was kicking about this kid, Lu. It’s just . . . ugh. I mean, he was fast, but honestly, he wasn’t that fast. […] (15)

After challenging and holding his own against the fastest kid on the track team, Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw finds himself being recruited to that same team by Coach Brody. Ghost however isn’t used to running for anyone but himself. Training is difficult without the proper shoes, and his natural speed doesn’t always hold up against the training that the other athletes have received. If he keeps getting in trouble at school, he’s going to find himself off the team that he never dreamed he wanted to be a part of, much less stay on.

What I liked most about this story was that it featured an African-American but the plot didn’t revolve around the fact that Ghost was African-American. It wasn’t a civil rights or slavery or gang story. It’s also an appreciated change of pace that we see a sports story that doesn’t revolve around basketball or football or even baseball, but a sport that doesn’t always get its due recognition. While yes, Ghost’s family is not perfect and he’s suffered some things that most families don’t have to face, it was primarily background and the main focus was on Ghost and the track team. His teammates suffer from a variety of issues in their home life, which are easily shared with the group during an intimate gathering, even though they are supposedly secrets that they keep hidden from everyone. Couch becomes a role model and big influence in his life with surprisingly little effort. For someone who never has played or even considered playing a team sport, Ghost also quickly acclimates to the idea of regular practices and following directions and decisions made by this guy he just met. While I can’t speak for the realism of the track meet scenes, I’m glad the focus was on the track practices and events directly related to Ghost’s membership on the team, instead of slowing the pace of the story with extraneous scenes in school or at home. I expected more attitude from Ghost, especially after we see how he and Couch are introduced. But that bravado falls away and never resurfaces to the levels we witnessed initially, which is slightly disappointing that we can’t see a person of color maintain his attitude and assured nature and still succeed. Supposedly the first book in a series, I wonder if future titles are going to focus on Ghost, his other teammates, or some so far unmet character. Overall, an engaging read if you’re willing to overlook the ease with which the characters come together.

The Hueys in the New Sweater

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Hueys in the New Sweater.jpgTitle: The Hueys in the New Sweater
Author/Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
ISBN: 9780399257674
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., c2012.

The thing about the Hueys . . .
. . . was that they were all the same. (unpaged)

The Hueys, clumped like Minions but with pill shaped bodies and stick arms and legs, all look and act identical. Until Rupert decides to knit himself a sweater, punctuating the black and white illustrations with a spot of orange. His differences are first frowned upon but then everyone mimics him and all become different in the same way. Although younger readers might not get the joke, older readers could appreciate the tongue-in-cheek social commentary about trends and individuality in society, and it might lead to a thought-provoking conversation about what differences that are accepted, admired, and desired in society and which ones are not.

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