Imbued with lyrical and poignant language, readers of The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard are invited into 15-year-old Alice Nightingale’s wonder and promise-filled world even as she remains on the margins. Alice attempts to manage a broken life and family after being attacked, leaving her with brain damage that may result in her being “twelveness” for the rest of her life. But Alice is resourceful and starts to grow away from her twelveness by relearning language through writing poetry in her Book of Flying, by connecting with Emmanuel (Manny) James, who also has been damaged by the world, and by remaining true to never forsaking her younger brother Joey and “Grandma Glorious.” Alice’s father is dead, and her mother left the country to pursue her career. Grandfather Papa is in prison for killing the men who attacked Alice, leaving the family of three living outside of their Australian town, hidden away from most of the world. Alice is artistic and fills her days with making fishing lures and writing while Joey goes to school bringing books and information for Alice to learn. Because she is often overwhelmed by typical human interactions, Alice cannot attend school and thus spends much of her time alone–until she sees and is seen by Manny. Readers venture with Alice as she grows into her adolescence, hoping for love and connection outside of the family. And as Alice’s world becomes more and more precarious, readers will fall in love with Alice and Manny as they share their pain and love with each other in hopes of overcoming. -Recommended by Holly Johnson. Continue reading
In this week’s MTYT, Holly and Marilyn discuss how different books with similar themes connect to one another in meaningful ways. When these connections are recognized, separate pieces of literature are able to be looked at together. This creates the opportunity for younger readers to further educate themselves on the different cultures within these books.
This week we discuss Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai as one of the books that present situations of pain and bravery. Each book we looked at this month offers surprises and controversy. Each is thought-provoking. As we said when we recommended Escape from Aleppo as our book of the month, the novel seems right out of the headlines.
As Marilyn and Holly share their thoughts on books that present situations of pain and bravery as young people learn to negotiate the difficulties of life, they consider The Book of Dust, Volume I, La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. Like the books discussed previously, this book offers surprises and a bit of controversy. It is worthy of reading time, but waiting for the next book may be tough.
Continuing our discussion about books that present situations of pain and bravery as young people learn to negotiate the difficulties of life, Holly and Marilyn consider The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. Like Bronze and Sunflower, which we discussed last week, this book offers surprises and a bit of controversy. It is thought-provoking and worthy of our reading time.
This month we discuss books that present situations of pain and bravery as young people learn to negotiate the difficulties of life while still quite young. As part of their negotiations, they learn about love and the lengths people will go through to keep loved ones safe. Each book offers surprises and perhaps a bit of controversy. Each is thought-provoking and worthy of our reading time. Our first book is Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan and illustrated by Meilo So.
This year, the Tucson Festival of Books celebrates its 10th anniversary. In a short period of time, the festival rose to become the third largest book festival in the U.S. drawing crowds in excess of 130,000. Each year the festival hosts 60-70 authors and illustrators of books for children and adolescents. This month My Take/Your Take features four books by this year’s festival authors to provide a personal take, starting with Jean and Holly on Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael López.
To wrap up October’s My Take/Your Take, we discuss The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy. In a town where silence is law, a rowdy rooster enters the scene and demands to be heard. We will discuss how this playful picturebook illustrates individuality, voice and opposition in relation to the other stories we’ve explored this month.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a story that focuses on the relationship between Quinn, a white boy, and Rashad, an African American boy who is violently beaten by a white police officer. This week, we discuss the racial issues of this book and how they relate to society today. We will also discuss how bullying in this book compares to what we observed in The Hate U Give and Wolf Hollow.