WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Frankly In Love

Cover of Frankly In Love is yellow with blue-green 3D lettering and text onlyFrank Li is, in many ways, like any boy at his high school. He has a best friend and a great desire to have a girlfriend. His best friend is Black, which produces discomfort with his traditional Korean parents, and Frank’s new girlfriend is also non-Korean. Frank, fearful of becoming a pariah like his older sister, hides his relationship from his parents, but soon hatches a plan to work with Joy, one of the “Limbos” who also has traditional Korean parents and a boyfriend who is non-Korean. Joy and Frank “date” one another, which frees them to meet with their respective love interests. This arrangement has its drawbacks. As Frank negotiates his identity as both Korean and American, and all the issues that come with being a savvy teen living in a home that falls back on old prejudices and biases of race and ethnicity, Frank’s story is imbued with humor, profound insights and adolescent sensibility that produces an enjoyable and realistic experience that both delights and challenges readers. -Recommended by Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Cinderella Liberator

Cover of Cinderella Liberator which depicts the silhouette of a woman with a cake in hand, jumping, and a mouse at her feet on a pale blue background.Many years ago when I was reviewing children’s books for the Los Angeles Times, I was approached by a producer who wanted to do a series for PBS centered on Cinderella stories. The series never materialized but in the process of investigating the proposal, I discovered many different Cinderella stories from all over the world. Since then, I have eagerly read any new book that centers on that traditional story. This new title by Rebecca Solnit presents a much-needed lively and thoughtfully updated version of the familiar fairy tale. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month
WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad along with S.K. Ali write about an experience from both of their childhoods. This story is about a young girl whose older sister is going to be wearing the hijab for the first time in public (her school). The mother takes Asiya to a hijab shop to choose a color that most reflects her. Her younger sister, Faizah, accompanies her. The color of the hijab that Asiya chooses is a brilliant blue that reflects the sky and the sea. Asiya is bullied in school about her hijab but she fights back with confidence that only a child who is loved and appreciated by her family can. She becomes a role model for her younger sibling and other younger girls, to follow when time comes for them to choose to wear the hijab. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Bridge Home

The Bridge Home CoverWhat can you do once you decide that you can no longer watch your abusive father beat your mother and his rage extends to you and your sister? You can run away and try to make it on your own. That is what Viji does, taking her sister Rukku with her. Rukku is cognitively challenged, but this does not stop either sister from leaving their small village to find their way in the streets of Chennai, India. They are greeted with both kindness and challenges by those around them, eventually settling with two orphaned runaways under a decrepit bridge with tarp tents. This works until the monsoon season and its mosquitoes, chilling dampness and sickness. Viji has to make decisions about this new family, eventually leading them to hope, but not without tragedy first. A lovely narrative about the resilience of children in harsh conditions, the love and care needed to overcome, and the faith needed to face the future. Readers will hope with Viji, Rukku and their two new brothers as they learn to overcome in a world not often kind to children. -Recommended by Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: B is for Baby

B is for Baby CoverB is for Baby is delectable story begins on the title page where an adorable baby is being cuddled by her mama. The background shows an African village and a boy rocking to music on his headphones. He turns out to be baby’s brother. The adventure starts as baby plays with her toes on the first page with the simple accompanying text – “B is for Baby.” Each page highlights another B word with an accompanying illustration as Baby’s journey takes off. “B is for Basket,” and when baby opens the basket inside are bananas – “B is for Banana.” When baby reaches for a Banana she falls into the basket and the text reads, “B is for Breakfast,” as she peels the banana. Her be-bopping brother comes along, jiving to the music on his headphones, “B is for Brother.” He does not notice Baby in the basket of bananas, which he loads on his bicycle to take to their grandpa. Then “B is for going to see Baba.” Everything along the way that starts with B is highlighted – “Bumpy, Baobab, Big, Butterfly, Bird, Beautiful, Baboon, Bus, Bridge, Bougainvillea, Bungalow,” and at the end of the journey, Baba is surprised and delighted to find baby in the basket of bananas on the back of the bicycle. After a treat of biscuits and a bottled drink, the two siblings return home to Mama’s loving arms. A double-page spread shows in small pictures all the sights along way from the return home. Finally, Mama cuddles her baby again and the text ends with “B is for Baby.” Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Moth

Cover for Moth depicts a silvery moth against a blue night sky with silhouetted treesMoth: An Evolution Story by Isabel Thomas chronicles the “change and adaption, of survival and hope” of the peppered moth during the 19th century, a time of industrial environmental changes. Thomas’ exquisite language use leads readers to explore the cycle of life of these moths. The moths emerged from cocoons, “skittered and swooped… and looped the loop all night long” before laying eggs of their own. These moths were typically spotted in nature as white and peppered with specks of dark, but sometimes they were born “with wings as dark as charcoal.” The lighter speckled moths slept on lichen-covered trees and had better camouflage from prey. “The dark-colored moths made a feast for hungry chicks,” because they stood out on the white tree branches. Industrialization changed the environment so that the air was polluted and trees filled with soot, which altered the survival of the light-colored moths. They were no longer camouflaged from their prey. Now charcoal-colored moths survived in abundance. This might sound like an end to the white-colored moth, but Thomas provides hope in this chronicle. Many years later people decided to be more aware of the environment by cleaning the air and burning less pollutants. Over time “both colors of moths find places to hide and survive.” Continue reading

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