Biography & Memoir

Living With Viola

Livy is starting at a new school and that's just the tip of the iceberg for her! She's growing anxious about making friends and fitting in when she feels different because of her culture as well as family expectations for her to achieve great things. Then there's Viola. The little voice in her head that tells her she's not good enough and that no one likes her. Sometimes Viola's voice is so loud that Livy has trouble expressing her own. She has to find some way to live with Viola.

This fun and funny graphic novel gives life to the concept of anxiety by featuring it as a real figure (Viola) in which Livy can interact with. Negative self-talk, worries, and feelings of overwhelming pressure plague Livy on a daily basis, but as soon as she asks her parents for help, she begins to feel relief as she learns to coexist with her anxiety.

   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

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   

Celebrating Black Voices: Jacqueline Woodson & Coretta Scott King Awards Exhibit

Celebrating Black Voices

On Saturday, February 5 from 7–8:15 PM, The Friends of the Library and Monroe County Public Library will host award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater as part of the biennial “Power of Words: Changing Our World One Author at a Time” programming series. The talk is free and open to the public. 

Listen to the internationally acclaimed author, who gives voice to African American life through more than 30 books, ranging from children’s picture books to young adult literature to adult novels. Woodson is a National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature for her New York Times bestselling memoir “Brown Girl Dreaming”, among many other awards. The doors will open at 6:30 PM and tickets are not required. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test is required per the Buskirk-Chumley Theater’s policy.

   
Think Library    Adults    Teens   

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   

While I was Away

When 12 year-old Waka's parents think she needs to brush up on her Japanese, they send her to Japan to live with her Obaasama, her grandmother, who lives in Tokyo. Five long months in a Japanese only school, giving up her summer vacation and her best friends back home in Kansas! In addition to dealing with the pressure of reading and writing in only Japanese, and making friends at school as a gaijin, an "outsider," Waka also learns how to connect with her complicated and distant grandmother.

A memoir of her time in a Japanese school, Waka T. Brown's story of growing up in two worlds and sometimes feeling like an outsider in both, is a compelling glimpse into life in Japan in the 80s. I loved learning right along with Waka, and her insights in how the past can sometimes haunt those we love, and knowing that can help us know them better.

Reviewed by Senior Information Assistant, Claire C.

   
Biography & Memoir    Diversity    Family    Read   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

Real Friends

Shannon had long believed the advice of her mother, “One good friend. My Mom says that's all anyone really needs.” But when her one friend, Adrienne, starts spending more time with the new, popular girl and her “friend group,” Shannon is left confused about where she fits in.

What’s even more challenging, one of the girls in the group is a bully! How can Shannon navigate the complex social order of middle school? Real Friends is a relatable fast paced graphic novel based on the experiences of award winning author, Shannon Hale. Recommended for readers 8-12.

   

Staff Picks: What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? by Chris Barton

Reviewed by Alejandria G. 

It’s impossible not to feel inspired while reading this gorgeous, well-written nonfiction picture book about the life of Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

From a young age, Barbara Jordan had a remarkable voice. Her voice demanded attention and projected confidence beyond her years. As the author ponders, “What do you do with a voice like that?”. And so began the journey of Barbara Jordan from child to college student. From lawyer to Congresswoman. Jordan spent her career speaking up for those who had less power and protected the rights of those who were discriminated against. Chris Barton’s wonderful words remind us to honor Jordan’s legacy by making our own voices heard.

Ekua Holmes honors Barbara’s life with gorgeous mixed media illustrations. Bold colors and patterns fill the pages and add dimension to the story.

   
Kids   

Reading with Patrick

Everyone has heard about the talented, super-smart teachers who work for the Teach for America program. But why do many of these new teachers only stay for a year or two and then move on?

In Reading with Patrick, compelling and emotionally resonant memoir, Michelle Kuo, a Harvard-educated Asian American, relates her two years teaching in poverty-torn Helena, Arkansas, a delta town close to the Mississippi state line that has lost nearly all of its industry. Kuo also describes her parents’ great expectations for her career, and their deep disappointment when she takes a low-paying position in education.

   
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