Elem. – Lali’s Feather

Zia, Farhana. Lali’s Feather. Peachtree, 2020. 978-1-682-63129-4. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.

Lali is a young girl living in India who finds a feather on the ground. She asks a number of birds if this feather belongs to them. A rooster, crow, peacock, and other birds deny that the plain feather is theirs. Lali then shows that the feather is useful and uses it to write, sweep, and even to tickle her father’s feet. Then, the feather catches the wind and blows away and the distraught Lali runs after it. With the help of her bird friends, the feather is retrieved and the next day, Lali finds a button. The digitally created illustrations by Stephanie Fizer Coleman are colorful and engaging. The artist gives a hint of the Indian landscape and culture in the drawings.

THOUGHTS: This story is a good read aloud and could be a discussion starter for ideas about what Lali will do next with the button. A supplemental purchase for elementary collections.

Picture Book          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

YA – Of Curses and Kisses

Menon, Sandya. Of Curses and Kisses. Simon Pulse, 2020. 978-1-534-41754-0. 361 p. $18.99. Grades 6-12. 

Princess Jaya Rao, heiress to India’s last royal family, has always put duty first. Young Indian women should conform, they should not cause a scene or do anything like fraternizing with boys or using foul language that would hurt the family’s image. When her younger sister Isha is pictured in tabloids drinking and kissing a mechanic, the family’s name is in jeopardy. Jaya and Isha leave for Aspen to an elite boarding school called St. Rosetta’s to try and let the whole thing blow over. The thing is, St. Rosetta’s is currently the school of Grey Emerson, or Lord Northcliff, of the family with which the Raos have been feuding for generations. Jaya knows that Grey leaked the photos to ruin their family, and now she knows just the way to get back at him: make him fall in love and break his heart.

THOUGHTS: An artful Beauty and the Beast retelling done only the way Sandhya Menon can. Get a glimpse into the life of the aristocracy, traditions and all, and learn how to let yourself be happy.

Fantasy (Realistic, Fairytale)          Samantha Helwig, Dover Area SD

YA Graphic Novels – Pashmina; Wires & Nerve; Decelerate Blue

Chanani, Nidhi. Pashmina. First Second Books, 2017. 978-1-626720886. 176 pp. $21.99. Gr. 6-9.

When Priyani puts on the pashmina that she finds in a hallway closet, she is transported to India, and author Nidhi Chanani’s black and white artwork is transformed into rich color. Priyani is greeted by new friends Kanta and Mayur (an elephant and a peacock), her tour guides through her mother’s home country. She’s captivated by the sights, sounds, and tastes, but she’s also pursued by a mysterious shadow figure. The pashmina slips off, and Pri is back home again, desperately hoping to talk her mother into letting her travel to India IRL. Her mother relents after receiving a phone call from Pri’s aunt, who is pregnant and seeking family to support her. THOUGHTS: This middle-grade graphic novel charmingly depicts the many ups and downs of a mother-daughter relationship, the pashmina’s true purpose, and the importance of connecting with one’s familial culture. It’s a wonderful choices for readers who find themselves somewhere in between Raina Telgemeier’s and Lucy Knisley’s books.

Graphic Novel     Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District

 

Meyer, Marissa, and Doug Holgate, illustrator. Wires and Nerve. Feiwel and Friends, 2017. 978-1-250-07826-1. 238 pp. $21.99. Gr. 7 and up.

Return to the world of Marissa Meyer’s much-beloved Lunar Chronicles with Wires & Nerve, a graphic novel told from the point of view of Cinder’s android companion, Iko. The revolution is over and Cinder is queen, but dethroned Queen Levana’s wolf-hybrid soldiers are still terrorizing residents of earth. Iko, the proud owner of a new escort-droid body, has been tracking and apprehending these wolf packs all over the globe and she’s got the battle scars to prove it. Everything comes to a boil with a gala, a huge announcement from Cinder, and a plot against the queen. Wires & Nerve has a rollicking, getting-the-gang-back-together tone that balances the complex back-story and long roster of characters. The fun, slate gray-colored artwork is a good fit with the novel’s futuristic plot. And the cliffhanger ending guarantees a sequel or two! THOUGHTS: Newcomers to Meyer’s stories might find themselves a little lost, but what better excuse could you need to dive into the stellar Lunar Chronicles series?

Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District

 

Rapp, Adam, and Mike Cavallaro, Illustrator. Decelerate Blue. First Second, 2017. 978-1-59643-109-6. 188 pp. $17.99. Gr. 8 and up.

Lois Lowry’s The Giver meets M.T. Anderson’s Feed in Adam Rapp’s graphic novel Decelerate Blue, a creative exploration of a hyperkinetic future and the resistance movement dedicated to slowing things down. Angela Swiff is uncomfortable with a world that prizes speed, brevity, and constant connectedness. For example, she studies a “clipped and cleaned” version of Romeo and Juliet in Brief Lit. Someone who calls himself “The Silent One” senses her discontent and anonymously delivers her a contraband book entitled Kick the Boot. Meanwhile Angela’s beloved grandfather is scheduled to be moved to a reduction colony, but first he asks her to dig up a shoebox he buried under a tree behind the Megamall. While doing so she is literally pulled into an underground community that rejects New World alertness in favor of Old World mindfulness. New love with a girl named Gladys makes the Underground even more appealing, but joining the resistance has high stakes. Angela is a perfectly teenaged mix of spunk, vulnerability, and passion. Mike Cavallaro’s artwork is wonderfully expressive and well-suited to this cautionary tale of technology gone hyper. THOUGHTS: Grab a cup of Rapid Jo and prepare to fly through this gripping and, yes, fast-paced graphic novel. It’s perfect for fans of Matched by Ally Condie.

Graphic Novel, Science Fiction     Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District

A Moment Comes…2013 YA Fiction

momentcomes

Bradbury, Jennifer.  A Moment Comes.  New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013.  978-1-4169-7876-3. 288p. $16.99.  Gr. 7 and Up.

A Moment Comes is set in India during 1947.  Great Britain has given up its rule over the Country and is in the process of drawing the “Radcliffe Line”, the border designed to create a new Muslim nation (Pakistan).  This is the story of Margaret Darnsley, whose father is a cartographer working on the border.  It is also the story of Tariq, a Muslim teenager who desperately wants to study at Oxford, and Anupreet, a young Sikh woman whose face was slashed in a mob attack.  Tariq and Anu are employed in the Darnsley household.  Anupreet is Margaret’s maid and Tariq is Mr. Darnsley’s assistant.  As one might expect, there is some romantic tension between the three teens.  Margaret believes she is in love with the exotically handsome Tariq, but Tariq finds himself drawn to Anu.  None of these relationships are realized, however; the cultural and religious barriers between the three are simply too high.

The strength of this book is in its depiction of the ever increasing conflict between Muslims and Sikhs.  India is a very dangerous place at this time, although the unrest hasn’t really touched the people who are drawing the border.  The Darnsley’s own precarious situation changes when a mail bomb is delivered to their house. Tariq intercepts the package (sent by his childhood friend, Sameer) and endangers his own life in the process.  Tariq becomes a man without a home; he refuses to join his family in Pakistan, an Oxford education seems impossible, and he is now an enemy to India’s Muslim militants.  This novel’s ending seems abrupt and somewhat unrealistic, but this book is still highly recommended.  It depicts a time and place in history that is rarely discussed.  Margaret, Anupreet, and Tariq are very relatable and students may see themselves in these characters.  This book would be a useful complement to the study of Britain’s colonial history.

Historical Fiction (India, Mid-20th Century)   Susan Fox, Washington Jr./Sr. High School