MG – Fake News

Jackson, Tom. Fake News. Quarto Publishing, 2020. 978-0-711-25034-5. 96 p. $14.75. Grades 5-8.

“Everyone and anyone can have an opinion, but not everyone’s opinion is fully informed.” Learn about censorship, secret agendas, conspiracy theories, and the battle between the media and politicians by reading Fake News. Chapters include the Myths and Meaning, Advertising, Memes, World Wide Web, and Freedom of Speech. This book encourages students to get all the facts before forming an opinion. Each chapter ends with a section of questions the reader can use to help reflect and make sense of what they have read. After reading this book, students will have the knowledge and skills needed to become responsible users of information and be able to make informed opinions about hot topics.

THOUGHTS: An important book for any person wishing to be a more critical thinker. The information presented is relevant to today’s current events and the book will be a valuable addition to any middle school or high school library collection. This book and others can be displayed together to make a compelling collection.

070.4 Media Literacy          Jaynie Korzi, South Middleton SD

Elem. – I Voted: Making a Choice Makes a Difference

Shulman, Mark. I Voted: Making a Choice Makes a Difference. Neal Porter Books, 2020. 978-0-823-44561-5. $19. Unpaged. Grades K-3. 

A great introduction to voting! Author Mark Shulman guides young readers through the process of voting, from the basic concept that voting equals making a choice, to Election Day for adult voters. He uses excellent, applicable examples (“Some choices are easy to make: Ice cream or onions? Some choices are harder: Ice cream or cupcakes?” and “Imagine you’re choosing a classroom pet…”) and stresses the importance of talking to others about their opinions. No matter the outcome, “…your vote might be the one that makes a difference.” While Shulman’s text is great, it’s really Serge Bloch’s illustrations that set the book apart. There is generally one illustration for each sentence, which sounds like a lot, but Bloch’s cartoon illustrations really help young readers see and identify with examples. Back matter consists of sections on how our government works, five easy steps for voting, information on state and local governments, and a reminder that “You Can Start Now.”

THOUGHTS: A must-have for elementary school collections looking to beef up their government/election offerings.

324.6 Election Systems           Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

MG – A Thousand Questions

Faruqi, Saadia. A Thousand Questions. HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2020. 978-0-062-94320-0. 225 p. $16.99. Grades 6-8. 

In this East meets West friendship story, A Thousand Questions shows the disparity in lifestyles between the United States and Pakistan told alternately by the two main characters. Eleven-year-old Mimi Scotts and her mother travel from Houston, Texas, for summer vacation to visit her wealthy grandparents, Begum Sahib and Sahiba Ji, in Karachi for the first time. She is awed by the wealth and luxury of her grandparents’ home compared with her tiny apartment and stretched budget back in the United States. While Mimi’s mother reconnects with her school chums, Mimi forms a friendship with the servant girl, Sakina Ejaz. Too poor to go to school, Sakina assists her diabetic father cooking in the Ji’s kitchen. The two girls become fast friends. With the backdrop of the campaign season for new elections, Sakina shows Mimi the sites of Karachi, and Mimi agrees to tutor to Sakina for her English examination so that she can win a school scholarship. Mimi’s narration includes secret letters she writes to Tom Scotts, the father she has never met. When Mimi discovers her freelance journalist father is living in Karachi, she is determined to meet him and Sakina is a willing accomplice. Author Saadia Faruqi captures the richness of the Asian city from the delicious dishes and its atmosphere to the inequity of the caste system as well as the authenticity of the fully-drawn main characters: Sakina, mature beyond her years, cognizant of her integral role in providing for the welfare of her family; Mimi, an ordinary American girl of modest means, getting to know her grandparents and also her own mother in her childhood home and longing to connect with father.

THOUGHTS: This book reminds the reader of When Heaven Fell  by Carolyn Marsden, a story that compares the life of  a struggling Vietnamese family with the life of an adult Vietnamese-American adoptee who visits her Vietnamese birth mother. There’s a part where Sakini asks Mimi if there are poor people in America and Mimi answers, “No,” at first until she remembers a homeless man and the kids at school who qualify for free lunch. Discussion of social justice issues, equity in education, and divorce can ensue.

Realistic Fiction          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

When Mimi and her mother arrive in Karachi, Pakistan for the summer, Mimi immediately misses air conditioning, soccer, and chicken nuggets, all staples of her American upbringing. Mimi is surprised to find that her grandparents live in luxury, employing servants and wearing fancy clothes, while Mimi and her mother can barely afford rent in their tiny Houston apartment. Mimi realizes there is so much she doesn’t know about her mother, her grandparents, and her father who left years ago without explanation. After learning that her father’s job brought him to Karachi, Mimi befriends a servant girl who agrees to help Mimi find him in exchange for English lessons. Sakina, a servant of Mimi’s grandparents, dreams of going to school like Mimi, but her servant status prohibits her from making her dreams a reality. After all, when would she find the time to go to school when she must keep her job to take care of her own family and ailing father? Going to school seems even more impossible when she takes a secret exam and fails the English portion, but when Sakina and Mimi strike up their deal, Sakina starts to hope for her future and a better life for her family. As their friendship blossoms, the inequities of the Pakistani class system are revealed, and the friends determine to make good in both of their worlds despite the challenges.

THOUGHTS: Instead of multiple perspectives from different time periods, this story highlights two contemporary perspectives in a country many readers will be unfamiliar with. Shining light on the class system that still exists today in Pakistan, readers may feel compelled to learn more about the living inequalities and hardships people face who live outside of the United States. This is a good #ownvoices addition to any library seeking to diversity their collection.

Realistic     Jaynie Korzi, South Middleton SD

Elem. – The President of the Jungle

Rodrigues, Andre with Larissa Ribeiro, Paula Desgualdo, and Pedro Markun. The President of the Jungle. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020. 978-1-984-81474-6. 40 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Lion has always been king of the jungle, but when he abuses his power by rerouting a river to create his own private swimming pool, the other animals decide it’s time for a change. Owl suggests becoming a democracy and holding an election where each animal has the chance to become a candidate and campaign with new leadership ideas. All jungle animals have the opportunity to vote and elect a president. Everyone agrees to the idea, and Monkey, Sloth, Snake, and Lion kick off their campaigns. They make posters, speak on tv, distribute pamphlets, debate issues, and hold rallies. On election day, each animal casts a secret ballot, and the first president is elected. This accessible title introduces young readers to the democratic process using straightforward language and easily understood descriptions. A glossary of election terms on the final page includes boldfaced words from the text such as campaign, debate, democracy, government, rally, and vote. Originally published in 2018 and translated from Portuguese, the book’s vibrant illustrations were created by mixing hundreds of paper cutouts with pencil and charcoal drawings and coloring everything digitally.

THOUGHTS: This lively jungle title spotlights the basic elements of democratic elections and will be a perfect fit for elementary classrooms looking for tie-ins to the 2020 presidential election. The text is geared towards the youngest readers, and the glossary includes child-friendly political definitions.

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary School, Southern York County SD