Bad Boys of Fashion

I am not a fashionista…. I am the girl who is rooting for Grunge to return, the sooner, the better. So I wasn’t sure if I was the best person to read and review a book all about men’ s style. To my surprise and delight, I really enjoyed this colorful, historical roundup of some of the most famous icons of men’s fashion. Right along with the Rebel Girls, this book is a celebration not just of clothing and accessory choices but of iconic men, some of whom have been marginalized in their time and in history.

What is there to learn from a fashion history? Well, let’s start with an explanation of one of America’s favorite children’s songs in the history of the Dandies. Yankee Doodle’s macaroni reference was finally revealed to me as (gluten-free) slang . Or what about the origin of The Fonz’s perfect bad boy style? I and my long suffering grandmother have Marlon Brando to thank for influencing my father’s teenage clothing choices. By far, though, I learned the most from the story of Oscar Wilde, an intense and unique author who took cosplay and capes to the extreme.

The frank discussion of homosexuality (including a definition of ‘sodomite’) will be appreciated by older students who are the logical target for this tome. The art (a combination of photos and modern graphic stylings) and direct writing approach should appeal to adults and teens who are interested in historical art and biographies, as well as fashion. I especially recommend this book for people who enjoyed Brazen which shared a novel graphic styling while telling intense and relevant stories.

@jencroll @AnnickPress @BadBoysofFashion

The Great Dictionary Caper by Judy Sierra & illustrated by Eric Comstock

Screenshot 2019-01-21 20.16.57.pngNoah Webster is back in the spotlight in this brightly colored picture book intended for older elementary students. The story is simple and loose.  Words were bored in the dictionary and decided to bunk off for a bit. On each spread (and sometimes each page) a particular type of word is showcased in multiples along with their label – synonyms, palindromes, action verbs and so on. Each word is given its own personality, usually suggestive of its meaning, through the use of cleverly added eyes, noses, and expressions.

screen shot 2019-01-21 at 8.38.01 pmTwo things stand out for me here. First, the art work is compelling. Though there is a limited (albeit BRIGHT) palette and simple line art throughout, the illustrations are not simplistic. Instead the book sets a very appropriate, fun-loving and zealous mood. Second, how brilliant is it that this book handles a subject that is usually so BORING? Who cares to memorize the definition of a conjunction? Instead, we are allowed to move on from telling children what words are to visually showing them what they are. When that happens, students get incredible insight along with a fun book to read.

This is a great book for about grades 2 and up. It might be difficult to do as a read aloud because the images of the words as a whole need to be seen to fully appreciate the meaning. Consider using a camera and projection device if you go that route. This would pair nicely with a low prep activity where students came up with their own escapee words to illustrate.

Lastly, I want to thank the Phoenix Public Library and the librarians there who keep up to date on new releases. I actually borrowed this book from my own library from over 8000miles away!  Thank you Phoenix Public eLibrary! I plan to put “The Great Dictionary Caper” on my “every library should have” list and I highly recommend its purchase for k-12 libraries.

@pwisemanbooks
@EricComstockATX

@PhxLibrary

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

We can all agree that it is rare for a reboot to rival the original. But in this world, where #MeToo and #WeNeedDiverseBooks live, I have found you a single novel that can be a gateway drug to fine literature, world literature, and women’s literature.

Unmarriageable is indeed “Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan.” But more importantly, it is the version of Pride and Prejudice modern students NEED to read. While a modern Westerner can intellectually understand the dilemma of Elizabeth Bennet in 19th century Regency Britain, the predicament of her and her sisters is somewhat removed emotionally for us. Women’s lives got better. Women became able to inherit and work and even marry for love. Having this tale play out in modern day Pakistan adds a level of reality and urgency to the story that is hard to experience from the original with our perfect historical hindsight.

Simply put, Unmarriageable has legs because so many of the original norms Austen wrote about are still at work in the world today. We read stories about honor killings, forced and arranged marriages, preference of boys to girls, shooting of girls going to school from all over the globe (not just South Asia). And in this novel, we see the seeds of how small micro-aggressions lay the ground work for macro-aggressions against the disenfranchised.

Because Unmarriageable is able to step just a bit beyond Austen’s exposure of the misogyny of the day, I hope and encourage educators to read it and consider adding it into your ELA curriculum. Unmarriageable not only presents the plight of women, especially “older” unmarried women, but also touches upon the struggles of gay men, interracial couples, unwed pregnant women, plus sized women, and class biases. And while the setting is Pakistan, many of these biases hit disturbingly close to the mark in Western society too. This book will also give educators an opportunity to teach about Partition, colonial occupation, India-Pakistan relations, Islam, the importance of education to women. And it may help some students realize how little they know about this important, populous and critical area of the world.

So…

Dear ELA Teachers Everywhere,

Please put down your copy of Pride and Prejudice. Just stick in that drawer next to you. Now open your computer and place an order for a class set of Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal (due out January 2019). Your Jane Austen discussions are about to get wild.

#Unmarriageable #NetGalley @Soniah Kamal

The Black Witch Chronicles : The Iron Flower

It was a good week for me as it comes to books.  One of my recent favourite series had a book birthday!  The Iron Flower (part of Laurie Forest’s Black Witch Chronicles) is continuing to sooth my soul during these crazy times.

One of the things I love about this series is the way in which it humanizes conflict on all sides.  You appreciate why one group of people are bitter.  You understand why another group can’t forgive.  But because you see folks on all sides at different times in the conflict, you know that these enemies are living and breathing the same emotions and worries and concerns.  They are outwardly distinct and inwardly homogenious.

And even if you didn’t want to be given any sense of perspective on this world (BTW, why are you reading Sci-fi Fantasy then?), it is a really good book.

Screenshot 2018-09-27 20.43.53.pngFast paced, amazing world building, empathetic characters, and a plot that can not be presumed.  For YA and Adult readers.

 

 

Click’d By Tamara Ireland Stone

You should know that I am a TIS fan in general. Her book Every Last Word almost single-handedly convinced me to start reading regular (non-SF) fiction. In this, her middle grade debut, Stone tackles a very, very timely concern for parents, students and teachers – social media. In Click’d, middle school student Allie Navarro creates a social media app during a girls coding camp. Her app, named logically Click’d, analyses data and lets people know more about the folks around them, to hopefully find new friends. Of course, we wouldn’t have a story without a conflict and the one in Click’d is surprisingly sophisticated and stems not from a bullying trope but from a developer’s ethics situation. There is some light romance (middle age kids/middle age relationship issues), strong smart characters, and in my not-at-all-biased-opinion a VERY realistic and incredibly helpful school full of teachers and staff. I only wish the awesome computer science teacher was a Librarian :). Go. Read. Enjoy!