Fear not, blog fans, "Recently Read" has returned! (This will be good news for all seven of you.)Who Am I Without Him?
by Sharon Flake. I have long been an admirer of Flake's books: The Skin I'm In, Begging for Change, Money Hungry
, all excellent. This collection of short stories is geared toward the junior high crowd, makes some important points about relationships, and would be terrific for teen discussions. Young adult literature is often described as a "mirror and a window," allowing teens to see themselves reflected in fiction and to get a glimpse of how others have handled similar situations. These stories run the gamut from good girls going boy hunting in defiance of their strict church upbringing to the haunting story of a girl so eager for affection she accepts the casual violence of a tenuous relationship.And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.
This charming story about a penguin relationship is making waves, pun intended. Based on real events, the book describes how two male penguins form a loving bond, build a nest, and try to hatch a stone. A sympathetic zookeeper (check the illustrations to see pictures of his partner and children on his desk--so subtle!) gives the two males an extra egg to care for and the two penguins hatch and care for their new daughter, Tango. You can visit them today at the Central Park Zoo. A nice, tender story with sweet illustrations.The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq
by Jeannette Winter. Another children's book based on a true story details how Alia Muhammad Baker, an Iraqi librarian, does whatever is necessary to save her library's books and her country's literary heritage. This includes hiding the books and precious manuscripts in a nearby restaurant, renting a truck to take books to the homes of her friends, and secretly taking books to her own home every night. The illustrations are dramatic and provide just the right accompaniment to the spare text. The invading country (that would be US) is never identified.The Journey That Saved Curious George
by Louise Borden. More tales of war for children! This book details the flight of Hans and Magrete Rey, the creators of Curious George, from France to America during World War II. The couple had a perilous escape to the south of France on bicycles, taking very little except their manuscripts with them. The book is nicely put together, with drawings, real photos, letters, and journal entries arranged scrapbook style. Interesting behind-the-scenes story of one of the most popular (and widely merchandised) characters in children's literature.The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell. I know everyone else read it two years ago, but I just picked it up at the airport. I am obviously not the "Maven" Gladwell talks about. I mistakenly thought The Tipping Point
was a collection of essays about turning points in history, like if Napoleon hadn't caught cold, this wouldn't have happened, etc... However, once I got over my delusions, I found Gladwell's approach to sociological theory very accessible. For the other four people who haven't read it yet, Gladwell discourses on social "epidemics" and describes the conditions necessary for an idea to take off: a few influential people, the "stickiness" of the idea, the context, and the environmental conditions. Although his popularity seems to make him a target for criticism, I enjoyed the wide spectrum of popular examples he found to support his theories: Converse All-Stars, a syphillis epidemic in Baltimore, Sesame Street and Blue's Clues, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and Paul Revere's ride, among others.