A Lullaby of Summer Things, By Ziarnik

A Lullaby of Summer ThingsA Lullaby of Summer Things by Natalie Reif Ziarnik
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A Lullaby of Summer Things is a poetic rhapsody of a young family on a beach holiday. The four children, Mom, Dad, and their pup are returning home for dinner, baths, and bed. Alternating pages show the family’s evening activities and their reminiscences about the days’ fun at the shore. The family is happy, loving, and appreciative. Everyone in the family participates in putting away wet towels, sand toys, and other beach gear.

Unfortunately, the text doesn’t work. The rhymes are lazy, failing to advance the story. Word choices are generic, even boring: “Spots run and hide. A closet opens wide.” “A seashell roars. A puppy snores.” There’s nothing terrible or offensive about this book. It’s just generic.

This could be part of a beach story time, but there are many other, more interesting titles.

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Saturday is Swimming Day, by Yum

Saturday Is Swimming DaySaturday Is Swimming Day by Hyewon Yum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saturday is Swimming Day is a story told by a little girl who is feeling uncertain about taking swimming lessons. On her calendar, the Saturdays are circled in red, marked off for time in the pool. Yum’s soft watercolor and colored pencil illustrations are a perfect match for the tentative mood of the narrative. At the beginning, as the little girl pretends to be sick to get out of going to swimming lessons, even her stuffed bear and the strawberry decorations on her bathing suit seem to be frowning. When the very small girl stands alone under the tall locker room shower against the blank white page, the reader can completely feel her discomfort and sadness. The story follows several weeks in which she watches the other children have fun and she receives calm support from the instructor until she is ready to participate. It’s a great depiction of adults giving a child time to get used to something and succeed on her own terms.

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Run Wild, by Covell

Run WildRun Wild by David Covell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This gorgeous book crackles with energy and begs to be read aloud. Every page is full of sweeping motion and the call to play. David Covell has written a chant designed to pull children from the gray, dim world of indoor play to the colorful, squishy, wet, muddy, and prickly world of outdoor roaming. In this book, two friends explore woods, puddles, the ocean, and a thunderstorm, complete with twigs to (ouch) poke your bare feet and stumps to trip you up – but they help each other up and keep on playing. A wonderful appreciation of the long, free days of summer.

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Summer Supper, by Pfeffer

Summer SupperSummer Supper by Rubin Pfeffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this book, Pfeffer manages to tell a rich and detailed story of a family planting a garden, harvesting, and hosting a neighborhood harvest dinner, all with one and two word sentences (and all the words beginning with s)! New readers will be able to guess at and sound out many words, as they are accompanied by bright and bold pictures that go beautifully with the text. Children will get a sense of the work that goes into planting and caring for a garden, preparing food, sharing a meal, and cleaning up afterwards. There’s even a community dance thrown in! A nice selection for gardening story times, playgroups helping with community gardens, or farmers’ markets kids’ activity booths. Kids will want to chat about all the things they see in the pictures that aren’t mentioned in the words.

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The Sandcastle that Lola Built, by Maynor

The Sandcastle That Lola BuiltThe Sandcastle That Lola Built by Megan Maynor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lola is at the beach building her glorious sand castle, hoping to attract mermaids. It’s high summer, and the beach is crowded. Kids bonk into her, knock over bits of her sandcastle, bulldoze the edges. Each time, instead of losing her cool, Lola invites them to help her rebuild, drawing on their individual skills and interests: Bulldozer Dude helps with the moat; a girl who knocks things over while collecting shells helps pave the pathway to the castle, etc. And when a big wave comes through . . . they all come together to start again. A great look at making friends, assuming best intentions, and recovering from disappointment.

I am not a fan of “The House that Jack Built.” Stories with repetitive text are, well, repetitious. My young reader got tired reading this out loud with me. The forced format definitely detracted from the great message of this tale.

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Shrill, by Lindy West

Shrill: Notes from a Loud WomanShrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

West is VERY funny. Worth it for the Doctor Who reference in the first chapter alone.

Upon finishing. Phew. West is also smart. And strong. She has had to put up with crap that no one should have to put up with. (And that’s part of her point.)

Random quotes that struck me ans meaningful:

[p. 64-65]
“The truth is that I don’t give a damn why anyone has an abortion. I believe unconditionally in the right of people with uteruses to decide what grows inside of their body and feeds on their blood and endangers their future. There are no “good” abortions and “bad” abortions, there are only pregnant people who want them and pregnant people who don’t, pregnant people who have access and support and pregnant people who face institutional roadblocks and lies.”

[p. 179]
“One flawed but instructive plank in the debate over rape jokes is the concept of “punching up” versus “punching down.” The idea is that people in positions of power should avoid making jokes at the expense of the powerless.”

[p. 185-186]
“It is also okay to draw hard-and-fast distinctions between different ideas – to say that some ideas are good and some ideas are bad. There’s a difference between church groups boycotting JCPenney because JCPenney put a gay couple in their catalog and gay people boycotting Chick-fil-a because Chick-fil-a donated millions of dollars to groups working to strip gay people of rights and protections. Gay people wearing shawl-collar half-zip ecru sweaters does not oppress Christians. Christians turning their gay children out on to the streets, keeping gay spouses from sitting at each other’s deathbeds, and casting gay people as diseased predators so that it’s easier to justify beating and murdering them does oppress gay people.”

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Laughing at My Nightmare, by Burcaw

Laughing at My NightmareLaughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Insightful and very funny. Shane Burcaw writes and sounds like your typical, irreverent, twenty-something young man, who just happens to have a debilitating degenerative disease. He bravely shares some very personal details (Poop! Sex!) that you know you were wondering about. I picked up this book because we are hosting Shane for a virtual author visit in July. Well worth reading. I hope he will always be able to keep his joi de vivre.

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