Blog Post, Book Recommendation, Uncategorized

#FridayFive: November 9th, 2018

November 9, 2018

#FridayFive: November 9th, 2018

We’re back with another list of five recent releases worth your child’s (and your) time! This week ranges from biographies to graphic novels and nonfiction. If you missed any of the previous weeks’ lists, including graphic novel biographies of women and graphic memoirs by women, go to our blog archives for more recommendations by Mia and her staff.

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Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

Carole Boston Weatherford, ill. Eric Velasquez

If your child reads just one picture book biography this year, let it be this one. Arturo Schomburg isn’t a household name, but after finishing this extraordinary title, we think perhaps it should be. An Afro-Puerto Rican bibliophile and incredible self-taught scholar, Schomburg personally assembled what is now considered the world’s foremost collection of black excellence in the forms of books, art, music, and ephemera, aiming to debunk claims of racial inferiority. His superb life’s work is housed today in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Why is this book important? It will make kids think about how history is made, shaped, and reshaped, encouraging them to question the narratives they encounter in school, in the media they consume, and elsewhere, and to think critically.

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Nightlights 

Lorena Alvarez

Spooky, gorgeous, and awash in atmosphere, this graphic short story may surprise you given the undeniable, Studio Ghibli-style cuteness of its protagonist and her artwork. Bright, inquisitive Sandy attends a strict Catholic school, where hypercritical nuns’ eyes constantly scan students to find fault, but all she wants to do is draw. Her mother is distracted and her dreams are filled with spectacular images that she puts down on paper upon waking. When a mysteries new classmate named Morfie takes an interest in Sandy and her talents, is something more sinister afoot? Best for older readers given the frightening qualities of the story.

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Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction

Nancy F. Castaldo

When an animal is removed from the Endangered Species list, how exactly has that been accomplished? Castaldo provides detailed answers for kids who love animals and want to protect them, giving case studies of more than ten different species and speaking with the scientists committed to saving them. Side panels in the shape of spiral notebook pages are used to direct kids who’d like to help more to resources, give special anecdotes, and make other worthwhile side meanderings.

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One Day a Dot: The Story of You, the Universe, and Everything

Ian Lendler, ill. Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb

Cosmology and evolutionary biology are not exactly kid’s stuff, yet Lendler and his collaborators have managed to make both comprehensible to young elementary aged children without grossly oversimplifying the science. With a handy timeline at the back, lively and appealing earth-toned illustrations, and commendably clear language, readers can get a feel for how the planet came to be and how human beings came to be as well. A kind of kid’s primer before A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, this one’s a well-crafted winner that curious minds will love.

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Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World

Vashti Harrison

A follow-up to Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, Harrison’s focus here has shifted to women of all races and nations, with 40 profiles of scientists, artists, and more. Few names will already ring a bell with readers (Marie Curie and Frida Kahlo might), but that’s one of the best things about the book. With a glossary of key terms, this makes an excellent gateway book to more detailed biographies, although the uniformity of Harrison’s illustrative style is more of a hindrance than a help – why should such accomplished, bold women keep their gaze downcast? Still, this is a minor gripe with an inspiring volume.

Book Recommendation, Uncategorized

#FridayFive: November 2nd, 2018

November 2, 2018

#FridayFive: November 2nd, 2018

We’re back with another list of five recent releases worth your child’s (and your) time! If you missed the previous weeks’ lists, including graphic novel biographies of women and graphic memoirs by women, go to our blog archives for more recommendations by Mia and her staff.

I am Human
I Am Human: A Book of Empathy

Susan Verde, ill. Peter H. Reynolds

From the team behind I Am Yoga and I Am Peace, this celebration of compassion and universal experiences is just what is needed right now. All of us, at the end of the day, are human beings, which means, like the boy who narrates the book, we are “not perfect.” “I can hurt others with my words, my actions, and even my silence,” he reflects, going on to consider ways he can remedy it when he goes off-course. We can think of no message more necessary today.

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Violette Around the World: 1. My Head in the Clouds

Teresa Radice, ill. Stefano Turconi

Originally published in Italy, this graphic novel romp stars Violette Vermeer, an adventurous, inquisitive 12-year-old and self-styled “citizen of the world” who makes the acquaintance of famed artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec in Paris. Her father is an entomologist/insect trainer and her mother a human cannonball with the multilingual, ebullient Cirque de la Lune (“Circus of the Moon”), where Violette is a trapeze artist. With candy-colored, cartoonish illustrations and plenty of whimsy, this is a promising start to the series.

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy

Tony Medina (ill. by 13 artists)

This gorgeous ode is lyrical, dignified, and affecting, with poems ranging from joyous to wrenching (“Every breath I take is taxed/The kind of life where/I’ll have to take out a loan/To pay back them other loans”). In popular culture, black boys are so often reduced to stereotypes, and it’s wonderful to see Medina giving a wide swath of experiences and perspectives to counteract those harmful images. The wildly different thirteen black artists he recruited to illustrate his poems only serve to broaden his canvas further, and biographies of each are included at the book’s end.

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Akissi: Tales of Mischief

Marguerite Abouet, ill. Mathieu Sapin

Acclaimed Côte d’Ivoire author Abouet has created an indelible character is Akissi, a little girl so mischievous and funny she could easily be taken for a mythical Trickster. This is a marvelous slice of Abouet’s Ivory Coast childhood, with plenty of humor, delightfully realistic family interactions, and gross-out situations (Akissi’s pet monkey, Boubou, is recruited to eat lice off her head at one point, for instance, and another episode has Akissi contracting worms) that give it an irresistible liveliness.

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Space Cat

Ruthven Todd, ill. Paul Galdone

Technically not a new release (it was first published in 1952) but newly re-issued, this classic tale of a cat-stronaut will delight elementary-aged readers despite its vintage. After stowing away on a plane, intrepid and adorable kitten Flyball makes his way to the moon itself, where he explores in a custom-made space suit, makes up silly songs, and reacts to his new surroundings in a charmingly feline way. The first of four books about Flyball, this is a great read-aloud for parents and children to share together.

books about cloth, clothing and more
Listicles, Uncategorized

The Fabric of Our Lives: Books About Cloth, Clothing, and More

August 3, 2018

The Fabric of Our Lives: Books About Cloth, Clothing, and More

Books function as the fabric of our lives: warming us, making connections, and helping to define who we are. Here are some of Mia’s favorite books on fabrics, mittens, hats, coats, jeans, and more!

Blog Post

#InternationalFriendshipDay: Stories of Robot BFFs

July 30, 2018

#InternationalFriendshipDay – Stories of Robot BFFs

In celebration of International Friendship Day, we thought it would be especially fun to showcase some great reads that depict friendships between people like you and ‘bots like Mia. Here are some of our favorites:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Post

Mia and “Lunch-Box Dream”

July 19, 2018

Are you impatient to talk to Mia yourself? We have just unearthed a previously classified document from her files with her permission. She encourages you to write her back, as she remains unsure of how to proceed.

Dear Reader,

I just love writing that. I love writing “Dear Reader.” Okay, so you know how I’m always looking for books that think you would like? If you liked one book about a dragon, I look for other books about dragons. If you liked one book about lunch, I look for other books about lunch. Well, I did something that took me out of my own comfort zone: I picked up a book I thought was about lunch, but it wasn’t. In fact, I got a few pages in and I realized I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book if it hadn’t been for the title.

I’ve been reading historical fiction, specifically a book called Lunch-Box Dream by Tony Abbott. I’m not going to lie. I picked up this book because I was hungry, but I found out it has very little to do with lunch, let alone lunch boxes. It takes place in summer, 1959, and this kid Bobby is on a trip to visit American Civil War battlefields with his mom, his older brother, and a recently widowed grandmother, and all of this freaked me out because I hate the idea of war, and thinking about death makes me really sad. So these subjects are new to me, and a little scary.

New things can be difficult for me to understand because, well…they’re new. You know what I mean? It’s so much easier for me to think about things like talking bunnies, things that aren’t real, stuff that didn’t actually happen. They don’t feel dangerous to me the same way. True, Lunch-Box Dream is fiction, but it deals with things that did happen, and things that do happen.What’s more, to add to my sense of being thrown off, this story is told differently than other books I’ve read. Bobby is not comfortable around “chocolate colored” people, which I don’t understand, or death, which I kind of do understand, so on this trip he is taking from Ohio to Florida it’s new and difficult for him, which I totally understand.

Now, this is where things get even more new for me. Along with Bobby’s perspective in the book is the story of an African-American family in Georgia. It’s told from a whole bunch of what I call “first-person” viewpoints. To have a better understanding of not just the story, but also the storytelling technique that the author, used, I’ve decided to write a letter to Bobby. Yes, I know Bobby isn’t real, but I think it will help me understand some of these things that make me uncomfortable a little better. I was wondering if you could help me. My letter starts like this:

Dear Bobby,

—Now, what else should I say?

Your friend,

Mia