Saving Marty by Paul Griffin (2017, Dial Books; 208 pages)
This is a delightfully tender and heartbreaking story about a pig who thinks he's a dog and a boy who needs a friend. The boy is eleven-year-old Lorenzo Ventura. He actually goes by “Renzo” instead of Lorenzo. He would never describe himself as a hero, because a hero is someone rare like his father, who died in the war, or his friend Paloma Lee, who fearlessly pursues her dream of being a famous musician. But one day, Renzo decides to adopt Marty, a runt piglet, and suddenly he understands that heroes come in every size and shape.
Marty the piglet thinks he is a dog and acts like one too. Renzo and Marty become one. But Marty, of course, is a pig, and pigs grow. One day he is almost 350 pounds, and Renzo's family starts worrying, especially after Marty causes an unfortunate, dangerous and expensive accident. Renzo worries too, but for different reasons. He understands that his friend's time at home may be up and he knows he'd do anything and everything to keep him alive. The question is, will everything be enough to save him?
This book arrived as an advance copy, and it is a jewel. Animal lovers will melt in it, with it, for it. Beautifully written by Paul Griffin, Saving Marty manages to embrace a heartrending story with a hopeful one in this tale about the power of friendship and the unsung heroes all around us. Recommended for kids 10 years old and up, and adults with a deep love for animals.
Find this title in our catalog: Saving Marty
Recommended by: Maite
Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez (2017, Nobrow Press; 56 pages)
Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Lorena Alvarez´s work is influenced by the vibrancy and color of her hometown, as well as the experiences and atmosphere of the Catholic school she attended as a child. Those memories and those colors are vitally present in Nightlights, a beautiful story about fear, insecurity, and creativity.
In graphic novel format, the book tells the story of Sandy, a girl with an extraordinary imagination and a vivid sense of her sourroundings. When tiny lights appear out of the darkness in her bedroom, she opts for catching them to create wonderful creatures to play with until she falls asleep. In the morning, she brings them back to life in her whimsical drawings. One day, a mysterious new girl named Morfie appears at her school. The school is run by strict nuns. The mysterious new girl will give attention to the drawings that nobody else has cared for before. The problems start when Morfie´s fascination turn into something far more dark and sinister.
With great suspense, gorgeous art, and interesting characters, this book would be perfect for children 10 years old and up in search of stories that explore different dimensions.
Find this title in our catalog: Nightlights
Recommended by: Maite
FREEDOM OVER ME: ELEVEN SLAVES, THEIR LIVES AND DREAMS BROUGHT TO LIFE --a moving and powerful picture book that uses real documents from an 1828 estate appraisal to bring to life 11 people who were named and priced as property
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan (2016, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books; 56 pages)
This is a book about pieces of property and dreamers of freedom. It is also a jewel born from the tenacity and poetry of Ashley Bryan who discovered a real document about real people who were treated as pieces of property on a real plantation. This is a monumental and incredibly powerful tribute to the strength of the human spirit and the power of hope. It is a tribute formed by words and art. Through poems and through paintings, Ashley has imagined eleven lives beyond their simple descriptions, beyond their prices, “for dreams and hopes and loves can never be chained and can never be sold.”
Peggy, age 48, was sold for $150. Imagined and empowered by the author, she tells the reader about herself: “I am the Fairchilds' cook. I work in the Big House, day in, day out, making special meals for the Fairchilds, plain foods for the slaves. Like a field hand, I work hard - all profit to the estate ...”
The title of this book comes from the spiritual “Oh Freedom!,” which likely came into being, tells the author, soon after the end of slavery. Ashley also shares with the reader that she was inspired by the spare information about the slaves. They were listed for sale with the cows, hogs, and cotton, and only their names and prices were noted in the document that she found dated from the 1820s to the 1860s. The goal was to humanize them.
The art in the book is spectacular and gorgeous. It wakes up the soul, and brings the human beings to life. She created painted portraits of each of the eleven slaves, studied each one and listened to each voice. Reading the creation process the author went through is absolutely inspiring and a delight.
A must read for all, every age. Indispensable.
Find this title in our catalog: Freedom Over Me
Recommended by: Maite
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