Read This! Maybe Something Beautiful

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A beautifully illustrated tale written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell of a girl who loves to paint and how she inspires (and works with) a muralist to transform her grey neighborhood. Rafael Lopez’s bright and cheerful colors show a diverse neighborhood coming together to create art. Fun and uplifting read!

Read This! Maybe Something Beautiful

Books for Queer Families: And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three is a picture book account of the true tale of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who formed a bonded pair and raised an egg another couple had abandoned. It is one of the most frequently challenged books in school and public libraries because of its “promotion of the homosexual agenda.” (If only my agenda involved more adorable baby penguins!)

Pros: Such a cute sweet tale, with great illustrations. The book does a great job of describing how Tango’s family is different without making them seem odd or abnormal. Difference as a fact of life, rather than a problem to be overcome.

Cons: It’s a little sad that my favorite book about two dad families is about penguins, but hey, that’s not this book’s fault!

The Bottom Line: Definitely read it! Such a lovely story. Super accessible to every one.

Looking for more books about queer families? You can find the other books I’ve reviewed here.

Books for Queer Families: And Tango Makes Three

Read This! Every Day Birds

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This book is like a beginner’s field guide to birding. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater writes simple rhyming characteristics for twenty different North American birds, which pair beautifully with Dylan Metrano’s cut paper illustrations. I *love* cut paper illustrations, so this book was a winner from the start – and maybe we’ll get a little better at identifying the birds in our area!

Read This! Every Day Birds

Read This! Shoe-la-la!

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This is the book for the moment at our house. Perhaps you have a similarly fancy kid? One in love with glitz, glamour and SHOES?! If so, this rhyming tale by Karen Beaumont, paired with LeUyen Pham’s always fabulous illustrations is a winner. Nothing too brilliant here, but a fun, well-illustrated book for the dress-up set. Frances can basically recite the whole thing to us at this point!

Read This! Shoe-la-la!

What I Read: March 2016

Hey! April is almost over. Not sure how that happened, but still plenty of time left to talk about what I read in March!

I read 8 books in March. Three were non-fiction, five were fiction. Two were on Kindle, one was an Overdrive ebook I read on my phone, two were audiobooks and the remaining three were good old print books. Four books were by writers of color, meeting my 50% goal!

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (2015).
I “read” this on audiobook, and I highly recommend that route. Kaling reads it herself and I think that makes the tale extra humorous. An enjoyable memoir of Kaling’s personal and professional life. I really enjoy how she writes about her work. It’s always interesting to me to see folks relationships to their careers.

The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee (2015).
It took me months to read this book, both because it is over 500 pages, and because I read it on my phone, since DCPL didn’t have Kindle version, but it was so worth it. Just an incredibly important piece of American history. I can see this being used in college history courses for years to come because it is academic, meticulously researched, and incredibly readable. I was aware of the Chinese Exclusion Acts because of research I’ve done at my job, but this country has treated its Asian immigrant abysmally way beyond those acts (which are horrifying enough). Well worth reading. I counted this for Task 10 (a book over 500 pages) of Read Harder 2016.

First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School by Alison Stewart (2013).
Dunbar is a once lauded, now struggling public high school in DC. It started out as the city’s first academically oriented high school for black students and before integration, generations of high achieving African Americans graduated from Dunbar. Integration brought challenges to Dunbar (although not because it was ever truly integrated – but because it went from being a selective high school drawing students from the whole city to a neighborhood school). An interesting look at the history of public education in Washington, DC (and of course, at one school in particular).

How Tía Lola Came to Visit Stay by Julia Alvarez (2001).
The first book in a lovely children’s chapter book series by Julia Alvarez about a brother and sister who move (with their mom) from New York City to Vermont after their parents separate. As the title suggests, Tia Lola comes from the Dominican Republic to stay with the them and livens things up a bit. I read this for Task 16 (first book in a series by a writer of color) of Read Harder 2016.

Hostage Taker: A Novel by Stefanie Pintoff (2015).
If you like a thriller, pick this up. It was one of those books I didn’t want to put it down. Pintoff is a mystery writer you will be happy to discover (this is her third book. The others are historical – and equally good). This hostage drama would make an excellent beach read.

Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George (2016).
I super duper love this children’s chapter series about Princess Celie and the magical, growing, rearranging Castle Glower. This is the fourth in the series and if magical happiness with strong female characters is your thing, you should start with Tuesday at the Castle!

I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert (2007).
I picked this out for Task 9 (Listen to an Audie Award Winner) of Read Harder 2016. I usually enjoy audiobooks by comedians, and Colbert did not disappoint, but I think I am just over Colbert’s conservative alter-ego. Hoping not to go back to a version of American politics where satire is the only thing getting me through.

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (2013).
This was my first steampunk book and it was fun. A reimagined, electricity free Victorian-era mystery featuring Mina Holmes (niece of Sherlock) and Evaline Stoker (sister of Bram). Fun, but I don’t know that I’ll seek out the next in the series.

What I Read: March 2016

Read This! Picture a Tree

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With Arbor Day coming up this Friday, now is a great time to pick up Barbara Reid’s Picture a Tree. Throughout the four seasons, trees play many roles (home to birds and animals, shade on a sunny day) and look many different ways (skeletons in winter, riotous color in spring). Reid’s plasticine illustrations feature a diverse array of trees and people alike. I love them.

Read This! Picture a Tree

Books for Queer Families: What Makes a Baby

What Makes a Baby is a birds and the bees book for all kinds of families – queer, straight, adoptive, birth, folks who conceived “naturally” and folks who needed medical assistance, folks who had a vaginal birth and folks who had a c-section. Totally appropriate for little kids.

Pros: Age-appropriate and medically accurate without being clinical or saying anything about “when a mommy and daddy love each other”. Bright, colorful, fun illustrations. Has one of the best descriptions of childbirth I’ve ever read: “sometimes it hurts a little, and sometimes it hurts a lot.”

Cons: I can’t think of one.

The Bottom Line: If you are looking for a basic “how babies are made” book, buy this one. It’s great for queer families, but also for folks who used IVF or adopted or just didn’t have the standard conception.

Looking for more books about queer families? You can find the other books I’ve reviewed here.

Books for Queer Families: What Makes a Baby