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

WOW Currents

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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WOW Currents

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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WOW Currents
WOW Currents

Re-Introducing 2018 WOW Recommends

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati

Each year, members of the Worlds of Words community recommend monthly books for readers to consider through the WoW Recommends feature. The main criteria is that the book must have a publish date within the last two years. Taking a look back at the 2018 list, I was interested in finding out what had been recommended so that I might read these books and think about how they may or may not resonate with me. I was also curious about what themes were discussed so that I might share my own thoughts about these texts.
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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: I Really Want to See You, Grandma

I Really Want to See You, Grandma coverJapanese author and illustrator, Taro Gomi, first published I Really Want to See You, Grandma in Japan in 1979. Finally, it has been published for the first time in English so preschool children can enjoy the simple story and the humorous illustrations. The beginning words and illustration set up the story: “Yumi’s house is on a hill. It has a pink roof. Grandma’s house is on a mountain. It has an orange roof.” Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Drawn Together

Drawn Together coverIn Drawn Together, written by Min Lê with illustrations by Dan Santat, a young boy is dropped off to visit his grandpa. The boy looks reluctant. The Grandpa greets him with joy. The Grandpa speaks Thai, the boy, English. The Grandpa prepares an Asian dish for himself and a hot dog for his grandson. They try to communicate but are unable to cross their language divide. That awkward silence is broken when the boy brings out his drawing pen and his markers. The Grandpa is inspired to bring out his own art supplies, a sketch book, ink and pen. Together they create a new story. The boy says, “Right when I gave up on talking, my grandfather surprised me by revealing a world beyond words. And in a FLASH–we see each other for the first time. All the things we could never say come pouring out.” Through their collaboration in drawing scenes together they build “a new world that even words can’t describe.” Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: A Big Mooncake for Little Star

A Big Mooncake for Little StarA Big Mooncake for Little Star, by Grace Lin, will become a classic read aloud to children for generations to come. The endpapers show Little Star and her mama making a Big Mooncake. When it is baked, Little Star’s mama lays it in the night sky to cool. Little Star’s Mama says “your Mooncake took us a long time to bake, so let’s see if you can make it last awhile. Can you remember not to touch this Big Mooncake until I tell you to?” Little Star replies, “Yes, Mama.” “But in the middle of the night, Little Star woke. She forgot what her mama had said and only remembered the Big Mooncake.” So her little feet went “Pat, pat, pat.” across the sky to take a tiny nibble of the brilliant yellow Mooncake. Over the next nights she takes nibbles out of the Mooncake until it is a narrow crescent. A two page spread shows twelve phases of the shrinking moon with Little Star taking a nibble out of each one until it is a crescent. One night Little Star’s mama goes to look for the Big Mooncake and finds it is gone. Mama asks Little Star, “You ate the Big Mooncake again, didn’t you.” “Yes, Mama,” says Little Star. “Now let’s go make another one.” On the final endpapers, the story ends as it began with Little Star and her mama making a new Mooncake to place in the sky. It is a circle story. The story started with the making of the Big Mooncake and finishes with a new cake being made. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Stars at Oktober Bend

The Stars at Oktober BendImbued 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