On May 15 the Oshtemo Branch Library hosted a Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbors event inviting folks to participate in one-on-one and small group conversations with members of our local Muslim communities. Station activities included henna and hijab tutorials and information stations about prayers and holidays. Shawarma King on Drake Road provided snacks, local Kurdish and Iranian musicians performed, and the Kalamazoo Islamic Center's imam was available to answer questions about the Quran.
If you were not able to make it to the event, or you want to do some reading on your own, check out these books from the library:
The Muslim Next Door: The Qur'an, the Media, and That Veil Thing by Sumbul Ali-Karamali
No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan
Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam by Sumbul Ali-Karamali
1001 Inventions and Awesome Facts from Muslim Civilization by National Geographic Kids
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Khan
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably already super
excited for the movie Everything, Everything based on the novel by Nicola Yoon coming out on May 19th.
But hello, that’s two whole weeks
away! If you need something to make that time go a little faster, do yourself a
favor and check out Nicola Yoon’s other fabulous book The Sun is Also a Star.
Natasha is a science nerd, and hard core grunge rock fan,
who will be deported back to Jamaica in 12 hours. All of the careful plans
she’s made for herself are about to be radically disrupted. Daniel on the other hand, has just been going
through the motions. He walks the path his parents have mapped out for him and
isn’t excited about any of it. The two
meet on a chance encounter, and spend the day talking about everything that
matters: life, love, and the universe on the Day that Changes Everything.
It’s ultra-romantic of course, but what I find most
impressive is the way Nicola Yoon thoughtfully explores racial and cultural
differences. She herself is a Jamaican American, married to a Korean American
man, both of whom are the children of immigrants. So when the characters in the
novel have conversations about race, food, and hair, those discussions are
nuanced, well informed and authentic.
I give it the Milan Seal of Approval, but more importantly,
it’s also a 2017 Coretta Scott King winner, #1 New York Times Bestseller,
2016 National Book Award Finalist, and those are just the honors I feel
like mentioning right now. I just finished it yesterday—it is the greatest. The
Before poetry month comes to a close, I want to highlight some novels written in verse. Through a series of short poems, an author can tell an amazingly rich story, despite the limited scope for details and dialog.
Most recently, I read A Girl Named Mister, by Nikki Grimes, who is coming to KPL on May 9. The book combines sections in the voice of the title character with poems in the voice of the Virgin Mary, which are in a book Mister is reading during a challenging time.
One of my favorites is Sharon Creech's Love That Dog, which is written as the diary of a boy who is learning to love poetry. The title poem pays homage to a poem by Walter Dean Myers, and others throughout the book are modeled after other famous poems. Speaking of dogs, God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant and Marla Frazee imagines what it would be like if God had a life like an ordinary human.
All the novels in verse I've come across are written for children and young adults, but there is much in them to be appreciated for any reader. They seem particularly well suited to addressing difficult topics such as grief and the darker chapters of history, such as Jacqueline Woodson's memoir of growing up during the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 70s, Brown Girl Dreaming. Dana Walrath's Like Water on Stone takes place during the Armenian genocide.
Other authors who frequently write in verse include Kwame Alexander and Margarita Engle. Novels in verse are not a replacement for regular fiction, but like graphic novels, you can read through them quickly for the basic story, or better yet, you can linger to enjoy the nuances of language.
I read almost every book set in Italy I can find. So of course I would pick this one up. Love & Gelato tells the story of Lina, who is moving to Italy to live with a father she's never met after her artist mother has died. When she arrives, Lina is given her mother's old journal, full of sketches and writings, detailing her own college years in Florence. Though she grieves for her mother and her life in the States, Lina takes every opportunity to learn who her mother and father are this summer in Italy. In the process, she unearths a major secret, makes friends, and meets a love interest. I loved this YA novel. It's the perfect summer read for fans of realistic fiction, with light romance and travel.
Incredibly researched and vividly written, Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali is not for the faint of heart. This historical fiction is based off of real events during WWII, beginning with our introduction to the titular character as he is preparing to be born, the first child of the Lebensborn Program. From his birth until the German surrender, we see the world through Max’s eyes and his heavily indoctrinated thoughts - sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic language included.
Getting through the first quarter of this book was a challenge for how descriptive the writing was in those regards. The second half of the book certainly rewards the reader for sticking it out, as Max subtly comes to understand the world around him, and how he deals with it. Max is a brutal story with an important message, well worth picking up.
Rad Women Worldwide and Rad American Women A-Z tell the stories of women who did amazing things, some well-known and, maybe more importantly, some not so well-known. From Angela Davis to Zora Neale Hurston, Rad American Women A-Z came first and focuses on American women. Rad Women Worldwide focuses on forty women from all around the world who moved beyond boundaries. From punk rockers to polar explorers to authors, organizers, athletes, artists, and more, both of these great collections of biographical profiles feature amazing cut-paper illustrations by Miriam Klein Stahl. Both are great for all ages but reside in the library's Children's and Teen materials collections. Check them out if you are interested in being inspired and learning some real-life amazing stories!
Jade’s mother tells her to take every opportunity that becomes available to her, but she also knows the word opportunity is laced with coded messages. When the opportunity to join Woman to Woman is put in front of her, Jade is not interested. Until she finds out that completing the program means getting a scholarship to college. Paired up with a mentor that doesn’t seem to have her life together any better than Jade, wondering why her white friend can’t see that sometimes it IS about race, and wanting more out of this so-called opportunity, Jade begins to learn more about herself, her place in the world, and that if she wants to see change, she needs to speak up for herself and others.
This book was so amazing. From the very beginning I was hooked. Jade’s voice is clear and strong, and, as the story progresses, I love that her character development is subtle, yet major. Finishing it, I felt inspired. I have a feeling this book will be making its way into my personal collection very soon.
American Street follows the story of a Haitian teenage girl named Fabiola who planned on coming to stay with her aunt and cousins in Detroit, Michigan. Though Fabiola was born in the US, and is an American citizen, her mother is not, and she ends up getting detained at the JFK airport. As a result, Fabiola is forced to start a brand new life on her own-- creating a new identity in an unfamiliar country, with family she doesn't know, all the while trying to find a way to be reunited with her mother.
It's always interesting to see your home through someone else's eyes, and this debut novel by Ibi Zoboi, a Haitian immigrant herself, provides a fresh and unique perspective on the American Dream, and the compromises one has to make along the way.
March: Book 3, the final installment of the graphic novel trilogy authored by Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, was chosen as the Michael L. Printz award winner for excellence in Young Adult Literature on January 23 at ALA Youth Media Awards. This graphic novel chronicles the coming of age of Freedom Rider and Civil Rights activist, John Lewis. This incredible graphic novel, also the first GN to win the National Book Award, will inspire and encourage young people and adults to live a life of service. We can all be encouraged by John Lewis' example.
This take on Beauty and the Beast really is original. Dylan, an over-sized and hirsute 15 year old, is our unreliable narrator. Awash in a sea of self-pity and zero self-esteem Dylan spends most of the book thinking everyone sees him the way he sees himself (honestly, he spends so much time pitying himself it's exhausting) and waiting for a sign from his deceased father. Jamie, an amazing, funny, and creative girl challenges Dylan’s superficiality when he realizes that not only is he totally into her, but that she is transgender. So, confession: this book ticked me off a lot. I spent a lot of the day yelling at Dylan for being a jerk. Almost all the characters are crappy people and I felt incredibly cynical about them. BUT! I could not put it down. As frustrating as I found this book, the writing is compelling and the character growth is authentic. Also, unreliable narrators make for a fun read, even when they are super irritating.