THE BOOK ITCH: FREEDOM, TRUTH AND HARLEM'S GREATEST BOOKSTORE -- the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and R. Gregory Christie (2015, Carolrhoda Books; 32 pages)
This is the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in. The story happens in the 1930s and the reader follows Lewis, a boy whose dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch - a book itch. To do that, he decided to start a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore. The bookstore was one of a kind. After all, people from all over came to visit it, including Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Langston Hughes! The bookstore was a place to learn, from the books and also from each other; people shared and traded ideas and talked a lot about how things could change for the better.
The book has been illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, and both the text and the illustrations accompany the reader to a time of history when words were ultimately important. "Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it." We listen to Malcom X words through the ears of our friend Lewis, and we accompany him through a story with a hopeful ending, hope coming in the shape of words, books, and a bookstore. Lewis' perspective introduces young readers to the elder Lewis and the National Memorial African Bookstore.
The book includes a selected biography, a note about Lewis Henri Michaux (1895-1976) with a picture inside his store in the late 1960s, and also an author's note in which he shares the reason why he started researching Mr. Michaux and the National Memorial African Bookstore, and how that interest in him and his store made this book possible.
Great book in picture book format for young readers interested in the history of United States of America.
Find this title in our catalog: The Book Itch
Recommended by: Maite
My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson (2017, Candlewick; 160 pages)
This is a book inspired by the socially tumultuous and violent real-life events of 1961 in Cuba and it is a coming-of-age story of a girl named Lora.
The book is historical fiction, narrating the adventures of Lora when she decides to join an army of volunteer teachers to bring literacy to all of Cuba in just twelve months. Lora, 13 years old at the time, tells her parents that she wants to travel into the impoverished countryside to help teach her fellow Cubans how to read and write. Her parents are unhappy with the decision, since Lora has barely been outside of Havana, but the girl is determined, and doesn't mind the idea of surviving in a remote shack with no electricity and sleeping in a hammock. She is an idealist, and she wants to share with people in need.
I loved this book, which came to me as an advance copy (the publication date is Oct. 10, 2017). Lora's adventures, her persona, her determination and courage are inspiring. Recommended to young readers who would love to be powerful agents for change. A beautiful book.
Recommended by: Maite
Wonder by R. J. Palacio (2012, Knopf Books For Young Readers; 320 pages)
"I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse." That's how this entertaining and touching story about August Pullman, a young boy born with facial birth defects, begins. It follows the boy, his family, and his new friends as he enters his first year in public school.
A #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, Wonder begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
Find this title in our catalog: Wonder
Recommended by: Brooke
Weather, Weather by Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler (2016, Museum of Modern Art; 64 pages)
This is the third volume in a series of collaborations between the artist Maira Kalman, the writer Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket), and The Museum of Modern Art. This time the artist and the writer explore in an evocative way different physical environments and their metaphoric implications. The photographs that are the source of inspiration belong to the MoMA's collection and the point they share is that all offer points of departure. The book also includes ten vibrant new paintings by Maira Kalman, and poetic prose by Handler that embraces the photos with new meaning.
Sarah Hermanson Meister, curator of the department of photography at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, writes a beautiful reflection of this project included in the book. She explains that a picture may be worth a thousand words, but often they are accompanied by even more: a title or caption that complicates or clarifies what we see in them, for example.
The project takes us from Czechoslovakia in 1957 to Albuquerque in 1973 to Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1957, etc. Weather, Weather is a reflection “on passing seasons, changing perspectives, and the unpredictability of life.”
Recommended to those adults and young adults who love old photographs, philosophical reflections, wryness and tenderness, and to those who believe in creativity as a way to surrender.
Find this title in our catalog: Weather, Weather
Recommended by: Maite
EYES OF THE WORLD: ROBERT CAPA, GERDA TARO, & THE INVENTION OF MODERN PHOTOJOURNALISM -- a riveting, tragic, and ultimately inspiring story
Eyes of the World, Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, & the Invention of Modern Photojournalism by Marc Aronson & Marina Budhos (2017, Henry Holt and Co.; 304 pages)
If you have ever seen a photograph of a scene from the Spanish Civil War (check The Falling Soldier for example) chances are that it was taken by Robert Capa or Gerda Taro. Those photographs that went straight from the action to the covers of news magazines, are among the best when it comes to the history of photojournalism. The book Eyes of the World is a masterpiece on the invention of modern journalism based on photographs, and it is an incredibly inspiring story about the lives and careers of two incredible courageous, kind, strong, and idealistic human beings.
Robert Capa and Gerda Taro were young Jewish refugees, and they were in love. As photographers in the 1930's, they set off to capture their “generation's most important struggle-the fight against fascism.” Their work on the Spanish Civil War for example brought a human face to war. Shots of a loving couple resting, a wary orphan, and, always, more and more refugees driven from their homes by bombs, guns and planes are masterpieces of a time and era that civilizations should never forget. They were pioneers of the idea of bearing witness of history though technology.
The book takes the reader though an inspiring journey with a cast of characters ranging from Hughes and George Orwell to Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway. Eyes of the World is of course packed with dramatic photos, posters, mini biographies and a fantastic narration of events based on the riveting, tragic and encouraging story of Robert Capa and Gerda Taro.
Three appendices, a chapter on cast of characters, a time line and sources are also part of this treasure. There is also a delightful section, called “Collaboration,” where the writers of the book reflect on that concept: “One of the reasons we wanted to write about Capa and Taro is because they were an artistic couple who worked together as equals. (…) What is collaboration? What are the challenges, the rewards? What makes it work?” The authors go on to share their thoughts on that process, and the result is truly worthy.
This book is such a treasure! A must read by all. Read it. Now.
Find this title in our catalog: Eyes of the World
Recommended by: Maite
BRAVO!: POEMS ABOUT AMAZING HISPANICS -- a beautiful and rich book in which each person is stunningly portrayed in López's strong and vibrant style
Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez (2017, Henry Holt and Co.; 48 pages)
This book is an extraordinary work, both because of the writing and because of the art. Margarita Engle and Rafael López have created a collection of poems about amazing hispanics and about a great and varied and beautiful mixture of dreams.
The poems are about a variety of amazing people who lived in geographic regions now included in the modern United States, people who faced life´s challenges in creative ways, who come from many different backgrounds, and, as the author says in a letter to the reader, some were celebrated in their lifetimes but have been forgotten by history, and others achieved lasting fame.
Poems spotlight musicians, a botanist, a baseball player, a pilot, a writer, and more. The names of these amazing Hispanics are: Aída de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix varela, George Meléndez Wright, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Lous Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Tomás Rivera and Ynés Mexía. Some of those names are well known in the U.S. But the book is not a book about famous Hispanics.
Margarita Engle has listed modern names for regions of family ancestry before each poem rather than using historic names such as New Spain. She also ends the book with a chapter on more amazing Latinos, and with a chapter of notes about the lives the Hispanics that she features in her poems.
The illustrations of Rafael López are incredible. This artist's work is a fusion of strong graphic style and magical symbolism, and he brings into it the rich cultural heritage and native color of street life in Mexico City, the place where he grew up.
This is an incredibly beautiful and rich book, and anyone of any age with a love of art, poetry, or a desire to learn about the Hispanic world will be delighted.
Find this title in our catalog: Bravo!
Recommended by: Maite
WHEN YOU REACH ME -- a lovely, clever, and mesmerizing tale that captures the interior monologue of kids who are starting to recognize the complexities of friendship, family, class, and identity
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009, Wendy Lamb Books; 210 pages)
Sixth-grader Miranda lives in 1978 New York City with her mother, and her life compass is Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. When she receives a series of enigmatic notes that claim to want to save her life, she comes to believe that they are from someone who knows the future. If that’s the case, then Miranda has an even bigger problem—because the notes tell her that someone is going to die, and she might be too late to stop it.
Though labeled as a J book, Rebecca Stead deploys some intensely thought-provoking ideas in this Newberry Medal-winning book. It is a book that begs to be read more than once, as the story contains many complex and fascinating elements.
Find this title in our catalog: When You Reach Me
Recommended by: Ariadne
ONE GOOD THING ABOUT AMERICA -- a sweet, often funny novel that explores differences and common ground across cultures
One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman (2017, Holiday House; 160 pages)
This books starts on September 14 with a letter to Oma.
We go to my new school today. It is VERY BIG. Mama and me and Jean-Claude we walk from the motel and find school. Mama write and write many papers for the school. A man come. He speak English and French and help us. I tell Jean-Claude to stay calm but he is bad boy. A lady bring the crahons and I tell Jean-Claude to play with them.
Many many children are in the school. 400 say the man. Yes 400. Vraiment. Really. It is like the city. And my school at home in Congo is like one little house. I tell the man I get lost. He say I do not. I get lost. I know it.”
Anais was the best English student in her class back home in Congo, Africa. But once she migrates to what she calls "Crazy America," she feels she doesn't know English at all. In fact, if she tries to make sense of the language, nothing seems to work (how can you eat chicken fingers, after all?). Anais misses her family back in Africa, those who had to stay behind: her Papa, her grandma Oma, and her big brother Olivier. She lives now in a new country with her Mama and her little brother Jean-Claude. To try to fool sadness and nostalgia, she decides to write daily letters to Oma. The book is a book of letters in which she explores her feelings and her daily experiences trying to adjust to the life in Crazy America. She tells Oma that she misses her, that she worries about Papa and big brother because of the war in Congo. She also tells her about all the strange things people do in her new country, and she decides that one good thing about America is of course, ice cream!
This is a tender, touching and great middle-grade novel that explores in a beautiful way the differences and common ground across cultures and countries. Anais' voice is simply adorable, and the book is filled with funny touches that help to bring together the kaleidoscopic world we live in.
Recommended to readers who enjoy down to earth voices and learning about how people think and live in different parts of the world. Recommended also for those who wish to understand the challenges faced by young immigrants in America.
Find this title in our catalog: One Good Thing About America
Recommended by: Maite
LION ISLAND: CUBA'S WARRIOR OF WORDS -- a haunting novel in verse that tells the story of a young man who became a civil rights champion
Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle (2016, Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 176 pages)
“Liberty is the beast that is never tamed; it breaks the chains that bind it with blood and fire, to reclaim its rights.” -Antonio Chuffat
This is the true story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man whose ancestors clashed and blended on the beautiful island of Cuba. It is the story of a boy who became a champion of civil rights for those who could not speak for themselves.
The book narrates in verse form the times when Cuba is fighting for freedom from Spain. Enslaved Africans and near-enslaved Chinese servants are forced to work long, backbreaking hours in the fields. Antonio feels lucky to have found a good job as a messenger where his cultural background is an asset. One day he meets Wing, a young Chinese fruit seller who barely escaped the anti-Asian riots in San Francisco, and his sister Fan, a talented singer. Seeing and feeling injustice all around them, the three friends are determined that, in this time of violent rebellion and slavery, violence through guns will not be the only way to gain liberty. The power of written petitions offered hope, and this Chinese-African Cuban messenger boy named Antonio Chuffat documented the war of words.
The book was written by the talented and fantastic Cuban-American poet and novelist, Newbery Honor-winning author Margarita Engle. I immensely enjoy novels written in verse, and Margarita Engle’s verse is astonishingly beautiful. She chose to begin the book with a chapter in non-verse form that describes the historical background of the story. This chapter is rich in information and fabulous because it brings to the surface a dark episode in the history of slavery, this time placed in Cuba: “Beginning in the 1840s, more than 250,000 men were shipped to Cuba and Peru from China as part of a treaty between the Spanish and Chinese empires. Working in Cuba’s sugarcane fields alongside African slaves, Chinese indentured laborers were often forced to sign one eight-year contract after another. Intermarriage between Chinese men and African women created a richly blended culture with unique religious, musical, and culinary traditions. In 1868, a small group of planters in Cuba freed slaves and declared independence from Spain. Around the same time, Chinese Americans were fleeing anti-Asian riots in California. By the early 1870s, 5,000 refugees had settled in Cuba.”
Incredibly powerful, hopeful, haunting and beautiful, this is a must read book for people of all ages.
Find this title in our catalog: Lion Island
Recommended by: Maite
The Book Book by Sophie Benini Pietromarchi (2007, Tara Books; 132 pages)
“Books are like houses. Curiosity always makes me want to open doors. I’ve always thought that the most mysterious doors are the covers of books.”
This is the delightful beginning of an incredibly excellent and humble book. Artist Sophie Benini Pietromarchi invites children on a fantastic journey through the world of bookmaking in The Book Book, a lyrical, beautiful craft work. The journey explores colors, textures, shapes, and feelings. Benini demonstrates how those intangible elements can be turned into pictorial narratives. She also explores the uses of unlikely items, like pencil shavings, onions, dust, and leaves. An egg box becomes a perfect book cover, an onion will work for decorating paper, rough string can bind books and boxes of cornflakes or biscuits can illustrate cars or cities, and also will work on making good book covers.
The book is a visual feast to enjoy with time. Photographs and art are fantastic, and together with the writing, become an invitation to get to work right away.
The Book Book is a tribute to the rich, imaginative world in all of us. This work evolved from workshops with children, which explains the fact that it can be used by children without adult help. But it is also a great tool for parents, teachers or anyone working with children because it features creative and simple exercises in drawing, creative writing, and book-making.
This book is a house that you want to enter and stay for a long time. Find it, open it, and enjoy.
Find this title in our catalog: The Book Book
Recommended by: Maite