Archive for December, 2014

Brown girl dreaming

By Jacqueline Woodson

ISBN 9780399252518

While Brown girl dreaming is a memoir written in verse form it still has power to move. Visually, verse novels have their own beauty, in the way words sit on the page and the way words ebb and flow. Jacqueline Woodson does this with precision.

This is a moving account of the author’s early life with her brother Hope, sister Odella and later, younger brother Roman. We witness what it is like to be growing up black in the 1960’s in a world of change. For some it is a world where the past haunts, always in the background. For others it is a time where the rise of the Civil Rights movement is making change and bringing hope. And always just on the surface is Jacqueline’s desire to write. Learning wasn’t easy for her and I was very moved when I read the reasons why she used the name Jackie instead of Jacqueline. At the heart of this novel is family.

This is not just a personal memoir but a view of the social and political times in which so many people grew up and for that it is a must read.
I am including a couple of quotes which will remain with me. I am sure you will find your own which impact on you as you read this wonderful novel.

“How can I explain to anyone that
stories are air to me,
I breathe them in and let them out
over and over again.” pg 247

“How to listen #7
Even the silence
has a story to tell yoy.
Just listen. Listen.” pg 278

The book is beautifully produced with a standout cover with a brown silhouette of a young pig-tailed girl with book in hand.

Enjoy this clip of Jacqueline reading from her book.

As a reviewer I tend to review books which will be available on the New Zealand market from well-known publishers, or if not, at least books which are available through our public libraries. While ordering online from overseas is always an option, I do try to support our local bookshops. Sadly with bookshops and even libraries closing worldwide, I must encourage readers to think locally first.
So as part of my policies around reviews I tend to avoid self-published books. I do so for a number of reasons as do most reviewers. Children’s and YA publishers worldwide provide the market with some fantastic books which I am always keen to read (and have bought to add to my TBR in the hope that I will one day find time to read them all) but for this post I will highlight some well-produced trailers to whet your appetite from some self-published authors.

By Grace Prince

Young adult romance story found here
“In the face of death Arden enters into a world of knowing’ where sixth sense are honed and hidden. Check out the trailer.

Cry of the sea
By D. G. Driver

Cry of the Sea is a Young Adult contemporary fantasy novel about a girl who discovers mermaids washed ashore during an oil spill. Can she save them from being exploited or killed?
More can be found here.

The lost remnant
By J. N. Race

YA fantasy
For Azsha Daggerwall the outside world has always been shrouded in secrecy. Confined to the space of a gypsy show-wagon since infancy, she has long rebelled against the wishes of an overbearing stage mother bent on her grand ascent. Little does she know, the lady harbors a dark and powerful secret that, once exposed, will have a devastating impact, not only on Azsha’s life but on the whole of existence.

Eleanor and Park
By Rainbow Rowell
ISBN 9781250012579

This book is on so many top reads lists with so many top reviews that it is now on my must read pile too.
While my teenage years are somewhat behind me, I still recall being the odd one out at high school. With Eleanor being a misfit I so want to read all about her and her life and relationship with Park.

Eleanor with the red hair and wrong clothes never feels good enough.
Park is just plain good for her. Eleanor and Park are sixteen and this story takes place over the course of one school year. It’s the story of two star-crossed lovers smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but also brave and desperate enough to try.

Goodnight Already!
By Jory John

Illustrated by Benji Davies
ISBN 9780062286208

I confess I had not heard of this author before but watching the trailer for his latest book Goodnight Already I will be looking out for his other works. What a delightfully funny book. Poor bear just wants to sleep but his neighbour, duck wants to play. Love the bright illustrations and adore the facial expressions of both bear and duck. You can almost feel bear’s frustration at not being able to get to sleep. Duck is totally oblivious to poor bear’s needs which adds to the humour. Wonderful trailer and I am definitely getting this for school when it hits the market here in New Zealand.

The book with no pictures
By B. J. Novak

ISBN 978-0803741713

The book with no pictures has been our book of the week in the school library and what a huge success it has been. The sound of laughter ringing throughout the library is pure delight. All levels have laughed their way through this wonderful book. There is a catch however! You have to read the book with oomph! Put on a monkey voice or a robot voice and go with the flow. I ran out of breath each time I read the page with full on random words. I couldn’t help the urge to speed up and use strange and weird voices.
I believe this is a must have for all primary school libraries and teachers also. It is not just for the humour and simplicity but as a tool for encouraging children to create their own stories. Such a simple concept. Even without pictures I found myself holding the book out as if there were pictures and the children sat there watching and listening creating their own images in their heads.
For more info click here.