Tag Archives: women

Rising Above: Inspiring Women in Sports by Gregory Zuckerman

Rise Above: Inspiring Women in Sports by Gregory Zuckerman. February 20, 2018. Philomel Books, 224 p. ISBN: 9780399547478.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 1070.

Behold the power of women! These are the inspirational real-life stories of female superstar athletes Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Carli Lloyd, and more — role models all. For sports fans, aspiring athletes and readers of sports biographies. 

Growing up in a crime-plagued, gang-infested neighborhood, Venus and Serena Williams were led to believe their environment was not a place where dreams could come true. It took a relentless determination, a burning desire to be the best, and a willingness to conquer racial barriers for them to emerge as tennis legends. Simone Biles was raised by a single mother with addiction issues, forcing her grandparents to intervene. But Simone soon discovered balance beams and gymnastics mats, setting her on a path toward Olympic greatness. Carli Lloyd, meanwhile, believed her youth soccer career was really starting to take off, only to be cut from her team. Instead of quitting the sport she loved, Carli rebuilt her confidence from the ground up, ultimately becoming one of the leaders on the World Cup Champion US Women’s Soccer team.

The athletes featured in this book met earth-shaking challenges head on, and through hard work and perseverance, went on to conquer the sports world. This collection of mini biographies, complete with first-hand content drawn from interviews, is a source of inspiration and self-empowerment for kids and sports fans of all ages.

Also included in the book: Wilma Rudolph (track and field), Mo’ne Davis (Little League baseball), Swin Cash (basketball), Elena Delle Donne (basketball), Bethany Hamilton (surfing), Ronda Rousey (mixed martial arts), and Kerri Strug (gymnastics).

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Drugs, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 3-7. In this companion to Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars (2016), the authors turn their attention to 11 more athletes, this time all woman, who also rose above adversity to become standouts in their fields. With the exception of Wilma Rudolph, the featured women are current or recent stars. Numerous quotes from interviews and primary sources lend a conversational tone to the quick, easy-to-read profiles. As students read about Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who was raised by loving grandparents after her addict mother lost custody; Grand Slam tennis champs Venus and Serena Williams, who learned to play amid gunshots in their rough Los Angeles neighborhood; and pro surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm at age 13 to a shark attack, they’ll discover that even stars have suffered from gender inequality, poverty, racism, body shaming, bulimia, bullying, self-doubt, and other relatable problems. What will inspire athletes of any ability or gender is how these women turned to help when needed and learned to accept themselves inside and out.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2017)
A reader does not have to be a sports fan to be inspired by these compelling minibiographies of athletes who conquered considerable adversities to realize great achievements.Neglected by a single mother with alcohol and drug addictions, Simone Biles went to live with her grandparents and discovered balance beams and gymnastics mats, which set her on the path to Olympic glory. Serena and Venus Williams overcame racial barriers to become tennis legends. Elena Delle Donne battled Lyme disease while working to become a star WNBA player. Bethany Hamilton continued her career as a professional surfer after losing her left arm in a shark attack. The Zuckermans close with the dramatic story of gymnast Kerri Strug, who, despite a severe injury, executed a gold medal–winning performance in the 1996 Olympics that made her a national sports hero. Other athletes profiled include Mo’ne Davis, Carli Lloyd, Wilma Rudolph, Ronda Rousey, and Swin Cash. Whether it was racism, humiliation for their unique body types, or serious medical issues, all the athletes profiled overcame their imposing obstacles through fierce determination and, the Zuckermans are careful to note, with the help of coaches, counselors, mentors, and therapists. They all refused to blame others for their difficulties and accepted responsibility for their successes and setbacks, a lesson that is delivered firmly and naturally. An inspiring, empowering collection of true stories of perseverance and resolve. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Gregory Zuckerman is a senior writer at the Wall Street Journal, where he has been a reporter for twelve years. He pens the widely read “Heard on the Street” column and writes about hedge funds, investing, and other Wall Street topics. He is a two-time winner of the Gerald Loeb Award for coverage of the credit crisis, the demise of WorldCom, and the collapse of hedge fund Amaranth Advisors.

His website is www.gregoryzuckerman.com.

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Notorious RGB Young Reader’s Edition by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Cameron & Shana Knizhnik. November 28, 2017. HarperCollins, 208 p. ISBN: 9780062748539.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 7.4; Lexile: 1030.

The New York Times bestselling biography Notorious RBG—whose concept originated with a Tumblr page of the same name—is now available in a vibrant, full-color young readers’ edition.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become an icon to millions. Her tireless fight for equality and women’s rights has inspired not only great strides in the workforce but has impacted the law of the land. And now, perfect for a younger generation, comes an accessible biography of this fierce woman, detailing her searing dissents and powerful jurisprudence.

This entertaining and insightful young readers’ edition mixes pop culture, humor, and expert analysis for a remarkable account of the indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Heroine. Trailblazer. Pioneer.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2017)
A tribute to the indefatigable Supreme Court justice—the only member of that esteemed bench ever to become a meme.Admiringly observing that “you don’t want to mess with her,” the authors open with Ginsburg’s devastating dissent following the court’s 2013 “gutting” of the Voting Rights Act, then look back over her childhood, education, and stellar legal career. This last is done with particular reference to the obstacles she had to overcome as a woman in the profession and to her work promoting women’s rights. The authors cast bright sidelights on her close relationships with her husband and with her great frenemy, Antonin Scalia, as well as on her legendary work habits and exercise routines. They also point to significant influences (notably African-American civil rights attorney Pauli Murray) as they describe how she became not just an inspirational figure, but a pop-culture icon. Collages of fans in RBG Halloween costume, of editorial cartoons, and even of needlepoint projects are interspersed with more-conventional photos of Ginsburg at various ages, images of documents and doodles, and inset featurettes with titles such as “The Jabot,” and “How to Be Like RBG.” This shaved-down version of the adult title shows signs of hasty preparation, from uncaptioned and misplaced photos to a partial list of “Things Women Couldn’t Do in the 1930s and 1940s” that includes “Become an astronaut.” It also ends abruptly with a generic 2017 quote (presumably) in response to the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the court. Still, the prose is as trim and lively as its subject, and it makes a solid case for regarding the titular moniker, initially a joke, as truly just. A bit patchy productionwise, but vivacious and well-argued. (timeline, glossary, source list, index) (Biography. 10-14)

School Library Journal Xpress (February 1, 2018)
Gr 5-8-A tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that does more than catalog her achievements; it conveys her spirit, one that will leave readers in awe. Widely viewed as a champion for women’s rights, Ginsburg is quick to correct that she battles for “women’s and men’s liberation,” as best illustrated in the case of Stephen Wiesenfeld, who was prevented from collecting his dead wife’s social security due to his gender. Ginsburg accepted the case to argue that equality under the law benefits both sexes, and shrewdly, to set a precedent. Not only are her professional triumphs lauded, and our justice system explained, the authors do an excellent job of rounding out her rich life: wife in an egalitarian marriage, mother, and close friends with her polar opposite on the bench, Justice Scalia. The one misstep is the clumsy handling of the justice’s cancer, introduced as “her struggle.” Young readers may need more clarification. However, the book’s strengths far overshadow this stumble. This version shares the same knockout formatting as the adult edition: a plethora of photographs and images leaving nary a page unadorned, and slim informational inserts, such as “How to be like RBG” and “RBG’s workout,” that lend this serious subject a lighthearted tone. VERDICT Just as Ginsburg’s (sometimes) frilly jabot belies the quiet revolutionary, this lively biography of this esteemed justice whose influence straddles two centuries is to be taken seriously. Highly recommended.-Laura Falli, McNeil High School, Austin, TX

About the Authors

Irin Carmon is an Israeli-American journalist and commentator. She is a national reporter at MSNBC, covering women, politics, and culture for the website and on air. She is a Visiting Fellow in the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School.

In 2011, she was named one of Forbes‘ “30 under 30” in media and featured in New York Magazine as a face of young feminism. She received the November 2011 Sidney award from The Sidney Hillman Foundation recognizing her reporting on the Mississippi Personhood Initiative for Salon. Mediaite named her among four in its award for Best TV pundit of 2014.

Her website is irincarmon.com

Shana Knizhnik is a civil rights attorney. While a student at NYU law school, she created the Notorious R.B.G. Tumblr, a feminist website dedicated to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her lifelong fight for equality and social justice.

 

Around the Web

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition on Amazon

Notorious RBG Young Readers Edition on Goodreads

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The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. January 1, 2018. Groundwood Books, 80 p. ISBN: 9781773061634.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.3.

This beautiful graphic-novel adaptation of The Breadwinner animated film tells the story of eleven-year-old Parvana who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for having forbidden books, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food.

As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.

Readers will want to linger over this powerful graphic novel with its striking art and inspiring story.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War, Violence, Misogyny

 

Movie/Book Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2018)
A graphic-novel adaptation of Ellis’ heartwarming story of Parvana, a young girl in Afghanistan who cuts her hair and dresses as a boy to earn money for her family when her father is imprisoned by the Taliban.Adding a layer of remove from the original, this graphic novel is an adaptation of the upcoming film version, and it varies significantly from the original book. Notable deviations include the absence of helpful Mrs. Weera, who provides so much support to Parvana and her family in the original book, and two new details: a grudging former student who tattles on Parvana’s father and Parvana’s solo visit to rescue her imprisoned father. Much story is lost as a result of the numerous deviations, which also sadly promote Western views of Afghanistan, such as rampant corruption and violent men. Even as a stand-alone title for readers not familiar with the book, the storyline is bumpy, moving in fits and starts. At one point, Parvana’s mother decides to abandon Parvana and leave for the neighboring village but then changes her mind midway. Another disappointment is the book cover, which shows Parvana selling chai, something she does not do in either story (although her friend does). The only redeeming factor is the beautiful artwork, stills from the film, with its vivid use of colors to display context, such as use of red for war and black for the Taliban rule. A rather unsatisfying graphic novel, sure to disappoint fans of Ellis’ book. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries.

She has won the Governor General’s Award, Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California’s Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-time feminist and anti-war activist, she is best known for The Breadwinner Trilogy, which has been published around the world in seventeen languages, with more than a million dollars in royalties donated to Street Kids International and to Women for Women, an organization that supports health and education projects in Afghanistan. In 2006, Deb was named to the Order of Ontario.

Her website is www.deborahellis.com

Around the Web

The Breadwinner on Amazon

The Breadwinner on Goodreads

The Breadwinner Publisher Page

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz. October 3, 2017. HarperTeen, 376 p. ISBN: 9780062642745.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, War, Violence, Smoking, Harsh realities of war

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 8-11. Based on true events and figures from WWII, Katz’s novel offers a fictional tale of a Russian airwoman called Valka and her childhood friend Pasha and how their lives are disrupted by the war. Kind, peace-loving Pasha is sent to a war-hungry veteran commander as a radio operator, while Valka eventually becomes one of the famous Night Witches, supremely successful regiments of all-women pilots, stealthily flying over enemy lines each night to drop bombs in strategic places. Pasha and Valka’s steady stream of letters—which become increasingly desperate as they’re both moved closer and closer to the front lines and, miraculously, each other—is what ultimately gets them through the war. Katz’s debut doesn’t skimp on the terrible realities of war, as described in Valka’s first-person narrative and the intermittent letters between the two characters, and she nicely weaves historical events through the fictional narrative. This beautiful, emotional entry into a key moment in Russian history will appeal to lovers of adventure novels, as well as historical fiction fans.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
Katz’s highly readable novel offers an entry into the story of the Soviet Union’s famed WWII squadrons of airwomen, the “Night Witches.” An accomplished pilot of a quirky, unreliable small plane, Valka leaps at the chance to sign up for the Motherland’s first all-women fighter and bomber regiments. Soon she’s operating as a bomber pilot, assigned to one of the slow, low-flying planes used for night attacks, with her beloved cousin Iskra as her navigator. Nazi fire, terrible weather, darkness, the loss of comrades, even commands to bomb their own countrymen all come into play, exercising Valka’s aeronautical and emotional resources with dramatic effect. Most notably, though, Valka worries about her sweetheart Pasha in the infantry; when the chance comes to save him, she commits treason to do so. Katz is skillfully informative, interweaving historical figures and facts without losing emotional propulsion and suspense; at the same time, she opts to stretch credulity with an expansive correspondence between Valka and Pasha, the chattiness of which would have seriously endangered their comrades, and whose liberality with locations shows a naive–or incredible–disregard of the censors. But that very correspondence is part of what makes this story accessible to American YA readers–as does, no doubt, its suspenseful, Hollywood ending. deirdre f. baker

About the Author

Gwen C. Katz is a writer, artist, game designer, and retired mad scientist easily identified by her crew cut and ability to cause trouble. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband and a revolving door of transient mammals.

Her website is www.gwenckatz.com

Around the Web

Among the Red Stars on Amazon

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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. June 6, 2017. William Morrow Paperbacks, 503 p. ISBN: 9780062654199.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 820.

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Strong language, Discrimination, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Underage drinking, Suicidal thoughts

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Library Journal (June 1, 2017)
In May 1947, Charlotte “Charlie” St. Clair and her mother have crossed the Atlantic so the unwed Charlie can discreetly end her pregnancy in a Swiss clinic. A chance to search for her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared during World War II, gives Charlie the courage to break free and head to London. Rose may have been involved in the French Resistance, and her last known connection was a woman named Eve, who carries her own war secrets. Even with the background detail given at the novel’s outset, there is so much more to learn as these characters are thoughtfully developed through interior decision making and the actions they take. Allowing Charlie to describe present events, while Eve shares her experience as an English spy for the real-life Alice Network during World War I, creates a fascinating tension that intensifies as the finale approaches. VERDICT A compelling blend of historical fiction, mystery, and women’s fiction, Quinn’s (“Empress of Rome” series) complex story and engaging characters have something to offer just about everyone. [See “Summer Escapes,” LJ 5/15/17.]-Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH

About the Author

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network.” All have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate and her husband now live in San Diego with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox. Her website is www.katequinnauthor.com

Teacher Resources

The Alice Network Discussion Questions

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Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani

Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani. August 22, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 176 p. ISBN: 9780425287538.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.7; Lexile: 990.

Part how-to, part girl-empowerment, and all fun, from the leader of the movement championed by Sheryl Sandberg, Malala Yousafzai, and John Legend.

Since 2012, the organization Girls Who Code has taught computing skills to and inspired over 40,000 girls across America. Now its founder, Reshma Saujani, wants to inspire you to be a girl who codes! Bursting with dynamic artwork, down-to-earth explanations of coding principles, and real-life stories of girls and women working at places like Pixar and NASA, this graphically animated book shows what a huge role computer science plays in our lives and how much fun it can be. No matter your interest–sports, the arts, baking, student government, social justice–coding can help you do what you love and make your dreams come true. Whether you’re a girl who’s never coded before, a girl who codes, or a parent raising one, this entertaining book, printed in bold two-color and featuring art on every page, will have you itching to create your own apps, games, and robots to make the world a better place.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (August 2017 (Online))
Grades 6-10. Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code (a national nonprofit organization that educates young women with computing skills), is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology. With the help of multicultural girls, represented in appealing tween- and teen-friendly cartoon images, the author introduces the concept of coding, some of its terminology, and its problem-solving process. Using a conversational tone and easy-to-understand examples (such as comparing coding to stringing different patterns of beads), she also explains numerous real-world applications of coding, including digital art, websites, mobile apps, animation, video games, and robots. The text does not teach specific coding skills or languages (although they are represented graphically), but readers who are studying these on their own will benefit from chapters on design, debugging, and other related topics. Particularly eye-opening are interviews with current female coders in high-tech fields and with the featured multicultural girls, all of whom describe projects on which they’ve worked. Above all, this book makes coding less intimidating and more inspiring to today’s young women.

Kirkus Reviews (May 15, 2017)
A guide to get girls into coding, written by Saujani, the founder of the Girls Who Code organization, with Hutt’s assistance. Rather than serving as a manual for a specific coding language, this book has two focuses: encouraging girls that coding is something they can do and guiding them to entry points that will make programming relevant to their specific interests. Internalized societal messages about girls’ STEM abilities and the pressure on girls to be perfect are addressed head-on through spotlights on women in programing history and interviews with impressive women working in programming (such as Danielle Feinberg of Pixar, who tells how a bug in her code created an amazing new effect). After obligatory computer history, the chapters are organized first with programming logic and theory that will serve regardless of the programming language used (including creative prompts to nurture new ideas and give young programmers confidence), and then into the fun to be had programming applications—apps, games, digital art, robots, etc. These segments feature interviews with real Girls Who Code teams speaking of how they created successful projects, and a multicultural cartoon cast appears in comic strips working on specific projects. Having demonstrated what projects each programming language is for, the resources at the end direct girls to code tutorials so they can start their own projects. Final art not seen. An encouraging supplementary resource for young coders. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-16)

About the Author

Reshma Saujani is the former NYC Deputy Public Advocate and the founder of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that prepares underserved girls for careers in science and technology. She ran for U.S. Congress in New York’s 14th District as a Democrat in 2010.

Her website is www.reshmasaujani.com.

Teacher Resources

The Girls Who Code Organization homepage

Around the Web

Girls Who Code on Amazon

Girls Who Code on Goodreads

Girls Who Code on JLG

Girls Who Code Publisher Page

The Answers by Catherine Lacey

The Answers by Catherine Lacey. June 6, 2017. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 304 p. ISBN: 9780374100261.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

An urgent, propulsive novel about a woman learning to negotiate her ailment and its various aftereffects via the simulacrum of a perfect romantic relationship

In Catherine Lacey’s ambitious second novel we are introduced to Mary, a young woman living in New York City and struggling to cope with a body that has betrayed her. All but paralyzed with pain, Mary seeks relief from a New Agey treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, PAKing for short. And, remarkably, it works. But PAKing is prohibitively expensive and Mary is dead broke. So she scours Craigslist for fast-cash jobs and finds herself applying for the “Girlfriend Experiment,” the brainchild of an eccentric actor, Kurt Sky, who is determined to find the perfect relationship—even if that means paying different women to fulfill distinctive roles. Mary is hired as the “Emotional Girlfriend”—certainly better than the “Anger Girlfriend” or the “Maternal Girlfriend”—and is pulled into Kurt’s ego-driven and messy attempt at human connection.

Told in her signature spiraling prose, The Answers is full of the singular yet universal insights readers have come to expect from Lacey. It is a gorgeous hybrid of the plot- and the idea-driven novel that will leave you reeling.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Drugs

 

Reviews

 

About the Author

Catherine Lacey is the author of Nobody Is Ever Missing, winner of a 2016 Whiting Award and a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, and The Answers. In 201, she was named one of Granta‘s Best Young American Novelists. Her essays and fiction have been published widely and translated into Italian, French, Dutch, Spanish, and German. Born in Mississippi, she is now based in Chicago.

Her website is www.catherinelacey.com

Teacher Resources

The List Discussion Questions

Around the Web

The Answers on Amazon

The Answers on Goodreads

The Answers on JLG

The Answers Publisher Page

Orphan Train Girl by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Trial Girl: Young Reader’s Edition by Christina Baker Kline. May 2, 2017. HarperCollins, 228 p. ISBN: 9780062445940.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.6.

This young readers’ edition of Christina Baker Kline’s #1 New York Times bestselling novel Orphan Train follows a young foster girl who forms an unlikely bond with a ninety-one-year-old woman. Adapted and condensed for a young audience, Orphan Train Girl includes an author’s note and archival photos from the orphan train era.

Molly Ayer has been in foster care since she was eight years old. Most of the time, Molly knows it’s her attitude that’s the problem, but after being shipped from one family to another, she’s had her fair share of adults treating her like an inconvenience. So when Molly’s forced to help an elderly woman clean out her attic for community service, Molly is wary. Just another adult to treat her like a troublemaker.

But from the very moment they meet, Molly realizes that Vivian, a well-off ninety-one-year-old, isn’t like any of the adults she’s encountered before. Vivian asks Molly questions about her life and actually listens when Molly responds. Molly soon sees they have more in common than she thought. Vivian was once an orphan, too—an Irish immigrant to New York City who was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children—and she can understand, better than anyone else, the emotional binds that have been making Molly’s life so hard. Together, they not only clear boxes of past mementos from Vivian’s attic, but forge a path of friendship, forgiveness, and new beginnings for their future.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism and racist language, Child neglect and abuse

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 16))
Grades 3-6. In this middle-grade adaptation of Kline’s best-selling adult novel, half Penobscot Molly, a modern foster child in rural Maine, finds a kindred spirit in the wealthy nonagenarian Vivian. Caught stealing The Secret Garden from the public library, Molly is forced to help Vivian clean out her attic. Though she’s wary of the elderly lady, she learns the two have something in common. Vivian herself is an orphan, having come to the U.S. from Ireland during the potato famine. When a fire destroys Vivian’s NYC tenement, killing the rest of her family, she’s sent off to Minnesota on an “orphan train.” Third-person passages alternating between Molly and 10-year-old Vivian, born Niamh and renamed by each of the families that takes her in, further flesh out common threads to their experiences. Though the book doesn’t quite pack the powerful emotional punch readers may expect, the muted emotions are situated in the context of the many hardships faced during the Great Depression. Back matter provides further historical context, useful for classroom instruction and enhancing the reading experience. Quietly moving.

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2017)
In a young readers’ version of Kline’s Orphan Train (2013), sixth-grader Molly, a foster child on the coast of Maine, helps an elderly woman, Vivian, sort through boxes of keepsakes in her attic.Molly, quietly introspective, is performing community service, assigned (surprisingly) for trying to steal a battered paperback from the public library. In Vivian, she discovers a kindred spirit. The elderly white woman is an orphan too and traveled west in 1929 on an orphan train. In the attic, Molly unwraps objects from Vivian’s childhood, each providing the vehicle for a transition to Vivian’s arduous experiences, first in New York, then on the orphan train, and finally in Minnesota, where she’s shunted from one desperate foster home to another. By comparison, Molly’s experiences under the care of her emotionally abusive foster mother, Dina, seem almost mild. The tale is painted with a broad brush, lacking the gentle nuance of the adult version. Molly, half Penobscot Indian and half white, prefers goth dress and is a vegetarian, but it’s never quite clear why angry, white, unnuanced Dina so dislikes her. Vivian’s more richly evoked story of immigration, poverty, and occasional kindness is more compelling but also simplistic, partly because her character is only about 10 or 11, even at the end of her story. Although interesting, this effort may leave readers wishing to explore unplumbed depths. (Fiction. 10-12)

About the Author

Christina Baker Kline is the author of New York Times instant bestseller A Piece of the World (2017), about the relationship between the artist Andrew Wyeth and the subject of his best-known painting, Christina’s World. Kline has written six other novels — Orphan Train, Orphan Train Girl, The Way Life Should Be, Sweet Water, Bird in Hand, and Desire Lines— and written or edited five works of nonfiction. Her 2013 novel Orphan Train spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list, including five weeks at # 1, and was published in 40 countries. More than 100 communities and colleges have chosen it as a “One Book, One Read” selection. Her adaptation of Orphan Train for young readers is Orphan Train Girl (2017). She lives near New York City and on the coast of Maine.

Her website is www.christinabakerkline.com.

Teacher Resources

Orphan Train Discussion Questions

Orphan Trail Reading Guide

Around the Web

Orphan Train Girl on Amazon

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A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White

A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White. February 14, 2017. Greenwillow Books, 432 p. ISBN: 9780062463210.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty just made history. Her high school’s star pitcher, she is now the first woman drafted by a major league baseball team. Only days after her high school graduation, she’ll join the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class A Short Season team . . . but not everyone is happy to have her there.

On top of the pressure heaped on every pitcher, Jill must deal with defying conventions and living up to impossible expectations, all while living away from home for the first time. She’ll go head-to-head against those who are determined to keep baseball an all-male sport. Despite the reassurance of coaches and managers alike, a few of her teammates are giving her trouble. The media presence following her at each game is inescapable. And to top it all off, Jill is struggling with the responsibilities of being a national hero and a role model for young women everywhere. How can she be a role model when she’s not even sure she made the right choice for herself? Didn’t baseball used to be fun?

This literary and engrossing story of a young woman trying to mark out a place for herself in a male-dominated world will captivate fans of Friday Night Lights, The Art of Fielding, John Corey Whaley, and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Discrimination; Underage drinking; Sexual harrassment

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 8))
Grades 8-11. Toward the end of senior year, it’s decision time: accept the scholarship to Stanford or the offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates as their third-round draft pick. It’s a clear choice for Jill, despite the stress of possibly becoming the first woman to play Major League Baseball. After joining the Pirates’ minor league short season team, she deals with resistance from fans, pressure from agents, and the occasional idiocy in the clubhouse. She gradually gains acceptance from her teammates and, after a rocky start, begins to play well again. Don’t look for high drama on or off the field. The pleasure of reading this novel comes from the steady, realistic portrayal of Jill’s experiences as a rookie and as a young woman breaking into a man’s sport. An ensemble cast of well-drawn, interesting characters revolves around Jill, who is kind by nature, levelheaded most of the time, and acutely aware that she’s a role model, constantly observed but no more saintly than most other 18-year-olds. Readers will hope for sequels to this unusual and engaging novel.

Horn Book Magazine (March/April, 2017)
High-school baseball phenom Jill Cafferty had made a verbal commitment to pitch for Stanford, but pro scouts are on her trail. Perfect mechanics, repeatable delivery, and command of three pitches make her a hot commodity, and she makes history as the first female Major League player when she signs with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. She quickly comes to hate “all this fuss about me being a woman, when I really just want to go and…strike all of the sons of bitches out.” But it’s not going to be that easy, as she faces a lot of abuse: fans tossing tampons onto the field, a teammate urinating in her locker, fans holding signs saying “Go Back to Softball!” and “Don’t Destroy America!” Somehow, it can’t be a simple matter of hurling a ball sixty feet and striking out batters. White’s third-person limited narrative, told from Jill’s perspective, pulls the reader into her story. Though the plot could have been tighter, there’s plenty of action, and fans of the game will enjoy following Jill through early missteps toward a surer sense of herself and her skills. dean schneider

About the Author

This talented writer attended Tufts University (and published her first book, Friends for Life, while a senior there) and currently lives in New York City. Ms. White grew up in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Many of her novels feature characters who reside in or around Boston and are fans of the Boston Red Sox (as is Ms. White). In addition to novels, Ms. White has published several biographies. She also writes under the pseudonym Zack Emerson (taking the name Zack from the name of her shepherd dog) and under the pseudonym Nicholas Edwards (Santa Paws series).

Her website is ellenemersonwhite.com.

Around the Web

A Season of Daring Greatly on Amazon

A Season of Daring Greatly on Goodreads

A Season of Daring Greatly on JLG

A Season of Daring Greatly Publisher Page

Here We Are edited by Kelly Jensen

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen. January 24, 2017. Algonquin Young Readers, 240 p. ISBN: 9781616205867.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

LET’S GET THE FEMINIST PARTY STARTED!

Have you ever wanted to be a superheroine? Join a fandom? Create the perfect empowering playlist? Understand exactly what it means to be a feminist in the twenty-first century? You’ve come to the right place.

Forty-four writers, dancers, actors, and artists contribute essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations about everything from body positivity to romance to gender identity to intersectionality to the greatest girl friendships in fiction. Together, they share diverse perspectives on and insights into what feminism means and what it looks like. Come on in, turn the pages, and be inspired to find your own path to feminism by the awesome individuals in Here We Are.

Welcome to one of the most life-changing parties around!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Mild sexual themes; Clinical discussion of a female genital mutilation; Sexual assault; Images with stylized nudity

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 8-11. Earnest, conversational, and dauntlessly unapologetic in message, this collection of essays, cartoons, and interviews boldly celebrates and analyzes feminism as it exists today. More important, it reinforces the concept of intersectionality, encouraging a feminism that is open and accepting while continually reminding readers about the ways in which the experience of being a woman can vary widely for women of color, LGBTQ women, and women with disabilities. Some pieces here are reprinted from other texts (Roxanne Gay’s “Bad Feminist: Take Two,” Mindy Kaling’s “Don’t Peak in High School”), while others were commissioned exclusively for this publication. Most of the contributors are writers, often of YA novels and popular blogs, but this takes pains to include a wide array of perspectives, including essays by singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson, politician Wendy Davis, and ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her sister Mia, as well as an interview with transgender actress Laverne Cox. The voices are wildly diverse: men and women, cis and trans, are included (although women, naturally, dominate), and contributors represent a number of different races, religions, and sexual orientations. The scrapbook-style layout makes this fun, and the intimate, informal tone makes it feel like a journal passed between friends. An education unto itself, the message of inclusion and strength is invaluable.

Horn Book Magazine (March/April, 2017)
This lively anthology, edited by Book Riot associate editor Jensen, broaches the subject of “feminism for the real world” through forty-four essays, comics, poems, interviews, and other material aimed at an adolescent audience. The collection combines previously published works with original content by a diverse group of contributors, including celebrities (Laverne Cox, Mindy Kaling), activists (Mia and Michaela DePrince, Wendy Davis), comics artists (Wendy Xu), and young adult authors (Malinda Lo, Nova Ren Suma, Daniel José Older). The accessible scrapbook-style format is organized into loose subject-area sections (“Gender, Sex, and Sexuality,” “Culture and Pop Culture”) with explanatory “FAQs About Feminism” and lists such as Kody Keplinger’s “Feminist Songs to Sing Along To” and Brandy Colbert’s “Top Ten Black Female Friendships” interspersed throughout. Topics range from the history of the word feminism to personal reflections on the intersections between feminism and race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. Here We Are functions as an accessible collection of contemporary feminist writing and an introduction to twenty-first-century feminism. By embracing the voices of women, men, people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and myriad other identities, the book sends a strong message that feminism is for everyone. Appended with lists for further reading and contributor bios. molly saunders

About the Editor

Kelly Jensen is a former teen librarian who worked in several public libraries before pursuing a full-time career in writing and editing. Her current position is with Book Riot, the largest independent book website in North America, where she focuses on talking about young adult literature in all of its manifestations. Before becoming a fully-fledged adult-like person, she worked in the swanky Texas Legislative Library entering data into a computer while surrounded by important politicians, scooped gelato for hungry college students, and spent hours reading, annotating, and scanning small-town Texas newspapers into a giant searchable database.

Kelly lives in Wisconsin with her husband and three needy-but-awesome cats. In her free time, she does yoga, writes for her personal blog STACKED, drinks a lot of tea, and enjoys disappearing for days reading good books. Her writing has been featured on The Huffington Post, at Rookie Magazine, The Horn Book, BlogHer, and School Library Journal.

Her website is www.stackedbooks.org.

Around the Web

Here We Are on Amazon

Here We Are on Goodreads

Here We Are on JLG

Here We Are Publisher Page