Tag Archives: memoir

We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai

We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai. January 8, 2019. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 224 p. ISBN: 9780316523646.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8.

In her powerful new book, Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times-bestselling author Malala Yousafzai introduces some of the people behind the statistics and news stories about the millions of people displaced worldwide.

Malala’s experiences visiting refugee camps caused her to reconsider her own displacement – first as an Internally Displaced Person when she was a young child in Pakistan, and then as an international activist who could travel anywhere in the world except to the home she loved. In We Are Displaced, which is part memoir, part communal storytelling, Malala not only explores her own story, but she also shares the personal stories of some of the incredible girls she has met on her journeys – girls who have lost their community, relatives, and often the only world they’ve ever known.

In a time of immigration crises, war, and border conflicts, We Are Displaced is an important reminder from one of the world’s most prominent young activists that every single one of the 68.5 million currently displaced is a person – often a young person – with hopes and dreams.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Racism, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. Yousafzai recounts her own refugee journey as well as those of girls and women from political hot spots and war-torn countries, all refugees seeking a safe place to call home. Separated from family members and threatened by attack, they forge on in their struggle to survive. Yousafzai starts with her own journey. Acknowledging that, while displaced, she is not a refugee, she goes on to tell the stories of eight girls and two women, one a volunteer with World Church Services in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the other a woman returning to Uganda, having fled to Canada with her family when she was two years old. Yousafzai starts with a preface to each story, describing how she met each person, and then tells their story in first person, lending immediacy to each narrative and capturing each voice. Her writing is lucid and accessible and will attract a range of readers. The stories are heart-wrenching, compelling, and inspirational and, one hopes, will motivate readers to become involved locally. Epilogue and back matter unavailable for preview.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 1, 2018)
In this uplifting work Yousafzai shares the survival stories of female refugees from around the world. Before she was a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Yousafzai was displaced. When she was just 11-years-old, the Taliban forced Yousafzai and her family to leave their idyllic home in the Swat Valley and join the ranks of Pakistan’s Internally Displaced Persons. Yousafzai recounts the agony of leaving behind her books, friends, and pet chickens and the disappointment of interrupted schooling. She also vividly describes the horror of seeing schools reduced to rubble as a result of bombings, an experience that both politicized her and forced her family into exile in England. The author devotes only about a quarter of the book to her own story, the remainder is a collection of oral histories from displaced women and girls from countries ranging from Yemen to Colombia to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each refugee’s tale of survival is equal parts devastating and inspiring, and the narrators do not shy away from the complex, contradictory experiences of fleeing a homeland. The narratives are filled with emotionally specific descriptive details that render each voice powerful and unique. In the prologue, Yousafzai specifically states that her purpose is to transform refugees from nameless, faceless statistics into who they really are: humans whose identities are more than just their displaced status. A poignant, fascinating, and relevant read. (author’s note, background information, biographies) (Nonfiction. 13-adult)

About the Author

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially education of women in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has since grown into an international movement.

Her website is www.malala.org/

Teacher Resources

We Are Displaced on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

We Are Displaced on Amazon

We Are Displaced on Barnes & Noble

We Are Displaced on Goodreads

We Are Displaced on LibraryThing

We Are Displaced Publisher Page

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El Mundo Adorado de Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor

El Mundo Adorado se Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor. November 13, 2018. Vintage Espanol, 400 p. ISBN: 9780525564614.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.4; Lexile: 1070.

Discover the inspiring life of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, in this middle-grade adaptation of her bestselling adult memoir, My Beloved World
 
Includes an 8-page photo insert and a brief history of the Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor was just a girl when she dared to dream big. Her dream? To become a lawyer and a judge even though she’d never met one of either, and none lived in her neighborhood.

Sonia did not let the hardships of her background—which included growing up in the rough housing projects of New York City’s South Bronx, dealing with juvenile diabetes, coping with parents who argued and fought personal demons, and worrying about money—stand in her way. Always, she believed in herself. Her determination, along with guidance from generous mentors and the unwavering love of her extended Puerto Rican family, propelled her ever forward.

Eventually, all of Sonia’s hard work led to her appointment as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 2009, a role that she has held ever since.

Learn about Justice Sotomayor’s rise and her amazing work as well as about the Supreme Court in this fascinating memoir that shows that no matter the obstacles, dreams can come true.

Spanish Language version of The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Drugs, Racism, Alcoholism

 

Author Videos

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 7-10. After seven-year-old Sonia, recently diagnosed with diabetes, awakens to the sound of her parents arguing over who will give her a daily shot of insulin, she decides to take on that responsibility herself. It was the first of many decisions that would challenge her and move her forward. Judiciously pared down from Sotomayor’s My Beloved World (2013), this autobiography for young people records her memories of growing up with her father (who died when she was nine), her mother, her brother, and her extended Puerto Rican American family in the Bronx. She also discusses her education in Catholic schools, at Princeton, and at Yale, her pro bono advocacy work, and her career as an assistant district attorney and a partner in a private law firm. The story concludes as she begins working as a district court judge. Readers will come away with a strong sense of Sotomayor’s background, her steadfast values, and her ability to stand up for herself and for others. Written in a clear, direct manner and enriched with many personal stories, the book also conveys a sense of her gratitude to family, friends, teachers, and mentors. A lively autobiography of the third woman and the first Latina on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
The memoir of a woman who rose from the housing projects in New York City’s South Bronx to become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. This is the story of a woman who as a 10-year-old fell under the spell of Perry Mason, a fictional TV lawyer. Her life course was set: She would become a lawyer and, dare she dream it, a judge. With a clear vision, hard work, and determination she set out to make her dream come true. In a series of vignettes that help to illustrate her remarkable spirit and motivations, Sotomayor recalls some of the salient moments of her life. Readers are introduced to her close-knit family, friends, colleagues, and mentors that nurtured her along the way. She chronicles her academic and professional achievements and what it took to be successful. She also presents her core beliefs and struggles, never shying from coming across as human. The account of this exceptional trajectory, told with a storyteller’s talent, is filled with a candor and honesty that make her story eminently accessible to young readers. Adapted from her memoir for adults, My Beloved World (2013), in the hope of inspiring children to dream even the dreams they cannot at first imagine, this book should thoroughly achieve that goal. A must read. (glossary, Supreme Court overview) (Memoir. 10-18)

About the Author

Sonia Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and from Yale Law School in 1979. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York and then at the law firm of Pavia & Harcourt. She served as a judge of the US District Court, Southern District of New York, from 1992 to 1998, and from 1998 to 2009 served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; she assumed this role on August 8, 2009.

Teacher Resources

Soina Sotomayor Biography Lesson Plan

Around the Web

El Mundo Adorado de Sonia Sotomayor on Amazon

El Mundo Adorado de Sonia Sotomayor on Barnes & Noble

El Mundo Adorado de Sonia Sotomayor on Goodreads

 

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. October 9, 2018. Graphix, 320 p. ISBN: 9780545902472.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 510.

A National Book Award Finalist!

In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka’s teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett’s family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett’s life. His father is a mystery — Jarrett doesn’t know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents — two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.

Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what’s going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father.

Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Homophobic slur, Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking, Bullying, Domestic violence, Drugs and drug addiction, Depictions of bloody nightmares, Depiction of an escalator accident

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 8-12. In this deeply vulnerable, moving graphic memoir, Krosoczka, well known for his popular Lunch Lady series, recounts his sometimes troubled childhood, spent largely with his grandparents; his struggle to maintain a relationship with his heroin-addicted mother; and his gradually developing love for making art and comics. His grandfather officially took custody of Krosoczka when he was not yet five years old, and it wasn’t until much later that his learned about his mother’s heroin addiction and imprisonment. Life with his grandparents—a hard-drinking couple who bickered constantly—wasn’t always easy, but his grandfather was a stalwart supporter of his artistic aspirations, and he slowly realized that the atypical family he ultimately collected (even eventually his father, whom he finally met late in his teen years) could be enough. Krosoczka’s brushy, expressive artwork, incorporating snippets of his childhood drawings and letters, beautifully conveys the difficult circumstances of his upbringing. There’s a tender quality to his graceful line work and muted color palette, which adds to the compassionate way he depicts his family, even when he can’t count on them. A closing author’s note fills in additional backstory and helpful context, including the ultimate, heartbreaking result of his mother’s addiction. There have been a slew of graphic memoirs published for youth in the past couple of years, but the raw, confessional quality and unguarded honesty of Krosoczka’s contribution sets it apart from the crowd.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2018)
Krosoczka offers a graphic memoir that is altogether more mature in style, theme, and content than his previous work for younger audiences (the Lunch Lady series; the Platypus Police Squad series). Raised by his grandparents, Krosoczka recounts the triumphs and tragedies he experienced from infancy through his high-school years. Regularly left in the dark regarding his family—including his father’s identity and mother’s transient whereabouts—Krosoczka eventually learns of his mother’s addiction to heroin and of her habitual incarceration. Other serious hardships—verbal abuse, violent crime, family alcoholism—punctuate Krosoczka’s childhood and adolescence, shifting his interest in art from something to impress his friends to a way “to deal with life. To survive.” Krosoczka’s actual childhood artwork (from early crayon drawings to high-school gag comics) and handwritten letters to and from his mother and others are seamlessly inserted into the gracefully rendered ink illustrations. Applied with a brush pen, the emotive line work fluctuates between thick and thin, while blurred panel edges allow moments to blend into one another. A limited palette of gray and orange washes positions the story in the past, as memory. Krosoczka has meticulously crafted an uncompromisingly honest portrayal of addiction, resilient familial love, and the power of art, dedicated in part to “every reader who recognizes this experience.” Heartfelt and informative author notes, art notes, and acknowledgments provide narrative closure. patrick gall

About the Author

Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a New York Times bestselling author, a two-time winner of the Children’s Choice Book Award for the Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year, an Eisner award nominee, and the author and/or illustrator of more than 30 books for young readers. His work includes several picture books, select volumes of Star Wars: Jedi Academy, the Lunch Lady graphic novels, and the Platypus Police Squad novel series. Jarrett has given two TED Talks, both of which have been curated to the main page of TED.com and have collectively accrued more than two million views online. He is also the host of The Book Report with JJK on SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live, a weekly segment celebrating books, authors, and reading. Jarrett lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife and children, and their pugs, Ralph and Frank.

His website is www.studiojjk.com

Teacher Resources

Hey, Kiddo Review on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

Hey, Kiddo on Amazon

Hey, Kiddo on Barnes and Noble

Hey, Kiddo on Goodreads

Hey, Kiddo on LibraryThing

Hey, Kiddo Publisher Page

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. October 2, 2018. Catapult, 240 p. ISBN: 9781936787975.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

What does it mean to lose your roots―within your culture, within your family―and what happens when you find them?

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up―facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from―she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth.

With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets―vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Chung’s insightful memoir reveals her carefully considered ambivalence about adoption. Born extremely prematurely into a family that had immigrated from Korea, she was adopted by a white couple who lived in a small town in Oregon, where she was one of few nonwhite residents. Often mocked by her classmates, and feeling out of sync with her adoptive family, she clung to a belief that everyone involved was motivated by a desire to give her the best possible life. Once she was married and living on the East Coast, she began to investigate her origins, and she found a more complicated story than the one she had imagined. Her tentative reconciliation with her birth family and the touching bond she formed with her older sister are tempered by her persistent questions about the way her life would have differed had she not been put up for adoption. Chung’s clear, direct approach to her experience, which includes the birth of her daughter as well as her investigation of her family, reveals her sharp intelligence and willingness to examine difficult emotions.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
An essayist and editor’s account of her search for and reconnection with the parents who gave her up for adoption.Chung, the editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine, had always been obsessed with the Korean birthparents she had never met. Her adoptive mother and father told her a story that emphasized the birthparents’ loving selflessness and how “[t]hey thought adoption was the best thing for me.” But the “legend” they created was not enough to sate Chung’s curiosity about the past or ease her occasional discomfort at being the Korean child of white parents in a largely Caucasian Oregon community. A year after she graduated from college, Chung discovered a way to work around the legalities of what had been a closed adoption to find out more about her birthparents. However, it was not until she became pregnant a few years later that she decided to make contact. Eager to know why she had been given up for adoption but troubled that she was betraying the trust of her adoptive parents, the author quietly moved forward with her quest. Much of what she learned—e.g., that she had been born premature and had two sisters—she already knew. Other details, like the fact that her parents had told everyone she had died at birth, raised a host of new questions. Just before Chung gave birth, her sister Cindy made contact. She revealed that their mother had been abusive and that their father had been the one who had decided on adoption. Fear of becoming like her birth mother and anger at both parents gradually gave way to the mature realization that her adoption “was not a tragedy” but rather “the easiest way to solve just one of too many problems.” Highly compelling for its depiction of a woman’s struggle to make peace with herself and her identity, the book offers a poignant depiction of the irreducibly complex nature of human motives and family ties. A profound, searching memoir about “finding the courage to question what I’d always been told.”

About the Author

Nicole Chung has written for The New York TimesGQLongreadsBuzzFeedHazlitt, and Shondaland, among other publications. She is Catapult magazine’s editor in chief and the former managing editor of The ToastAll You Can Ever Know is her first book.

Her website is www.nicolechung.net

Around the Web

All You Can Ever Know on Amazon

All You Can Ever Know on Barnes and Noble

All You Can Ever Know on Goodreads

All You Can Ever Know Publisher Page

Endurance by Scott Kelly

Endurance: My Year in Space and How I Got There (Young Readers Edition) by Scott Kelly. October 16, 2018. Crown Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781524764258.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.5; Lexile: 1070.

Newly adapted for young readers from the New York Timesbestseller comes the awe-inspiring memoir from NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent a record-breaking year in space. 

How does a boy struggling in school become an American hero and a space pioneer?

Daredevil behavior? Check. Whether it is sailing leaky boats in the Atlantic Ocean or joining an ambulance corps to race to the rescue, living on the edge is required behavior for an astronaut.

Sibling rivalry? Check. An identical twin brother who both cheers you on and eggs you on is the perfect motivator.

Inspiration? Check. Finding the right book can unexpectedly change the course of your life by providing a dream and a road map for achieving it.

Courage? Check. Mastering skills that could mean the difference between life and death as a fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut takes bravery.

Endurance? Check. The grit and can-do spirit that enables you to get up every time you’re knocked down and fuels the power to meet each challenge head-on and then ask, “What’s next?”

Scott Kelly believes, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” This checklist put Scott on a rocket that launched him into space, allowed him to break a record during his inspiring year aboard the International Space Station, and showed human beings the qualities needed to go from Earth to Mars–and beyond.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Alcoholism

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 6-9. Kelly, the author of My Journey to the Stars (2017), an autobiographical picture book, now presents a young readers’ edition of Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery (2017). Like the original book, it traces Kelly’s childhood, his initially unpromising academic background, and what motivated him to change. But mainly, it focuses on his years as an astronaut and the accomplishment for which he’s best known, living for almost a year continuously on the International Space Station (ISS). Few people have such an unusual story to tell, and Kelly makes the most of his experiences as an astronaut, offering vividly detailed accounts of daily life in orbit, anecdotes about hair-raising moments during space walks and reentry, and heartening stories of cooperation between Russians and Americans working and living together on the ISS. Black-and-white photos appear throughout the book, and a 16-page insert offers color photos. While the amount of detail may be daunting for some readers, those who are intrigued by space travel will find this a fascinating book.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
Kelly recalls piloting space shuttles and living aboard the International Space Station. Pared down from the 2017 version for adults, stripped of its profanity, and rearranged into a linear narrative, this memoir still manages to be slow off the launch pad, woodenly conventional (if infused with deadpan humor), and anticlimactic at the close. Kelly begins with his very earliest memories and traces his youth from an epiphanic encounter with Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (“I closed the book that night a different person”) to military-style nautical training (“a different person”) and graduation from New York’s Maritime College (“a completely different person”). Experiences as a U.S. Navy test pilot led to astronaut training, two shuttle flights, and two ISS gigs. In an apparent bid for attention from young readers he comes off throughout as positively obsessed with space toilets and the diapers American astronauts wear when bathroom trips are not an option. Of (perhaps) greater interest are his memories of working and living with colleagues from Russia and other countries after the space shuttle program ended. These are enlivened by comments about space food (“The Russians also have something called ‘the Appetizing Appetizer,’ which it is not”) and other details seldom if ever found in other astronaut biographies. He closes with a tally of general-issue life lessons. Finished photos and backmatter not seen. Occasionally amusing, rarely fresh, this expands the author’s picture-book account, My Journey to the Stars (illustrated by André Ceolin, 2017), without adding much significant. (Memoir. 10-16)

About the Author

Scott Kelly is a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and NASA astronaut. Kelly retired from the Navy at the rank of captain after twenty-five years of service. A veteran of four spaceflights, Kelly commanded the space shuttle Endeavour in 2007 and twice commanded the International Space Station. He has spent more than 520 days in space and holds the record for the longest single mission by a U.S. astronaut. He lives in Houston.

Her website is www.scottkelly.com

Around the Web

Endurance on Amazon

Endurance on Barnes and Noble

Endurance on Goodreads

Endurance Publisher Page

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor. September 4, 2018. Delacorte Books, 352 p. ISBN: 9781524771157.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.4; Lexile: 1070.

Discover the inspiring life of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, in this middle-grade adaptation of her bestselling adult memoir, My Beloved World
 
Includes an 8-page photo insert and a brief history of the Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor was just a girl when she dared to dream big. Her dream? To become a lawyer and a judge even though she’d never met one of either, and none lived in her neighborhood.

Sonia did not let the hardships of her background—which included growing up in the rough housing projects of New York City’s South Bronx, dealing with juvenile diabetes, coping with parents who argued and fought personal demons, and worrying about money—stand in her way. Always, she believed in herself. Her determination, along with guidance from generous mentors and the unwavering love of her extended Puerto Rican family, propelled her ever forward.

Eventually, all of Sonia’s hard work led to her appointment as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 2009, a role that she has held ever since.

Learn about Justice Sotomayor’s rise and her amazing work as well as about the Supreme Court in this fascinating memoir that shows that no matter the obstacles, dreams can come true

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Drugs, Racism, Alcoholism

 

Author Videos

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 7-10. After seven-year-old Sonia, recently diagnosed with diabetes, awakens to the sound of her parents arguing over who will give her a daily shot of insulin, she decides to take on that responsibility herself. It was the first of many decisions that would challenge her and move her forward. Judiciously pared down from Sotomayor’s My Beloved World (2013), this autobiography for young people records her memories of growing up with her father (who died when she was nine), her mother, her brother, and her extended Puerto Rican American family in the Bronx. She also discusses her education in Catholic schools, at Princeton, and at Yale, her pro bono advocacy work, and her career as an assistant district attorney and a partner in a private law firm. The story concludes as she begins working as a district court judge. Readers will come away with a strong sense of Sotomayor’s background, her steadfast values, and her ability to stand up for herself and for others. Written in a clear, direct manner and enriched with many personal stories, the book also conveys a sense of her gratitude to family, friends, teachers, and mentors. A lively autobiography of the third woman and the first Latina on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
The memoir of a woman who rose from the housing projects in New York City’s South Bronx to become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. This is the story of a woman who as a 10-year-old fell under the spell of Perry Mason, a fictional TV lawyer. Her life course was set: She would become a lawyer and, dare she dream it, a judge. With a clear vision, hard work, and determination she set out to make her dream come true. In a series of vignettes that help to illustrate her remarkable spirit and motivations, Sotomayor recalls some of the salient moments of her life. Readers are introduced to her close-knit family, friends, colleagues, and mentors that nurtured her along the way. She chronicles her academic and professional achievements and what it took to be successful. She also presents her core beliefs and struggles, never shying from coming across as human. The account of this exceptional trajectory, told with a storyteller’s talent, is filled with a candor and honesty that make her story eminently accessible to young readers. Adapted from her memoir for adults, My Beloved World (2013), in the hope of inspiring children to dream even the dreams they cannot at first imagine, this book should thoroughly achieve that goal. A must read. (glossary, Supreme Court overview) (Memoir. 10-18)

About the Author

Sonia Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and from Yale Law School in 1979. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York and then at the law firm of Pavia & Harcourt. She served as a judge of the US District Court, Southern District of New York, from 1992 to 1998, and from 1998 to 2009 served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; she assumed this role on August 8, 2009.

Teacher Resources

Soina Sotomayor Biography Lesson Plan

Around the Web

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Amazon

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Barnes & Noble

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Goodreads

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor Publisher Page

Camino a las Estrellas by Sylvia Acevedo

Camino a las estrellas: mi recorrido de Girl Scout a ingeniera astronáutica (Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist) by Sylvia Acevedo. September 4, 2018. Clarion Books, 352 p. ISBN: 9781328534811.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

The inspiring memoir for young readers about a Latina rocket scientist whose early life was transformed by joining the Girl Scouts and who currently serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

A meningitis outbreak in their underprivileged neighborhood left Sylvia Acevedo’s family forever altered. As she struggled in the aftermath of loss, young Sylvia’s life transformed when she joined the Brownies. The Girl Scouts taught her how to take control of her world and nourished her love of numbers and science.

With new confidence, Sylvia navigated shifting cultural expectations at school and at home, forging her own trail to become one of the first Latinx to graduate with a master’s in engineering from Stanford University and going on to become a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Spanish translation of Path to the Stars.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Racial insensitivity, Domestic abuse

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2018)
Acevedo debuts with an inspirational autobiography detailing how she bucked expectations while growing up in 1960s New Mexico. Though born in faraway South Dakota, where her father was completing his service in the U.S. Army, Sylvia grew up in the southern New Mexico town of Las Cruces. Growing up in a tightknit community of extended family, church family, and fellow Mexican-Americans, Sylvia soon discovered that her interests did not align with many of her peers’. While the cultural expectation for young women, especially Mexican-American women, was to marry and stay home to raise a family, Sylvia longed for adventures. She found a community and home away from home with the like-minded girls within her Girl Scout troop. The skills she acquired selling cookies and earning badges gave her confidence and self-efficacy as she moved through school taking honors courses, refusing home ec, playing drums in the band, and ultimately pursuing higher education in engineering. Acevedo’s narration is frequently repetitive, and she breezes past the many instances of racism and sexism she experienced both within and outside of her home in a matter-of-fact tone. All’s well that ends well, she seems to say. Though the redundancies cause hiccups in the narrative flow, and at times it feels like a long-form advertisement for Scouting, those seeking stories of female STEM trailblazers will find much to love here. Encouraging and uplifting. (Memoir. 8-12)

School Library Journal (September 1, 2018)
Gr 5 Up-A gem of an autobiography. As a girl growing up in New Mexico in the 1950’s, Acevedo recognized and confronted bias in many forms. She fought against the notions that girls should only become wives and mothers, and she strived to be a success in all aspects in her life: a focused student, a successful Girl Scout, a talented musician, and, above all, a young woman who never believed that her future was already written by someone else. Particularly touching is Acevedo’s recollection of her mother’s determination and dedication to her family: she acted as an advocate for her daughter’s success even as she and Sylvia faced domestic abuse. The text is accessible, and the story of Acevedo’s life touches upon a number of salient points for readers including racism, gender roles, and educational inequality. The importance of the Girl Scouts and of always being prepared resonates throughout. The author’s experiences working as a rocket scientist are fascinating, though these recollections come at the very end of the book.

About the Author

Sylvia Acevedo is a rocket scientist and award-winning entrepreneur who served on the White House Commission for Educational Excellence for Hispanics and is currently the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the US.

Her website is sylviaacevedo.org

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Camino a las Estrellas on Amazon

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Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol. April 24,  2018. First Second, 256 p. ISBN: 9781626724440.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.2; Lexile: 360.

In Be Prepared, all Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.

Vera is sure she’s found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Body humor, Bullying; Sexual harassment

 

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Reviews

Booklist starred (April 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 16))
Grades 6-9. Vera feels too Russian for her friends in Albany. She can never quite get the hang of sleepover birthday parties, and she’ll never have expensive toys like they do. So when she hears about a summer camp just for Russian American kids, she’s sure she’s finally found her place. But she’s much younger than her tent-mates, and—impossibly—she’s not Russian enough to fit in. She stumbles over the language, doesn’t know all the songs, and generally can’t quite get a handle on roughing it. But what’s more Russian than suffering? With fantastic pacing and poignant emotional turns, Brosgol’s winsome graphic memoir hilariously captures the lengths kids go to in order to fit in as well as the author’s growth from a girl desperate for a place to belong into someone confident enough to stand up for herself. Brosgol’s pitch-perfect art varies between serene, contemplative snapshot-like images of nature and comedic scenes between Vera—cartoonishly drawn with huge, goggle-eyed glasses—and her friends and campmates, all of whom appear in a relatively realistic style. Even though it’s rendered only in black, white, and olive green, Brosgol’s artwork has immense depth, from the facial expressions and gestures to the spot-on visual gags, and she strikes a perfect balance between heartfelt honesty and uproarious, self-deprecating humor. Perfect for fans of Shannon Hale’s Real Friends (2017), this will easily lodge a place in readers’ hearts, even as it has them rolling in the aisles.

Horn Book Magazine (May/June, 2018)
“This book is a true story. And also made up.” Brosgol’s (Anya’s Ghost, rev. 7/11; Leave Me Alone, rev. 9/16) fictionalized graphic memoir captures the ups and downs (let’s be honest—mostly downs) of a stint at a Russian Orthodox summer camp. Feeling like an outsider at school, Russian American preteen Vera is initially thrilled to attend camp with other Russian kids. Once there, however, she struggles to adjust to the strict rules, lack of modern electricity and plumbing, and drama involving her significantly older tentmates. The story’s visual narrative, exposition, and dialogue are in balance as inky illustrations fill smartly placed panels. The tone is accessible, vulnerable, and hilariously kid-centric (there are plenty of potty references). Angle brackets in the speech bubbles indicate dialogue spoken in Russian, and untranslated words and signs build atmosphere. A monochromatic palette using shades of army green reinforces the natural setting, and a cliffhanger ending leaves the door open for a sequel. Gaps between fiction and reality are clarified in an author’s note, which also includes primary documents: real-life photographs and a letter written by Vera to her mom (“Love, and homesick and crying, Vera. P.S. My stomach hurts every night. It does right now, too”). The story, both culturally specific and universal, is a welcome addition to the growing canon of comics by talented women cartoonists (Raina Telgemeier, Tillie Walden, Zeina Abirached, Cece Bell, and many others) based on their own lives. elisa gall

About the Author

Vera Brosgol was born in Moscow, Russia in 1984 and moved to the United States when she was five. She received a diploma in Classical Animation from Sheridan College, and currently works at Laika Inc. in Portland, Oregon drawing storyboards for feature animation.

She has done illustration work for clients such as Nickelodeon, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Simon & Schuster. Her first graphic novel, Anya’s Ghost, was published in 2011 by First Second Books.

She loves knitting, baking, and trying not to kill her plants. She hopes you are enjoying looking at her drawings!

Her website is verabee.com

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Be Prepared on Amazon

Be Prepared on Goodreads

Be Prepared Publisher Page

Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly

Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly. September 5, 2017. Drawn & Quarterly, 120 p. ISBN: 9781770462939.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 830.

A personal account of an Iraqi childhood

Poppies of Iraq is Brigitte Findakly’s nuanced tender chronicle of her relationship with her homeland Iraq, co-written and drawn by her husband, the acclaimed cartoonist Lewis Trondheim. In spare and elegant detail, they share memories of her middle class childhood touching on cultural practices, the education system, Saddam Hussein’s state control, and her family’s history as Orthodox Christians in the arab world. Poppies of Iraqis intimate and wide-ranging; the story of how one can become separated from one’s homeland and still feel intimately connected yet ultimately estranged.

Signs of an oppressive regime permeate a seemingly normal life: magazines arrive edited by customs; the color red is banned after the execution of General Kassim; Baathist militiamen are publicly hanged and school kids are bussed past them to bear witness. As conditions in Mosul worsen over her childhood, Brigitte’s father is always hopeful that life in Iraq will return to being secular and prosperous. The family eventually feels compelled to move to Paris, however, where Brigitte finds herself not quite belonging to either culture. Trondheim brings to life Findakly’s memories to create a poignant family portrait that covers loss, tragedy, love, and the loneliness of exile.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Strong language, Racial taunts, Discrimination, War, Violence, Criminal culture, Terrorism, Religious fanaticism, Discussion of rape

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 2))
Grades 5-8. Growing up in Mosul right before the reign of Saddam Hussein, memoirist Findakly recounts stories from her childhood in a country undergoing radical changes. Beginning with family picnics and short vignettes of her Iraqi father’s dental practice and her French mother’s slow acclimation to life in a country very different from hers, the focus shifts to more sobering tales: the casual censorship of everything from magazine articles to phone conversations; students being sent to mandatory work camps; a cousin being disfigured on the battlefield. Each story arc is punctuated by family photos and cultural notes that help bring the family to life and make their experiences personal. Findakly is never naive or sentimental, recounting her life in Iraq with the innocence of a child but the cognizance of an adult. The illustrations by her husband, acclaimed cartoonist Lewis Trondheim, complement that innocence, staying true to the political upheaval described, while keeping much of the trauma offstage. A moving tribute to familial love in times of war.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2017)
From the daughter of a French mother and Iraqi father comes a touching memoir of childhood in Iraq. Writing with her husband, Findakly strings together memories and facts from her family’s past and present as well as from Iraqi culture, as if she is sharing herself with readers over tea. She begins with happy childhood moments in Iraq and her school days, her parents’ backgrounds and how they met, and introductions to other family members and neighbors. Especially poignant are the portrayals of her French mother’s successful adjustment to Iraqi society over 23 years and Findakly’s own process of growing apart from Iraqi society after her father decides they should move to France when she is a teenager. Trondheim’s charming cartoon drawings, colored by Findakly, help readers envision the worlds the family straddles, while occasional pages of family photographs remind readers of the author’s historical reality. Readers feel they are getting an inside look into an impenetrable world with cultural and historical notes on pages titled “In Iraq” interspersed throughout the book. This personal portrayal of the impact of war and societal upheaval on one family will help many Western readers to see how the past half-century of conflict has devastated a region rich in ancient culture. Small in size but large in impact, this intimate memoir is a highly relevant and compassionate story of family, community, prejudice, and the struggle to love when the forces of the world push groups apart. (timeline) (Graphic memoir. 10-adult)

About the Author

Co-writer and colourist Brigitte Findakly was born in Mosul, Iraq, in 1959 and lived there until 1973. Cartoonist Lewis Trondheim was born in Fontainebleau, France in 1964. They have two children and live in the south of France.

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Poppies of Iraq on Amazon

Poppies of Iraq on Goodreads

Poppies of Iraq  on JLG

Poppies of Iraq  Publisher Page

Daring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Avakening by Manal al-Sharif. June 13, 2017. Simon & Schuster, 289 p. ISBN: 9781476793023.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 990.

A ferociously intimate memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of a courageous movement to support women’s right to drive.

Manal al-Sharif grew up in Mecca the second daughter of a taxi driver, born the year fundamentalism took hold. In her adolescence, she was a religious radical, melting her brother’s boy band cassettes in the oven because music was haram: forbidden by Islamic law. But what a difference an education can make. By her twenties she was a computer security engineer, one of few women working in a desert compound that resembled suburban America. That’s when the Saudi kingdom’s contradictions became too much to bear: she was labeled a slut for chatting with male colleagues, her teenage brother chaperoned her on a business trip, and while she kept a car in her garage, she was forbidden from driving down city streets behind the wheel.

Daring to Drive is the fiercely intimate memoir of an accidental activist, a powerfully vivid story of a young Muslim woman who stood up to a kingdom of men—and won. Writing on the cusp of history, Manal offers a rare glimpse into the lives of women in Saudi Arabia today. Her memoir is a remarkable celebration of resilience in the face of tyranny, the extraordinary power of education and female solidarity, and the difficulties, absurdities, and joys of making your voice heard.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (May 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 18))
In 2011, Manal Al-Sharif was arrested and jailed for driving a car in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Her imprisonment attracted international attention to the country’s restrictions on women. Manal’s memoir chronicles her evolution from a fiercely religious young woman into a champion of women’s rights and the face of the Women2Drive movement. Though there is no legal statute barring women from driving, Saudi culture enforces strict customs that force women to rely on hired drivers and male relatives to get around. Without reliable transportation, many women are unable to work, run basic errands, or even seek medical attention in emergencies. After her arrest, Manal was slandered in the national press, received death threats, and was denounced by religious leaders. In addition to her driving, Manal’s experiences as a young woman highlight the many other barriers for women, such as the requirement to have a male guardian’s permission for most decisions. Her memoir is an intimate look at life for women growing up in Saudi Arabia and the challenges of seeking major social change.

Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2017)
Inside the walls of segregation and oppression dictating the lives of Saudi women.Arrested and imprisoned for “driving while female” in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, in 2011, Saudi author and activist al-Sharif, formerly an information security expert at the Aramco oil company, chronicles her long path to feminist activism within a deeply conservative Islamic culture. From forced circumcision at age 8, condoned by her largely uneducated parents, to extreme segregation between the sexes in her poor community of Mecca, including separate entrances, covered windows, high walls, and the necessity for a guardian or close male relative to accompany women anywhere and sign any legal documents, the author found emancipation very gradually, a process she compares to the experience of those involved in the American civil rights movement. Indeed, in Saudi Arabia, the dictates of religious culture, rather than law, were and are iron-clad regarding women; al-Sharif required the permission of her father to pursue everything from education at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah (considered a scandalously “liberal, progressive city”) to her first job at Aramco (the only IT woman employed during her 10 years there) to marriage. The author’s decision to drive emerged from a long frustration with getting around via hired drivers and costly taxis, as all Saudi women were consigned to do: in a kind of perverse logic, al-Sharif had bought a car for her hired driver to use. Yet after a liberating work trip in America, where she got an actual license, she convinced her brother to help her drive and sympathetic women friends to video the great moment behind the wheel, which led to her arrest and harassment by the religious police. Ultimately, al-Sharif’s appalling conclusion is that, in her country, “if you want to race with men, you’d have to do it with your hands and legs cut off.” An intimate and powerful book from what is hopefully only the first of many Saudi voices to speak out.

About the Author

Manal al-Sharif is a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia who was imprisoned in 2011 for driving a car. She has been lauded by Foreign PolicyTimeForbes, and the Oslo Freedom Forum. Daring to Drive is her first book.

 

Teacher Resources

Manal al-Sharif TED Talk

Daring to Drive Reading Guide

Around the Web

Daring to Drive on Amazon

Daring to Drive on Goodreads

Daring to Drive on JLG

Daring to Drive Publisher Page