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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

How do you tell a challenging story?

Cover of An American Story
A review of An American Story by Kwame Alexander
Dare Coulter

An American Story, illustrated by Dare Coulter and written by Kwame Alexander, is the winner of the 2024 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for outstanding illustrations by an African American artist.

In the author's note, Alexander shares that he wrote this book after realizing that his daughter's teacher had a fear of teaching kids about slavery- she had never been taught how.

This American story opens with the question, "How do you tell a story that starts in Africa and ends in horror?"

Jan 26, 2024

A poetic life

Cover of In Every Life
A review of In Every Life by Marla Frazee

Beaming with lightness and brightness, Marla Frazee’s In Every Life shows the great expanse of human experience. With sparse and lyrical text, the book reads like a poem or song. The illustrations show a wide array of people in soft vignettes, along with wordless double-paged spreads. Quietly spectacular scenes show hikers voyaging up a mountain, an adult and child looking out at an expanse of shoreline, and a trio of kids enjoying a windy and flowery hilltop.

Jan 25, 2024

Journeys of discovery

Cover of The Truth About Dragons
A review of The Truth About Dragons by Julie Leung
Hanna Cha

This book gave me goosebumps. Setting off on a quest through two different forests, to discover two different, but equally enchanting truths about dragons, a little boy’s adventures come lavishly to life with edge to edge full color ink illustrations. This book is an exploration of Eastern and Western Dragon mythologies, both true and meaningful celebrations of the child’s mixed cultural identities. It is hard to pick a favorite line, a favorite description or depiction in these pages.

Jan 24, 2024

A BIG winner

Cover of Big
A review of Big by Vashti Harrison

Big, illustrated and written by Vashti Harrison, is the winner of the 2024 Randolph Caldecott Medal for most distinguished American picture book for children, a 2024 Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor Book and a 2024 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor Book.

Jan 23, 2024

Music and memory

Cover of Holding On
A review of Holding On by Sophia Lee
Isabel Roxas

In Sophia N. Lee’s remarkable picture book, Holding On, we meet a delightful granddaughter and her beloved Lola (the Tagalog word for grandmother). Lola loves to tell her granddaughter “If you want to hold on, you gotta sing your songs”, and Lola’s house is full of music and memories. Along with photos, special objects, favorite foods, and stories, Lola’s songs are how she remembers and shares her life and loved ones.

Jan 12, 2024

Picking up the pieces

Cover of Ashes of the Sun
A review of Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler

Generations ago an empire was destroyed by war. The technological/magical remnants of that society are now either in the hands of the Twilight Order or hard sought by the criminal and/or rebellious elements of the society. A sister and brother find themselves on opposite sides of that power dynamic in this complex and fascinating fantasy novel.

Jan 10, 2024

A wish on a washing machine

Cover of The Wishing Machine
A review of The Wishing Machine by Jonathan Hillman
Nadia Alam

Change and goodbyes are hard! As Sam and his mom prepare to move from their apartment to Grandpa's trailer away from the city, they say goodbye to friends and their cherished Sunday laundromat time together with one last visit. But with a little imagination and some one-of-a-kind luck, Sam discovers that his most heartfelt wish doesn't need a magic machine to come true.

Jan 5, 2024


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