Melati is left to navigate her world and its expanding and constricting realities on her own. She draws into herself in order to project a return to normalcy. Remember, nothing has been resolved, and Melati carries the weight of its suffering; and it was only a matter of time before pressure would result in something explicitly life-threatening. Alkaf writing this character against the backdrop of the race riots is brilliant on so many levels. That Alkaf is willing to elicit a need to strangle the protagonist (at no real fault of her Melati’s) is a testament to how determined the author is to allow trajectories to follow, rock-bottoms to be met, realities to bear witness. None of the heroes will always be at their best; but then, we may only require those rare, precious moments of mercy.
Alkaf portrays a careful balance between considering communal and individual decision-making; it’s the tension in the novel and in that title. We read it in the greater political climate, the neighborhoods, the households, and in the very body of the protagonist.
Melati’s awareness of the interconnectedness of life/lives is what makes the novel so profound, and so painful. Her loneliness, alienation, isolation comes into conflict because relationships, social contracts, people who draws us out of ourselves and into their spheres. Within her own self we witness the stir of spirit, mind, body strive for some semblance of balance. The world, both within and outside of Melati is terrifying—and beautiful; compelling and worthy of all the emotions and that fight for a resolution (if only for a time being). We cling to the life-giving moments of The Weight of Our Sky, compelled to seek them with greater urgency as the novel continues—spurred to consider how we can (re)create those moments of mercy in our own landscapes. The novel is one seated in a voice of love and compassion fighting to be heard above the violence of disunity, of imagined loss/scarcity. Melati, the humanity that surrounds her, all are love refusing to be silenced, extinguished.
#theweightofoursky @yesitshanna @salaamreads 2019. full #bookreview link in profile. #leslied #ya #historicalfiction #teen #malaysia
Now that his season is done, “an old, wandering [Winter Wind is] searching for a place to rest.” The story is relatable one of weariness and ingratitude. The children are bold and empathetic. And of course a protective older sister knows the protective places; of course, the tearful brother knows such an emotional expression has context. The story does a good job of drawing sympathy with each of the characters, inviting understanding and increasing the tension (desire) for a satisfactory solution.
Doliveux’s cut paper illustrations are utterly charming; they complement the playful tone and layered meaning of the folktale. It moves with color and texture and light, capturing the idea of wind and the way the wind is being carried along by the story. Her medium is unusual in picture books, which adds to the appeal of including this in your library. I’d also verify how many Yiddish folktales you have in your collection as well.
Good Night, Wind is a story for young and old alike.
#goodnightwind #lindaelovitzmarshall @ouimaelle @holidayhousebks 2019. full #bookreview link in profile. #leslied #yiddish #folktale #jewishamericanheritagemonth #picturebooks #childrensbooks
Yoon Ha Lee does a couple of things in the story that impresses me. The world-building involves more than just populating it with supernatural creatures from mythology, the lore is built into the world’s very fabric and its technologies. The author isn’t afraid of nuance. Few, if any character, is glowingly good or evil. Yoon Ha Lee doesn’t create their hero out of thin air, or even convenience. [...] The use of shape-shifting and limited perception strengthens thematically as the novel continues and we try to navigate folk’s intentions and facades.
Yoon Ha Lee does not create conflict or solutions out of thin air either. They are willing to go to some difficult places narratively, but it is ultimately rewarding. Plans do not run smoothly, not everyone can be easily anticipated, and resolutions will cost our protagonist, others, and the reader (I cried). I can’t wait to read the next installment.
Min is a force of nature, as is her adventure to rescue both her brother and herself. The Dragon Pearl is an object that may be initially perceived as an innocuous excuse for an adventure, but it has serious political dimensions: power and survival. And I suppose Yoon Ha Lee’s novel could be read with depths unplumbed, but lines like “Due to lasting prejudice, they have to hide their true identity.” And “It was easier to design starships to human shapes and sizes and have everyone else adapt,” makes the novel’s conversation rich and relevant. Too, the ideas of sacrifice: which ones are noble and which ones are needless?
Dragon Pearl is fun, imaginative, and compelling. It also carries a good kind of weight in its dialog, characterization, and world-building. It would make for a great book club choice with its broad appeal. Dragon Pearl is also a great way to lure Fantasy readers into the SF genre to experience the space opera; I’m looking at you Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fandoms.
#dragonpearl #yoonhalee @readriordan 2019. full #bookreview link in profile. #leslied #youngreaders #middlegrade #sciencefiction #mythology #koreanfolklore #rickriordanpresents #asianpacificamericanheritagemonth
The question of whether pigs could fly is not new to picture books; neither is the desire to fly rare. If an engineer/inventor character in a STEM-book isn’t constructing a robot, it’s a flying contraption. The Dreamer is a lesson in why I shouldn’t underestimate an artist’s ability to make something new from recycled parts. “Once there was a pig who admired birds,” the book begins. He doesn’t merely wish he could fly. He doesn’t wish he were a bird. He *admired* the birds. And he wanted to “join” them and when they migrated, he wanted to “follow.” Already Il Sung Na sets an unusual tone.
The dynamic of not only pursuing the dream, but refining the process along the way is striking. As is how Il Sung Na illustrates–in an accessible and often humorous way–the dreamer observing, experiencing awe and inspiration, imagining, listening, and formulating, of collaborating and trying again and again, and to not even end the story there. The dreamer remains unfinished.
Paint me impressed with this beautifully nuanced, honest, and endearing portrayal of a dreamer. You’ll want to add this to those STEAM libraries, there are not too many like it—yet.
#thedreamer @ilsungna @chroniclebooks 2018. full #bookreview link in profile. #leslied #picturebooks #stem #steam #stembooks #kidsbooks #asianpacificamericanheritagemonth
it is Thursday yet... #criticalrole #lifedarnell
Gittel had already been prepared to leave her belongings, her best friend Raisa and her goat Frieda behind, that—at 9 years of age—she’d have to sail to America without her mother was unexpected. It isn’t safe to stay until Mama can pass the medical evaluation—and we can conclude why.
Amy June Bates work is always stunning. The woodblock stamped frames and title page illustrations are gorgeous. Bates literally frames the text with a sense of the historic and cultural. The portraiture in Gittel’s Journey is remarkably effective in translating the feeling of something past while experiencing all the emotion in the present. Families shouldn’t have to flee, be separated, or be kept so vulnerable when they do and are.
I love Gittel’s invitation at the close. Her journey was incomplete without Mama and those tall white candles. And it is now her turn to call her mother home and to the lighting of the candles.
Gittel’s Journey is a treasure in text and illustration; two masterful portrait artists capturing a time so presently felt.
#gittelsjourney #amyjunebates #lesleanewman @abramsbooks 2019. full #bookreview link in profile. #leslied #picturebooks #historicalfiction #childrensbooks #jewishamericanheritagemonth
It’s Children’s Book Week and I thought I would share some favorite books and creators this week. Today, I want to share a few of my favorite comic books aka graphic novels. ages 7-12.
#leslied #childrensbookweek #comics #graphicnovels #youngreaders #kidsgraphicnovels #kidscomics
It’s Children’s Book Week and I thought I would share some favorite books and creators this week. Today, I want to share a few of my favorite Early Chapter Books [think: 1st-early 3rd grade]. #leslied #chapterbooks #youngreaders #beginningreaders