WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Turnaway Girls

The Turnaway Girls CoverThe Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins follows Delphernia Undersea, a 12-year-old who has a serious problem: she is unable to create shimmer from the music played by the boys from outside the cloister. Yet, Delphernia lives in a cloister with other girls who can produce the shimmer, which will give them a chance to leave the cloister if chosen by one of the outside Masters. The other girls have another attribute Delphernia lacks: the ability to be silent. But with her singing come the birds, and with the birds come thoughts of escape. Delphernia receives an unexpected opportunity to leave the cloister after she is chosen by a most peculiar Master. She must instantly decide: leave with a Master who comes to the skydoor and to a new world in Blightsend or remain in the cloister and the safety of its rock walls and her beloved birds? The decision she makes has the potential to make or unmake her as well as all those in Blightsend. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Casket of Time

Cover for The Casket of Time by Andri Snær Magnason Saving time, wasting time, no time to lose. American English is full of collocated terms about time, emphasizing a value of events happening “on time” and not appreciating things happening “in time.” Perhaps we share this trait with Icelanders.

Andri Snær Magnason describes his book, The Casket of Time (trans. by Björg Arnadóttir and Andrew Cauthery), as a Sci-Fi/Fairytale hybrid. He uses social realism to critique our response to the world’s problems. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia NwaubaniEver wonder what happened to the 276 girls abducted from Chiko, Nigeria in 2014? World-wide attention turned to Nigeria as the terror of the Boko Haram attacked and killed many community members from the village, and then kidnapped the girls. As time passed, the story faded from our collective consciousness. Two female journalists, however, one from Nigeria and the other from Italy followed the story and gathered accounts from 57 girls who escaped from the terrorist group when government forces found and attacked it. Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is a fictionalized account of what occurred with an afterword by Vivianna Mazza from Italy. Taking the accounts from those the journalists interviewed, Nwaubani now tells the story through the perspective of one girl who survived. Chronicling how the girls were forced to confess to a conversion to Islam or die and then treated as either slaves or wives to members of the Boko Haram, readers will be riveted by the short vignettes that authentically describe the horrors that occurred within the jungle camps of the Boko Haram. The narrative will also remind readers of the 219 girls who still remain lost to their families and community. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Cover for Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg MedinaMerci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina, recalls the the middle grade experience of no longer being a child but not yet being an adult. This is the confusing age when responsibilities increase though little explanation is given as to why. The age when young people begin to question authority and long for independence, but still look for approval and acceptance. Medina captures all this in this 2019 Newbery Medal winning book. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle

Cover from The Truth as Told by Mason ButtleMason Buttle is a sweaty mess of a kid. He says so himself. Mason understands where he resides in the pecking order at his school and at his bus stop, where he is apple bombed daily by the local bullies for being, well, Mason Buttle. What Mason doesn’t understand is how the rest of the town views him. He doesn’t learn that until later, when the looks he thought meant “sorry your friend died” really questioned whether or not he was the one who killed his friend. But what no one understands is that Mason is not a liar, and his good, good heart has kept him innocent until his newest friend Calvin Chumsky goes missing. The condemnation that had been hidden from him is revealed, but then, so is the truth —-the truth about so many things in Mason’s life and family. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Cardboard Kingdom

The Cardboard KingdomThe graphic novel The Cardboard Kingdom is a cheerful story capturing children’s imagination and creativity, friendship and exploration of conflicts with families, friends and even their own identity. Chad Sell created this book in coordination with ten other writers, including Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Manuel Betancourt, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Cloud Jacobs, Michael Cole and Barbara Perez Marquez. Continue reading

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YA Fantasies for the New Year

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

The last two books to round out 2018 will also take us into 2019 since both are the first books of a series. And the best (or worst, depending on how you think about this) is they are fantastic adventures… that you will need to wait (impatiently if you are like me) for their second titles! Yet, while I call them fantastic, and they are, I really resisted reading both of these books because they are the first two in a series in which their companions are not available. When it comes to story, I am hard-pressed to delay gratification! The two books of which I speak are The Book of Dust (2017) by Philip Pullman and Children of Blood and Bone (2108) by Tomi Adeyemi.

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Picturebooks that Delight

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

This week I want to focus on four picturebooks that were highlighted in WOW Currents during 2018. All create connections across cultures while delighting us with their stories. Those four books are Mommy’s Khimar (2018) by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Illustrated by Ebony Glenn), I Really Want to See You, Grandma (2018) by Taro Gomi, A Big Mooncake for Little Star (2018) by Grace Lin, and Drawn Together (2018) by Minh Lê (Illustrated by Dan Santat). Addressing particular aspects of their cultural backgrounds or heritages, these authors share stories that make us smile as well as educate us on the use of a Muslim khimar, the Moon Festival and Asian mooncakes, the connection of grandparents and grandchildren and how art can bring people together across the expanse of silence. Let’s take a look at each one in turn.

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Fiction that Inspires

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

Last week I talked about the three biographies on the WOW Recommends list and how inspiring they are for young people. This week I want to talk about a few equally inspiring fiction pieces. Those three books are The Stars at Oktober Bend (2018) by Glenda Millard, Speak: The Graphic Novel (2018) by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Escape from Aleppo (2018) by N.H. Senzai. While I suggest these books are inspiring, that does not mean they are without tragedy. In fact, all three chronicle an overwhelming tragedy for each of the protagonists. And it is their battle to overcome despite the tragedy, their hope for their futures and their ultimate victories that are so inspiring. The readers are with these characters as they encounter or struggle through the aftermath of each of their individual horrors. Let’s take a look at each one in turn. They deserve this second look!

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