Tag Archives: boys

#blogbookaday: Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

22 Jan

36442217Summary:  “The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices.

A fresh cut makes boys fly.

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.” (Taken from Goodreads)

Review: In a world where picture books featuring black boys’s experiences is severely lacking, this is a book that everyone library, school and barbershop should have available. This is a time-honored experience that many young black and brown boys have and to be able to see themselves in a picture book is a powerful opportunity to show that they matter. As the author states in the Note from the Author, “Deep down inside, they wish that everyone could see what they see: a real life, breathing, compassionate, thoughtful, brilliant, limitless soul that matters – that desperately matters. We’ve always mattered.” Check out Books with Barbers for a literary goal to provide barbershops with books for boys. Access to books is one of the most important aspects to creating lifelong readers and by providing books where boys are, you remove the barrier to access.

Personal Reaction: This is one of those powerful books about an experience that I will never have, but is so important to be available to the kids who experience a barbershop just like the one in the story. I gave the book to my partner to read as he had the experience of going to the barbershop with his dad and when he turned to the page with the apple green alcohol, he said to me, “I remember the smell of that!” Considering he’s had locs for over ten years and hasn’t been to the barbershop during that time, I found it so interesting that he could so clearly remember that scent.

Title: Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
Author: Derrick Barnes
Illustrator: Gordon C. James
Publisher: Agate Bolden
Publication Date: October 10, 2017

#blogbookaday (1)This is a new idea I’m trying on my blog this year that was inspired by @donalynbooks and @heisereads – to provide a brief review of a picture book every day of 2018. You’ll get a brief summary of the story, a review of the content, illustrations and theme, my personal reaction to the book and all the pertinent publication information! Enjoy!


Looking at Diversity from Another Angle

5 Mar

i just recently read a response by author, Shannon Hale about an experience she had visiting a school where only the girls were allowed to attend the presentation because her books are deemed “girl” books.  Although many of Hale’s books feature female protagonists, what are we telling students when we only allow girls to hear a presentation like this, but when a male author comes to visit everyone is expected to attend.  And sadly, this isn’t the first time this has happened to Hale, it has occurred in a few other schools as well.

A seven-year-old girl was able to get ABDO publishing to change the name of a series of books entitled “Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys.” Why did she write a letter? Because “You should change from ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys’ into ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys and Girls’ because some girls would like to be entomologists too.”

A number of years ago we had a book discussion for middle school kids (grades 5 – 8) on Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis.  A boy absolutely loved the book and asked many time about borrowing the sequel when it was published.  Is Emma-Jean a “girl” book? Nope, it’s a book for anyone who wants to read it.

I’ve posted about this issue before, I have the greatest job in the world – finding books that kids want and need at a specific point in time. It’s about providing a kick-butt reader’s advisory interview and knowing a collection. I try and keep up with new literature and although sometimes it feels like my job is never over, I love seeing a kid’s face light up when we’ve found the perfect book.

Boys Books vs. Girls Books

19 Dec

I just read this article, “‘Where Are All The Boy Books?’ You’re Buying Them” that was posted last Monday by Kelly Jensen on Book Riot.  It takes a look at the 2014 Top-Selling Children’s and Young Adult books on Amazon and found that there are a number of “boy” books being published – whether a “boy” book is defined as written by a male author or whose protagonist is male.  That being said, I feel as though you shouldn’t categorize books as “girl” or “boy.”  This prevents children and teens from reading amazing stories that they may very well connect to, even if (gasp!) the character is not of the same sex as the reader.

Boys, like any other group people try to pull together, are individuals with different likes, dislikes and interests.  Yes, I have boys who like male protagonists, but I also had a boy who couldn’t wait for the second Emma-Jean Lazarus book, Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love by Lauren Tashis to come out.  A “boy” book, definitely not categorized as such.  All kids need to be given the opportunity to find the right books for themselves – connecting with a character, escaping reality, learning something new.  Kids are usually looking for something and its the mark of a great librarian who can find what a child is looking for, even if they’re not quite sure themselves.

As this year comes to a close, I’m going to try and catch up with a little more reading that I wanted to finish this year and continue to try and read from a wide range of genres, age ranges, and interests so that as a well-read reference librarian I can help kids find that *just right* book!

Connecting Kids with Books

5 Nov

9780061742682_zoomIn spite of my very busy week filled with programs and getting ready for Enchanted Library on Friday, I had a mom stop by my desk this afternoon and thank me for getting her son interested in Gordon Korman’s book Ungifted.  Before discovering Gordon Korman, he wasn’t necessarily a “bad reader,” he was (and still is) particular.  He could breeze through a stack of books, glancing merely at the cover and not be interested in a single one.

After yet another stack of books to try, I was finally able to find something that grabbed his attention and created a reader.  He’s into science, engineering, robotics and computers and so seeing a robot on the cover of Ungifted made all the difference.  Now, as his mom let me know, he’s breezing through the Swindle series, asking for the next one before he’s finished the one he’s reading.  He’s upset when he forgets his book at home for his school day and is reading for long stretches of time.

There’s no such thing as a non-reader – you’ve just got to find the right book and connect them to it!  Not always easy, but makes my job worth it!  I am so grateful to be doing something I love every day and being able to make a difference in a child’s life.


Addition: I just got another visit from a first grade boy who for the past month would only check out superhero books – that’s it.  No Star Wars, Scooby-Doo, nonfiction, nothing, except superheroes.  And I’m not talking stretching this idea – only Marvel and DC superheroes were agreed upon.  Now, we have a lot of superhero books, but after awhile he had read them all.  Last week, I finally convinced him to try the Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka.  He just stopped by and actually wanted to read the next one!  Success!  This has been an AWESOME day!

Grasshopper Jungle

26 Feb

18079719I reviewed an ARC copy of this book and let me tell you, I wanted to put it down for fear of nightmares with 6-foot tall praying mantises, but I couldn’t it was so interesting!  Austin, our narrator, and self-proclaimed historian is a confused teenager in love with the girl-next-door Shann and his gay best friend, Robby.  Unexpectedly, Robby and Austin unleash an unstoppable army in their small Midwest town of Ealing, Iowa and the end of the world has begun.

The narration is amazingly intricate and superficially teenager at the same time.  The history that brings Austin’s family to Iowa is strategically intertwined with a number of the other characters, but no one actually knows about in, until the end of the world has happened.  Austin and Robby, being teenagers, do things “all” teenagers do – smoke cigarettes, get drunk, think about sex (a lot!), and get bullied.  But when they come across jars marked “Contained MI Plague Strain 412 E” the world as they know it will cease to exist.

Definitely a young adult novel, Grasshopper Jungle, didn’t give me nightmares like I thought it would and it was well worth it – it’s an end of the world story like no other.  Learn more about young adult author, Andrew Smith, on his website!

Title: Grasshopper Jungle
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: 2014
Page Number: 432 pgs.

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