MG – The Sea in Winter

Day, Christine. The Sea in Winter. Heartdrum, 2021. 978-0-062-87204-3. $16.99. Grades 3-7.

Seventh grader Maisie isn’t having a great day just before her school’s midwinter break. She’s tardy to homeroom, and she earned a 70 on her most recent math test. A break from school and a family trip back home will be good “heart medicine.” Maisie could use a distraction from eating lunch alone and getting text updates from her ballet friends who she no sees. Maisie isn’t sure how to respond, so she usually doesn’t. Things start to look up when her physical therapist suggests that Maisie’s recovery from a torn ACL and surgery might be moving faster than initially anticipated. This news gives Maisie hope; she’s missed ballet and her friends so much, and she might even be able to make a few spring auditions if she keeps progressing. With this news (and a green light for hiking) Maisie’s family heads to the Olympic Peninsula to explore some areas that are important to their Native family. Maisie’s stormy emotions seem to get the best of her at times, and she’s not sure why she says some of the things she does. When Maisie’s frustration reaches a peak, she’ll have to decide who she wants to be, even if that doesn’t include ballet.

THOUGHTS: Upper elementary and middle school students will adore Maisie and recognize the roller coaster of emotions she experiences. Maisie’s little brother provides comic relief to some of her emotional “funks,” and her parents are extremely supportive. #OwnVoices author Day addresses negative self talk and depression in an age appropriate way that will resonate with students. Highly recommended.

Realistic Fiction          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

YA Fiction – You Bring the Distant Near; Lives of Desperate Girls

Perkins, Mitali. You Bring the Distant Near. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. 9780374304904. $17.99 320 p.  Gr. 7 and up.

Told through the alternating voices of the Das sisters and their daughters, You Bring the Distant Near is the story of three generations of women in a Bengali family, who immigrated to the United States. The bond between Sonia and Tara Das is explored as they each struggle to find their own place in America, all while obeying the cultural traditions of their family. Supportive and united, each sister takes a separate path in life, which leads Tara to success as a film star back home in India and Sonia into a full embrace of an inclusive American culture and a happy interracial marriage in New York.  Their daughters, Chantal and Anna, in turn have very different upbringings, but all the threads of this family’s disparate experiences come together when Anna is sent back to the US to finish high school.  Beautifully written with well-drawn and complex characters, the novel realistically portrays the nuanced relationships between the women.  The rich Bengali culture weaves through the three generations, influencing each of the women in different ways.  Thoughts: Strongly recommended as an addition to your collection of novels on the immigrant experience, filled with positive messages about acceptance, integration, and identity.

Realistic Fiction           Nancy Summers, Abington School District

Perkins, Mitali. You Bring the Distant Near. Farrar Straus Girox, 2017. 978–0374-30490-4 304p. $17.99.  Gr. 7 and up.

We hear the stories of five Bengali- American women in three different generations, spanning from the era of mini-skirts until just after the tragedy of 9/11.  Perkins weaves their stories together beautifully.  All of them question what it means to be Bengali or what it means to be American and each comes up with their own answers for themselves.  Some of the stories are heart-breaking, but most are easy to empathize with.  A family tree at the beginning is a good key, but because it is there, the long-term romances are easy to foretell if they will end in marriage.  THOUGHTS   This is a great book that will bring a diversity of characters to your library.  It is also a beautifully told story.

Realistic Fiction      Toni Vahlsing, Abington Friends School

 

Common, MacKenzie. The Lives of Desperate Girls. Penguin Random House, 2017. 9780143198710. $16.99. 304 p. Gr. 9 and up.

Tragedy befalls two girls in rural Northern Ontario, but the reaction of the police and the public is different in each case.  When pretty and wealthy Chloe Shaughnessy goes missing the police investigate in earnest, and the townspeople hold vigils for her safe return. A few days after her disappearance,  the body of  Helen Commanda, a girl from the reservation, is found in the woods. There is no public outcry about this crime, and when the police find no obvious clues, her case is placed on the backburner.   Chloe’s best friend Jenny, now friendless and depressed, becomes obsessed with Helen’s murder and the entrenched racism against the natives in their town. Jenny takes up with the high school bad boy, and together they set out to discover what really happened on the night Helen died. But as the police continue to focus on Chloe’s disappearance, Jenny is equally determined to protect Chloe’s secrets. Thoughts: The novel broaches some serious issues including date rape, racism, and substance abuse, but the character and plot development fall a little short.  A secondary choice for older teens who appreciate realistic fiction with a hard edge.

Mystery        Nancy Summers, Abington School District

YA NF – Undefeated; Fetch

Sheinkin, Steve. Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team. Roaring Brook Press, 2017. 978-1-59643-954-2. 280 p. $19.99. Gr. 7-12.

Known for his fast-paced and fascinating nonfiction narratives, Sheinkin delivers another well-researched, action-packed story in his newest title. In it, he ties together not only the story of Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School football team, but also the stories of American football, Pop Warner, and Native American relations throughout U.S. history.  Sheinkin begins by providing biographical information about the early lives of Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner, as well as background information about the attitudes of white Americans towards Native Americans at that time and the founding of the Carlisle Indian School.  The lives of Thorpe and Warner ultimately intersect when Warner becomes Thorpe’s football coach at Carlisle, at which point the action really picks up.  Sheinkin moves season-by-season through Carlisle’s football history, explaining how its innovative coaches and players helped to modernize the game of football as we know it today, all while passively ignoring acts of discrimination like one-sided officiating and racist headlines.  Reading like a Hollywood underdog story, but sprinkled with factual information about the history of football and Native American relations, this title is a must-have for any school library.  THOUGHTS: Having read and enjoyed some of Sheinkin’s past award-winning titles, I was looking forward to reading this one, and he did not disappoint.  Sports fans, history buffs, and readers of biographies alike will find this book absolutely riveting.  It could be used in a classroom setting to spark discussion about racism and discrimination or paired with a fiction title like Joseph Bruchac’s Code Talker for a unit on Native American history.

796.332 Football; Native Americans      Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area SD

 

Georges, Nicole J. Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home, a Graphic Memoir. Mariner Books, 2017. 978-0-544-57783-1. 314 pp. $17.95. Gr. 10+.

At sixteen, Nicole Georges adopted a shar pei/dachshund mix puppy as a surprise for her boyfriend, Tom. Beija was meant to cement their bond and heal Tom’s childhood wounds, but the real bond formed between Nicole and her dog. A move to Portland and a break-up later, Nicole knows full well that Beija is no ordinary, well-behaved pet. She’s almost comically bent on misbehaving: baying, marking, and growling at all the wrong times and with all the wrong people. Nonetheless, she is Nicole’s beloved co-pilot through the generally painful process of growing up (and coming out), with the inevitable heartbreaking goodbye at the book’s end. Nicole’s journey through her teens and twenties is depicted in the author’s sharp, wonderfully expressive black-and-white illustrations. Beija in particular is lovingly drawn and charismatic. THOUGHTS: Equal parts soul searching and soul baring, Fetch is every bit as good as David Small’s Stitches and Ellen Forney’s Marbles, with the bonus presence of an unforgettable canine companion.

Graphic Memoir     Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District

 

Series NF for Grades 6-12 – People of America; Captured History

sioux

Peoples of North America. Mankato, MN: Creative Education, 2016. $26.95 ea. 48p. Gr. 7 and up.

Bodden, Valerie. Apache. 978-1-60818-550-4.

Bodden, Valerie. Cherokee. 978-1-60818-551-1.

Bodden, Valerie. Navajo. 978-1-60818-553-5.

Bodden, Valerie. Nez Perce. 978-1-60818-554-2.

Bodden, Valerie. Sioux. 978-1-60818-555-9.

Potts, Steve. Iroquois. 978-1-608181-552-8.

Peoples of North America focuses on the importance of various tribes of North America, a subject not often covered for junior high and high school students.  Each title in this series focuses on a different tribe and includes the history of the tribe, lifestyle, traditions and culture, and the changes the tribe has faced due to westward expansion and the development of the United States (historically and today).  A traditional story from the tribe ends each title, which also includes end notes, a selected bibliography, information for further research, and an index.  The inclusion of photographs, both color and black and white, and illustrations enhance reader understanding of the importance of each tribe to American history and culture.  THOUGHTS:  Not many books are written about Native Americans for high school students, and it seems that these people, who are most important to our history, are often overlooked or quickly taught.  This is series is excellent for research projects and general reading to find out more about Native Americans and their impact in history and today.

American History; Native Americans      Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City

 

shadowcatcher

Captured History. North Mankato, MN: Compass Point Books, 2015. $25.49 ea. 64p. Gr. 6 and up.

Burgan, Michael. Shadow Catcher: How Edward S. Curtis Documented American Indian Dignity and Beauty. 978-0-7565-4992-3.

Nardo, Don. The Golden Spike: How a Photograph Celebrated the Transcontinental Railroad. 978-0-7565-4991-6.

Captured History is one of the best series for middle and high school students.  Begun in 2011, this year’s additions, Shadow Catcher and The Golden Spike, only reinforce the importance of this series to support curriculum, research, and curiosity.  Each title in this series explores a specific aspect of American history through the photographs (by a specific photographer) from the situation and/or period.  Titles are broken into four chapters focused on the history, the event, and the impact on society today along with a timeline, glossary, additional resources, source notes, a selected bibliography, and index.  The use of border white-space enhances the text and photographs in order to fully grasp the event being explained.  The photography is beautiful and is a great way to help teach primary sources and visual reading.  The two new titles are especially important because they focus on historic events that are often overlooked or quickly taught in U.S. History courses: Native Americans and the Transcontinental Railroad.  THOUGHTS:  Captured History is a MUST-HAVE series for all school libraries.

American History      Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City