Monday, February 22, 2021

CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo.  New York:  HarperTeen, 2020. 417p.  ISBN 978-006288276-9 hc. $18.99      Grades 7-12      YA FIC

Chapter by chapter, Camino and Yahaira will tell their stories.  Camino lives in the Dominican Republic with her aunt, joined by her father in the summer months.  Yahaira lives in New York City with her mother and her father, who travels each summer.  Is it a coincidence or is their father the same man?  Both worlds collide when Papi is killed in a plane crash on his way to the Dominican Republic, releasing the secrets of his double life.  Camino and Yahaira will soon meet and work through new emotions in order to accept one another.  Their father isn’t the only one keeping secrets.  Family structure, economic advantage, sexual identity, and sexual harassment are also factors in the story.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, February 15, 2021

THE BLACK FLAMINGO by Dean Atta.  New York: Balzer + Bray, 2020. 403p.  ISBN 978-006299029-7 hc. $18.99    Gr. 9-12   YA FIC

Told in verse with Michael’s own words, this story gives readers an idea of how hard it is for teens to fit into their own skin.  Now add the circumstances of being gay, having an absent father, and representing the ethnicities of a Jamaican father and Greek (Cyprus) mother.  His mother and younger sister love him, but don’t understand the journey he must take to find himself.  Readers tag along as Michael learns how to be open about his sexual orientation, allow others to do the same, and accept himself rather than being a person that someone else wants him to be.  Michael is on a roller coaster of emotion in this memorable first-person narrative. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, February 8, 2021

OUR FRIEND HEDGEHOG: The Story of Us by Lauren Castillo. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2020. 110p.  ISBN 978-1524766071-9 hc. $16.99      Gr. 2-3     JFIC

When Hedgehog loses Mutty in a windstorm, he sets out to find the treasured stuffed animal.  The journey takes him through the underground home of Mole, to the treetop home of Owl, across the river to Beaver’s dam, into the meadow where Chicken was collecting found items, and straight to the house of Annika Mae.  The trail of clues led to Mutty, Hedgehog’s best friend.  His world had expanded, and he realized how lucky the adventure has been.  My favorite line comes from Beaver when Owl tells him he has to give the group a scarf  he found (Mutty's scarf) or help them with their quest.  He says, “I don’t have to do either of those things.”  The perfect answer for an unreasonable request that can be applied to many personal interactions.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, February 1, 2021

GO WITH THE FLOW by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann.  New York:  Roaring Brook Press, 2020. 332p.  ISBN 978-125030572-5 hc. $21.99   Gr. 5-10    YA FIC

This book has been wanting to be written since the 1960's, when menstruation was taught quickly in the fifth grade, but some mothers were embarrassed to talk with their daughters about this natural event that has been happening since the beginning of time.  Besides being a "friendship story" about four schoolmates, the book is a graphic novel in order to make it readable and inviting for anyone.  It's also drawn / written in shades of red to honor the monthly flow of blood that women experience during the fertile years of their lives.  It's genius!  As a reader, my heart melted to see the three older girls shelter and protect the younger one who was getting her first period.  They turned a traumatic event into a new friendship.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI