WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Freedom Over Me

Freedom Over Me by Ashley BryanIn Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life, Ashley Bryan created a treasure of a book that deeply moves the heart, informs and influences our humanity. Following the January publication of Teaching Hard History: American Slavery by the Southern Poverty Law Center, multiple articles looked into the need for students to learn more about the experience of slavery. Bryan’s book, which appeals to ages 11 and up, helps accomplish this. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Book of Dust

The Book of Dust by Philip PullmanIf you were enthralled by Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, you will welcome his new book, The Book of Dust: Volume One La Belle Sauvage. It is a prequel to the first book in the previous series, The Golden Compass. When I read the first chapter of this new book I relished the feeling of reentering Pullman’s familiar fantasy world. Pullman is a master storyteller. In this story, he weaves another powerful and fantastic adventure saga. The star of this book is Malcolm, an 11-year-old boy whose parents run an Inn in Oxford. Malcolm helps out there and in the Priory across the river from the Inn. At the Priory, Malcolm meets the baby, Lyra, whose father, Lord Astrial, left her there to be protected by the nuns. After he meets the 6-month-old Lyra, he becomes “her servant for life.” Later Malcolm saves Lyra from a danger that threatens her life. To keep her safe he undertakes a heroic journey in his canoe. When a terrible flood changes the landscape, Malcolm battles against horrific odds to protect Lyra. Along the way, Pullman strews nuggets of wonder that enthrall the reader. When we reach the end of that journey and the book on page 450, there is a promise: “To be continued.” Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to re-enter the world of Pullman’s Dark Materials, since two more books are planned. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Emily Carroll’s Graphic Novelization of Speak

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily CarrollSpeak: the graphic novel, written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Eisner Award-winning artist Emily Carroll, takes a probing look at sexual assault and its consequences for adolescents. Melinda Sordino, a freshman at Merryweather High, is raped at a party and unable to speak out against her attacker. Instead, she expresses her feelings in the haven of art class, where her teacher challenges her to dig deep and voice her feelings artistically. Her struggle to cope with and communicate her depression is echoed in the stark, unforgiving greyscale of Carroll’s artwork. Melinda finds comfort in creating a space all her own, regains her confidence with the help of new found friends and is ultimately able to speak up against her attacker. This emotional novel challenges the reader to understand the reality and repercussions of sexual assault and the difficulty of seeking justice. –Recommended by Angel Stone, WOW Intern, University of Arizona Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Bronze and Sunflower

This December WOW Recommends Bronze and Sunflower written by Cao Wenxuan and illustrated by Meilo So as our book of the month. The book won the Hans Christian Anderson award in 2016 and is translated from Chinese into English by Helen Wang. Wenxuan is a best-selling author for children in China and a philosophy professor at Peking University. Bronze and Sunflower is set during the Cultural Revolution in China. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: All the Way to Havana

All the Way to Havana by Margarita EngleThe colorful picturebook, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle with illustrations by Mike Curato, is set in modern day Cuba. It focuses on a family celebration and how Cuban resourcefulness keeps American cars from the 1950s running. A boy narrates the trip his family takes from the country to Havana in their precious old car, Cara Cara, a 1954 Chevy. Before they can take off, Papa and his son have to fix the car. They try and try to fix the silly noises. “The rattling parts have ben fixed with wire, tape and mixed-up scraps of dented metal.” Finally, “Cara Cara once again begins to sound like a chattering hen!” Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Refugee

WOW Recommends Refugee Refugee by Alan Gratz is a poignant, unforgettable novel that effectively interweaves the stories of three 11 and 12-year-old refugees. Josef flees from Nazi Germany to Cuba in 1938, Isabel flees from Cuba to the U.S. in 1994, and Mahmoud flees from Syria in 2015. Their traumatic journeys across landscapes of danger and their sacrifices highlight struggles of freedom and responsibility. This hard-hitting novel thoughtfully raises global and intergenerational issues and invites empathy for those involved in current refugee crises. This is a book that will reverberate in your mind long after you put it down. -Recommended by Kathy Short at the University of Arizona Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandyha Menon When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is like any other YA Rom Com with one exception–the relationship is traditionally arranged. Dimple and Rishi are Indian Americans whose traditional (for the U.S.) parents set them up for marriage, only Dimple doesn’t know this. When Rishi decides to meet cute by introducing himself to Dimple as her future husband, she tosses her coffee on him and flees in panic. The story fits YA romance in that Menon offers a “happily for now” ending. The reader does not feel locked into the relationship for life, but sort of hopes for a “happily ever after.” Dimple is relatable and Rishi is hella likable; together they are unstoppable. When Dimple Met Rishi is a fun story that demystifies stereotypes about Indian Americans and arranged marriage. Menon was born and raised in India and now lives in Colorado. -Recommended by Rebecca Ballenger Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Rooster Who would Not be Quiet!

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!
Book of the Month, August 2017
The Rooster Who would Not be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy with illustrations by Eugene Yelchin

This allegoric tale demonstrates the power of resistance when a rooster challenges a unjust law. Even when the mayor chops down the rooster’s favorite tree, imprisons him, separates him from his family, and puts him in the dark, the rooster will not obey. The lively illustrations and text combine to demonstrate how injustice can be overcome. Don’t miss the essential Afterward. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter
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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones by Margriet Ruurs, with translation by Falah Raheem and illustrations by Nizar Badr
Book of the Month, July 2017
Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs, with translation by Falah Raheem and illustrations by Nizar Badr

Bilingual English/Arabic text and expressive artwork made from stones tell the story of a boy and his family who must flee their home in war-torn Syria. Their journey is dangerous and grueling, but eventually they find a safe haven. This timely book is an excellent introduction to the concept of refugees and will spark powerful discussions about the consequences of war and the treatment of people forced out of their homes. -Recommended by Janine Schall
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WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Dive!

Dive by Deborah Hopkinson
Book of the Month, June 2017
Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors and Submarines in The Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson

These engrossing, fascinating stories focus on particular sailors, skippers and submarines that operated in the Pacific for some years as practically the only part of our navy that survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Special sections such as Dispatch, Briefings, Submarine School (operating the head should be a hit), Skippers Recommendations, Timelines, Maps, and Photographs deepen the telling of the stories and add historical facts without being didactic. The After section is superb with more fascinating information. The whole book is a page turner. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter
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