Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a poetic autobiographical reflection on the author’s childhood. The writing is sparse, written in free verse, and yet each poem packs a punch of emotion. Ms Woodson recalls her earliest of memories (fictionalizing events as necessary). Her early childhood is spent with her grandmother and grandfather in South Carolina and then she moves to live with her mother and step-brother in New York.

Ms Woodson’s poems capture the difficult transitions in life, but they also capture the complicate life that comes from growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in the Jim Crow South. She details her frustrations learning to read (due to probable dyslexia) and her persistent dream to become a writer and record the multitude of stories inside her mind.

Individually, each poem is full of meaning that could be enjoyed as the reader may like. There is more than meets the eye in these apparently simple poems. As a whole, the book is satisfying and complete: a story of a girl who lived and dreamed and became.

School Days Around the World by Margriet Ruurs

School Days Around the World by Margriet Ruur and illustrated by Alice Feagan (Kids Can Press, 2015) captures Malala’s vision in the epigram at the beginning: “I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education.” In the cut-paper collage illustrations, the stories of real children around the world come to life. Although School Days is a short picture book, it covers a variety of  ways people receive an education around the world. Obviously, it does not capture all countries or situations, but it does provide a nice overview in an easily accessible format. I loved that the stories were based on real people!Continue Reading

Picture Book Sunday: Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee

Me, Too! by Annika Dunklee and illustrated by Lori Joy Smith (Kids Can Press, April 2015) is a book about friendship. Annie feels left out when a new girl moves in, because her best friend Lillemore has become friends with someone else!

I loved the simple format of this book. It is a pretty straight-forward book: jealousy at the most basic. But of course Annie learns that because Lillemore and Lilianne have a lot in common, that means that she, Annie, also has some things in common too!

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I had heard of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It’s one of those books that has been on the top of “to read” lists since it came out in early 2012. Now that I have read it, I know why.

At the center of Wonder is a boy, August or Auggie Pullman, with a severe facial distortion. Since he has been in and out of surgery for his entire life, he had never been able to attend school. Now that he is 10, his surgeries have lessened, and it is time for him to try a mainstream school with his peers. But although Wonder puts Auggie in the center of the story, it is really a story about kindness, acceptance, and overcoming bullying. Continue Reading