Ginny H.'s blog

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

Mary, born into slavery in 1868, loved watching the birds fly free in the sky while she worked in the fields. She wanted to be free too! But she had to keep working. No time for rest. No time to learn. Even when Mary and her family were freed from slavery she still had to work hard.

One day, Mary was given a Bible, but all she could see were squiggly lines! Mary became determined to learn to read but there was always work to be done and a family to raise. Late in life, Mary said, "No more waiting! Time to learn!" You'll be amazed to learn Mary's age when she finally learned to read and became truly free.

This true story definitely shows that you are never too old to learn. I love how this book is full of hope and the vibrant collage illustrations by Coretta Scott King award winner, Oge Mara, really help tell the story in this amazing picture book biography. There are even real photos of Mary on the front and back covers.

   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

Other Boys

Damien hasn't had many positive experiences in his past. His mother was killed when he was just a baby, his brother and aunts and uncles don't understand his hobbies and passions, and he's not even sure he understands himself. So he's starting over in a new school after being bullied harshly at his last. This time around, Damien vows to stay silent and give the kids at his new school absolutely nothing to go on if they want to bully him. Yet it's lonely talking to no one and bottling up all his feelings. 

   
Other boys   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

Allergic

Sometimes Maggie feels left out. Her mom and dad are preoccupied with getting ready for the new baby, her twin brothers are always in their own little twin world, and even her friends seem to be distracted with other things.

Maggie convinces her parents that a puppy is the perfect answer, but a trip to the animal shelter just makes things worse! Turns out Maggie is severely allergic to many kinds of pets. Then Maggie makes a new best friend. Claire has just moved in next door and seems to answer all of Maggie's troubles until she does something that makes Maggie feel completely misunderstood.

   
Allergic   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids   

When You Trap a Tiger

Lily’s grandmother, Halmoni, would tell Lily and her sister Sam fantastic stories filled with stars, tigers, and magic whenever they’d visit. But when Halmoni gets sick and Lily and her family move in, the stories have a way of becoming real! Lily soon starts to see a mysterious tiger around their town which prompts her to make a desperate plan to trap the tiger to save Halmoni! 

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller is a beautiful story that left me daydreaming about the origin of stories, the meaning of family, and the importance of heritage.

There are so many things to love about this book––the connection to Korean culture, the love of storytelling prevalent throughout the novel, the gentle coming-of-age themes, and the beautiful messages about family and coping with the imminent death of a loved one––it is no surprise that it won the 2021 John Newbery Medal! 

Recommended for readers ages 10–14. 

––Reviewed by Kim B., Children’s Librarian

   
Diversity    Family    Fantasy    Fiction    Folklore    Inclusiveness    Read    Staff Picks   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids   

A Wolf for a Spell

Young wolf, Zima, has always been told by her pack-mates that humans and witches are evil, dangerous beings that should be attacked at first sight. Yet, when a young girl ventures into the woods with the aim of running away from the orphanage in town, Zima can't bring herself to attack the girl. A legendary witch, Baba Yaga, witnesses Zima's hesitance and decides that Zima is exactly the wolf she needs to help her. But are Baba Yaga's intentions really as evil as Zima's pack has always told her?

This spin on the classic Russian folktales of Baba Yaga will have you guessing what twist and turn will take place next as storylines entangle and long-held secrets unfold. This tale is perfect for readers who love fairy tales and folktales and themes of family and friendship. Recommended for ages 8–12.

Reviewed by Ginny H.

   
Animals    Family    Fantasy    Fiction    Folklore    Friendship    Staff Picks   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids   

Lia & Luis Who Has More?

Brazilian American siblings explore math concepts while trying to figure out who has more of their favorite snack. This story includes Portuguese vocabulary along with various measuring terms such as more, less, heavier, lighter, and eventually...equal! This includes a glossary for the Portuguese words used and tips for exploring math concepts with children. Recommended for children ages 3–6.

Reviewed by Christa S.

   
Preschool   
Think Library    Kids   

Cub

Seventh grader, Cindy Copeland does not fit in with the other kids in her class. Several kids bully her because her clothes are old fashioned and unlike the other kids, she loves school! Cindy’s favorite thing to do is writing, so when her teacher offers to pair her with a local newspaper journalist, she jumps at the chance to become a cub reporter! As Cindy experiences life as a young reporter, she makes new friends and learns that she is in charge of writing her own story!

Cub is a graphic novel memoir, telling the true story of author Cynthia Copeland’s as she discovered how to be herself and own her story. I loved seeing Cindy’s writing grow as she gained new experiences and seeing the elements of life in the early-mid 1970s! While so many elements are different (fashion, slang, etc), there are other things that remain similar to our life today (struggles growing up, making friends, and dealing with bullies).

   
Cub   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

A Boy Called Bat

Bixby Alexander Tam (Bat, for short) loves all kinds of animals. When Bat's veterinarian mom brings home an orphaned newborn skunk, his focus and goal is to convince her that a skunk might just be a perfect pet. The only trouble is, she insists that the skunk can only stay with them for one short month, just long enough for the baby skunk to grow up enough to transition to a wildlife rehab center. Can Bat convince her to change her mind?  

A sweet and understanding portrayal of a boy on the spectrum, Bat's supportive family and teacher bring to life how it can be difficult to communicate with someone whose mind works differently, and yet, the story never mentions autism at all. When it comes to making friends, and making eye contact, Bat isn't made fun of or judged, and his full focus on his interests is as appreciated as he is. Recommended for ages 8+

Reviewed by Claire C.

   
Animals    Diversity    Fiction    Inclusiveness    Read    Realistic    Staff Picks   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer

The small town of Fry in Logan County is a weird place. Strange, unexplainable, dangerous stuff happens all the time, threatening the townsfolk. Thankfully, the town is also home to cousins Otto and Sheed - the Legendary Alston Boys. They've solved mysteries and saved the day countless times, but when they encounter an unusual man with a magical camera on the last day of summer, they embark on what may be their toughest challenge yet... The setting is reminiscent of Gravity Falls or Stranger Things (but more kid-friendly of course) - Logan County is full of supernatural surprises. Otto and Sheed are extremely likable characters, and the story is filled with humor, action, imagination, and delivers a heartwarming and inspiring message on top. Recommended for ages 9-12, but could be enjoyed by younger kids as well.

Reviewed by Paul D.

   
Adventure    Diversity    Fantasy    Fiction    Friendship    Mystery    Read    Suspense   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

American As Paneer Pie

Eleven year old Lekha is the only Indian American girl in her school and definitely feels like an outcast in the mostly-white Detroit neighborhood she calls home. Her classmates make ignorant remarks about her family’s culture, language, and tease her about her birthmark (that just so happens to be on her forehead, just like a Bindi).

Lekha has learned to suppress everything that makes her different from everyone else - she never brings her favorite Indian foods to lunch, covers her birthmark with her hair, and stays silent when she, or anyone else, is teased. When a new Desi kid, Avantika, moves in across the street everything begins to change. Avantika speaks up about her culture and celebrates it when all Lekha has done is hide it. Lekha is impressed and embarrassed by Avantika’s ability to lean into her culture and heritage. But when a local political election spawns a hate crime against Lekha’s family, she knows she can’t stay silent and complacent any longer.

   
Bullying    Diversity    Fiction    Friendship    Inclusiveness    Read    Realistic   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

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