The Latest In Progress
Escaping an abusive father and lying about his Cuban ancestry, Mateo signs up to be a Panama Canal worker, one of the "silver people" in that multilayered apartheid system but with an easier job than that of the full-blacks who have to dig like his friend, the Jamaican, Henry. Again Engle uses poetry to explore history – in this case the construction of the Panama Canal as it was understood in her own family and cultural experience. The poems reflect many points of view including those of the jungle plants and animals and indigenous people of the area. This unfamiliar piece of history is artfully presented and important to hear about today; it also points out the environmental tragedy of this monumental construction effort. Ten to Fourteen. Kathy Isaacs
Humor delivers an important message here in the guise of an illustrated catalog of bird parts and do-it-yourself instructions for a world in which the real creatures are nearly gone. With interchangeable feathers, beaks, legs and feet, bodies and tails you can recreate familiar species or create flying fantasies – as long as you follow the simple rules. Differently shaped parts serve different purposes. For readers old enough to get the joke and not be overwhelmed by its very real likelihood. Ten to Fourteen. Kathy Isaacs
In this splendid survival story, the author of Endangered focuses on another vanishing primate species. It’s not only the chimpanzees of the Gabon jungle who are threatened here. It’s also orphaned streetboy Luc, whom Professor Mohammed purchases from the moneylender who used and still pursues him. The Professor, who wants to be the first African “janegoodall,” has his own secrets. Luc finds family, first with the professor and then with the chimps in a moving story for middle and high school readers. Fourteen and Up. Kathy Isaacs
Laureth Peak is the 16 year-old blind daughter of a writer who has left behind the funny books he wrote to delve into his passion: numbers and patterns. He is having trouble getting this writing project off the ground and his family suffers for it as he becomes somewhat obsessed about the history of patterns and numbers. Laureth tends to his website and receives an email from a young man in Brooklyn, NY who has found her father's writer's notebook. But wasn't Dad supposed to be in Europe somewhere? With Mum away visiting her sister, Laureth leaves London for NY in hopes of retrieving the notebook and finding her father whom she fears has gone way off the deep end. She takes her 7 year-old brother as her "guide" and they are soon in NY. The plot sounds crazy but in the hands of Sedgwick it is entirely believable. It incorporates the patterns and numbers that are obsessing Dad and Laureth tries hard to puzzle it all out. It is so cleverly plotted that is was a joy to read. Sedgwick keeps up the suspense until the very end when he divulges a pattern of his own to the reader. Laureth is a well drawn character who surpasses even her own expectations of her abilities as she negotiates her way through the puzzle clues her father has left behind. Blindness does not make you invisible. This was an amazing read. Ten to Fourteen. Joan Kindig
A promise is a promise - at least that's what our protagonist tells us. Mom has promised her a pet if she can find one that doesn't need to be fed, walked, or bathed. Ah, a sloth fits the bill! Soon a sloth comes in the mail and he's a very typical sloth who needs almost nothing from her. The little girl tries to adjust to his lifestyle (sleeping all day, rarely moving, etc.) but a sloth is a sloth and she is left to accept him and love him as he is. This book has such subtle humor, it had me chuckling throughout. The illustrations resemble Jon Klassen's work in its simplicity which fits the text perfectly. Up to Seven. Joan Kindig
Examples of Haiku and the lesser known Lantern poetry with definitions as well. Subjects are from everyday life, the illustrations reflect that common place sense. They are colorful, simple and lively, matching the poetry well. Up to Seven. (This title will appear on the May agenda.)
The little known story of an African American woman, ill used by her mistress who is influenced by the words of her master and other Founding Fathers as to the rights of freedom for every man and contacts a lawyer to fight for her rights. She wins. The folk like illustrations never lost their focus, on Mumbet, often at work but always alert to the possibilities she seizes. Seven to Ten.