Books Read in February 2022

Picture Books

I Hop
Joe Cepeda
Read for Librarian Book Group

I thought for a minute that we were going to lose track of what happened with the cheese and bread, but things righted themselves by the end.

The People Remember
Zoboi and Wise

A history of Black people in the US that also illustrates the seven principles of Kwanza. One of my favorite picture books from this award season.

I Sang You Down from the Stars
Tasha Spillett-Sumner and Michaela Goade
Read for Librarian Book Group

A mother prepares for her first child in this swirlingly illustrated book.

The Most Beautiful Story
Brynjulf Jung Tjønn, Oyvind Torseter
Read for Librarian Book Group

God bless the Batchelder award for hooking me up with Scandinavian picture books about death. Great use of line and color.

The Passover Guest
Susan Kusel and Sean Rubin

Depression-era Washington D.C. is the setting for this very pretty Passover story.

In the Meadow of Fantasies
Hadi Mohammadi, Nooshin Safakhoo
Read for Librarian Book Group

Super odd story but in a charming way. This Bachelder committee seemed to like spare lines with drops of color, as this art style is similar to the Most Beautiful Story. (I know they are supposed to focus on the words due to the translation thing, but I’m betting the illustrations also make a difference.)

Granddad’s Camper
Harry Woodgate
Read for Librarian Book Group

Bold bright illustrations help tell the story of Granddad and Gramps’s travels in their camper.

Coffee Rabbit Snowdrop Lost
Betina Birkjær, Anna Margrethe Kjærgaard, Sinéad Quirke Køngerskov
Read for Librarian Book Group

Stump spends a lot of time with his grandparents. He tracks his grandfather losing words. Good dementia resources in the back.

Daniel W. Vandever, Corey Begay
Read for Librarian Book Group

Wordless picture book that offers a lot of (too much?) guidance of how to interpret everything.

Middle Grade

The Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna
Alda P. Dobbs
Read for Librarian Book Group

An insight into a refugee event in 1913 during the Mexican Revolution. Captures hope and despair of an other story at the US-Mexican border.

A Bird Will Soar
Alison Green Meyers
Read for Librarian Book Group

Alex loves birds, the dog Ray, his mother, and Emmett, George and Aunt Nancy in this tome of a middle grade novel.

Amina’s Song
Hena Khan
Read for Librarian Book Group

The conundrum of how to talk about a country you love—in this case Pakistan—when the people around you only associate it with bad things.

This is a sequel—it took me a bit to realize that fact—and had some gaps because of it’s sequel status.

Gordon Korman
Read for Librarian Book Group

This short book balances many characters and tells the story of a small Colorado town and what happens at the middle school when someone paints a swastika on the school wall. An excellent example of middle grade literature.

Temple Alley Summer
Sachiko Kashiwaba and Miho Satake. Translated by Avery Udagawa
Read for Librarian Book Group

A unique story about a home-based summer mystery. It’s weird in a delightful way from the first page to the last. The story in the story throws the pacing off, but I didn’t mind so much. Sadly, a lot of the translation was pretty flat.

Young Adult

Home is Not a Country
Safia Elhillo
Read for Librarian Book Group

Novel in verse about a young woman who grieves the country she wasn’t raised in and eventually learns the truth about her past.

The Words in My Hands
Read for Librarian Book Group

A YA book with tons of illustrations! Such a treat! Permaculture as a plot point! So great! A really interesting Deaf protagonist! Illustrations of the Auslan fingerspelling alphabet. So very different than ASL! I loved so many things about this book!

The Summer of Lost Letters
Hannah Reynolds
Read for Librarian Book Group

Pretty much my sweet spot: summer, letters, history. Though I did wonder how many hours Abby worked at that bookstore. Unlike me, she only had to plan around work once during the course of the book. This was a very good read about identity when you don’t know about your family because of the holocaust.

I Must Betray You
Ruta Sepetys

Very vivid description (one might say it’s Sepetyan description) of the last two months of Ceaușescu’s regime. Unfortunately, Sepetys’s story is undermined by many one-word or short-sentence paragraphs and also by the future narrator butting into the story which cuts the tension considerably.

The Darkness Outside Us
Eliot Schrefer
Read for Librarian Book Group

People who have seen the movie Moon will recognize an early plot point, but no matter. The story of Ambrose and Kodiak is sweeping and fascinating and hopeful.

People who haven’t see the movie Moon should rectify that, stat.

Where I Belong
Marcia Argueta Mickelson
Read for Librarian Book Group

The way Millie’s life gets complex fast when her mother’s boss calls out her family as good immigrants felt real and also humbling. This is a really great story of white people trying to do the right thing and the complicated feelings on both sides. Recommended.

Mary H.K. Choi

Jayne is a mess and we get to spend an entire book in her mess. This novel really evokes the 20-something lost feeling. (It’s also not really a YA novel, but whatever.)

Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun
Jonny Garza Villa
Read for Librarian Book Group

It seems like a good idea to write a novel that covers a school year from start to finish, but it’s hard to get the arcs right. A school year has 3–4 novels in it. What usually happens, and did with this book, is that the novel gets draggy. At one point I said aloud, “Oh thank god, we’re skipping ahead to March.”

This was a good read from an own-voices perspective. It was just a sloggy read.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe
Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Read for Librarian Book Group

So many great things! Fame adjacent! Getting out from a sister’s shadow! Overcoming terrible family situation! It was also a really-great-finding-love-despite-tons-of-negative-self-image-feelings story.

This might have been my favorite among the award winners this year.

Young Nonfiction

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer
Traci Sorell and Natasha Donovan
Read for Librarian Book Group

A clearly written picture book history of Mary Golda Ross. Very digestible information about a woman with whom I was not familiar.

Becoming Miss Navajo
Jolyana Begay-Krapo
Read for Librarian Book Group

This feels a bit like the 4-H posters at the fair, but I did enjoy reading about a pageant I had no idea existed. I would have liked some captions on the photos.

Dear Mr. Dickins
Churrun Stancliffe
Read for Librarian Book Group

Writing your favorite author can make a difference! Also, the author’s note clued me in that the statutum de Judaismo in England was from 1275–1846! 1846!! I had no idea.

A Face for Picasso: Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome
Ariel Henley
Read for Librarian Book Group

Henley describes growing up with Crouzon syndrome and how it affected her body (the many major surgeries) and her psyche (the teasing, the way her face shifted with each surgery) and her education. A hard read, but an important one.

The Great Stink: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London’s Poop Pollution Problem
Colleen Paeff
Read for Librarian Book Group

Lots of interesting information about London and poop that will satisfy the young set’s scatalogical interest. Plus some science. The illustrations were bursting with life.

We are Still Here
Traci Sorrell & Lessac
Read for Librarian Book Group

12 topics relevant to Native Americans (and all Americans) are introduced in a presentation-like format. Not unlike the 4-H posters at the fair. The extensive timeline and other back matter information was in a font too small for this reader to struggle through.

Child of the Flower Song People
Gloria Amescua, Duncan Tonatiuh
Read for Librarian Book Group

So rarely do I get the story of the people who modeled for the famous paintings. This was a treat. Unfortunately, there were no page numbers, so it was hard to cross reference the notes with the illustrations they discussed.

Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate
Melissa Stewart and Sarah Brannen
Read for Librarian Book Group

Fun information about animals that sleep away the summers. I liked the contrast of black and white line drawings on the full-color pages.

SKS: Smile

The nice orange color made this easy to find in the pile of postcards I need to put on the website.

Sara wonders if the message sounds less patriarchal because it comes from her. She knows that I, like many women, HATE being told by men to smile.

Sara goes on to explain she wanted to send some orangey cheer.

The last line is also fun: And, like a true academic, I used all my space to discuss the patriarchy. Ha!

Orangey cheer accomplished!

Random Cat Embroidery Finished

This kit came to me because I needed to spend a few more dollars to get free shipping on Amazon. I searched “embroidery kits” and this popped up. I liked the cat and the colors, and so into my cart it went.

Unlike all the other kits I’ve done, this one seemed to have no creator. I couldn’t find any information about the company. I’m guessing it was made to sell to people who search “embroidery kit” on Amazon. The directions sound like the kit creator speaks another language, in addition to English.

I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

On the Chopping Block: 1524 N. Watts Street

This is an 807 square foot house built in 1923. The assessor detail tells me that it was sold in 1997 for $63,000. (Oh, to have bought property in North Portland in the 90s!) It sold to a builder in November 2021 for $445,000.

I like small houses that are set back from the property. There is ample room for a beautiful garden out front. I also like that little gable on the house. I’m not sure if it came about due to a remodel, but it’s very nice.

Zoning means the builder could build two skinny houses on this lot. It might be that, or a one big house.

Godspeed, little house on a big lot. I hope you have a lot of happy memories.

Two Quilts Found in Consignment Store

This was a lovely find. The quilting was simple, but the colors were pretty and didn’t scream any particular decade to me.

The artist signed their work, though only with the initials MCB and the year. Good work, MCB. I hope this quilt brought someone many years of happiness before it found its way to a consignment store.

And then there was this quilt which was so amazing I hope it finds the perfect new home. Here’s the first side, awash with colors and puffy animals (and maybe a sperm or two?) I love how bright and gaudy this is.

Here are two closeups of the puffy animals/sperm. Notice all the great layering that went into each block.

If the quilt were just the bright colors and puffy animals with a plain back, that would have been amazing. But no! THIS is the back!

Tons of layering and detail in 5 panels.

And then this intricate thing happening with ribbon in four other panels.

Unfortunately, there was no artist credit or date.

This isn’t the kind of quilt you can snuggle up with. I wonder if this reflects a culture I’m not familiar with? I have so many questions.

Mom’s Birthday Flocking

For mom’s second birthday during Covid, we got her a flocking. The night before, Think Pink Flamingo Flocking set up these friends to surprise her.

We were hoping she wouldn’t hear them and she didn’t. I also learned that my mom doesn’t put up the shades in her front room at the crack of dawn. Her excited phone call came much later than I would have thought.

This was a very fun gift and that was before I saw that the flamingos were wearing hats and stuff. Those additions made it much more fun.

I also made her one two-layer cake that I cut into four pieces and frosted so she could freeze three of them and defrost as needed. When you aren’t having a big gathering, a whole cake is kind of a lot.

And here are the frosted cakes! Even though I made five cups of frosting, you will note that the frosting diminishes as the cakes go along. I forgot that more sides means more frosting.

They are all plated on 8×8 dishes because we had no cardboard I could cover with aluminum foil.

It was a fun birthday celebration.

Kiriki’s Pysanky Egg Sampler

Let it be known that practice does help improve things. As this Kiriki Press sampler shows, my satin stitch is coming along.

Aside from general satin stitch skill building, the scroll stitch I embroiders, tore out, then practiced on another piece of material for a good chunk of time before I felt confident enough to try again.

The needle weaving was fun, but took a lot of attention. I loved the double herringbone and would like to use more of it in my stitching.

Here’s a close up look that shows off that there are few bald spots on my satin stitch. But I’m fine with it. It’s all about practicing.

Badass Cross Stitch: Year of Stitch Sampler #2: The Patriarchy Won’t Smash Itself

You may recall that I was tracing this pattern on New Year’s Day. It has come to pass that I’ve completed it!

I did some experimenting with thicker thread and found I didn’t love it. But I am glad I did the experiment.

Because I traced a circle around the outside of the pattern, I embroidered over that circle with a sampler of the stitches we learned: backstitch (I attempted to do a Morse Code message) whipped backstitch, stem stitch, chain stitch, and couching.

This was a great way to start 2022.