Last week on the blog:
- Reflections on a month of writing a poem every day
- A new book gap challenge: diverse children’s and YA mysteries
Vera Brosgol’s new graphic novel, Be Prepared, is the autobiographical story of ten-year-old Vera’s brilliant idea to fit in: attend Russian summer camp. Only she doesn’t really fit in there either. All of the summer camp tropes and storylines you might expect are here, but Brosgol makes it feel fresh and unique. Beautifully drawn and illustrated, of course, and also very well-written.
I have no idea how I ended up reading two graphic novels about summer camp back to back, but there you go. As the Crow Flies was a Stonewall Honor Book this year, which is how my campus library happened to purchase it, and I’m so glad they did because I am not sure I would have heard about this book otherwise. The plot is quite simple: thirteen-year-old Charlie, identified on the back cover as black and queer, has signed up for a summer backpacking camp where a group of women and girls retrace the footsteps of a local nineteenth-century feminist named Beatrice who led the women of her community in an annual women’s only retreat. Charlie feels out of place among the all-white, Christian group, and there are plenty of microaggressions that deepen her discomfort. Charlie eventually strikes up a friendship with Sydney, who identifies as transgender, and that friendship provides connection and plenty of humor. What I really loved about this book is how much slowly emerges from context and from small asides and how much is still unexplained. There is a lot here about feminism, gender identity, spirituality, religion, and friendship, but much of it is just hinted at so there is a lot of room for a reader to enter the space of the story and interpret. The colored pencil art is quite good, especially the landscapes.
Sweet, tender board book listing different activities and objects that make a heart fill with happiness, featuring the art of Julie Flett. This book has been chosen as a Global Read-Aloud title for 2018.
Caldecott-winning artist, Ed Young, writes about his childhood home in China in The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China. The house was built by Young’s father to withstand bombs during World War II and to keep his large family together for twenty years, the period time he leased the home before he had to return it to the rich investors who bankrolled its construction. Young shares his memories of his family and his home, with many interesting details of life during wartime. The text is often very long and the collages very detailed. It took me several days to read this, even though it’s a picture book.
I Am the Boss of This Chair will appeal to anyone who has ever had a cat and probably to anyone who has ever had a new sibling as well. Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III has never had to share before. He has always been the boss of everything–and not just the chair. When a new kitten arrives, he is suddenly not the boss of anything anymore. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III had also become the boss of the new kitten, but the author has a kinder, gentler, life lesson-y message about sharing and getting along to impart, which probably makes this book infinitely more appealing to most parents. I really enjoyed the illustrations.