If it's Wednesday, we're reviewing.

First Reads Friday Presents: No Good Deed by Goldy Moldavsky

Summer camp- a time for making friends, crafts, activities….sabotage? Gregor Maravilla has won a stay at the coolest camp ever- Camp Save The World, a place for young activities. But when a celebrity camper and a huge prize  get thrown into the mix, activism turns toxic. See why No Good Deed is your first Must Read for summer!

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International Missing Children’s Day

Tomorrow, May 25th is designated as International Missing Children’s Day.  Launched as a joint venture between the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the United States’ Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 1983, this day is for remembering missing and abducted children and celebrating those that have been recovered. The NCMEC has asked that you #RockOneSock to help raise awareness for missing kids.


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The Last Star Paperback Release Day Blitz & Giveaway

Last summer, we drove 120 miles to meet Rick Yancey because we love The Fifth Wave series so much.  Today, it’s such an honor to be a part of The Last Star Paperback Release Day Blitz. We updated Cassie’s survival look with a YAWednesdays twist because you can never look too good for alien invaders.

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The Circus Is Leaving Town

The party’s over now
So draw the curtains down
Your secret’s safe to keep
Unzip your velvet gown
And let your hair hang loose
Kick off your satin shoes
Throw back the ida down
Farewell to Friday’s clown

The circus is leaving town
Oh Ruby, roll your stockins down
Circus is leaving town
Oh Ruby, dry your eyes

-“The Circus is Leaving Town,” by Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbel

This weekend marks the end of an era.  On May 21st, the final performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus will take place and the traveling circus, as we’ve known it for 146 years, will come to an end.  To keep the circus in our hearts and minds for years to come, we decided to prepare a list of book recs for you.

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Book Review: Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

Lucky Broken GirlLucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was so, so, so, so, so wonderful. I will have coherent thoughts soon…

And my coherent thoughts are here!

Ebullient and joyful, this middle grade novel based on the author’s early life as a Cuban immigrant in NY was an absolute delight. I wish this book had existed at some point in my childhood. It would have helped me accept myself and my culture a little better at a time I was questioning it.

To begin with, Behar narrated the audiobook, which makes her a multi-hyphenate talent. Not only did she write this delightful story, but she narrated it with care and comfort. Her voice is beautiful. While her voice was not that of a child, it wasn’t a condescending adult voice narrating a children’s story. You could tell this was read from the heart and I very highly recommend this audiobook.

This story was also told from the heart and with her entire heart. It is, after all, an account of Behar’s childhood accident and it’s as authentic as it gets. I love that Behar incorporated some very special phrases, meanings and products into her story that many Cuban immigrants of a certain generation would identify with. When she brought up Maja soaps, I almost teared up because I could conjure the smell my childhood baby sittter who kept those very soaps in her drawers to make her clothing smell better. There was also the reference to Old Spice which was paramount for all men dressed up to go out. I also loved the role that food played in certain scenes, especially in the family preparing meals together and getting excited to contribute to a meal. She also used some Cuban slang that I generally don’t hear outside of my family and explained the meaning for young readers. Shout out to all the bo bos out here!

You could also feel Behar’s longing for and fear of Cuba. “…Castro. The name of the many who stole their country from them.” My family came here almost 50 years ago and this feeling is as timely and urgent and present as it was the day they arrived.

I also loved her sense of time and place–1960’s New York was a beautiful supporting character, even if Ruthie couldn’t get out much after the accident. And I loved the way that Ruthie’s world grew once she was unable to leave her house–so unexpected and challenging. Chicho’s (I grew up with a Chicho in my neighborhood!) friendship with Ruthie was so loving and nurturing. You can see the seeds being planted of Ruthie being a writer and artist. Behar realistically portrayed what life would be like in a body cast–no euphemisms here! The scenes where Ruthie’s mother made her eat and go to the bathroom and bathe were so real, you would have thought Behar was transposing videos of her own interactions with her mother. I will also note that Behar captured the Cuban male machismo very eloquently and accurately. If you ever experienced this, you will identify with (and want to yell at) those scenes with Ruthie’s father.

Finally, I will also mention that Ruthie and her family are Jewish. I love how the multicultural and religious heritage were featured and even though I am Cuban, I learned something new about the people of that immigrated to the island. It’s not something I ever heard about growing up.

Obviously, I loved this book for personal reasons, but if you are looking to teach empathy and make a child who feels unwelcome feel like they belong, Lucky Broken Girl is pitch perfect in every which way.

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