Tuesday, June 25, 2019

THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo.  New York: HarperTeen, 2018.  361p.  ISBN 978-006266280-4 hc. $17.99.     Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

THE POET X is written in verse, and speaks to the power of poetry.  Like most of us, fifteen year-old Harlem sophomore, Xiomara or “X” embraces many identities.  She has a twin brother named Xavier, is a first generation immigrant from the Dominican Republic, and has developed into a tall, voluptuous teen who is constantly reminded of her sexuality by the rude comments of her classmates and her extremely religious mother’s overprotective admonitions about staying away from boys.   Xiomara shames herself for being attraced to classmate Aman, who likes the same music she does and keeps his hands to himself.   Her lifelong friendship with Caridad helps Xiomara navigate the boundaries between church, family, and individual expression.  When she can’t pretend to be quiet, pious, or chaste a second longer, she pours her emotions into her journal.  As her life begins to deconstruct around her, Xiomara accepts an invitation to the Spoken Word Poetry Club at school and finds the strength to share her words. 

The writing is full of metaphors and similes that create full images by using as few words as possible.  Acevedo divides the story with three Biblical verses that represent the importance of religion to Xiomara’s family. “In the Beginning Was the Word” reveals Xiomara’s background.  “And the Word Was Made Flesh” gives insight into her relationship with Aman, the acknowledgement of sexual temptation, and her resentment of rules for women imposed by the Catholic church.  “The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness” recounts Xiomara’s quest to find her voice by writing the poems that express her thoughts.  The audio version of this story, read by the author, is even better than print, as listeners connect to the phrasing, the pacing of conversation, and accurate pronunciation of character names.   Acevedo has been recognized for this awesome novel with the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Printz Award, the Pura Belpre Award, and the Carnegie Medal for Children’s and YA Books.  
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI         

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

BASEBALL: WHO DOES WHAT? by Ryan Nagelhout. New York: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2018. 32p. ISBN 978-1538204207 hc. $19.95   Gr. 1-3   J796.357 NA
Nagelhout covers the basics of baseball starting with the rules, the playing field, and the player positions.  The chapter titled, “Who’s on First?” describes the strategy of a first baseman, which can also come in handy if you’re a runner on first base.  Strategies are also explained for the other bases and the outfield positions.  A Table of Contents and Index are in place to help find information quickly.  The page layout is brightly colored and consistent – a great way to learn the game.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

SUPERFAN’S GUIDE TO PRO BASEBALL TEAMS by Drew Lyon. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2018. 72p. ISBN 978-151578851-5 hc. $26.99    Gr. 3-5   J796.357 BR
Lyon highlights 30 baseball teams, from the Detroit Tigers to the Boston Red Sox to the San Francisco Giants.  Each has a two-page spread of photographs, superfacts, win/loss records, World Series Championships, Franchise Leader statistics, and the name of each team’s home baseball park.  Star players over the years are also featured – always in the uniform of the year they played. The book also includes a map of  major league teams in the United States and a page dedicated to the Tools of the Game: bats, baseballs, gloves, and uniforms.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

PAY ATTENTION CARTER JONES by Gary D. Schmidt. New York: Clarion Books, 2019. 217p. ISBN 978-0544790858 hc. $16.99     Gr. 4-6     JUV

Gary D. Schmidt, who wrote WEDNESDAY WARS, a 2008 Newbery Honor winner, and ORBITING JUPITER, which should have won a Newbery Award (in my opinion), scores again with Carter Jones taking center stage in this touching and humorous tale of a family unraveling at the seams.  Carter's adventure begins when he opens the front door to find an English butler, Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick, who was sent to his family by his deceased grandfather.  It's almost like the beginning of Mary Poppins, except this butler is an expert at the game of cricket; besides being "practically perfect" at household tasks.  The family is dealing with the death of Carter's brother, his dad's deployment to Germany, and the everyday stresses of school and home.  The butler manages to bring the neighborhood together with the formation of a cricket team by teaching the game from the ground up.  He also teaches readers about the game as he mends relationships between family and friends.  This story will make you laugh on one page and cry on the next.  Schmidt is known for skillfully writing about the complexity of relationships, especially for middle school and teen audiences.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A SQUIRRELLY SITUATION by Jacqueline Kelly. Illus. by Jennifer L. Meyer. Calpurnia Tate Girl Vet series.  New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2019.  100p,    Gr. 2-3    JUV

The same readers who enjoyed the adventure and humor of THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE, Newbery Honor Book in 2010, will also like the Calpurnia Tate Girl Vet series.  This turn-of-the-century heroine always finds herself somewhere between the rules of the house and her overwhelming love for small creatures.  Her brother Travis, also an animal lover, is usually in trouble of his own making.  This time, he finds a baby squirrel that has fallen from the nest and brings it home to nurse it back to health.  Fluffy the squirrel and Thud, the new kitten in the house, think they are brothers, as well as family pets, and keep the family busy with their antics all summer long.  Travis takes center stage at the end of the story with a compassionate gesture toward an ostracized classmate.  The first of this five-book series is titled SKUNKED!, followed by COUNTING SHEEP, WHO GIVES A HOOT?, A PRICKLY PROBLEM, and A SQUIRRELLY SITUATION.  Meyer's charcoal drawings are subtle, but add to the reader's experience by showing what a farmhouse looked like in the early 1900's.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI