WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Eagle Huntress

A young Mongolian girl stands on a mountain with a large eagle on her hand.In The Eagle Huntress, a thirteen-year-old Kazakh girl named Aisholpan Nurgaiv tells the story of her journey to become the first female eagle huntress in Mongolia. It was written with Liz Welch, author of The New York Times bestseller, I Will Always Write Back. She traveled to Mongolia to write this book. The Eagle Huntress begins the day before Aisholpan was born and introduces her family’s nomadic life, moving their animals, depending on seasons, through the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia. Kazakh people lived under Communism from 1924 to 1989, when their cultural practices, including eagle hunting and nomadic life, were outlawed. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Berry Song

A grandmother and her granddaughter look up to the viewer from underneath green leaves and pink berries.Berry Song by Michaela Goade is a celebration of the land, the indigenous people and animals that live on the “island at the edge of a wide, wild sea.” Goade grew up and lives in the Tongass National Forest which is the home of her Tlingit ancestors. The story takes place in that Forest. A young girl tells of how her Tlingit grandmother taught her to harvest what they needed from the salty ocean gathering herring eggs, seaweed and netting silvery salmon. “And in the forest… we pick berries. …The berries sing to us, glowing like little jewels. We sing too, so berry–and bear–know we are here.” As they sing they say the names of the multiple kinds of berries that they harvest. Their songs encompass the variety of ways the forest “sings to us, through misting rain and whoosh of wing, the sweet smell of cedar and the tickle of moss.” Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The New Rooster

A bright rooster runs while pulling a suitcase on wheels behind himThe New Rooster by Rilla Alexander is a universal and fanciful story about the challenges of communicating when many different languages are spoken. The story starts on the title page when Rooster, clutching his roller bag, parachutes from a plane. He has come a long way for his new job in a new country. We notice on the front endpapers that he has been hired to give the wake-up call at the ZZZ Hotel. But when he crows just as he had back home, no one is aroused. Even when he yells at the top of his lungs no one gets up. Repeated efforts until 3 p.m. fail to get anyone out of bed and the rooster figures he is out of a job. He realizes that he will need a good breakfast if he must make the long journey home. When the delicious smells of his cooking finally arouses the hotel guests they share a breakfast and chat. “They didn’t understand every word they heard, but they tried their best.” The ending will leave smiles on listener’s faces as this book makes a terrific read aloud. Don’t miss the punch line on the back endpapers — “Did you know the Rooster speaks pig latin?” Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Blue

A Black girl with a crown hairstyle grinds plants to make the color blueBlue by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond with illustrations by Daniel Minter is an informative and unusual nonfiction book. The beautiful illustrations extend the text that describes varied aspects of the color blue; the complicated history, impact on art, science and much more.

That history started way back in time. “As early as 4500 BC, diggers found blue rocks called lapis lazuli in mines deep below Afghanistan’s Sare-e-Sang valley.” Early sources of the color came from crushed rocks and “in the belly of a certain shell fish.” Later, dyers produced blue from the indigo plants. “In parts of Africa, some merchants used strips of indigo cloth to buy people, and sell them into slavery. … In this evil side of the trade for blue, landowners around the world abused or enslaved countless people just so they could grow more indigo.” In 1905, scientist, Adolf von Baeyer, won the Nobel Prize for “creating a chemical blue.” He made that achievement after forty years of trying. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers

book jacket shows a scrapbook-style drawing of a girl facing parallel to a street with words on the horizonWhen I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers by Ken Krimstein is a collection of “lost autobiographies” that breaks with many norms readers might expect from autobiographical works. And I predict YA literature readers will be fascinated by the power of these young people’s words and experiences and the “author’s” visual interpretation of their memoirs. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Time to Fly

Baby bird peeks over the edge of a nestWhenever I see a new book by George Ella Lyon, I immediately take notice. Her most beloved form of writing is poetry where she provides us with eloquent lyrical verse in each of her books she delivers. I can hear her voice as I read through her books, much like the voice you hear that can be heard on YouTube videos or on her website page where you can find her reading her books and poems. In this new book, Time to Fly, I can vividly hear Lyon’s voice as she narrates a mother bird urging her last baby bird to leave the nest and learn to fly on her own. Authors who write stories where you can hear them are the types of books that I gravitate to because of their ability to be a storyteller and relay the characters’ voices brilliantly. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Luli and the Language of Tea

Girl sits at round table in a classroom holding a cup of teaLuli and the Language of Tea opens with Luli coming into a preschool classroom with children from many cultures and countries. Their parents are attending an ESL class next door. The text reads, “The playroom was quiet./ Luli couldn’t speak English./ Neither could the others./ All around the room, children played alone.” Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Last Cuentista

Sleeping girl in half light half dark surrounded by images including a spaceship and desert flora imagryHabía una vez there was a hard-working WOW Center Student Library Aide who was tasked with processing books. She did not identify as a reader, and so she could handle large numbers of books without temptation–until The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera caught her eye. Did her supervisor look the other way as this book trailed the student worker through her assigned duties at the front desk, while training new co-workers and as she prepped for her eventual departure upon graduation? Yes, I did. I did because I also read The Last Cuentista and know how transportive the story is. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Wishes

A group of emigrants wrapped in blankets huddle on a sailboat while one girl looks at the reader against a starry, foggy background.Wishes is a compelling story about a Vietnamese family’s escape to find a new home across the world and the impact of their journey on one of the youngest children. The story is told through the young girl’s experiences and the wishes made by inanimate objects such as the rice packets that wishes they were deeper and the clock at the departure that wishes it was slower. The story is inspired by the author’s autobiographical accounts of her personal fears and experiences as a young immigrant and refugee in the 1980s when she and her family were forced to leave Vietnam. The story is seamlessly told in prose with beautiful illustrations resembling each wish along her journey. Each illustration and wish leads to her final wish—for a place to call home. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua

A young girl with braids holds a basket full of fruit on her head. She stands in front of a field of pink flowers, and two mountains in the background frame the cover.As a reader and educator who is drawn to the artistry of Duncan Tonatiuh as well as stories of indigenous people, I immediately welcomed Child of the Flower-Song People: Luz Jiménez, Daughter of the Nahua into my library. Both the author and subject were new to me, and after many close readings I am still finding multiple reasons to appreciate the poetic text and research of Gloria Amescua, the uniquely created illustrations of Tonatiuh, and the biography of a woman, Luz Jiménez, whose life is both a historical monument and an example of being true to one’s cultural identity. Continue reading