Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia [Black History]

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Title: Once Crazy Summer

Author: Rita Williams-Garcia

Published: January 26, 2010

Theme: Rejection, Discrimination, and Family

Character Origin: Human

Book Type: Middle School | Pages: 240

Ages: 8-12 | Book Level: 4.6 | Lexile Measure: 750L

Synopsis: In this Newbery Honor novel, New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. “This vibrant and moving award-winning novel has heart to spare.”

Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She’s had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined.

My summary…

This is a story of three sisters, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern. They travel from Brooklyn to Oakland for the summer to meet their mother who abandoned them shortly after giving birth to Fern. For seven years, they were raised by their father and grandmother. The summer will be filled with events the girls were not expecting.

My thoughts…

This book was quite enjoyable to read. Williams-Garcia’s words flowed effortlessly off the page. I couldn’t help but feel empathy for Delphine as her story is echoed in many homes even now–the oldest takes care of the youngest. The oldest sibling takes on a parenting role due to some form of parental or familial deficiency.

I loved how Williams-Garcia emphasized the importance of a community. Communities looked out for and supported each other and that’s something sorely missing in our society today. I think middle schoolers will close this book with an appreciation that things are not always what they seem and there can be good in the most unlikely of places.

My rating…

Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

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Title: Malala’s Magic Pencil

Author: Malala Yousafzai

Illustrator: Kerascoët

Published: October 17, 2017

Theme: Discrimination, Courage, and Perseverance

Character Origin: Human

Book Type: Picture Book | Pages: 48

Ages: 4-8

Synopsis: Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them.

As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.

This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.

My summary…

This is the story of a young Pakistani girl, Malala, that wanted to attend school and faced with unimaginable obstacles obtaining that goal.

My thoughts…

Malala is an international hero. Malala’s narrative told for a younger audience is equally as empowering as I am Malala. The message that girls are strong and courageous in spite of the most horrific of circumstances made my heart explode. It also underscores that doing the right thing can come at a price. That is something that I think kids should know and not be afraid of.

Kerascoët’s illustrations were simple yet quite beautiful. The gold foil illustrations added a touch of magic to the story. Children can have the conviction of heart to move boldly to create change in our world. Malala’s message of gender equality is shared by many the world over. While the Taliban tried to take her voice away, her international presence cannot be silenced. Her courage is a testament to girls all over the world that they have a voice and they are powerful and brave too–just like Malala.

My rating…