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

The Most Beautiful Story
Brynjulf Jung Tjønn, Oyvind Torseter
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Fun information about animals that sleep away the summers. I liked the contrast of black and white line drawings on the full-color pages.

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