A recent banned book in an Oregon school district

bookA parent in the Beaverton School District recently challenged the book “Stick” by Andrew Smith as being inappropriate for the district’s students. Stick chronicles the turbulent life of a 13-year-old boy and explores themes of bullying, homosexuality and physical abuse. Following guidelines, a committee was formed,  which included the concerned parent and several school administrators, among other professionals, to discuss the matter, and eventually came to the decision not to remove the book from the shelves. However, the district’s deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning decided on his own to pull the book from middle school shelves, and limit the title to juniors and seniors classrooms only, ignoring the committee’s decision. This led the ALA and the Oregon Library Association to write a joint letter to the Superintendent, urging him to change his decision. You can read the full article from American Libraries Direct and form your own conclusions, but I think it is sad that the students who are mature enough to handle the contents of the book are being denied the right to read it. Unfortunately, the title is not in our catalog; I was hoping to read it for myself…

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

 Winner of the 2018 Schneider Family Book Award, “Macy McMillan” is a novel in verse for 3rd graders and up. The Schneider Award which “honors an author or illustrator for an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences,” often introduces me to titles that I fall in love with. I enjoyed the story of 6th grader Macy McMillan, a deaf girl who has recently had a falling out with her best friend. Her mother is remarrying and soon they will sell their house and move in with her soon-to-be stepfather and step-sisters. There are a lot of changes in Macy’s life, but the biggest one is her new friendship with her elderly next-door neighbor, Iris Gillan. Iris will also be moving soon because she can no longer live by herself. Macy is assigned to help her pack up and learns about friendship and wise life lessons from Iris. I read this book in under 2 hours and enjoyed the journey of Macy getting to know Iris and coming to terms with her new family.

Carnegie’s Maid

book.jpgMarie Benedict imagines Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy to have been inspired by a woman in her latest historical novel, Carnegie’s Maid. In this case, it is his mother’s personal maid who ultimately has quite the effect on Carnegie’s view of monetary success. Clara Kelley has survived the forty plus days at sea on her way from Ireland to America in the late 1860’s. She is eager to find work to support her family’s dwindling income, and with some luck, takes a position as a lady’s maid in Pittsburgh. The lady happens to be Margaret Carnegie, the mother of Andrew and Thomas Carnegie. Benedict develops the character of Clara to be of equal intelligence to Andrew, despite the current disparity of their social standing and gender. She paints a vivid portrayal of the glaring inequalities of the haves and the have-nots, both in wealth, social class and gender, during the 1860’s. The reader gets a glimpse of the unfairness of tenant farming in Ireland in that period, as well as the poverty of newly arriving immigrants to America, and the huge imbalance in power between male and female. An entertaining and informative read; I highly recommend this for fans of historical novels.

For parents and caregivers of the younger set…

The New York Public Library recently released a digital album for parents, librarians and caregivers to share with the preschool set. The music file “NYPL Sings- Songs for Our Children” includes Good Morning songs incorporating ‘Hello’ in different languages, silly songs, and other songs to share that promote critical thinking.

The NYPL album “NYPL Sings” is available to download for free  here :  Image result for nypl


Before I Let Go

index (2)Corey hadn’t answered her best friend Kyra’s last few letters. After all, she was busy trying to find her place at her new school, after moving away from their home town of Lost, Alaska. And she’s due home for a week visit soon, so she has plenty of time to catch up with Kyra then. But a few days before Corey is due to leave, Kyra is found dead, floating in a lake. Now Corey has a week to figure out what happened. Why didn’t Kyra hang on until Corey got there? Suddenly, Lost feels like an entirely different place. The townspeople treat Corey like an outsider, and no one will give her any answers to why Kyra died. The story deals with mental illness, and lists resources at the end for help and treatment for anyone who would need it. A haunting story…