Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama

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Title: Of Thee I Sing

Author: Barack Obama

Illustrator: Lauren Long

Published: November 16, 2010

Theme: Identity and Love

Character Origin: Human

Book Type: Picture Book | Pages: 40

Ages: 6 and up | Book Level: 6.0 | Lexile Measure: 830L

Synopsis: Former president Barack Obama delivers a tender, beautiful letter to his daughters in this picture book illustrated by the award-winning Loren Long (Otis) that’s made to be treasured!

In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

Breathtaking, evocative illustrations by award-winning artist Loren Long at once capture the personalities and achievements of these great Americans and the innocence and promise of childhood.

This beautiful book celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans, from our nation’s founders to generations to come. It is about the potential within each of us to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths. It is a treasure to cherish with your family forever.

My summary…

This narrative is a letter from Barack Obama to his daughters, Sasha and Malia. He leads with a character question then follows up with a person that exemplifies that character trait and details what made them significant to America.

My thoughts…

Let me just say this is no mere letter but an endearing love letter. His words are a clear expression of love as he walks the girls and the reader through character traits that personify the makeup of America. We are a diverse, cultured, and passionate people. Without all of our differences, the American experience would be very different. Obama eloquently reaches through history and presents a distinguished list of people that made a powerful impact on our county.

Long’s illustrations were quite deliberate and well thought out. They were drawn with historical accuracy and bear a striking resemblance to the real-life person. I felt as though the ages had converged right in front of me. Reading this reminded me of a few people that you don’t hear much about but their contributions helped shape who we are. Whether it’s a story of kindness, inclusion, or sacrifice we are great because of an array of diverse men and women that paved the way for each of us. That’s what makes America great today and for years to come.

My rating…

Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

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Title: Genesis Begins Again

Author: Alicia D. Williams

Published: January 15, 2019

Theme: Identity, Family, and Addiction

Character Origin: Human

Book Type: Middle School | Pages: 384

Ages: 9-13 | Book Level: 4.5 | Lexile Measure:

Synopsis: This deeply sensitive and powerful debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.

There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

My summary…

This is a story of Genesis Anderson, a middle school girl whose family is constantly on the move as her parents struggle to pay the rent and make ends meet. This makes it nearly impossible for her to make friends. She has difficulty being comfortable in her own skin and tries unsuccessfully to change it. Eventually, she settles into a new school and new friends but her home life threatens to destroy it all.  

My thoughts…

It’s hard to believe that this is Williams’ debut novel. Where do I start? The novel hits on a couple of big topics: addiction, identity, and family. Genesis is faced with many revelations that shape how she views herself and others. Like many dark-skinned African-Americans, she’s called by every name in the book just because of her complexion. This skews Genesis’ view of herself and what beauty really is. This is so relatable for many kids that have not yet discovered their own identity.

Williams’ ability to interweave complicated family relationships, addiction, and identity serves as a catalyst that will separate Genesis Begins Again from other YA (or Middle Grades) novels. The text is well written and the storyline is engaging. It leaves the reader waiting for the next shoe to drop. You could feel the tension rising as you turn the pages. I was able to appreciate the instability that is always in the undercurrent of the story. I loved Genesis’ evolution–it was masterfully executed. I look forward to seeing what’s next from Alicia D. Williams.

My rating…