Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Why I love this book: Admittedly, I had a really hard time sitting down and writing my thoughts out. There were just too many. Too many things to try and cover, too many perfect little moments wrapped up in this story. Too many little things that deserve to be talked about, to be raved about... and it was overwhelming. I love books, that's a given, but this book? This book wedged it's way right into my heart and stayed there.
At the center of this story is Olive, a 12 year old with osteogenesis imperfecta, who dreams of going to regular school, of performing on stage, and finding her first real best friend. The problem is that people see her as fragile, as breakable. Even her family who love her and think she can do anything, still worry that by letting her take these big leaps might result in her falling. The thing here, that I love, is that every character is allowed to be afraid, they are given space to be sad and frustrated, to feel like things are too dangerous, or to hope so big that it might burst out of your chest. We get to stay with Olive for all of it, and it only makes the reader that much more invested in how it will all work out.
The other thing that I adore about this book is that magic is real. It's everywhere. The whole town knows there's magic in the hummingbird that comes to grant a wish, in the fall of feathers from the sky, that there's magic in the woods... they just have to believe. There's also magic in the library where therapy animals roam free and birds help you find your books. There's magic in music and words, and magic in friendship... and when you lay it out like that it might seem a little silly, but trust me when I say it's not. Lloyd weaves a tale that treats magic like the thread that holds the world together and it's more beautiful for it. It's just another resource that Olive and her friends use to find the hummingbird.
In the end this story is about so many things. Too many to put in one review. Ultimately it's a coming of age story about a girl named Olive who is deciding who she wants to be and going out to capture it. It's a story that I couldn't wait to put on the shelf for my students to read.
It only lasted 5 minutes before a 7th grader ran in, saw it on the shelf and yelled "I NEED this book!" I hope they all love it as much as I do.
This holiday weekend I gave myself the task of catching upn on some of the new Graphic Novels that we got into the library. I snagged 3 on my way out the door and I wasn't disappointed! All three were great in their own right and I can't wait to put them back on the shelves on Monday for students to take out.
Frizzy by Claribel Ortega with art by Rose Bousamra
Release Date: October 18, 2022
Why I Love This Book: Right off the bat this book pulled me in because I know it's a subject that my students will connect to. Hair is such a personal thing and it's something that can make or break your day. When you're liking how your hair is looking, you feel confident, when it's not cooperating a day can go downhill fast. My middle schoolers feel this every single day. Ortega and illustrator Bousamra perfectly capture what it feels like to not feel comfortable in your own skin and hair. They pull together a story that is contemporary and still touches on all the ways that hair, especially African American hair, has been policed through dress codes and through prevailing standards that aim to make some people feel less then. Our main character Marlene is going through it in Frizzy, but she has people who love her and help her and her family contend with a lifetime of feelings as Marlene finds her way to the hairstyle that makes her feel her most confident.
This is an excellent book that belongs on every library shelf.
All Summer Long by Hope Larson
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Why I love this book: This book is one that's been on my TBR for an embarrassingly long time, I'm not sure why I haven't picked it up until now, but once I did I couldn't put it down! Centering on Bina, a middle schooler who is facing her first summer without her best friend (who is away at camp), we get to follow her as she tries to figure out how to keep herself occupied, but also figure who she is independent of her friends, and who she wants to be as she heads into 8th grade. Told snapshot style we see Bina as she plays the guitar, binge watches TV, tries out new hobbies and jobs, makes new friends, and starts to find herself. What I really loved about this one is that it really captured those feelings of being a little lost, a little confused, and still taking those tiny leaps of faith. Scary for a middle schooler (and anyone really), but ultimately so rewarding.
By the end you just know that everything for Bina will turn out just fine, and I can't wait to snag the rest of the series to see what Bina gets up to next.
Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Why I love this book: In short- Swim Team is the perfect balance of a contemporary tale and the history that we need to learn. Bree is at the center of our story, fresh off a move to Florida and stuck in the only elective available, Bree is faced with something that scares her... swimming. She can't swim, never learned, and somehow she has to be the new girl and the odd man out. She just has to make it through this one semester and then she can slide back into her comfort zone of math club. Except... she finds that she's making new friends with the swimmers and she wants to learn. Supported by her new neighbor and her new friends, Bree discovers that she can do hard things and finds her place at her new school.
Woven throughout the story are pieces of history that we don't always teach in school. We learn about why Bree never learned to swim when she lived in Brooklyn, not just because she never had the opportunity, but all the ways that segregation can carry down through generations and have an impact on communities through time.
Bree finds her stroke, and finds her place in this absolutely wonderful graphic novel.
Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade
Release Date: October 19, 2022
Why I Love this Book: Olivia Dade is one of my all time favorite authors, so it's no surprise that I absolutely loved Ship Wrecked. This one is part of the Spoiler Alert universe (the SAU!!!), and it's always fun to dive back into a familiar, well loved world with characters that you maybe missed a little. But that's not the focus of this one- revisiting old friends is just a little side bonus.
This book is all Maria and Peter and their messy, complicated relationship. Kicking off with a one night stand that is somehow both absolute perfection and a complete disaster, these two end up starring opposite each other and having to film in relative isolation for years. The one night stand, the forced proximity, ALL THE TROPES! This is really what Dade is a master of, she hits every trope out of the park in a way that makes the reader kind of giddy, and then she punches the wind right out you (and the characters) by not shying away from the darker things.
Peter and Maria are a mess, They can't get out of their own way and they are dealing with the realities of being a plus sized actor in Hollywood- which is obviously famous for being extremely accepting of all body types. Peter and Maria need each other to get through it, but also are fiercely independent, and are still nursing some old wounds that they'd rather not reopen. Have I said it's complicated yet... because it's complicated. Lucky for us Dade has a deft hand strikes the exact right balance of humor and serious moments.
That is all to say that Spoiler Alert is yet another amazing entry into the Spoiler Alert series.
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