Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Review: A Big Mooncake for Little Star

A Big Mooncake for Little Star A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another beautifully illustrated book. I want to frame each page.

Mama makes a mooncake and hangs it in the sky; she tells Little Star not to touch it until Mama says.

That night, Little Star can't help herself. She gets up and nibbles just a little -- so little hardly anyone will notice.

And the next night she nibbles a little more.... and then a little more...

And so we see the reason behind the phases of the moon. It's Little Star nibbling away each night!

And when Mama sees what she has done and the mooncake is no more.... they create a new one.

Now, of course, I want to eat a mooncake.






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Thursday, June 06, 2019

Review: Alma and How She Got Her Name

Alma and How She Got Her Name Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alma thinks her name is entirely too long! When she writes it out on paper, she needs to tape two pieces together. Her name? Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela. A mouthful, right?

But then her father explains to her the story of why each name was chosen: who is Sofia, and what she meant to him, and why he included it in her daughter's name, and Alma embraces that name.

And who is Esperanza.... and Jose....and so on.

The illustrations are beautiful; the story is sweet; and it is all about learning more about yourself, about your heritage, and being proud of it.



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Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Review: Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish

Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eighth grader Marcus Vega looks like a grown up. He's tall, he's big, and at first glance some may think he's an adult... or that he's a bully.

He's not an adult, but he does have a lot of responsibility. His mom works a lot, leaving Marcus to take care of his younger brother, Charlie. Charlie is only one year younger than Marcus; Charlie is also a kid with Down syndrome, so part of the role Marcus takes on is being his brother's protector from school bullies.

Folks may think Marcus is a bully, because he's so big. Instead, though, he's turned that into in a plus: he's the kid who protects others from bullies. And, since his mom is struggling financially, he charges for the service.

When the real school bully picks on Charlie, using the R word, Marcus can't help himself -- he punches the kid. And earns a suspension. And his mom, not sure what else to do, and decides they all need a change of scenery so takes the boys to Puerto Rico to visit her ex-husband's relatives.

Here's what you need to know about her ex: he left ten years ago. He hasn't been in touch since. And Marcus believes in him. Believes that if he just sends the right email, says the right things, his dad will show up and somehow fix things. Fix it so his mom doesn't struggle, so they don't have to worry about how Charlie is treated at school, fix it so that Marcus can be a kid again. This last one is something Marcus doesn't realize, doesn't say, but it's clear to the reader that Marcus is tired of being the responsible grown up.

Marcus was born in Puerto Rico, but he's been raised outside of Philadelphia, he doesn't speak Spanish. The five day trip to Puerto Rico is fantastic -- they reconnect with family, his mother relaxes and also gets a clearer view of her life and what has been happening with her sons, and Marcus tries to track down his father. It's clear to everyone but Marcus that Marcus has created a fantasy about his father -- but Marcus has to learn the hard way.

A great book about how family both supports you, but also lets you down. And about somehow you have to take a little vacation from your life to get a clearer picture of who you are and what you want.






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