Tween

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.

June is Pride Month

Illustration of raised hands with rainbow bracelets holding Pride flags and a sign that says "Love is Love"..

In June we celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning Pride! Many Pride events in the United States are held in June to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion on June 28, 1969. Celebrations often include festivals, performances, rallies, parades, family events, film screenings, and other events. These events honor the history of the LGBTQ+ social movement and celebrate progress made by the community.

Supporting a diverse and inclusive community is at the heart of our mission to serve Monroe County. While we strive to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community all year long, June offers an opportunity to highlight the contributions of LGBTQ+ creators and to provide a safe and welcoming space.

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.

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.

Measuring Up

Cici loves cooking with her A-ma (grandmother) in Taiwan; it makes her feel like she belongs. But when Cici’s family moves to America and away from A-ma, Cici suddenly feels out of place. She misses Taiwan, but especially misses her A-ma. Cici wants A-ma to visit, but A-ma cannot afford the plane ticket to America. When Cici sees a cooking contest for kids offered at a local store for a cash prize, she enters right away. But will the judges be interested in her Taiwanese cooking?

Measuring Up is a delightful graphic novel about family, friendship, and identity. The story is fast paced and compelling. There are so many beautiful and delicious looking foods prepared throughout the book – expect your tummy to grumble! This book is recommended for ages 9-12.

Scritch Scratch

This spooky novel follows Claire, an interested-in-science-doesn’t-believe-in-the-paranormal-thank-you-very-much middle schooler who has a pretty typical life. She doesn’t always get along with her brother and her friend group is having some growing pains since her best friend is now hanging out with a new girl. Her parents would be normal if it wasn’t for her dad’s job which is a tour guide for a Chicago Ghost bus touring company. Claire can usually ignore that, but one night she gets pulled into helping her dad on the tour and a ghost follows her home, haunting her. Claire has to figure out what the ghost wants, and quickly, before it gets angrier.

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl

Growing up as a young boy in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Sundar Paliwal experienced several difficult things such as hunger, poverty and the loss of his mother at a young age. He continues to look at his community as he grows up, gets married and eventually has his own two daughters and one son. He teaches his children about the beauty and importance of all living things. But Sundar’s community and land is being destroyed by mining companies, where he works.

Sundar knows he must make change in his community and for the land around them. He quits his mining job and becomes an activist and local leader. However, when tragedy strikes yet again in Sundar’s life, he imagines an inspiring plan that will not only replenish the environment but also highlight the need for equality amongst girls and boys in his village. In honor of every girl born in the village, 111 trees will be planted!

Snapdragon

Snapdragon, who goes by Snap, is kind of a loner who doesn't believe in witches and magic like other kids in town. But even she's slightly nervous when she visits the Town Witch to rescue her dog. It turns out that the grumpy Town Witch, whose name is actually Jacks, isn't so bad at all and has actually fixed up Snap's dog. Snap is instantly taken with Jacks' mysterious and strange ways and decides to enter into a deal with her. She'll help Jacks in her "work" if Jacks will help Snap care for some baby possums she found. As they spend time together, Snap starts rethinking the possibility of witches and learns that she and Jacks have more in common than she ever could have imagined.

Learning to Hand Stitch

Imagine you’re wearing your favorite shirt. You love this shirt because it makes you feel great! The material is just the right softness, the cut is perfectly loose and comfortable, and when you wear it, you are certain you are taller and more confident. This is a cool shirt! 

Then all of a sudden, you look down and notice the hem is coming loose! What do you do? Is your favorite shirt ruined? No way, you just need to stitch it up!

But how? Well, you’ll need to learn to sew!

 

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