Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A HEART IN A BODY IN THE WORLD by Deb Caletti.  New York: Simon Pulse, 2018.  358p. ISBN 978-1-4814-1520-0 hc. $18.99     Gr. 9-12     YA

Annabelle Agnelli is getting ready to graduate from high school, when an incident at a restaurant sends her running down the road to the next town.  This would seem extreme, except that she's already a long distance runner, and has been trying to run her problems away since last year when she experienced a traumatic event.  Annabelle calls her mom and her thirteen-year-old brother, Malcolm, to tell them that she has decided to run all the way to Washington D.C. because she has to work things out.  Against the objections of her very protective mother, and with the assistance of her Italian grandfather who loves to drive his RV around the country, she embarks on a 2,719 mile journey from Seattle to the nation's capital.  Her friends, Zach and Olivia, along with Malcolm, set up a GoFundMe page and publicize her run.  Readers won't find out the cause associated with the run until the end of the story, but it promotes good will from town residents along the way.  During each leg of the journey, Annabelle re-lives the events leading up to last year's trauma - filling in the back story for readers.  She has to find the courage to fight the current legislative system in order to create a society that allows women to set personal boundaries while, at the same time, show kindness and compassion to others.  Caletti tackles some timely issues that affect teens growing up in the twenty-first century.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

MARTIN RISING: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illus by Brian Pinkney. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2018. 128p. ISBN 978-0545702539 hc. $19.99     Gr. 5-8     JNF 811.6
Except for “Sparkling-eyed Child,” an introductory poem about Martin Luther King’s childhood, 
and “Rejoice the Legacy,” which celebrates the designation of Martin Luther King Day on 
January 15th, the book zooms in on events taking place between February 1 and April 16, 1968.   
Andrea Davis Pinkney begins with the death of city sanitation employees working in unsafe  
conditions, leading to a month-long strike in Memphis, Tennessee.  As the strike drags on  
and loses momentum, a friend calls Dr. King to visit Memphis and inspire the peaceful protests  
of mostly black workers.  His home-away-from-home was the Lorraine Motel, one of the few 
places where blacks were allowed to rent a room; and where he was ultimately assassinated.  
Pinkney sets the tone for the period with a running record of the unusually bad weather that spring. 
Her poems are filled with foreboding and peppered with prophetic King quotes.  The text is 
complemented by the intensity of Brian Pinkney’s watercolor and ink illustrations.  Notes and 
photographs of King’s last months on earth spell out the information alluded to in poems.  The 
book concludes with a time line of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and, more specifically, 
the ten weeks covered in this book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCullough.  New York:  Dutton Books, 2018.  291p.  ISBN 978-073523211-2 hc. $17.99    Gr. 9-12    Y.A.FIC 

This bit of historical fiction, which tells the story of 17 year-old Artemisia Gentileschi of Rome, 
highlights the young artist's seventeenth year.  Artemisia lives to paint.  She is far more talented 
with a brush than her father, who signs his name to the finished paintings before selling them, 
even though he insists that she work to improve her technique.  When Artemisia's father sends 
an established painter, Agostino Tassi, to the studio to tutor her, the atmosphere changes from 
flirtatious to sexually aggressive.  He rapes her and takes no responsibility for the incident.  
She's only a woman - someone's property.  Artemisia has no rights, but insists on a trial anyway, 
where she submits to social humiliation and physical torture to prove her innocence.  This story, 
written in verse, switches to prose whenever Artemisia remembers her mother's retelling of
Biblical stories from the perspective of resilient women, such as Susanna and Judith.  
Artemisia takes inspiration from these women, who were also trapped in circumstances where 
men controlled their lives.  The idea of perspective is front and center, in the retelling of Bible 
stories from a woman's point of view, in the creation of paintings with a feminine eye vs. that 
of a man, and the interjection of our modern-day expectations into a historical setting.  Don't 
miss the Afterword for more information about this amazing Italian artist who was born four 
centuries too early for her independent thoughts.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

VIVID: Poems & Notes About Color by Julie Paschkis. New York: Henry Holt
and Company, 2018. 32p. ISBN 978-1250122292 hc. $17.99   Gr. K-2   J 811

 
This book of brief poems celebrates a rainbow of color, plus many of the shades
in between. The absence of color (white) and saturation of color (black) on paper,
plus the opposite effect with light rays, are also featured, completing the palette
of  visual hues. Although some poems are very short, such as “Diving into Long
Lake headfirst I go plummeting through light blue deep down low into indigo,”
they are visually supported by the whimsical illustrations on each two-page
spread.   Paschkis also includes an informational fact or two about each color,
integrating the science of color with the artistic beauty of color. The illustrations
are vivid, as promised in the title, proving to be a feast for the eyes.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Clarion Books has two new titles from author / illustrators who know how they want their stories presented.  There's a bit of magic in both, and the results are a pleasant surprise.

SUN by Alison Oliver.  New York: Clarion Books, 2019  32p.  ISBN 978-1328781628 hc. $17.99    PreS - Gr. 2    E PIC

Sun loved the game of soccer.  He was a very good player, and he loved cheers from the spectators.   His brother was an artist - creative all the time.  When Sun wasn't playing soccer, he felt like something was missing from his life.  He went on a walk, noticing nature's artistic creations, and met a fox.  They ran; they swam; they found recyclables on the beach, and used those materials to make art together.  There's inspiration and contentment in finding a balance of activities in life.  The author is promoting the arts with this story, as it certainly influenced her to become a writer and illustrate her own book.

LOTTIE AND WALTER by Anna Walker.  New York:  Clarion Books, 2019  32p. ISBN 978-1328470386 hc. $17.99  PreS - Gr. 2     E PIC

Lottie has been enrolled in swim lessons at the local pool for quite awhile, but she refuses to enter the water.  Would you jump in if there was a shark at the bottom of the pool waiting to eat you?  Almost at the point of giving up, Lottie gets a visit from Walter, the walrus, who is not afraid of sharks.  He also has loads of great ideas.  The day finally arrives when Lottie finds the courage to jump into the pool, thanks to the new confidence gained from her acquaintance with Walter.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI.