Post-It Note Reviews: Orishas, bibliotherapy, wilderness survival, and more!
Last roundup of mini reviews for the year! This will post during my 11 days home for winter break and boy howdy do I hope I will make a big dent in my TBR during that time!
All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of my scrawl after book info!
Salsa Magic by Letisha Marrero (ISBN-13: 9781646142606 Publisher: Levine Querido Publication date: 09/26/2023, Ages 8-12)
A magical debut middle-grade novel filled with loud but loving family members, santería, and powerful orishas, set in New York City.
Thirteen-year-old Maya Beatriz Montenegro Calderon has vivid recurring dreams where she hears the ocean calling her. Mami’s side of the family is known as “Los Locos,” so maybe she actually is going crazy. But no time for that; the family business is where it’s at. Whenever Maya, her sister Salma, and her three cousins, Ini, Mini, and Mo, aren’t at school, you can usually find three generations of Calderones at Café Taza, serving up sandwiches de pernil, mofongo, and the best cafés con leche in all of Brooklyn.
One day, an unexpected visit from the estranged Titi Yaya from Puerto Rico changes everything. Because Yaya practices santería, Abuela tells Maya and the other Calderon children to stay away from her. But If la viejita is indeed estranged from the family, why does Maya feel so connected to this woman she has never met before? And who is this orisha named Yemaya? On top of figuring all this out, Maya has a budding soccer career to consider, while fending off the local bully, and dealing with nascent feelings toward her teammate. But through it all, there’s that alluring connection to a forbidden ancient practice—filled with a pantheon of Yoruban gods and goddesses—that keeps tugging at her, offering her a new perspective in life, tying her past to her present and future. Which path will Maya choose to fulfill her destiny?
(POST-IT SAYS: The mysterious Titi Yaya’s arrival reveals Maya’s connection to her Yoruba heritage and her destiny as she discovers family secrets, history, and more about her own identity. Loved Maya’s complicated, tight-knit family.)
The Librarian’s Guide to Bibliotherapy Judit H. Ward and Nicholas A. Allred ((ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-3662-7 Publisher: ALA Editions Publication date: 11/01/2023)
The bibliotherapy-informed practices, programs, and events outlined in this guide will help librarians support the mental health and personal growth of their patrons.
Bibliotherapy can be defined as the use of guided reading for therapeutic ends. And though you might not be a licensed mental health professional, you can—and do, even without knowing it—support mental health and personal growth by connecting patrons to books that heal. Regardless of your previous experience or existing skills, this guide will empower you to make “shelf help” a part of your library’s relationship with its community. Drawing on Reading for Recovery, the authors’ own Carnegie-Whitney grant-funded project, this guide
- begins with an overview of bibliotherapy, including its concepts and history, and sketches out how its various approaches can be adapted for library settings;
- explores the potential of bibliotherapy as an add-on to existing skills, services, practices, and collections;
- demonstrates how bibliotherapy-inspired initiatives can address the needs of diverse communities, thus advancing libraries’ commitment to EDISJ;
- offers techniques for selecting reading material for your audience with bibliotherapy in mind;
- provides a range of possible programs, from group discussions and public events to book displays and reading lists, along with a step-by-step approach to planning and implementing them;
- shares outreach tips, tools, and branding ideas to make the most of your resources and effectively reach your audience;
- demonstrates how to use assessment tools to test and tweak your program at every stage to achieve the results you want; and
- inspires you to take your offerings into new directions, such as creative writing and visual art programs, that fit your library and community.
(POST-IT SAYS: Would be extremely useful to libraries looking to promote bibliotherapy. Provides models, a history, templates for getting started in your library, programming ideas, and more.)
Eight Dates and Nights: A Hanukkah Romance by Betsy Aldredge (ISBN-13: 9780593710333 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 10/03/2023, Ages 12-17)
Two teens with two very different ideas of how to spend Hanukkah learn to work together to save the last Jewish remnant in small town Texas in this cozy holiday romance!
New Yorker Hannah Levin is allergic to exactly two things, horses and tinsel. Unfortunately, she’s surrounded by both when she’s snowed in at her grandmother’s home in a small Texas town.
Super lonely, missing latkes and reliable Wi-Fi, Hannah wanders into an old deli where she meets the only other Jewish teen around, Noah, who happens to be equal parts adorable and full of annoying, over the top festival of lights spirit that he’s determined to share with Hannah one itchy Hanukkah sweater at a time.
As the days pass—and a spectacularly memorable kiss following Noah’s made up game of truth or dare dreidel takes place—Hannah begins to wonder if maybe there’s more to Hanukkah than she thought.
(POST-IT SAYS: This light romance is a short, quick read. Will appeal to those who like holiday stories, insta love, grumpy/sunshine, and fish-out-of-water stories.)
15 Secrets to Survival by Natalie D. Richards (ISBN-13: 9780593644126 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 11/07/2023, Ages 8-12)
New York Times bestselling author Natalie D. Richards’s middle grade debut about a group of four classmates forced to navigate the wilderness for an extra credit project with nothing but the pages of a survival handbook—and each other—to save them.
When classmates Baxter, Abigail, Turner and Emerson break a school rule, they’re forced to travel to the middle of nowhere for an extra credit project. They think things can’t get much worse. After all, how will learning to survive in the wilderness help them stay out of trouble in school?
What starts off as a weekend of team building takes a scary turn when their instructor goes missing and they are given nothing but pages of a survival guide to complete a series of challenges.
They soon learn the woods around them have unexpected surprises. Will they discover a way to work together to find their teacher and overcome the dangers of winter in the mountains?
(POST-IT SAYS: Wowie is this a story about survival. These kids are so smart, brave, resourceful, determined, and able to work together despite differences and arguments. Fast-paced and super adventurous.)
The Queer Girl is Going to Be Okay by Dale Walls (ISBN-13: 9781646142705 Publisher: Levine Querido Publication date: 11/21/2023, Ages 12-18)
Queer Love. Something Dawn wants, desperately, but does not have. But maybe, if she can capture it, film it, interview the people who have it, queer love will be hers someday. Or, at least, she’ll have made a documentary about it. A documentary that, hopefully, will win Dawn a scholarship to film school. Many obstacles stand in the way of completing her film, but her best friends Edie and Georgia are there to help her reach her goal, no matter what it takes. A touching and joyous story of queer friendship and girlhood set in the vibrant city of Houston, THE QUEER GIRL IS GOING TO BE OKAY will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you believe that eventually, everything will be okay.
(POST-IT SAYS: Queer love and relationships are explored through a documentary and friends Dawn, Georgie, and Edi, all queer and all navigating serious issues at home (not necessarily related to their identities). Complex relationships drive the plot.)
Love in Winter Wonderland by Abiola Bello (ISBN-13: 9781641295079 Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated Publication date: 10/03/2023, Ages 14-17)
The Sun Is Also a Star meets You’ve Got Mail in this YA Christmas love story set in a London Black-owned bookshop.
Charming, handsome Trey Anderson balances the pressures of school popularity with a job at his family’s beloved local bookshop, Wonderland.
Quirky, creative Ariel Spencer needs tuition for the prestigious art program of her dreams, and an opening at Wonderland is the answer. When Trey and Ariel learn that Wonderland is on the brink of being shut down by a neighborhood gentrifier, they team up to stop the doors from closing before the Christmas Eve deadline—and embark on a hate-to-love journey that will change them forever.
Heartwarming and romantic, this read is the gift that keeps on giving, no matter the season.
(POST-IT SAYS: Cute holiday romance set in and around a Black-owned bookstore. Not really a “hate-to-love journey” as described. They don’t get together for a long time, but watching Trey grow and learn what/who he wants was enjoyable.)
Emma and the Love Spell by Meredith Ireland (ISBN-13: 9781547612604 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/23/2024, Ages 9-12)
Witchlings meets The Parent Trap in this contemporary fantasy about a girl who tries to use her fickle witchy powers to keep her best friend (and secret crush!) from moving away.
Twelve-year-old, Korean American adoptee Emma Davidson has a problem. Two problems. Okay, three:
1. She has a crush on her best friend, Avangeline, that she hasn’t been able to share
2. Avangeline now has to move out of their town because her parents are getting a divorce
3. Oh, and Emma is a secret witch who can’t really control her powers
It’s a complicated summer between sixth and seventh grade. Emma’s parents made her promise that she’d keep her powers a secret and never, ever use them. But if Avangeline’s parents fell back in love, it would fix everything. And how hard could one little love spell be?
This fast-paced, heartfelt story is a powerful exploration of learning to embrace who you are, even when your true self is different from everyone around you.
(POST-IT SAYS: Secret witch Emma discovers the strength of her powers, secret family history, and an unexpected ally (or is that nemesis?) in this satisfying story about love, friendship, and all the changes that come with growing up.)
The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman by Mari Lowe (ISBN-13: 9781646142644 Publisher: Levine Querido Publication date: 11/14/2023, Ages 8-12)
SHAINDY is a twelve-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl who struggles in school and has no good friends. She watches with envy as her next-door neighbor, GAYIL, excels socially and academically. They have little to do with each other, and it comes as a surprise when Shaindy looks out her window one September evening and sees Gayil staring out at her from her own window with a sign reading want to know a secret?
The secret (at first) is that Gayil has a key fob that will allow them to break into their school after hours. Together, they set up a harmless prank in their classroom. But under Gayil’s instigation the mischief becomes malice, and Shaindy sees that the pranks and humiliations are targeted only at certain girls. But what could they have in common? With the fear of Gayil’s fury and her own reluctance growing, Shaindy comes to the terrifying conclusion that if she can’t figure out how to stop it, the next target could be her.
(POST-IT SAYS: Shaindy shows how easy it is to be led astray by a “friend.” Feeling included and special soon wears off and Shaindy discovers she’s not immune from her new friend’s pranks. A real lesson in making mistakes, admitting you were wrong, and taking ownership of your actions.)
The Boy from Clearwater: Book 1 by Pei-Yun Yu, Jian-Xin Zhou (Illustrator), Lin King (Translator) (ISBN-13: 9781646142798 Publisher: Levine Querido Publication date: 11/28/2023, Ages 12-18)
An incredible true story in graphic novel form that lays bare the tortured and triumphant history of Taiwan, an island claimed and fought over by many countries, through the life story of a man who lived through its most turbulent times.
Part One: Taiwan, 1930s. Tsai Kun-lin, an ordinary boy born in Qingshui, recounts a carefree childhood despite the Japanese occupation: growing up happily with the company of nursery rhymes and picture books on Qingshui Street. As war emerges Tsai’s memories shift to military parades, air raids, and watching others face conscription into the army. It seems no one can escape. After the war, the book-loving teenager tries hard to learn Mandarin and believes he is finally stepping towards a comfortable future; but little does he know, a dark cloud awaits him ahead.
Part Two: Taiwan, 1950s. In his second year at Taichung First Senior High School, Tsai is arrested simply for joining a book club and subsequently tortured, deprived of civil rights, and sent to Green Island for “reformation.” Lasting until his release in September 1960, Tsai, a victim of the White Terror era, spends ten years of his youth in prison on an unjust charge. But he is ready to embrace freedom.
Experience parts one and two of the tour-de-force graphic novel series that took Taiwan by storm – parts three and four coming May 2024.
(POST-IT SAYS: Half of the book is in light, elegant artwork and tells the story of a boy’s young life and academic successes. The second half is heavy, dark artwork while he is imprisoned on an island. A fascinating and weighty read about politics, governments, and freedom.)
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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