Monthly Archives: September 2015

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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You guys. I forgot how much I read during football season. It’s not that I don’t like football, it’s just that I don’t like it 4x a week for 25 hours a day. I’ve finished two books since Thursday. Granted one was George and it was short and this new one is a YA, but still!

Let’s talk about Dumplin’. I’ve read so much about this book from others. Abby the Librarian says, “This book is the book I want all fat girls to read. No, actually, I want all girls to read it. NO, actually I want EVERYBODY to read this book.” So I did. I read it. And I liked it a lot. I was reading it at work on a Saturday with my co-worker and I said, “This is going to be bad. He’s going to be a jerk and break her heart (Bo). Because he’s in high school and that’s what high school boys do.” Am I right?? I mean sort of.

Willowdean is fat. Willowdean likes Bo but Bo is not heavy. He’s attractive and athletic. They call him peachbutt in the book. Willowdean likes him and wants to be with him but she doesn’t want the scrutiny of people looking at them as a couple thinking, What is he doing with her?? I liked Willowdean but I did not like the way she treated Mitch (this other guy who took her on a date and was a complete sweetheart to her while Bo was being weird). She totally used him throughout the whole book. As much as I was wary of Bo in the beginning I was just as wary of Willowdean and how she was treating Mitch. Having said that, I did like the open ended conclusion, which I usually hate in books. I feel like a lot of authors are leaning towards these open ended conclusions that kind of tie everything up but not really in order to keep the possibility of a sequel in mind. More money is more money, no?

Definitely a good read for everyone. Just like Abby said.

 

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Filed under book review, fiction, young adult

George by Alex Gino

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Okay you guys. I’m going to write a lengthy post about George by Alex Gino. Probably similar to one of my my first posts (about Wonder). This book has been generating SO MUCH buzz (I put links at the bottom because there’s just so many). If you haven’t heard about it you probably don’t work in the book world. So for those of you who don’t work in the wonderful world of books here’s a summary from Goodreads,

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

So. This is a book about a transgender fourth grader. I liked it overall. Some parts of it felt overly informational to me. For example, “A boy could become a girl… you could take girl hormones that would change your body, and you could get a bunch of different surgeries if you wanted them and had the money. This was called transitioning. You could even start before you were eighteen with pills called androgen blockers that stopped the boy hormones…” The italicizing of transitioning made me feel like there’d be a glossary at the end. This is not the only word that was italicized btw. The inclusion of the name of the pills was also weird to me. They have made such a grounded publicity campaign about how this book is for everyone and yet I feel like that particular part (and some others around it) is tailored to kids who are transitioning and not to everyone who’s reading to read. Throughout the whole book George refers to herself as her, never he (although others in the book do refer to her as he). Only when she actually puts on girl clothes does she refer to herself as Melissa, the girl name she’s chosen. I didn’t like that the thing that made her feel complete as Melissa was just the clothes. Trying on girl clothes doesn’t always mean you want to BE a girl.

SPOILER ALERT: That being said I really LOVE the part where George comes off the stage after being Charlotte and is bombarded with reactions from her classmates, teacher, principal etc. I think it was the perfect representation of the multiple reactions anyone, including kids, would get in society about transitioning but in a way kids would understand. Some told her she was awesome. Some said, “You can’t just do that!” and “It’s disrupting to the other actors.” Which was responded to with, “Why not? He was good.” In life, a lot of the reactions would be the same (on a different scale in some cases I’m sure) but there would be people who would say, you can’t do that or you’re disrupting my child etc.

In the end I think this book did a great job with a hushed subject, esp in children’s literature (which I define as younger than age 12). Also, everything did not end hunkey-dory for George/Melissa. Her mom did not hug her and say, oh everything will be great let’s go buy you some dresses. She said, let’s go to counseling for ME and you, not in order to change her but to understand. It was handed well and I enjoyed it. I can’t wait to find another book person who’s read it so I can chat it out with them! Let’s chat it out in the comments y’all!

“The Buzz” about George

New York Times

The Guardian

Christian Today

NPR

Entertainment Weekly

School Library Journal

Publisher’s Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

 

 

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Filed under book review, children, current news, fiction

Our Souls at Night

I was looking at a map, I think on NPR? Most of what I see is on NPR via Twitter. But now I can’t find it. So it goes. Okay, so it was a map of the most requested books by each state. It was NOT that map of the most popular book set in that state. I hate that map.

Most of the popular requested books were All the Light We Cannot See (still reading) and James Patterson’s new book, no idea what that’s called. The only book I did not recognize was the one from Colorado, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. So I picked it up. He’s got a great (from what I hear) trilogy that I’m going to check out now that I read this one and enjoyed it.

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Addie is a widow who asks her widower neighbor, Louis, if he wants to come over and sleep with her at night. Because of loneliness. What follows is a lot of town and family drama that is really nobody’s business. I loved the writing of this book. I could see how people might hate it though. It’s very flat and matter of fact but I think that’s what made it feel real. These characters could live next door to me. I liked it a lot even though the ending was not necessarily happy.

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Whatever you like

The other day I heard this song on my Pandora. It is a song that brings me back to my college days no matter where I am. Now, I hesitate to compare children’s books to this song because it seems a bit weird. But it seems true. I have read two books in the last month that basically tell kids they can have whatever they like. I know kids books are supposed to be funny. I do see the difference between talking animals and real animals. But these two books feel different to me for some reason. Helloooooo, I liked them. That’s not the point. Let’s talk about the first one.

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One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck. Don’t get me wrong. I thought this book was adorable. I love the diversity and multi-generations living together. Also, giraffes are my favorite zoo animal. I’m on the same page as Sophia, I’d love a giraffe. But at the end of the book all Sophia has to do in order to get that giraffe is say please. I’m all on board with saying please but if kids think they can get whatever they want by simply saying please then they are going to be some sorely disappointed adults. I have a 6-year-old niece and she asks for a lot of things. This morning I told her to circle things in the American Girl catalog that she wants for Christmas. She circled the whole catalog. Does she get all of them when she says please? Uh, no.

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Katie McGinty wants a Pet by Jenna Harrington. I read this one today. Same thing. The girl not only gets a zebra for a pet, she gets two. WTF. Let me tell you something kids. I had to beg and plead for a pet. And I never got one. This dad is offering his daughter whatever pet she wants and she chooses a zebra! Take a dog and be happy, Katie McGinty! All along he’s telling her why she can’t have a zebra. And in the end she gets two. Ridiculous. Perhaps kids these days will make T.I.’s Whatever You Like their mantra.

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Pool by JiHyeon Lee

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I read a review of this book that made reference to the fact that all the adults in the pool were overweight and disturbing looking. Ahem,

“A slim child clad in bathing cap, goggles, and trunks stands poolside; the water is smooth, blue, and empty. Then a throng of grotesque, mostly obese adults with inner tubes and rubber rafts descends, choking the pool’s surface. The child enters the water anyway, diving below the paddling feet of the crowd, and is joined by another slender, capped, goggled child, this one sporting a skirted tank suit.”

Ah yes, Kirkus always gives it to me straight. So that’s all I could think about when I read this. I also don’t like that the kids are under water the whole time with no breath taken. Haven’t they ever heard of drowning? I did like the illustrations and I love wordless books. I think they’re generally under appreciated. The Boston Globe agrees and talks a bit about wordless picture books as well in their short review of Pool.

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Award Winning Books

So let me just say, I didn’t read any of my flying books from my last post. I’ve always been one of those people who takes library books wherever. I know some people balk at taking them on trips in case they lose them or spill on them or whatever it is they think is going to happen in their minds. I am not one of those people. I take them everywhere. Multiple books shoved in bags of all kinds. Except on this trip. I could only take one book with me because Spirit Airlines is cheap but ridiculous with their baggage costs. I saw All the Light We Cannot See on my shelf, which I went out and bought because it’s always on hold or checked out, and decided to take that because I’ve been seeing reviews everywhere! New York Times. The Guardian. The Washington Post. Also, it’s a good thing I did bring this one because it got muddy and wet at the pool from all the dogs running in and out on my vacation. Oh dogs, God love them. Haven’t finished, review on this book soon.

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize (2015), Andrew Carnegie Medal (2015) and National Book Award Finalist (2014)

Anyway, I like reading the books that win awards. They’re great conversation starters, at least with friends / librarians that read and I also like to be in the know. Should it have won? Did I like it? Can I recommend it to others now that I’ve read it? These reasons are the same things I think about when reading a popular children’s series that I don’t really care about (i.e. Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place which I apparently did not review, but will now). I want to be able to recommend it to my youngsters who come in needing readers advisory. I digress. Award books. I was thinking about award books when I went to Half Price Books in Texas. They were having a Labor Day Sale, woot! For some reason the East Coast doesn’t have this wonderful store. I ended up getting some more award winning books. Has anyone read them?

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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Winner of the Man Booker Prize (2013).

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize (2015), Andrew Carnegie Medal (2014) <- same awards ATLWCS won btw

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Books for Flying 2

I’m flying again, probably on a plane right now even. Hooray for 3 day weekends. I found a wicked awesome flight deal to visit my best friend and decided to go. We’re both married now and she’s trying to have babies so it might be our last girls only visit. Not only am I excited to see her, I’m excited for some more travel reading! This time without my husband. I won’t feel obligated to talk to anyone on the plane or at the airport. I can just read to my little heart’s content. There is one snag. I’m flying Spirit Airlines on the way home and they’re super crazy about their baggage requirements. So I only have one tiny bag. Which means I can’t fill it up with books. Although, I think I might take a book I own and then finish it and just leave it at my friend’s before my trip home. These are the books I have in mind to take.. but I probably can’t take all of them. Or I could just not take any clothes and fill my bag with books! Decisions decisions…

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Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I adored her book Americanah (<- my review) so much. I hope this one is half as good.

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The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. I checked this out when it first came out a few years ago because I read somewhere that it was a read-alike to the Night Circus. If you’ve read only one of my posts here you’ve probably heard of my love for that book. And if you haven’t heard of it, stop reading this right now and go get it. I digress. Two of my librarian friends just finished this and said it was so good. So I picked it up again.

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Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud. This is YA book that I read a review of on a blog I follow. Sometimes you need a good teen book thrown in there.

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On my tablet I have The Martian, which I heard is not good (gasp!) from those two librarians I just mentioned before, and Bone Gap, which I heard from another librarian is amazing.

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Filed under adult, fiction, summer reading, young adult