Monday, April 22, 2019

Book Review: The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater


The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their LivesThe 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a true story.

Monday, November 2, 2013. Oakland, California.

Sasha sits in the back of the bus reading wearing a T-shirt, black fleece jacket, a gray flat cap, and gauzy white skirt. A senior at a small private school, the teenager identifies as agender—neither male nor female.

Sasha falls asleep.

A few seats away, three teenage boys are fooling around. Richard, with the sweet smile, wears a black hoodie and New York Knicks hat. He’s sixteen and a junior at Oakland High School.

Sasha wakes up in flames and screams.

Sasha spends over three weeks undergoing multiple surgeries to treat second and third-degree burns on their legs. Richard is arrested and charged as an adult with two felonies, each with a hate-crime clause.

From the start, the author reminds us how delicate the balance hangs prior to the crime, how it almost didn’t happen, how any number of things could have changed each teenager’s fate.

Income Inequality.

Richard is from East Oakland.
He’d rather cruise town with friends looking for excitement. Until he meets truancy coordinator, Kaprice Wilson, who grew up on these streets. Richard related to her and he wanted to get his act together.

“He has the potential to achieve anything he wants,” his employer wrote. Richard helped his mother with the bills, while she also took care of his deceased aunt’s daughters. He’d lost two aunts to gun violence and many friends.

Pronouns.

Sasha has always been fascinated by language. The shape and structure of it. They created their own language known as “Conlangers”. Sasha loves buses.

“I don’t want for people to think of me as a he, and when they say he, not only does it reinforce in their brains that I am a he, it also reinforces it in the brains of people who are listening,” Sasha explains. “It doesn’t really directly affect me, at least to hear it—it’s more like, Huh, that’s not right. And when people use the right pronouns, when they use they or another gender-neutral pronoun, it feels validating.”


Transgender people are the victims of an astonishing amount of violence. One out of every four trans people has experienced a bias-driven assault, and numbers are higher for trans women, trans people of color, and people who identify as neither male nor female. Of the 860 nonbinary people who responded to the 2008 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 32 percent had been physically assaulted.”


A 2012 analysis by California’s Department of Justice found that cases against black youths were more than twice as likely to be directly filed in adult court than cases against white youths, and cases against Latino youths were more than six times as likely. And the disparity didn’t end there. Once they landed in adult court, young black and brown offenders were also much more likely to serve time.”


A harrowing account of a terrible crime, detailing the agony each family went through, and the heartbreak of those who love Richard and Sasha. The author has written with clarity and compassion about the injustices within the juvenile incarceration system and the prejudices endured by the LGBTQIA+ community. Showing us much about forgiveness and the importance of community. A compelling must-read for anyone who cares about social justice.







View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

K10: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo


The Kidliterati Ten is an interview series with young readers. We ask them about a favorite book and hope that you enjoy their answers.

Tell us a little about yourself: what is your first name, how old are you, and what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Valeria, 11, and mint chocolate chip.

What book did you read and why did you choose it? The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. I chose this book because it looked very interesting and I read the back of the book and it sounded interesting.

Can you describe this book in one word? Heroic.

What was your favorite part of this story? When I found out that the evil master was the mom to the princess.

If you had a problem similar to the main character's problem, what would you do? I guess do the same thing, but with friends and helpful allies.

What would you say to your best friend to convince them to read this book? I would tell her that the book has an amazing plot and a great story line.

What do you think about the book's cover? I think the cover of this book is really captivating and persuasive.  

Would you want to read another book about these characters? Why or why not?
YES, because I liked how it ended, but I’d really like to see a continuation of this book. Also, because there’s a movie about it and I LOVED the movie.

Can you name another book that reminds you of this one? The Wizard of Once.

If you could ask the author one question about this book what would it be? What made you want to do this with Timothy B. Ering?

Thank you, Valeria! I love this book, too!

You can read more about The Tale of Despereaux here.



Monday, April 1, 2019

Review: The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

The Bridge HomeThe Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Viji and her sister Rukku run away from their abusive home, their situation is dire. The streets of Chennai are dangerous and cruel, especially as Viji must be extra vigilant due to Rukku's developmental disability.

But bolstered by small acts of kindness from Teashop Aunty, the girls find a home on an abandoned bridge and make new friends with two boys named Muthi and Arul. With their street dog companion Kutti, the four friends learn to survive by scavenging and sharing their resources. When the rainy season starts, the children must decide whether to seek help or fight for their hard-won independence.

The Bridge Home will break your heart and help it to mend. Venkatraman's lean storytelling is filled with raw emotion and it puts the reader directly into the lives of vulnerable children. The empathy on every page and the warmth of Viji and Rukku's found family provide a warm glow.

This story provides young readers with a framework for thinking about many difficult topics including abuse, homelessness, child labor, and grief. But each is handled with such humanity and care that every reader will come away with strength and hope.

View all my reviews


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Congratulations to Ella Schwartz and Can You Crack the Code

Congratulations, Ella!
We are excited to crack the code.


Codes can carry big secrets! Throughout history, lots of good guys and lots of bad guys have used codes to keep their messages under wraps. 

This fun and flippable nonfiction features stories of hidden treasures, war-time maneuverings, and contemporary hacking as well as explaining the mechanics behind the codes in accessible and kid friendly forms. Sidebars call out activities that invite the reader to try their own hand at cracking and crafting their own secret messages. 

This is the launch of an exciting new series that invites readers into a STEM topic through compelling historical anecdotes, scientific backup, and DIY projects.


Get your copy today:

Your Kidliterati friends are so happy for you.
Enjoy your special day.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Review: 14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop

14 Hollow Road14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The night of the sixth-grade dance is supposed to be perfect for Maddie: she'll wear her perfect new dress, hit the dance floor with her friends, and her crush, Avery, will ask her to dance. But as the first slow song starts to play, her plans crumble. Avery asks someone else to dance instead--and then the power goes out. Huddled in the gym, Maddie and her friends are stunned to hear that a tornado has ripped through the other side of town, destroying both Maddie's and Avery's homes.

Kind neighbors open up their home to Maddie's and Avery's families, which both excites and horrifies Maddie. Sharing the same house . . . with Avery? For the entire summer? While it buys her some time to prove that Avery made the wrong choice at the dance, it also means he'll be there to witness her morning breath and her annoying little brother. At the dance, all she wanted was to be more grown-up. Now that she has no choice, is she really ready for it?


I loved the premise of this book, and it didn't disappoint. While it begins with the tragedy of of Maddie losing her home to a tornado, it's mostly the sweet story of a girl growing up, navigating changing friendships, and dealing with a crush. Set in Massachusetts, where tornadoes are a rarity, it's the details that make this book so wonderful.

I especially loved Maddie's relationship with her younger brother -- while he's exasperating at times, she's protective of him. The details worked into the changing friendship dynamics between Maddie, her best friend, and the new girl in town are also so very realistic, and call to mind all those feelings of being left out and jealousy that happen at twelve years old. Maddie also has to deal with loss of her dog, who can't be found after the tornado. Her feelings about this are also spot-on.

This is a little thing, but as a kid whose mom worked and as mom who works, I really appreciated a book where the main character and her friends spend the summer at various camps, rather than hanging out at home or around the neighborhood. A really great read altogether!


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

K10: The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling


The Kidliterati Ten is an interview series with young readers. We ask them about a favorite book and hope that you enjoy their answers.

Tell us a little about yourself: what is your first name, how old are you, and what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? My first name is Abraham, I’m 10, and my favorite flavor is vanilla.

What book did you read and why did you choose it?
I chose Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone, and I chose it because it was interesting and the way Mrs. Thayer (my 5th grade teacher) read it made it better.

Can you describe this book in one word? Magical

What was your favorite part of this story? The chess match.

If you had a problem similar to the main character's problem, what would you do? I would make sacrifices even if it hurt me.

What would you say to your best friend to convince them to read this book? I would say “The friendship in it will make you want to be there.”

What do you think about the book's cover? I think it shows a little idea of what will happen.

Would you want to read another book about these characters? Why or why not?
I would because I would like to see more powerful friendships.

Can you name another book that reminds you of this one? Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, because Harry tried his best to defeat Voldemort, and Brian tried his best to get out of the woods.

If you could ask the author one question about this book what would it be? How did you get this idea of Harry Potter?


Here's some information on how Ms. Rowling came up with the character, Harry Potter. https://harrypotter.bloomsbury.com/uk/jk-rowling-biography/

Thank you, Abraham! It's so cool that your teacher, Mrs. Thayer, reads to your class! She sounds like an awesome teacher!




Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Congrats Jessika on Beware the Night

Congratulations, Jessika Fleck!
Everyone must Beware the Night.


When her world divides, pitting light against dark, Veda must join a dangerous revolution to save her grandfather and fight against injustice...even if it costs her the boy she loves.

On the island of Bellona, life is peaceful--as long as the citizens dutifully worship the Sun, which protects them from all harm. Seventeen-year-old Veda knows that keeping the Sun happy will protect her and her grandfather from the Night, the dangerous people who snatch innocent citizens from their beds under the cover of darkness, never to be seen again. As long as Veda follows the rules, she will be safe.

But when Veda's grandfather is offered up as the next sacrificial offering to keep the Sun's favor, she starts to see that the safety she's been promised comes at a dangerous price. Maybe there is more to fear above than there is below.

With a mysterious young man, Dorian, at her side, Veda has to figure out if the scary bedtime stories she grew up hearing are real--or dangerous lies.

Get your copy here:
 

Your Kidliterati friends are so happy for you, Jessika. 
Enjoy your special day.

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