Hello, Universe‘s shiny new gold sticker led me to request it from the library for the second time and this time I stuck with it. And loved it. I have no idea why it didn’t click with me a few months ago when I tried to read it, but I’m glad it didn’t because it was just the right book for me last week. I’d been in a bit of a reading slump but fell right into this story and read it in several great gulps. I loved the characters so much, it was thematically rich, and the sentence-level writing was strong. Many beautiful lines and unexpected images that led me to reread before moving on.
The first book in the series won the Geisel, but I think the second, Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy, is even better. Charlie and Mouse’s parents head out for a date, and their grandpa, Grumpy, comes to babysit. They have amusing small adventures at home, but the real pleasure here is their quirky conversations with Grumpy.
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women is a book I really, really wanted to love, and most readers clearly do. The reviews have been very positive. There are poems, interviews, essays, stories, quotations, photographs and art by Native American women. It’s a glossy book with strong visual appeal–lots of images, quotations and very short pieces of writing centered on a page with lots of white space, very short texts (none longer than two pages). Many of the pieces are thought-provoking. But here’s the problem for me as a reader: I wanted more. Most pieces of writing felt like snippets or excerpts, and as a reader who prefers depth to breadth, I had a hard time connecting with the writing. (The art was another story: luckily, each piece of art stands alone as a complete work, and the editors chose some really powerful and provocative pieces to include.) I think this book beautifully achieves its purpose (a “love letter to all Indigenous young women”), even though it wasn’t exactly the right fit for me as a reader.
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets features beautiful illustrations by Ekua Holmes and some delightful poetry written by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderly, and Marjorie Wentworth. I read this book quickly but can imagine taking a long time to savor each poem by returning to the works of the inspiration poets and reading around in their oeuvres to better appreciate these poems.
Paige Britt’s text is a bit philosophical for my tastes, but I loved Sean Qualls and Selina Alko’s illustrations and the way the two narratives (created entirely through the illustrations) converge in the end.
This Truck Has Got to Be Special is an oddball little book that might be hard to get your hands on but is definitely worth a read. It was a labor of love for its author and illustrators, who spent countless hours interviewing and collaborating with truck drivers and truck artists in Pakistan to create this story. There is a thorough and fascinating “making of this book” end note that’s a must-read. I could hardly finish reading the book before I was opening my laptop to research Pakistani truck art (just Google “Pakistan truck art” and prepare to be dazzled by the images) and to learn more about the dangerous highway between Pakistan and China that these decorated transport trucks traverse.