Thursday, February 7, 2019

Tallulah's Ice Skates by Marilyn Singer

Book Review:  Tallulah's Ice Skates by Marilyn Singer

Tallulah's Ice Skates is a story of perseverance, friendship, skill and the willingness to learn. Tallulah is a girl who loves her ballet class but wants to try her skills on ice. Her mother takes Tallulah and her brother to meet her friend Kacie at the frozen pond for some ice skating. Once she has conquered some easy moves on the ice Tallulah wants to try something more advanced. Her friend is not ready to try the advanced moves so she skates with Tallulah's little brother. When another, older skater gives Tallulah some suggestions on how to improve her skating she feels that she is already a great skater but falls during a difficult move. She is discouraged but then her friend Kacie intervenes and indicates that are going to just have fun with skating. 

Straight Talk for School Librarians: The encouragement Tallulah receives from the older skater and her friend are great examples of helpful, friendly relationships. The moms are also helpful, caring and fun in the story. Tallulah's perseverance to be a better skater shows her confidence and strength but, at the same time, she is also willing to try harder to relax and have fun. There is a lot of positive encouragement in the story and great examples of good relationships.

The illustrations by Alexandra Boiger are perfect. 
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - Clarion Books @HMHCo @HMHKids
Grade Levels: Pre-K - 3

Reviewed by Judy Hauser @JudyHauser

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Monday, February 4, 2019

Front Desk by Kelly Yang book review

After all the hype, I had to stay in middle-grade territory and read this book. It did not disappoint.

Mia Tang and her family left China to have better opportunities in the early 90s. When they got to the US, it wasn’t quite the way they expected. The story started out by telling the readers that they were living out of their car and trying to find jobs where they would get paid enough to have a place to live. Then they found a motel that would allow them a place to live in exchange for their labor. Mia would get to go to a good school, but she didn’t factor in all the time she would have to help her parents work. Other students made fun of what she wore and how often she wore it (they couldn’t afford lots of new clothes). She missed her cousin back in China and you could just feel how lonely she was. There were a few characters who lived at the motel and through them, Yang was masterfully able to discuss racism in a way that is accessible to middle-grade readers.

Straight Talk for School Librarians: Overall, it sends a message that we all need today about diversity, family, community, kindness and how much immigrants have contributed to our society. If you are a 3rd or 4th generation American, you may not remember your family stories if they were not documented. Arriving in this country with little to no money, barely any possessions and no English is a situation in which many Americans can relate to and that we should all remember. It seems to me that there are more adult books which detail the experience of giving up your education and your professional accomplishments to start over in a foreign country. The only option for work is hard labor in non-desirable jobs. This book will allow upper elementary and middle school readers to empathize with an experience like this. Yang really conveys the message that it is not easy to give up your home and start over somewhere else. With Mia’s family, it was political and economic oppression that forced them to leave their home to give freedom a try in the US.

I think this book is needed right now in school libraries to share the immigrant experience. This book also just won the 2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature. The characters in this book are well developed, the setting is detailed and realistic so I think readers will be transported into Mia’s world. It’s such a good book that I think I will be able to convince some of my high school students to read this. This book is also a great fit for IB Schools as it really emphasizes our shared humanity and experiences.

by Klaudia Janek @kjanek
Author Twitters: @kellyyanghk

Publisher:  , repped by  ICM