Monday, June 20, 2022

It's Monday - Don't Miss These!

         Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they and others have been reading! Your TBR lists will grow! 

        It's a long list this week because I had to skip last week. Hope you will find a book that will make you happy!
        I'm featuring this new book, One Hundred Percent Me, by Renee Macalino Rutledge.

          I know that all of us, in one way or another, have been told that we look just like our mother (or father, grandmother, Aunt Barbara, Uncle Sy, etc.) It became amusing at times, for me with a stepfather, to hear people say I looked just like him. Slowly, as I grew older, I began to realize I was me, and it was a compliment, nothing more. 
            In our increasingly multi-cultural world, it possibly happens more often in others' experiences. Renee's story about a young girl with a Puerto Rican dad and a Filipina mom shows her puzzling out what all the speculation means to her. She asks her parents, "Do you think I look exactly like you?"  Their loving answer is "You look like yourself." In the travel across the city in public transportation a stranger's question, "Where are you from?" becomes something to ponder when that stranger persists with "I mean, where is your family from?" The young girl knows a final right answer, after saying they're from New York, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, and the Philippines, she continues with these words, "I'm from Oakland, and I'm one hundred percent me." This continues with visits to other family members and questions easy to answer now that this young one knows the beautiful and heartfelt words to answer: "Mama's eyes and Papi's  eyes make my eyes one hundred percent mine." 
         As the trip through family visits, school, and a playground, up in a tree with children from many places, (a beautiful double-page spread), this young one learns about ancestors and other kinds of connections, all mixed together, confirming them, but remaining herself,  will always be "one hundred percent me"!

         Anita Prades, from Brazil, illustrates the story beautifully with the softest of colors. This is her first international experience. Renee writes in an author's note that her story comes from her own growing up and from that of her children, too. It's a book to enjoy and to ponder with a group of children, or perhaps only your own. 
         Thanks to Bloom Books for Children, an imprint of Ulysses Press for this copy!

              from Goodreads: "
When 11-year-old Ellis Earl Brown learns that a famous United States senator might be coming to Mississippi, he can’t believe it. After all, why would a fancy man from Washington D.C. come all the way to the Delta just to see how poor folks lived?"
           One reads on various social media posts that people praise some people by saying a phrase like "Be like _______, not like _________." Mostly each one is a news star, a politician, one who has done some good deed. This time, I'd like to tell everyone to read Linda Williams Jackson's book, The Lucky Ones, then  "Be like Ellis Earl Brown!" This story takes place in 1967, centering on Ellis Earl's family, from eleven and sometimes fifteen people (mostly kids from the very young to teens) with one mom, living in a shack. It has no running water, no toilet, no electricity. mattresses everywhere. There is always a food shortage. Sadly, I need to say that now, fifty-five years later, Mississippi still has the highest poverty rate among all the states. That feels like a crime to me. 
             When you read this story about Ellis Earl, you feel the love, no matter the little fights, among the family members. You see the heartfelt help given by a teacher who picks up some to take to school and brings food to feed his students at lunch! And you hear the hope in Ellis Earl's words who tells his story, wanting never to miss school, coveting the books his teacher lends him, including Dahl's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, where hope for that "Golden Ticket" feels very real to Ellis Earl. It's quite a story, giving me a bit of heartbreak, too, for the family but also for Senator Robert F. Kennedy, that "fancy man from Washington" who aims to help, but I know he didn't make it. I do wonder how this would be as a read-aloud? Would it help students know that the very real need shown in the book still exists and they can help, as Ellis Earl aims to do, too?
                Thanks to Candlewick Press for this copy!

       Goodale shows the ways of memories in brief words and lovely illustrations, bright, some faded. Here we are at Grandma's but "also" a memory of other times emerges. From grandmother to daughter to granddaughter, what become memories are lived and then stay. "Today my mama is coming down the hill, coming to find me. And also she is remembering. . ."   This would be a special book to share and use as a mentor text, for you, for a class!

     Elliott Michener appeared at Alcatraz a hardened criminal with early thoughts only of escape. A chance assignment to begin transforming the surrounding land into some kind of garden became both a solace and a path to a new kind of life, one of trust and inspiration. He learned and gained respect for his knowledge and accomplishments. Without glossing over the harshness that prison life holds, Emma Bland Smith tells this little-known story of one prisoner whose life changed from growing plants and flowers. The extensive backmatter shares more of the history of this famous prison, a timeline, and places in perspective the outcomes of prisoners when, and if, they are given jobs of value, along with new education. "Today experts know that giving incarcerated people meaningful work is important and worthwhile." Jenny Ely's illustrations show Michener's life transformed from a prisoner's grays to the bountiful colors of the flower gardens he planted. A note at the back shares that the flowers depicted are mostly true to what was planted. 
       It's a "neighborly" story from Cedella Marley, Bob Marley's first born with Tracey Baptiste. When they moved from Jamaica, it was decided the best way to make friends was to bring the music through a neighborhood concert. Sad to say, a rainstorm interrupted the plans until a new idea was formed. You need to read this "neighborly" story that turns out in an unexpected way, but the music does happen! It's such a happy story, all arranged with umbrellas! Tiffany Rose's illustrations brighten that rainy day very much! Here's a peek at the inside cover!

       It's so much fun to discover a new book at the bookstore that I had never seen. Oh, that "ding-dang baby", is all anyone talks about anymore. Gia cannot understand and wishes things would stay as they are now! With a lot of worry about this change and so much talk, talk, talking about the new baby, Gia gets sadder and sadder. The kids at school even make a jump-rope rhyme about the "ding-dang baby". Finally, loving pecan pie sweetens the idea. If Mama loves it, that baby inside her must love it, too. And that's the nicest thing. Sophie Blackall gives Gia's emotions the spotlight as she illustrates all the visitors during this exciting, maybe, time.
           Yolanda is growing up, listening to parents and other family talk about all facets of life, including that new law called Brown vs The Board of Education. She knows things are different for her; she's a colored girl. And signs everywhere show her what she can do and NOT do. When that new law passed, white lawmakers in Prince Edward County responded by shutting down all the schools, one by one. "It was then that Yolanda learned that because a law is legal doesn't mean it is just. And just because a law exists doesn't mean everyone will follow it." This is one story of what has been called "The Lost Generation" in Virginia.
         Written by Yolanda Gladden about her own experiences, told to Dr. Tamar Pizzoli, it's an inspiring story with spectacular and informative illustrations by Keisha Morris. Those schools stayed shut for five years but the black community formed their own schools to continue educating the children. Meeting in churches and homes, they not only taught those usual three r's but included the rich history of black people, not just centered on their enslavement. 
          There is more in the back matter, more that we all will be interested in knowing, including a marvelous timeline of desegregation in America's public schools!

Next! I'm reading a middle-grade fantasy titled A Dragon Used to Live Here by Annette LeBlanc Cate.


  1. I have The Lucky Ones in my pile to read soon. I didn't know much about, but your post has made it sound great!

  2. These all sound so good, especially One Hundred Percent Me, a book we could all probably benefit from. I also have The Lucky Ones but haven't gotten to it yet. Thanks for sharing these.

  3. What a wonderful set of books, Linda! I made note of One Hundred Percent Me and The Gardener of Alcatraz, and I will see if I can get to them at some point. I am so glad you enjoyed Also—I read it recently and thought it was a lovely story! The Lucky Ones and When the Schools Shut Down both look like really powerful reads as well. Thank you so much for the thoughtful post!

  4. I missed you last week. I have bookmarked One Hundred Percent Me to read with two of my granddaughters who are half Korean. After reading your review, I was inspired to make sure I read it. I went to my library site only to discover that I already have a hold on it. The Gardener of Alcatraz looks like an important book to learn more about prisons and rehabilitation. I would read Pecan Pie Baby if only my local library had a copy - mostly just because I will read anything by Jacqueline Woodson I can get my hands on. I am excited that they do have When the Schools Shut Down on order, and thanks to you I am first in line to read a copy.

  5. I really liked the details of ordinary life in The Lucky Ones. I gave my ARC to a student who really wasn't liking anything I handed him and he LOVED it. Can't wait to have a copy.

  6. One Hundred Percent Me sounds fantastic. Folks often try to figure out if my daughter looks more like me or my husband, so this would be a great book to read with her. The Lucky Ones also sounds great.

  7. Thanks to everyone for coming by, hoping that you found a book you will love!

  8. One Hundred Percent Me sounds great. It's glad to be back with the It's Monday! group. :)


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