Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Threads - a review


by Ami Polonsky
Disney Hyperion, 2016

I have always appreciated an interdisciplinary approach to everything.   My favorite children's science books integrate the hard and fast facts of science with the ways in which science affects people's lives.  The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Young Readers Edition) and The Day the World Exploded are two fine examples of this style of writing.  The same interdisciplinary approach can be taken with the social sciences. My children will attest to the fact that when they neglected to wash strawberries before eating them, I would point out that they may be riddled with toxic chemicals.  If they protested that I had purchased organic berries, I would counter that many migrant farm workers who pick strawberries have inadequate access to clean bathroom facilities.  In this way, they understand that there are choices to be made in the cultivation and harvesting of food. Produce does not arrive in the grocery store by some tidy and precise process. Hard human labor is behind every easy purchase.

Ami Polansky takes an interdisciplinary approach, and thereby broadens the reader's scope of the world while addressing a very personal and intimate problem.  Threads is a book about loss and grief and the difficulty in carrying on in the wake of a loved one's death.  However, she has placed it in within the broader story of Chinese adoption, forced child labor, and the complexities of Chinese culture.

In first person voice, 12-year-old Clara struggles with her adopted sister's death from cancer, while simultaneously attempting to assuage her grief by rescuing a similarly aged girl working in a sweatshop somewhere north of Beijing. 

A car horn honks and I snap my head up.  Dad is waving to me through the closed window, the air around his car glistening in the heat.  I stand up.  I don't know what to do with this letter and photograph, but Dad will.
He's scrolling through something on his phone--probably a text from Mom asking him how I'm doing, if I seem like myself.  I open the car door and look one more time at Yuming's photograph before getting in.

Yuming, the unfortunate captive girl, also relates her story in the first person; and chapters alternate between the two girls.

The door to our room creaks open.  My heart flutters, and I look back down at my sewing.  I know very well that by now someone in America could have found my note, and I curse myself yet again for signing my name and including the photograph.  I wasn't thinking; those risks were unnecessary.  Whoever finds the note could easily notify Mr. Zhang or the police.
Clara and her family journey to China, but with different goals in mind.  Clara hopes to find Yuming.  Her parents hope to find closure.  Yuming's goal is more immediate.  She needs to escape Mr. Zhang's purse factory.

This is a satisfying story on all fronts and I was thankful that I had a realistic conclusion.

From the publisher:
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Grade Range: 3-7
  • Pages: 256

My copy of Threads is an Advance Reader Copy supplied by the publisher.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Paint me a Picture - a review

Paint Me a Picture
A Colorful Book of Inspiration
by Emily Bannister
Kane Miller, June, 2017

An edited version of my review appears in the February, 2017, edition of School Library Journal

Looking for a color mixing concept book? Go with Mouse Paint. Wishing for a fanciful romp through colors? Read Swatch: the Girl Who Loved Color. Seeking to inspire a child to pick up a paintbrush and give it a try? Paint me a Picture will suit you just fine.

My copy of Paint Me a Picture was provided by School Library Journal.

Beneath the Waves - a review

As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...