Thursday, March 15, 2018

‘Brave’ by Svetlana Chmakova

Jensen navigates each day of middle-school by imagining it’s a video game.

First obstacle is a math teacher who will give extra homework to EVERYONE if the hapless person he calls upon (often Jensen) fails to correctly answer a math problem.

This, in turn, draws unwanted attention and resentment from some of the other students, who blame Jensen for the extra math homework and take it out on him.

Even if Jensen manages to evade these bullies, danger continues to lurk — in the form of a snarky hallway diva who is ready with a cruel put-down.

But Jensen fixes hope on his reward for completing each level of the game — that is, getting through another day of middle-school: at the end of school, Jensen gets to hang out with Art Club: where he “can just sit, draw, and no one ever bothers me.”

Some of the people in Art Club say belittling things to Jensen ... but they’re his friends, so it’s OK, right? And when someone set up a group-chat list to sign-up for volunteer projects, somehow Jensen is excluded from the list.

When student journalists Jenny and Akilah give him a questionnaire about bullying, Jensen has to take an honest look at himself and confront some of the ways he is treated.

There was just so much about this story I liked ... so many wonderful touches. It’s entertaining and heartfelt and wonderful.

But most significant for me, speaking as a survivor of childhood peer abuse, this story imparts valuable wisdom: about understanding how REAL friends will treat you, learning to recognize bullying, and speaking up for yourself.

Social fluency doesn’t come naturally to everybody, but this book helps illuminate it. I strongly recommend it as a book that enlightens, as well as entertains.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Nuevos libros en español

libros en espanol, y libros bilingues: 'Thank You, Mr. Panda / Gracias, Sr. Panda,' 'Soy mas grande que tu / I'm Bigger than You,' 'Casi un Narval,' 'Exploradores,' 'Hombre Perro se desata' y 'Allie, Ganadora por Fin'

(En español / In Spanish)
¡Nuevos libros en español, y libros bilingües, en la biblioteca de escuela!

(En inglés / In English)
New books in Spanish, and bilingual books, in the school library!

Book Fair dollars purchase new books for library

Two shelves of a book truck, each shelf laden with books. Some books are shelved upright, side by side, while other books are stacked on top of each other.

Are you interested in knowing what Scholastic Book Fair dollars can support? On Feb. 27, this book cart was laden with books newly cataloged and barcoded for the library at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts.

Well, the cart is less full now, as I’ve continued to process books. As needed, I applied protective covers and got the books shelved in the library. By now, some of these books have even found their way into readers’ hands! But while the books were all together on the cart, they made for a dramatic picture.

There are a few books here that were donated from other sources, but most were purchased with dollars raised through Scholastic Book Fair. I’m deeply appreciative to everyone who made Book Fair and “Literacy Week” a reality.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

‘The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik’

Written by David Arnold, this story offers an intriguing premise: the protagonist, Noah, emerges from an attempted hypnosis to discover that details of the world around him have changed.

For example, Noah's friend Alan was an avid collector of DC superhero comics books, but post-hypnosis, Alan is a devotee of the Marvel universe.

Noah's parents owned the complete DVD set of the sitcom "Friends;" now, apparently, they're obsessed with the TV show "Seinfeld."

Strangely, though, some things in Noah's life remain steadfastly constant; they're those people and things around which Noah forms his own "Strange Fascinations."

I found this to be a captivating story that kept me guessing throughout. Publication is anticipated for May 2018 by Viking Children's Books. For its use of mature language, I'd recommend this book for older teens and young adults.

Reviewer's Note: The publisher provided me with an advance reading copy.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

‘Estudiantes pueden tener acceso a la biblioteca pública’

Estudiante UnaTarjeta

(En español / In Spanish)
Con “Estudiante UnaTarjeta,” los estudiantes de Santa Rosa City Schools pronto podrán usar su número de identificación de estudiante en el sistema de la Biblioteca del Condado de Sonoma (boletín del distrito para febrero 2018, en la página ocho de revista bilingüe La Voz).

(En inglés / In English)
With “Student OneCard,” the students of Santa Rosa City Schools will soon be able to use their student ID number in the Sonoma County Library system (district newsletter for February 2018, on Page 8 of La Voz Bilingual Newspaper).