We Read Banned Books: Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

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Welcome to another Book Talk, which can be found on our YouTube channel!

Here, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about JULIET TAKES A BREATH written by Gabby Rivera.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Juliet Milagros Palante is a self-proclaimed closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx. Only, she’s not so closeted anymore. Not after coming out to her family the night before flying to Portland, Oregon, to intern with her favorite feminist writer–what’s sure to be a life-changing experience. And when Juliet’s coming out crashes and burns, she’s not sure her mom will ever speak to her again.

But Juliet has a plan–sort of. Her internship with legendary author Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff, is sure to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. Except Harlowe’s white. And not from the Bronx. And she definitely doesn’t have all the answers . . .

In a summer bursting with queer brown dance parties, a sexy fling with a motorcycling librarian, and intense explorations of race and identity, Juliet learns what it means to come out–to the world, to her family, to herself.

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Click on the link below to watch the book talk and then add your comments below to join the conversation. ENJOY!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

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Book Review: The Year We Learned to Fly, written by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

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DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López’s highly anticipated companion to their #1 New York Times bestseller The Day You Begin illuminates the power in each of us to face challenges with confidence.

On a dreary, stuck-inside kind of day, a brother and sister heed their grandmother’s advice: “Use those beautiful and brilliant minds of yours. Lift your arms, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and believe in a thing. Somebody somewhere at some point was just as bored you are now.” And before they know it, their imaginations lift them up and out of their boredom. Then, on a day full of quarrels, it’s time for a trip outside their minds again, and they are able to leave their anger behind. This precious skill, their grandmother tells them, harkens back to the days long before they were born, when their ancestors showed the world the strength and resilience of their beautiful and brilliant minds. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art celebrate the extraordinary ability to lift ourselves up and imagine a better world.

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MY TWO CENTS:  As one of the people who experienced public education in the 1960s and 70s as a place that dimmed my imagination, I am grateful to Jacqueline Woodson for lifting up imagination as a source of empowerment. Her newest children’s book has many layers worth exploring. At face value its audience is children, yet in reading it as an adult, I learned a great deal about black folklore. 

On the last page of the book, the author writes about her inspiration for the story: The People Could Fly:  American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton. In order to do my book review justice and to honor the author’s inspiration, I secured two copies of The People Could Fly, the original collection of twenty-four stories published in 1985 and the picture book published in 2004 as a tribute to Virginia Hamilton who passed away in 2002. By reading this folktale and locating it in the context of American slavery, I was able to appreciate the rich legacy that Jacqueline Woodson’s book continues. It’s certainly not necessary to read The People Could Fly before reading Woodson’s story about a brother and sister who use their imagination to lift them out of boredom, conflict, and adversity, but it’s certainly well worth it. In Woodson’s tale, I enjoyed both the relatability of the sibling’s quandaries and message about the power of the mind to “free” us.

There is also a strong message about the role that grandparents and ancestors play in sharing folk wisdom.

The illustrations by Rafael López are spectacular. I am glad I have read this book and would recommend it to others.

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TEACHING TIPS: The Year We Learned to Fly would be a good entry to discussing American History, specifically the institution of slavery, to elementary aged students. In contrast, the picture book The People Could Fly (referenced above) seems more suited to middle school aged children or older.

I also see an opportunity to use the book to discuss strategies for dealing with conflict, boredom, and adversity by having students describe what they typically do in each situation and then imagining what they might do differently. 

In a lesson about family trees or ancestors, students can discuss what they’ve learned from the elders in their lives and talk about what valuable lessons they would want to pass on to future generations when they become ancestors/elders. It could be a good time to introduce the word “folklore” and/or “folktale” and discuss the role it plays in families and in preserving cultural traditions and identity.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website): Jacqueline Woodson is an American writer of books for adults, children, and adolescents. She is best known for her National Book Award-Winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, and her Newbery Honor-winning titles After Tupac and D FosterFeathers, and Show Way. Her picture books The Day You Begin and The Year We Learned to Fly were NY Times Bestsellers. After serving as the Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, she was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress for 2018–19. She was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 2020. Later that same year, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR (from his website): Rafael López is an internationally recognized illustrator and artist. His illustrations bring diverse characters to children’s books and he is driven to produce and promote books that reflect and honor the lives of all young people. Born and raised in Mexico City to architect parents, López was immersed in the rich visual heritage, music and surrealism of his native culture.

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor focuses on differently abled kids working together to create a garden and became a #1 New York Times Children’s Picture Books Bestseller in 2019. It was honored with the 2020 Schneider Family Book Award from the American Library Association. The Year We Learned to Fly written by Jacqueline Woodson was a 2022 New York Times Bestseller. He also collaborated with Woodson on The Day You Begin which became a New York Times #1 Children’s Picture Books Bestseller and received the 2019 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and National Cartoonist Society Book Illustration Award. His illustrations for Dancing Hands, How Teresa Carreño played the piano for President Lincoln written by Margarita Engle received the American Library Association, 2020 Pura Belpré medal. He also secured the 2016 Pura Belpré medal for illustration for Drum Dream Girl and the 2010 Pura Belpré medal for Book Fiesta. In 2017 he was awarded the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators, New York Original Art show for his work on Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics. In 2019 he created the American Library Association Latino Heritage Festival poster and in 2012 was selected by the Library of Congress to illustrate the National Book Festival poster. He is the recipient of the 2017 Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award, multiple Pura Belpré honors and two Américas Book Awards.

His clients include Amnesty International, Apple, Atheneum Books, Charlesbridge Publishing, Chicago Tribune, HarperCollins, Henry Holt & Company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,  IBM, Intel, Lee & Low books, Library of Congress, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Penguin Books, Scholastic Books, Simon & Schuster, the Grammy Awards, United States Forest Service, United States Postal Service, The Washington Post and the World Wildlife Fund. His work has been selected into multiple juried shows with illustrations featured in publications like Communication Arts, the American Illustration Annual, Graphic Design USA and the Huffington Post.

He is a founder of the Urban Art Trail movement in San Diego’s East Village creating a series of large-scale murals that brought the community together. His murals can be found in urban areas, at children’s hospitals, public schools, under freeways and at farmer’s markets around the country. López’s community work with murals is the subject of the children’s book Maybe Something Beautiful, How Art Transformed a Neighborhood.

López was commissioned to create twelve United States Postal Stamps  including a series of five Mariachi  stamps featuring musicians dressed in the traje de charro, playing guitar, guitarrón, vihuela, violin and trumpet. He also created the  Latin Music Legend Series, Merengue stamp and a stamp celebrating an important legal case in equality of education, Mendez v. Westminster. His stamps have been featured on the cover of the commemorative stamp yearbook and exhibited at the Smithsonian. In 2008 and 2012 he was asked to create official posters for the Obama campaign to win the pivotal Latino vote. The illustrator lives and works in an industrial loft in downtown San Diego and at his home/studio in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

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ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Maria is the author of The Butterfly Series: Fifty-two Weeks of Inquiries for Transformation. The book was a finalist for the 2019 International Book Awards (Women’s Issues category), won Honorable Mention in the 2019 Reviewers Choice Award (Body/Mind/Spirit category), and won Honorable Mention in the 2020 Writer’s Digest 28th Annual Self-Published Book Awards (Inspirational category).

To sign up for her monthly blog post visit her contact page at www.mariaramoschertok.com

We Read Banned Books: Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

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Welcome to another Book Talk, which can be found on our YouTube channel!

Here, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about EACH OF US A DESERT written by Mark Oshiro.

ABOUT THE BOOK: From award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful coming-of-age fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life

Xochitl is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enigmatic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous conqueror. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

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Click on the link below to watch the book talk and then add your comments below to join the conversation. ENJOY!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

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Book Talk: Sing With Me/Canta Conmigo by Diana López and illustrated by Teresa Martinez.

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

Welcome to another Book Talk, which can be found on our YouTube channel!

Here, Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and Dora M. Guzmán talk about SING WITH ME: The Story of Selena Quintanilla / CANTA CONMIGO: La historia de Selena Quintanilla written by Diana López and illustrated by Teresa Martinez.

ABOUT THE BOOK: An exuberant picture book celebrating the life and legacy of Selena Quintanilla, beloved Queen of Tejano music.

From a very early age, young Selena knew how to connect with people and bring them together with music. Sing with Me follows Selena’s rise to stardom, from front-lining her family’s band at rodeos and quinceañeras to performing in front of tens of thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Young readers will be empowered by Selena’s dedication–learning Spanish as a teenager, designing her own clothes, and traveling around the country with her family–sharing her pride in her Mexican-American roots and her love of music and fashion with the world.

Un libro de cuentos ilustrado que celebra la vida y el legado de Selena Quintanilla, la querida Reina de la Música Tejana.

Desde su etapa mas temprana, la joven Selena sabía como conectarse con la gente y unirlos con la música. Canta conmigo sigue su ascenso al estrellato, desde su puesto al frente de la banda familiar, cantando en rodeos y fiestas de quinceañera, hasta su presentación frente a miles en el Astrodomo de Houston. Los lectores jóvenes se sentirán empoderados por la dedicación de Selena–aprendiendo el idioma español aún siendo adolescente, diseñando su propio vestuario, y viajando por toda la nación, compartiendo con el mundo el orgullo por sus raíces mexico-americanas y su amor a la música y a la moda.

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Click on the links below to watch the book talks and then add your comments below to join the conversation. ENJOY!

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Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) where she teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. Her academic research focuses on decolonial healing in Latinx children’s and young adult literature. Sonia is a Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader.

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Dora M. Guzmán is a bilingual reading specialist for grades K-5 and also teaches college courses in Children’s Literature and Teaching Beginning Literacy. She is currently a doctoral student with a major in Reading, Language, and Literacy. When she is not sharing her love of reading with her students, you can find her in the nearest library, bookstore, or online, finding more great reads to add to her never-ending “to read” pile!

Book Review: What if it’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

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Reviewed by Jen Vincent

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date…or a second first date…or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work…and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

MY TWO CENTS: What If It’s Us starts with a super cute meet cute, has it’s fair share of drama and suspense, along with a dose of reality. Arthur and Ben meeting at the post office is totally adorable, but they still have a bit of a rocky start when they don’t exchange phone numbers after that first encounter. Eep!

It’s endearing to read alternating chapters from both of them, each with their different backgrounds, different experiences, and different family lives, coming together at the beginning of their relationship. One of the biggest things they have to navigate is their cultural differences. What I love about this book is that Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli get right the nuances of people from different cultures coming together. As someone who grew up in a mixed family and has been a Latina navigating mostly white spaces, I’ve experienced this many times, but it’s rare to see it in a book. For example, while it’s a stereotype that Latinx people are always late, Silvera and Albertalli don’t play into the stereotype; they get underneath it and show us that at play is an underlying difference in how cultural values are lived out. This could have been written in a superficial way, but instead, they show us what it looks like when characters take the time to go deeper rather than avoid difficult conversations.

I always appreciate when a contemporary romance is honest about relationships and not everything goes perfectly. I’m so glad we have books like What If It’s Us that celebrate being young and the excitement of exploring a new relationship while also showing what it looks like to grow together as a couple and how that’s not always as simple as fairy tales make it seem.

TEACHING TIPS: As a middle school teacher, I love using excerpts from novels as mentor texts with students. Sometimes we use mentor texts to get ideas and sometimes to look at craft. Here are two excerpts teachers can use to inspire middle or high school students to write their own stories, personal or fictionalized.

Chapter One – The first page starts with the line, “I am not a New Yorker, and I want to go home.” And then a paragraph where Arthur explains all the unspoken rules about being in New York and how he’s struggling. I suggest reading this and inviting students to think about a time when they didn’t feel like they fit in, there were so many unspoken rules, they felt out of place, and wanted to go home. I would model my thinking first–thinking aloud about times when I didn’t feel like I fit in–and then ask students to brainstorm. Once they have a list, ask them to choose one situation and write long about it. 

Chapter Six – Ben starts off chapter six with this line, “I wish I felt Puerto Rican out in the world the way I do at home.” Thinking about our unique and complex identities and how we are able to show up as ourselves in different situations is an important self awareness practice. I love that this book gives us an opportunity to think about our experiences in different spaces. In my experience, some students will be able to identify places where they are able to act more like themselves than others, but other students may feel affirmed in their identity and in the spaces they frequent. Invite students to make a list of places they go and then think about how comfortable they feel in each. Then they can write long about either not feeling able to be fully themselves in different spaces or what contributes to feeling able to be fully themselves in different spaces. 

If you read the next paragraph in chapter six, Ben goes on to explain that friends told him he wasn’t really Puerto Rican because he’s white-passing. This is an opportunity for a deeper discussion about what people might assume about us from our appearances and/or what we might assume about other people. Books are such a great way to invite students to think about stereotypes and bias because we get to see a myriad of stories. As someone who has spent much of her life not feeling enough, this is such an important discussion to have. What it means to be Latinx is varied, and we need to share more stories like this to help everyone understand that we are not a monolith. Pairing this excerpt from What If It’s Us with this spoken word poetry 8 Confessions of My Tongue from Noel Quiñones and discussing with students is one way to take this discussion even further.

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The sequel to What if it’s Us is also available. When you’re caught up with the first novel, check out Here’s to Us:

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Adam Silvera is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Infinity Reaper, Infinity Son, They Both Die at the End, More Happy Than Not, History Is All You Left Me, and—with Becky Albertalli—What If It’s Us and Here’s to Us. All his novels have received multiple starred reviews. He worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, community manager at a content development company, and book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. He was born and raised in New York. He lives in Los Angeles and is tall for no reason. 

Becky Albertalli is the number one New York Times bestselling author of William C. Morris Award winner and National Book Award longlist title Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (now a major motion picture, Love, Simon); The Upside of Unrequited; Leah on the Offbeat; the Simonverse novella Love, Creekwood; What If It’s Us (cowritten with Adam Silvera); Yes No Maybe So (cowritten with Aisha Saeed); and most recently, Kate in Waiting. Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at http://www.beckyalbertalli.com.

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ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Jen Vincent (she/her/ella) is a Latinx writer, blogger, and educator. She is a middle school LA/SS teacher and the founder of Story Exploratory where she offers a fun and funky community and curated resources to help amazing humans grow their confidence in using writing as self care. She believes radical self love is our path to change. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter and her website jenvincentwrites.com.

April 2022 Latinx Releases!

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We are an affiliate with Indiebound and Bookshop. If If you make a purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission.

In addition to listing 2022 titles by/for/about Latinx on our master list, we will remind readers of what’s releasing each month.

CONGRATULATIONS to these Latinx creators. Let’s celebrate these April book babies!

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Cover for Before the World Wakes

BEFORE THE WORLD WAKES by Estelle Laure, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (Two Lions, April 1, 2022). Picture Book. When everything is still gentle and quiet-ish and the stars say good morning at the same time they say good night, a brother and sister venture outside. They marvel at the dance of the snails and the birdsong that surrounds them. And then they join in, reveling in the early morning–and their time together before the rest of the world wakes.

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Cover for Does My Body Offend You?

DOES MY BODY OFFEND YOU? by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt. (Knopf Books for Young Readers, April 5, 2022.) Young Adult. Malena Rosario is starting to believe that catastrophes come in threes. First, Hurricane María destroyed her home, taking her unbreakable spirit with it. Second, she and her mother are now stuck in Florida, which is nothing like her beloved Puerto Rico. And third, when she goes to school bra-less after a bad sunburn and is humiliated by the school administration into covering up, she feels like she has no choice but to comply.
 
Ruby McAllister has a reputation as her school’s outspoken feminist rebel. But back in Seattle, she lived under her sister’s shadow. Now her sister is teaching in underprivileged communities, and she’s in a Florida high school, unsure of what to do with her future, or if she’s even capable of making a difference in the world. So when Ruby notices the new girl is being forced to cover up her chest, she is not willing to keep quiet about it.
 
Neither Malena nor Ruby expected to be the leaders of the school’s dress code rebellion. But the girls will have to face their own insecurities, biases, and privileges, and the ups and downs in their newfound friendship, if they want to stand up for their ideals and––ultimately––for themselves.

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Cover for Flock

FLOCK by Sara Cassidy, illustrated by Geraldo Valério (Groundwood Books, April 5, 2022). Picture Book. Lunch turns into bird food when a little girl starts feeding birds at the bus stop. First, a pigeon she names Serious comes pecking, and then Fancy and Sleepy gather to gobble up the offerings. But what happens when more and more birds want to join in on the feast? And what are all these fantastical birds doing in the city, anyway?

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Cover for Heartbreak Symphony

HEARTBREAK SYMPHONY by Laekan Zea Kemp. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 5, 2022). Young Adult. Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite DJ ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his brother and father seem to be pushing him away. He thinks his ticket out is a scholarship to the prestigious Acadia School of Music. That is, if he can avoid blowing his audition.

Mia Villanueva has a haunting of her own and it’s the only family heirloom her parents left her: doubt. It’s the reason she can’t overcome her stage fright or believe that her music is worth making. Even though her trumpet teacher tells her she has a gift, she’s not sure if she’ll ever figure out how to use it or if she’s even deserving of it in the first place.

When Aarón and Mia cross paths, Aarón sees a chance to get close to the girl he’s had a crush on for years and to finally feel connected to someone since losing his mother. Mia sees a chance to hold herself accountable by making them both face their fears, and hopefully make their dreams come true. But soon they’ll realize there’s something much scarier than getting up on stage—falling in love with a broken heart.

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HIGH SPIRITS by Camille Gomera-Tavarez (Levine Querido, April 5, 2022). Middle GradeHigh Spirits is a collection of eleven interconnected short stories from the Dominican diaspora, from debut author Camille Gomera-Tavarez. It is a book centered on one extended family – the Beléns – across multiple generations. It is set in the fictional small town of Hidalpa – and Santo Domingo and Paterson and San Juan and Washington Heights too. It is told in a style both utterly real and distinctly magical – and its stories explore machismo, mental health, family, and identity.

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Cover for Can't Be Tamed (Horse Country #1)

HORSE COUNTRY: Can’t Be Tamed (Horse Country #1) by Yamile Saied Méndez (Scholastic, April 5, 2022). Middle Grade. Welcome to Paradise Ranch, where everyone can get a second chance. Carolina Aguasvivas grew up on Paradise Ranch, which she knows down to every last pony. But things are sure to change when the new owner’s daughter, Chelsie Sánchez, sweeps in with an attitude and a feisty Thoroughbred named Velvet. The mare is skittish, headstrong, and hurt — and Carolina is determined to ride her.

Chelsie, who considers herself too good to clean stalls, certainly doesn’t seem like a real horse girl. Caro knows she’s the only one who can help Velvet recover, and she’s ready to prove it — no matter what it takes.

The girls may discover they have more in common than they think… including a passion for bringing the healing power of horses to every kid.

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Cover for I Am!

I AM!: A Book of Reminders by Juana Medina (Versify, April 5, 2022). Picture Book.

I am strong.
I am confident.
I am funny.

The words and pictures in this book are here to remind the reader how wonderful they are! Focusing on helping to build emotional literacy, self-esteem, and self-worth as well as improving communication skills, this new series is the perfect read aloud for kids and adults of any age!

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Cover for Nobody Likes Mermaids

NOBODY LIKES MERMAIDS by Karen Kilpatrick, illustrated by Germán Blanco (Genius Cat Books, April 5, 2022). Picture Book. When a seahorse tries to convince a group of sea creatures why nobody likes mermaids, will it be the seahorse who learns something in the end? Come along on this imaginative, laugh out loud adventure and learn why nobody likes mermaids (hint: it’s because everybody loves them ).

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Cover for The Do-Over

THE DO-OVER by Jennifer Torres (Scholastic, April 5, 2022). Middle Grade. The Mendoza sisters need a do-over!

Raquel and Lucinda used to be inseparable. But ever since their parents split, Raquel has been acting like editor-in-chief of their lives. To avoid her overbearing sister, Lucinda spends most of her time with her headphones on, practicing her skating routine.

Then a pandemic hits, and the sisters are forced to spend the lockdown at their dad’s ranch house. Suddenly Raquel sees a chance to get back everything they’ve lost. If they can convince their mom to come along, maybe they can get their parents to fall in love again and give their family a second chance, a do-over.

But at the ranch, they get a not-so-welcome surprise: their dad’s new girlfriend and her daughter are already living there! Lucinda finds she actually likes them, which only makes Raquel more desperate to get rid of them. And as her Raquel’s schemes get more and more out of hand, Lucinda starts to wonder what they are really fighting for. Is trying to bring the Mendoza family back together really just tearing them further apart?

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SCOUT’S HONOR by Lily Anderson ( Henry Holt and Co., April 5, 2022). Young Adult. Sixteen-year-old Prudence Perry is a legacy Ladybird Scout, born to a family of hunters sworn to protect humans from mulligrubs—interdimensional parasites who feast on human emotions like sadness and anger. Masquerading as a prim and proper ladies’ social organization, the Ladybirds brew poisons masked as teas and use knitting needles as daggers, at least until they graduate to axes and swords.

Three years ago, Prue’s best friend was killed during a hunt, so she kissed the Scouts goodbye, preferring the company of her punkish friends lovingly dubbed the Criminal Element much to her mother and Tía Lo’s disappointment. However, unable to move on from her guilt and trauma, Prue devises a risky plan to infiltrate the Ladybirds in order to swipe the Tea of Forgetting, a restricted tincture laced with a powerful amnesia spell.

But old monster-slaying habits die hard and Prue finds herself falling back into the fold, growing close with the junior scouts that she trains to fight the creatures she can’t face. When her town is hit with a mysterious wave of demons, Prue knows it’s time to confront the most powerful monster of all: her past.

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Cover for Witchlings

WITCHLINGS by Claribel A. Ortega (Scholastic Press, April 5, 2022). Middle Grade. Every year, in the magical town of Ravenskill, Witchlings who participate in the Black Moon Ceremony are placed into covens and come into their powers as full-fledged witches.

And twelve-year-old Seven Salazar can’t wait to be placed in the most powerful coven with her best friend! But on the night of the ceremony, in front of the entire town, Seven isn’t placed in one of the five covens. She’s a Spare!

Spare covens have fewer witches, are less powerful, and are looked down on by everyone. Even worse, when Seven and the other two Spares perform the magic circle to seal their coven and cement themselves as sisters, it doesn’t work! They’re stuck as Witchlings—and will never be able to perform powerful magic.

Seven invokes her only option: the impossible task. The three Spares will be assigned an impossible task: If they work together and succeed at it, their coven will be sealed and they’ll gain their full powers. If they fail… Well, the last coven to make the attempt ended up being turned into toads. Forever.

But maybe friendship can be the most powerful magic of all…

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Cover for A Good Thing Happened Today

A GOOD THING HAPPENED TODAY by Michelle Figueroa, illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki (HarperCollins, April 12, 2022). Picture Book.

A good thing happened today. Hooray! Did you hear?

Good things are happening every day, and everywhere!

A rhythmic collection of happiness and hope inspired by real-life good news, this book reminds us that there are positive things happening every day and we can all be a part of it.

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Cover for A Perfect Fit

A PERFECT FIT: How Lena “Lane” Bryant Changed the Shape of Fashion (Clarion Books, April 12, 2022). Picture Book. Lena came to America with nothing but a dream—and an exceptional ability to drape and snip and stitch. She never used a pattern or a tape measure, but every dress she sewed turned out to be a perfect fit.

Then, one day, a customer presented her with a new challenge. Could she design a stylish, comfortable gown for a body shape that did not meet the current standards of fashion?

Lena took the challenge. Under the company name Lane Bryant, she became famous for flattering and modish clothing designed for all different shapes and sizes. The world of fashion would never be the same.

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Cover for Sometimes, All I Need Is Me

SOMETIMES, ALL I NEED IS ME by Juliana Perdomo (Candlewick, April 12, 2022). Picture Book.

I love listening to music, especially samba!
It feels like my heart follows the beat.

Meet a young girl who loves her cozy home. It smells like cinnamon tea and feels like warm pajamas. But even when she’s away from home, and everything is different, she finds a way to become her own home, where she feels calm. At night, when it’s too dark and her feet are cold, her room can be a little scary. But she creates her own light when she closes her eyes and thinks of the sun.

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Cover for Alicia and the Hurricane / Alicia Y El Huracán

ALICIA AND THE HURRICANE: A Story of Puerto Rico/ALICIA Y EL HURICÁN: Un cuento de Puerto Rico by Lesléa Newmanillustrated by Elizabeth Erazo Baez, translated by Georgina Lazaro (Children’s Book Press, April 19, 2022). Picture Book. After snuggling into bed each night, Alicia listens for the big voices of the tiny coquíes that live all around Puerto Rico and sing her to sleep. Ko-kee, ko-kee, the little frogs call. Ko-kee, ko-kee.

One day a terrible hurricane comes to Puerto Rico, and Alicia and her family take refuge in a shelter. At bedtime Alicia hears grown-ups snoring and babies crying, wind howling and rain pounding. But even though she listens hard, she cannot hear the song of the coquíes. Are the little tree frogs safe? And what will Alicia and her family find at home when the storm is over?

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Cover for Flirting with Fate

FLIRTING WITH FATE by J.C. Cervantes (Razorbill, April 19, 2022). Young Adult. Ava Granados will never forgive herself for being late to her beloved nana’s deathbed. But due to a flash flood that left Ava in a fender bender with a mysterious boy, she missed her grandmother’s mystical blessing—one that has been passed between the women of her family upon death for generations. 
 
Then Nana’s ghost appears with a challenge from beyond the grave. As it turns out, Nana did give Ava a blessing, but it missed its target, landing with the boy from the night of the storm instead. Was it fate? Ava refuses to believe so. With the help of her sisters and Nana’s rather bumbling spiritual guide, she’s determined to reclaim her share of the family magic and set Nana free.
 
For guarded Ava, befriending some random boy is the last thing she wants to do. She’s gotten along just fine protecting her heart—keeping people at a distance is a great way to ensure no one ever hurts you. But as Ava embarks on her mission to retrieve the lost blessing, she starts to wonder if getting close to thunderstorm boy is worth the risk.

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Cover for Jagged Little Pill

JAGGED LITTLE PILL: The Novel by Eric Smith with Alanis Morissette, Diablo Cody, and Glen Ballard (Amulet Books, April 26, 2022). Young AdultJagged Little Pill: The Novel follows the intertwining lives of five teens whose world is changed forever after the events at a party.

Adopted Frankie struggles to see eye-to-eye with her mother—who would rather ignore a problem and preserve their “perfect” life than stand up for what’s right. Jo just wants her mom to accept her queer identity—and is totally crushed when Frankie, the only person who really gets her, finds herself infatuated with someone new. Phoenix tries to find his place at the new school and balance wanting to spend time with Frankie but knowing he also has to help out with his sick sister at home. Bella wants to enjoy the end of high school and just head off to college without a hitch. Everyone expects Frankie’s brother Nick to be the golden boy, but even though he just got into his dream school, he’s not even sure he’s a good person. Each of their stories intersects when Bella is sexually assaulted at a party, and it looks like the perpetrator might get away with it.

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Cover for Joy Ride

JOYRIDE by Sherry Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Ana Ramírez González (Candlewick, April 26, 2022). Picture Book.

Needing something to fill up her summer days, Joy seeks out her granddad, who also likes to tinker, for something to do. Together they find the perfect project: sprucing up an old bike for Joy. From hardware stores to garage sales, the two find everything they need to transform this bike, little by little, into something that’s truly one of a kind. Ornamented with sparkles, a basket, and a brand-new bell, the bike is finally ready for Joy to ride it all over the neighborhood, filling the air with her own kind of music that exudes JOY.

But when a few kids take notice of Joy’s bike, and not in a good way, Joy makes an impulsive decision that ruins the dazzling bike she and Granddad worked so hard on. Joy realizes quickly, however, that trying to fit in can be boring, and it doesn’t make her feel JOY. Just maybe, with a heartfelt apology and Granddad’s help, she can get back on track to being true to herself. This touching story, told by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Ana Ramírez González, addresses the moments of uncertainty when trying to fit in with the crowd, and exclaims the joyful exuberance of self-expression.

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