Books Read in April 2023

Picture Books

In Every Life
Maria Frazee
Read for Librarian Book Group

Small vignettes illustrating a concept (birth, sadness, joy, struggle) alternate with two-page spreads for minimal text and maximal noticing small details satisfaction.

This is Not My Home
Vivienne Chang and Eugenia Yoh
Read for Librarian Book Group

Lily’s mom moves her to Taiwan so she can take care of Lily’s grandmother. Lily is not a fan. Great cross-culture comparisons and amusing illustrations.

An American Story
Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter
Read for Librarian Book Group

A picture book of questions about how to tell the story of slavery that tells the story while asking questions. Very intriguing illustrations.

Good Morning Good Night
Anita Lobel
Get your fill of opposite adjectives in yet another New York City–centered picture book.

Very Good Hats
Emma Straub and Blanca Gómez
Read for Librarian Book Group

For many years I was prone to placing a random object on my head and declaring, “It’s a hat!” This is that action in picture book form.

Middle Grade

Not an Easy Win
Chrystal D. Giles
Read for Librarian Book Group

Lawrence is not adjusting to his new majority-white school in the town where his grandmother lives. After being expelled, he finds a job at the before and afterschool program that serves the mostly Black charter school. It is there that he learns chess.

Young Adult

The Buried and the Bound
Rochelle Hassan
Read for Librarian Book Group

A very strong first entry of an eventual trilogy about a Hedge witch in a small town in Massachusetts where things are getting a little out of control magic-wise.

Elena K. Arnold

For most of this book, I wondered what exactly the thrust of the narrative was. Though I was interested in the life of Sephora, the Venice Beach daughter of a young mom. Then I figured out what exactly the thrust of the novel was, and it became that much more intriguing.

Lamar Giles

Nikki’s parents own a Las Vegas hotel, though her dad’s not been so much an owner as a person wrongly convicted who is sitting in prison. While he’s there, Nikki and her mother have been keeping the hotel going. She thinks that her dad’s exoneration will improve her life, but alas, complications ensue.

This is packed with so many Vegas insider details that I wondered about Mr. Giles’s research.

Young Nonfiction

Just Jerry
Jerry Pinkney
Read for Librarian Book Group

Pinkney’s memoir features his unfished sketches, plus a narrative of his childhood on East Earlham Street in Philadelphia. I liked the concept of featuring unfished sketches more than I liked the result.

We go Way Back
Idan Ben-Barak,
Read for Librarian Book Group

A very accessible—even for science-averse me—exploration of what life is and how it got started. Colorful illustrations help.

Grownup Nonfiction

It’s Not About the Money: A Proven Path to Building Wealth and Living the Rich Life You Deserve
Scarlett Cochran

I’ve read a lot of personal finance books and this one is different. Cochran’s chapter on the true core principles of money was spot on, as was the chapter about money capacity. The book includes life planning and a practical path to get there, and she also has a different view of credit than many personal finance books do.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Isabel Wilkerson

Wilkerson wrote The Warmth of Other Suns and will always have a shiny place in my heart because of it. Caste is her examination of the caste system in the U.S. of A. and she makes compelling points both from interactions on the personal level to policy decisions that still sideline Black people.

Gene Harris Bandshell

This bandshell has always been a wonderful part of Julia Davis Park. And now it’s called the Gene Harris Bandshell. Look how great the shadow is!

Apparently, it caught on fire in 2018, and I’m looking at a post-fire restoration. And also, it’s been named for Gene Harris since 2000. I’m a little slow on noticing Boise things now.

Other things I learned from this site:

The original contract for the bandshell was awarded in April of 1928. The bandshell was designed by the Wayland & Fennel architectural firm and was constructed in a mission revival style with a stucco exterior. Its style was likely inspired by the construction of the Boise Depot in 1925. When the depot was completed, it inspired a flurry of commercial and residential structures in a similar style.

The bandshell was dedicated on Sunday, July 8, 1928 with remarks from former mayor Eugene B. Sherman and Mayor Walter Hansen. The audience enjoyed several solo songs from Mrs. Rosene, several pieces of music played the Boise Male Quartet, and a band program that played about twelve songs with an intermission. A crowd of 2,000 people watched, sitting on the grass, or parked in their automobiles.

And about Gene Harris:

Built in 1928, the band shell was named for famed jazz pianist Gene Harris in 2001. Harris lived and performed in Boise from the 1970s until his death from complications from diabetes in 2000. He also gave his name to the Boise State Jazz Festival, now known as the Gene Harris Jazz Festival

RIP Helen Warbington

When I began attending First Unitarian in 2001, Helen Warbington managed the coffee hour. She was seemingly a million years old (actually, as it turns out she was 75-ish), but was a general in charge of her troops when it came to getting the coffee out and the used cups back, washed, and put away. I also enjoyed her enthusiasm with the bell choir.

It’s sad to lose such strong and directive women, but I’m glad I got to see her in action.

Also, Warbington is a great last name.