Debut novel, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas's debut novel, The Hate U Give, was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California (which the movie Fruitvale Station was based on). The title of the book comes from the late rapper Tupac Shakur's tattoo T.H.U.G. The Hate U Give is garnering both a significant amount of praise and buzz. It sparked a bidding war among 13 publishing houses, and a film version is already in the works with The Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg (who played Rue) signed on to star.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

In a recent interview, Angie Thomas shared some books which inspired her writing. Check these out while you wait for your copy of The Hate U Give to be available!

This Side of Home by Renee Watson Twins Nikki and Maya Younger always agreed on most things, but as they head into their senior year they react differently to the gentrification of their Portland, Oregon, neighborhood and the new--white--family that moves in after their best friend and her mother are evicted.

Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor Winner of the Newbery Medal, set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family's struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And it is also Cassie's story--Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect. This is book #4 in a series of stories based on Mildred D. Taylor's life.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon A 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book. When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white, and in the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book, and recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children's Literature. Two teens--one black, one white--grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension. When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints.

Academy Awards!

Last night at the 89th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Oscar winners were announced for the best in film for the past year. While Kimmel has hosted the Emmys, this was his first time hosting the Oscars. After La La Land sweeping up at the Golden Globes, with fourteen Oscar nominations it was speculated they would sweep here as well. The film went home with six Oscars. They were also part of the big talk of the night, after giving an acceptance speech for “winning” Best Picture, when moments later it was announced that there was an error with the envelopes and that Moonlight was the actual winner.

Top film honors went to Moonlight for Best Picture, Zootopia for Best Animated Feature, O.J.: Made In America for Best Documentary Feature, and The Salesman for Best Foreign Language Film.

Individual Oscars went to Damien Chazelle for Best Director for La La Land, Casey Affleck for Leading Actor in Manchester By the Sea, and Emma Stone for Leading Actress in La La Land .
Supporting actor nods went to Mahershala Ali for Moonlight and Viola Davis in Fences.

Be sure to check out the complete list of winners in all categories! Film editing! Costume design! Cinematography!

More Armored Bears!

Hiding in a cupboard in the Master's room at Oxford, Lyra Belacqua sees him try to poison her uncle, an important northern explorer and scientist. Lyra's daemon, Pan - an external animal manifestation of her soul creature, something between a patronus and animal familiar - urges her to leave quietly, but Lyra decides instead to warn her uncle. In doing so, she aligns herself with his quest to understand the northern lights and to build a bridge to another world. Pullman's trilogy takes place in a multiverse that spans something like WWI England, contemporary America, and a separate universe called Cittegaze, with its own rules of soul and substance. The "northern lights" trilogy, made of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, won several prestigious awards and was made into a series of films (see catalog/record/1310620). Pullman's trilogy has long been a favorite series to recommend to precocious young readers and teens looking to explore new literary worlds, much as Lyra bridges the universes of the books with her daemon in tow. For every young person today who has sorted themselves into Gryffindor, imagined a pet owl or rat, or wishes they could play quidditch, there's a slightly older person who has imagined themselves a daemon that changes animal forms depending on their true internal state, who has re-read Pullman's trilogy or read it aloud to their children and wondered about the fate of the armored polar bears.

We will soon get another installment of the bears, Lyra, and her northern journeys, because Philip Pullman recently announced a new trilogy to be released in fall 2017! "The Dust," the first new book takes place during the same historical timeline as the original trilogy. This is a great opportunity to go back to Pullman, who challenged young readers and older science fiction devotees to think about humanity's role in global destruction, who challenged the religious tenets of many YA series like the The Chronicles of Narnia, and who imagined a multiverse based on a particle physics decades before Steven Hawking. The series rewards re-readers and celebrates the power of children's curiosity.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #629

Beijing journalist Lijia Zhang's debut novel Lotus is inspired by her grandmother's deathbed revelation that she was sold into prostitution at an early age.

Set in contemporary Shenzhen, China’s “City of Sins”, Lotus is one of the "ji" (Chinese word for chicken, a derogatory name for prostitutes) working at the Moonflower Massage Parlor. Originally from a impoverished village in northern China, she allows her family to think she waitresses in an upscale restaurant, sending her earnings home to support her family and to send her younger brother to university.

Knowing the shelf life of someone in her situation is finite, Lotus casts her eye among her regulars - Funny Eye, Family Treasure, hoping for a more permanent arrangement. In the meantime, she befriends Hu Binbing, a quiet and reclusive photojournalist who is hoping his documentary project on the lives of the "ji" will bring him the deserved recognition. But once his photographs of Lotus are published in a national magazine, his standing in the Communist party as well as their relationship is threatened.

"'A Newborn Calf Isn't Afraid of Tigers' is a typical chapter title in Lotus... Readers will find the entire text rich in Chinese proverbs, as well as folk wisdom of a more prosaic variety. Characters employ sage sayings in spoken form, as a kind of parlor game, and the author scatters aphorisms liberally throughout the narrative, with an effect that is both charming and thought-provoking....Some first novels, especially those birthed in creative writing classes, go heavy on self-consciously poetic language ...The images Zhang gives us, in contrast, are uncomplicated, concise and touching" ~ (NPR)

"Pretty Woman but without all the glitz" ~ (Library Journal).

Huge Books about a Huge World!

We’ve just gotten in two amazing oversized nature books for kids and their grownups. First up is Under Water, Under Earth by the talented team Aleksandra and Daniel Mizieliński. I am obsessed with the work by this pair, and this book is my favorite that they’ve done yet. One side depicts life under the ground, including burrowing animals, root vegetables, infrastructures under cities, tunnels, mines, and more. Flip the book over and you are treated to views under the ocean, from fish and scuba divers to the Titanic and hydrothermal vents. The two sections meet in the middle, where they share a spread on the Earth’s core. This book is jam packed with gorgeous, detailed illustrations and tons of fascinating information.

For kids who want to learn more about plants, checkout Botanicum, which joins Animalium and Historium as part of the Welcome to the Museum collection of oversized nonfiction for kids. With a gold-embellished cover and huge illustrations of beautiful vegetables, trees, flowers, and more, this book will win over any plant enthusiast.

These lovely and big books can work independently, but they also make a great pair. Learn about root vegetables in Under Water, Under Earth and then look at the detailed drawings in Botanicum! Just be sure to bring a bag big enough to fit them both.

TV Spotlight: Grace and Frankie

In the television comedy Grace and Frankie… Grace and Frankie’s husbands are friends and coworkers. While the two couples are out to dinner one night the men drop the bombshell that they have fallen in love with each other and are leaving their wives. The two women could not be more different than each other. But now, both being older, newly single, and living in close quarters they have to put up with each other, their ex-husbands, and the four grown children they have between them. They learn that they rely on each other more than they ever thought they would. Seasons 1 and 2 follow the daily lives of the four of them, portrayed by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston. It’s a funny show!

PreK Bits - "B" is for BUTTON

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Ms. Rachel presented stories about BUTTONS at Malletts Creek Branch Storytime this week.
PETE The CAT And His FOUR GROOVY BUTTONS ... But when they're lost, does he cry? "Goodness No!"
We practiced "B" sounds while singing the song "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" ... "Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me."
We bounced in rhythm to "5 Berry Buns In The Bakery Shoppe".
Then Toad has an interesting solution in “The Lost Button” story from FROG And TOAD ARE FRIENDS.

For more favorite BUTTON tales try the following:
BUTTON UP: Wrinkled Rhymes … the talking clothes in these poems know who's wearing them.
DON’T PUSH The BUTTON … the only rule is don’t push the button!
The SILVER BUTTON … At the same moment that Jodie's baby brother takes his first step, a city's worth of moments unfold around them.
CORDUROY … Corduroy wants one thing. It’s the thing he has lost.
The BELLY BOOK and BELLY BUTTON BOOK … another kind of button.
GRANDMA’S BUTTON BOX … perhaps you have a button box at your house?
ELIZA’S KINDERGARTEN SURPRISE … what Eliza holds in her pocket helps her through her first day at school.

Exit West

Exit West, Mohsin Hamid's new novel, is remarkably germane. The story of Nadia and Saeed, a young couple forced to flee a collapsing city, is on one level a love story, relaying the journey that a couple takes through their relationship, but more than that, it is the narrative of what it means to be a refugee, the toll taken by the severity of the act of leaving one’s country.

Realism in Exit West has a little give to it. Nadia and Saeed leave from an unnamed country in the midst of a civil war, their exit provided through an actual door. These doors of escape can appear anywhere and lead all over. The one though which Nadia and Saeed leave is in a dental office, “the blackness of a door that ha[d] once led to a supply cabinet.” The means of flight here might bring to mind other recent books where real-life or historical events are viewed through a slightly skewed reality, such as Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad. And like any other channel of departure for a refugee, these doors/portals guarantee no safe exit. One is left to meet whatever is on the other side unknowingly. The use of these doors that can pop up anywhere accentuates the discordant experience that refugees must face, to forsake one world so suddenly and be born again in another “for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.”

While some of Exit West exists in this semi-realistic sphere, much of it is all too real. Technology and social media play a significant role in keeping people connected. While their city is being destroyed around them, Nadia and Saeed perpetuate their relationship through texts and phone calls. The role of social media is so vital to human connection, both on a personal level and on a global level. Hamid reminds us of the clash of these worlds, the virtual versus the real. “But even now the city’s freewheeling virtual world stood in stark contrast to the day-to-day lives of most people, to those of young men, and especially of young women, and above all children who went to sleep unfed but could see on some small screen people in foreign lands preparing and consuming and even conducting food fights with feasts of such opulence that the very fact of their existence boggled the mind.” When mobile service vanishes, much human connection is severed.

The passage through doors “was both like dying and like being born,” and we understand, when Nadia and Saeed take this passage, how closely Hamid’s magical doors hew to a true refugee experience. Upon approaching her exit, Nadia is “struck by its darkness, its opacity, the way it did not reveal what was on the other side, and also did not reflect what was on this side, and so felt equally like a beginning and an end.”

Eventually, this young couple find themselves in a house of refugees, people from all over the world whose cultures and languages differ greatly but who are thrust together in a common experience. The friction of this situation creates a friction between Nadia and Saeed and highlights the strain that leaving behind the known for the unknown can take. “The only divisions that mattered now were between those who sought the right of passage and those who would deny them passage.”

Exit West gives a glimpse of what it is to be a refugee and what it is to refuse refugees, the shame that comes from being displaced and the struggle to maintain a feeling of humanity. The novel is only strengthened by the fact that Hamid never gives a name to the country from which Nadia and Saeed escape. He peppers his book with tales, some almost fairy-tale like in quality, of other travelers. On occasion points of departure are named, but not always. Combining this with the unusual form of deliverance for all these refugees underscores the universality of the refugee experience.

In an interview on Literary Hub, Hamid said, “I wanted this to be a novel about refugees that reminded us we’re all refugees. A little namelessness and bending of physics went a long way.”

Exit West is filled with strikingly eloquent passages on religion and prayer, parenthood, love, and of course, the jarring difficulty of becoming a displaced person. To read it is to be submersed in this beauty and brutality all at once.

Meet “It’s All Write!” 2017 Judge #1: Cara Chow!

The “It’s All Write!” Teen Writing Contest of 2017 is wrapping up, and it’s time to introduce the judges! If you're still working on your story, don't worry - submissions will be accepted until midnight on February 24th! Check out the Flash Fiction and Short Story guidelines for more information.

Cara Chow, author of the young adult novel Bitter Melon, was born in Hong Kong and grew up in the Richmond district of San Francisco. Ms. Chow was a 2001 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow, and Bitter Melon, her debut novel, made the Young Adult Library Services Association's 2012 Best Fiction list. Cara currently lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and son.

Stay tuned for more information about the “It’s All Write!” Teen Writing Contest 2017 Judges!

Storytimes: F is for Food!

Last week at storytimes, Elizabeth told stories all about food! Yum!

We heard about Gregory, the goat who is a picky eater in Gregory, the Terrible Eater and counted 15 different flavors of ice cream from Rob Reid’s 15 Scoop Ice Cream Cone. We read the classic The Wolf’s Chicken Stew and clapped along to the rhymes of Linda-Sue Park’s Bee-bim Bop! And of course, a food-themed storytime wouldn’t be complete without a “5 cupcakes” rhyme.

Visit our special Jump page for parents and teachers to see a list of storytimes at all locations.

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