September 16, 2017

Amazon Books at Santana Row

amazonbooks

Tonight I stopped by the new Amazon Books store at Santana Row in San Jose, CA. It was PACKED. Wall-to-wall people. The front part of the store had the Alexa device and other Amazon tech gadgets. I made my way to the children’s section at the back of the store.

Kids were sitting on the floor, between aisles reading. *love*

antleredshipMy favorite part of the bookstore was that all the books were FACE OUT. So so nice to see all those beautiful covers. But in a small store having books face out, comes at a steep price — lack of breadth. The majority of books were either classics or bestsellers. Most books were published at least two years ago. There were a small handful of newly published books. I was pleasantly surprised to see my agency mate’s newly released PB The Antlered Ship.

It will be interesting to see if the bookstore changes anything up to cater to the diverse, reading people of the Bay Area or if it continues just carrying best-selling books from their website.

For now, Amazon Books is a good place to go if you want to grab a bestseller at a great price. (Amazon Prime members get to pay online prices.) But if you are looking for anything else, I’d suggest driving down a mile to that much larger bookstore.

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September 8, 2017

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk

Title: It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk

Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor
Publisher: Two Lions, 2017
Editor: Marilyn Brigham
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Theme: Fractured Fairytale

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Jack is not fond of the bossy narrator of his fairy tale! When Jack is told to trade his beloved cow Bessie for some magic beans, throw the beans out the window, climb the ENORMOUS beanstalk that sprouts overnight, and steal from a GIANT, he decides this fairy tale is getting out of control. In fact, he doesn’t want to follow the story line at all. Who says Jack needs to enter a life of daring, thievery, and giant trickery? He takes his story into his own hands—and you’ll never guess what happens next!

With laugh-out-loud dialogue and bold, playful art (including hidden fairy tale creatures for kids to find), this Jack and the Beanstalk retelling will have children rolling with laughter till Bessie the cow comes home.

Activities:

  • Pinterest board full of Jack and Beanstalk related crafts and activities.

Why I Like This Book:

A hilarious fusion of a modern boy in a classic fairytale. The use of meta makes this a stand-out book in a saturated genre. Brilliantly clever!

The smart book design clearly depicts the three voices.

  • Narrator’s story voice in old font.
  • Narrator to Jack in bold font.
  • Jack’s dialogue – to the narrator, to himself, to other characters in the story – in bubbles.

Jack is a boy with modern sensibilities and complaints. I loved Jack’s dialogue since in some ways it voices the thoughts and feelings of today’s young reader. From Jack’s adoration to his pet cow Bessie to his attempt to negotiate with the narrator regarding the size of the beanstalk.

While Jack’s attitude is whiny in the first half, it serves him well in his dealings with the giant leading to a revamped ending that is wonderfully unexpected and satisfying. Be on the lookout for cameos from Cinderella and other popular fairytale characters.

A fun read for all ages!

Find It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1542045657
ISBN-13: 978-1542045650

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

August 17, 2017

Far Apart, Close in Heart

Book Review: Far Apart, Close in HeartTitle: Far Apart, Close in Heart

Author: Becky Birtha
Illustrator: Maja Kastelic
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company, 2017
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Theme: Coping, Prisoner Families’

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Children can experience many emotions when a parent is in jail or prison. They may be angry, sad, lonely, or scared. Sometimes friends act differently toward them. Sometimes the children begin acting differently too. In this important book, young readers will learn that even when it feels like nothing can get better again, there are ways they can improve their circumstances. Sending letters, talking to a trusted grown-up about their feelings, and even visiting a parent in jail or prison can help keep a parent close in their hearts. Use this title as a helpful tool to start a conversation with any child in this situation and to remind them they are not alone.

Why I Like This Book:

A good book is one that moves you. One where you come out knowing more, having a greater understanding and more empathy than from before. This is one of those books.

This book covers a topic that isn’t widely discussed but is deeply important to those affected – the feelings and experiences of children of incarcerated parents. According to the backmatter there are more than 2.7 million children in the United States that have a parent in prison. This book is a mirror for them to know that they are not alone.

After reading this book, I became aware of the confusing feelings a child with an incarcerated parent might have. On one hand the child loves the parent that has cared for them, but on the other hand, the child hears messages that bad people go to jail. This book thoughtfully comes from the viewpoint that the issue isn’t about whether the parent is good or bad, but rather that the parent broke the law.

The book started off a bit too direct for my taste, but as I read I got pulled and moved to the point of tears by the end. As I read the different vignettes, my heart hurt a little more for the things these children could not take for granted that so many us can. The vignettes start by exploring the confusion, loneliness of having a parent in prison, to how that could affect the child outside the home, to showing a child how they can get help.

I love that the author used different ethnicities and genders for the children and incarcerated parents giving it a broader audience but more importantly not stereotyping any particular ethnicity.

This book is a great tool to use as a conversation starter. The backmatter is helpful for the adult caregivers and educators by providing additional resources and tips.

Find Far Apart, Close at Heart at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0807512753
ISBN-13: 978-0807512753

August 3, 2017

She Persisted

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton. A wonderful, engaging, accessible book for elementary aged children.Title: She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World

Author: Chelsea Clinton
Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
Publisher: Philomel Books, 2017
Editor: Jill Santopolo
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 6-10
Theme: Persistence, Feminism, Activism

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.

Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.

She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.

With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn’t give up on their dreams. Persistence is power.

This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor—and one special cameo.

Activities:

  • Check out this wonderful extension activity by Book Nerd Mommy. Have a child create a mini-biography by drawing another figure from history and adding a paragraph about how that person persisted.
  • Visit the Mighty Girl Books page to find other wonderful titles to encourage and inspire.

Why I Like This Book:

A timely, engaging book about 13 women who “persisted” through history against the status quo to pursue their dream for what they believed.

The opening spread invites the reader into the book with a portrait of each of the future biographies to come. The book starts with well-known women such as Harriet Tubman to lesser known women such as Virginia Apgar, to modern day women such as Oprah Winfrey and Sonia Sotomayor.She Persisted - Flowering Minds Book Review - opening spreadWhile history can be dry, these short 1-paragraph mini-biographies are perfect for engaging readers. The book contains women across different races, though my astute nine-year old noticed there were no South Asians. I replied that our history in the United States has been relatively short so maybe in another generation or two we’ll see more South Asians being celebrated in the media. I did wonder why there were no Chinese/Japanese – Americans since they have been in this country for much longer.

This book opens the doors to numerous conversations about persistence, race, feminism and more; that is where I think the real magic lies with this book.

The publisher recommended age is 4 to 8 years, however, I would say it is a bit older. Kids who can already recognize at least 4 to 5 women will have an easier time of staying engaged. The use of the phrase “she persisted” in each mini-biography helps to hold the stories together.

She Persisted - Flowering Minds Book Review - Sally Ride

The watercolor and ink art contributes a soft inviting feel for each story. The quotes by each famous woman were fun to read. One of my favorites being Sally Ride’s “Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see.

The only thing missing from this book was a reference page with other recommended titles to read. This book was done so well that I wanted to immediately know what else was out there. Missed opportunity.

Good for home and school libraries. Best read together with an adult.

Find She Persisted at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1524741728
ISBN-13:  978-1524741723

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July 25, 2017

South Asian Kidlit Books in 2017 – Part 2

Welcome back! Summer is flying by and we’ve got a lot of wonderful South Asian Kidlit books coming out in the next few months. It is wonderful to the see the breadth of South Asian books that are coming out from real-world stories, to contemporary, and fantasy. Last week, I was interviewed by Kristi at the Winged Pen about diversity in children’s literature. Come find out my thoughts on the current state and areas where I think there needs to be more focus.

Today I bring you nine titles (2 PB, 4 MG, 4 YA) that are being released in the second-half of 2017. What’s cool is that we have a few returnees! Folks that were featured in previous round-up posts! 🙂 These books are traditionally published and are either by a South Asian author, contains a South Asian Main Character, or involves South Asian culture. The books are organized by Category and then Publication Date. Here are links to the previous South Asian Kidlit 2017-Part1 and 2016.

South Asian Kidlit books coming out in 2017. Picture books through Young Adult.

Title: Lines
Author: Sarvinder Naberhaus
Illustrator: Melinda Beck
Publisher:  Little Simon
Publication Date:  August 22, 2017
Category-Genre:  Picture Book

Synopsis: Think beyond shapes. Beyond colors. Beyond letters and numbers. With poetic text and beautiful illustrations, this board book shows us how individual pieces make up a whole. And not just a whole house or a whole town, or a whole city, but a whole universe.

Bio: Sarvinder Naberhaus immigrated from Punjab to the U.S. when she was four years old. Her first book, Boom Boom, was illustrated by Caldecott-honor winning artist Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Her second book, Blue Sky White Stars is illustrated by Caldecott-honor winning artist Kadir Nelson.

Website: www.sarvinder.com
Twitter: @SarvinderN
Facebook: Sarvinder Author

Title: Manjhi Moves a Mountain

Author: Nancy Churin
Illustrator: Danny Popovici
Publisher: Creston Books
Publication Date: >Sept. 1, 2017
Category-Genre: Non-fiction picture book biography

Synopsis: Dashrath Manjhi used a hammer and chisel, grit, determination, and twenty years to carve a path through the mountain separating his poor village from the nearby village with schools, markets, and a hospital. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the true story of how everyone can make a difference if his or her heart is big enough.

Curriculum Guide:https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/68b71d_515070a02f9b496e9281ed433fce05f1.pdf
 
Bio: Manjhi Moves a Mountain, Nancy Churnin’s second picture book, is a fall 2017 Junior Library Guild selection and is featured in KitaabWorld.com. Nancy’s book debut, The William Hoy Story, is on multiple book lists, including the 2017 Texas 2×2 and Topaz Reading Lists and the 2018 Illinois Monarch Award Master List. Nancy is the theater critic for The Dallas Morning News and lives in North Texas with her family.

Website: nancychurnin.com
Facebook: Nancy Churnin Children’s Books
Twitter: @nchurnin
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Churnin/e/B01CR5K762/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Title: Karma Khullar’s Mustache
Author: Kristi Wientge
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Category-Genre: MG- Contemporary

Synopsis: Karma is entering middle school and everything—from Daddy losing his job, to Mom working full time, to her best friend being preoccupied with the new girl, to discovering 17 hairs on her upper lip—is upside down. Karma has no one to turn to and must figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise.

Bio: Kristi Wientge grew up in Ohio and studied to be a teacher for children with special needs. Since graduating university she has spent several years exploring the world from China to England teaching her students everything from English to how to flip their eyelids. She’s spent the last 12 years raising her family in her husband’s home country, Singapore.

Twitter: @kwientge
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristiwientgeauthor/
Instagram: kristiwientge
Blog: http://www.kristiwientge.com/

Title: Rise of the Jumbies
Author: Tracey Baptiste
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Synopsis: Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.

Bio: Tracey Baptiste is the author of RISE OF THE JUMBIES, a sequel to THE JUMBIES. Her other books include ANGEL’S GRACE and THE TOTALLY GROSS HISTORY OF ANCIENT EGYPT. She volunteers with We Need Diverse Books, The Brown Bookshelf, I Too Arts Collective, and teaches in Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program.

Title: AHIMSA
Author: Supriya Kelkar
Publisher: Tu Books
Publication Date: October 2, 2017
Category: Middle Grade – Historical Fiction

Synopsis: In 1942 India, after Gandhi asks each family to give one member to the freedom movement, Anjali is devastated to think of her father joining the cause. But her father isn’t the one going. Her mother is.When Anjali’s mother is jailed, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother’s work, ensuring that her little part of the independence movement is completed.

Bio: Supriya Kelkar was born and raised in the Midwest. She learned Hindi as a child by watching three Bollywood films a week. After college she realized her lifelong dream of working in the film industry when she got a job as a Bollywood screenwriter. AHIMSA is her middle grade debut.

Twitter: @soups25
Instagram: @Supriya.Kelkar


Title: Pashmina 
Author & Illustrator: Nidhi Chanani
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Category-Genre: Middle-Grade – Graphic Novel

Synopsis: Pashmina tells the story of an Indian-American girl who struggles to fit in at high school, then discovers more about her family’s history with the help of her mother’s magical pashmina.

Bio: Pashmina is Nidhi Chanani’s debut graphic novel. Nidhi Chanani is a freelance illustrator and artist, and the owner of Everyday Love Art. Nidhi draws and dreams every day with her husband, daughter and their two cats in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Instagram: nidhiart
Twitter: @nidhiart
Tumblr: nidhiart
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/nidhichananiartist

Title: The Library of Fates
Author: Aditi Khorana

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Publication Date: July 18th, 2017
Category-Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fantasy

Synopsis:  A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn. The Library of Fates is the story of two women – Princess Amrita and the oracle Thala, an escaped slave, who must band together to overthrow the ruthless emperor Sikander. To do this Amrita must find the Library of All Things which can reverse fates so that they can return to an earlier time. Caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, Amrita must decide whether to restore what was lost, or does another life – and another love – await?

Bio: Aditi Khorana has worked as a journalist, a researcher, and an entertainment research executive. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in International Relations and has an MA from the Annenberg School for Communications. MIRROR IN THE SKY was her first novel. Her second book is THE LIBRARY OF FATES, a feminist historical fantasy. She lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time reading, hiking, and exploring LA’s eclectic and wonderful architecture.

Website: www.aditikhorana.com
Twitter: @aditi_khorana
Instagram: @aditi_khorana
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aditi.khorana.9


Title: Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story
Author: Sonia Patel
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Category-Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Jaya Mehta detests wealth, secrets, and privilege, though he has them all. His family is Indian, originally from Gujarat. Rasa Santos, like many in Hawaii, is of mixed ethnicity. All she has are siblings, three of them, plus a mother who controls men like a black widow spider and leaves her children whenever she wants to. Neither Jaya nor Rasa have ever known real love or close family―not until their chance meeting one sunny day on a mountain in Hau’ula.

Bio: Sonia Patel is a psychiatrist who works with children and adults. She lives and practices in Hawaii. Her YA debut, RANI PATEL IN FULL EFFECT, received many awards, including: finalist for the Morris Award, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2016.

Twitter: @soniapatel808
Instagram: soniapatel808
Facebook: @SoniaPatelAuthor

Title: You Bring the Distant Near
Author: Mitali Perkins
Publisher: Macmillan / FSG
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Category-Genre: Young Adult

Synopsis: This elegant young adult novel captures the immigrant experience for one Indian-American family with humor and heart. Told in alternating teen voices across three generations, You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse.
Bio: Mitali Perkins was born in Kolkata, India and immigrated to the USA with her family when she was seven. She’s the author of ten novels, including TIGER BOY, which won the South Asia Book Award, BAMBOO PEOPLE, and RICKSHAW GIRL (coming soon to the screen from Sleeperwave films.)
Instagram: @mitaliperkins
Title: Dare Mighty Things
Author: Heather Kaczynski
Publisher: HarperCollins/HarperTeen
Publication Date: Oct 10, 2017
Category-Genre: Young Adult –  Sci-Fi
Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down…even if it costs her everything.
Bio: Heather has a degree in biology and works in a military library near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where she buys books for children and teens. She lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband and her young daughter.
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