Diversity

Staff Picks: Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya

Reviewed by Alejandria G.

At six feet tall and 180 pounds, Marcus isn’t exactly the smallest 8th grader at Montgomery Middle School. But looks can be deceiving and he isn’t quite the tough bully many seem to think he is. When the real school bully calls Marcus’s younger brother a nasty word, Marcus fights back and faces suspension.

Marcus’s mom decides this suspension is the perfect time to hit the ‘reset’ button for their little family. She takes Marcus and his younger brother Charlie to the island of Puerto Rico, to reconnect as a family and meet relatives they never knew they had. But Marcus has a secret mission as they adventure across the island: to find his father, who moved back to Puerto Rico and walked out of their lives ten years ago.

Zines? In My Library?

Zines and flowers outside of the library. The title of the images says "zines"

This year the Library launched a circulating collection of zines, the seeds of which were donated to the Library through the generosity of Boxcar Books. This collection continues to grow through purchases and donations and is now comprised of almost 400 titles.

A zine (/ziːn/ ZEEN; short for magazine or fanzine) is a small-circulation, self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images that often give voice to small, local, underrepresented, or marginalized communities. Zines are created and reproduced on a small scale, including everything from comics and DIY self-help guides to personal stories, nonfiction, and more.

Zines house a long history, from their origins in 1930s sci-fi culture, through the punk culture of the 70s and a resurgence in the 90s under riot grrrl, to today, where there are more voices and more ideas published than ever before.

Staff Picks: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

Reviewed by Alejandria G.

Leo Logroña is the youngest member of her family. And as the youngest member of her family, she is used to everyone always telling her she is too young to help.

When the annual Día de los Muertos festival approaches, Leo thinks this will finally be the year she will be asked to help with festival preparations at her family’s beloved bakery. But yet again, she is disappointed when she is told she is still too young. After sneaking out of school to make sure all is really okay at the bakery, Leo accidentally discovers the shocking family secret: she belongs to family of brujas -witches- who use their magic to bake up the sweetest (and luckiest) treats in town.

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.

Staff Picks: Step Right Up by Donna Janell Bowman

Reviewed by Christina J. 

You have to read it to believe it. Then you have to see the photos in the historical note at the back of the book to really believe the incredible story of William ‘Doc’ Key and his intelligent horse Beautiful Jim Key. Even people who witnessed it firsthand, including scholars from Harvard University, couldn’t understand how Doc Key managed to teach his horse how to read, spell, cipher, and more on command. This is a stunning and inspiring story of how kindness and love has the potential to unleash the intelligence and capacity in animals, during a time when most people believed animals had no feelings.

Staff Picks: Dactyl Hill Squad

Reviewed by Ellen A. 

Welcome to 1863 New York City, where dinosaurs roam the streets! Magdalys Roca and her fellow orphan friends are enjoying a field trip in the city when riots break out and a few of their group are kidnapped. It's up to Magdalys and the Dactyl Hill Squad to rescue their missing friends and defeat the evil magistrate, Riker. 

This alternate history involving the U.S. Civil War, a diverse bunch of heroic orphans, and dinosaurs is quite a thrilling ride. The exciting adventure, written by Daniel José Older, also touches on deeper issues such as extreme racial injustice and fighting for what is right.

I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, Freedom Fire, to be released in May 2019.

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