Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Emerson Barks by Liza Woodruff

Emerson is a barking dog. His way of hello is to bark, and he loves to say hello to everyone and every animal he can find.

Until he gets in big trouble for scaring off a cat. He decides to hold his bark in. He tries and tries and tries, and he succeeds for a bit.

With a surprise ending and a terrific connection with our ways of being, Emerson Barks will be a great read for those seeking a book about sense of self and identity.

Friday, September 9, 2016

as brave as you by Jason Reynolds

A true middle-school novel has to talk about poop. Reynolds gets really smart in his new novel and even moves into poop slinging and the proper way and place to sling. Mistakes are made, transgressions allowed, and chores completed, Genie and his brother add another surprise to their summer vacation at their grandparents' house. Given its tremendous distance from their home in Brooklyn as well as significant internet disconnection, the boys have landed in another world when they arrive in Virginia. Their parents are struggling to maintain their marriage, and they have decided to take some time away from the boys to see what can be glued back together.

In the first few days, Genie and his brother Ernie learn that their grandfather is blind, their grandmother an extreme gardener, and their house is way, way, way out in the boondocks. Ernie decides to chase after a girl, and Genie discovers his grandfather's gun, room of birds, and agoraphobia. Unique characters come in all shapes and sizes in Reynolds' new text, and Genie embraces the new life in grand ways. By the end of the book, the gun, the birds, and the agoraphobia all impact Genie, his brother, and his grandparents, and I have a feeling slinging poop may be a welcomed action. A sweet read,  I loved this book. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

How is it Woodson writes like she does? Her writing is remarkable to me, and her new book is a true testament to her amazing writing skills.

Another Brooklyn, set in the '70s in Brooklyn, frames a teenager's coming of age, friendships, growing up and looking back, loss, life, families, and the truths that we learn in our lives. Woodson writes with such gracefulness in this book. The main character's voice sounds so soft and strong at the same time, wise and curious, engaged and visionary. August leans into the memories and stories that come from a visit with her brother who is soon will be a father. She transports the reader into the life of those stories that begin with a mother whose absence pierces August's heart, a father who remains strong and abiding, and a brother who shares her window view for awhile. The meandering of friendships, linked arms through those difficult teen years, always important, always connecting in tiny and grand ways.

I so appreciated the clear lens Woodson crafted in Another Brooklyn. I felt as if August was talking with me directly, as if she were sitting across from me at a table in a quiet coffee shop, reflecting on her past and exploring how pieces fit together, how people graced and deflected her, talking, talking. And I simply listened, not needing to add anything else except my presence. Even though this is a book about coming of age, it felt peaceful to me. Somehow Woodson ties together strands into ropes of resilience. She gifts us with windows into her life through her books, and Another Brooklyn offers these fragile and super-strong panes of glass through which we experience another's rich life.