Monday, April 13, 2015

Rad American Women A-Z/ Gone Crazy in Alabama

23129944Schatz, Kate and Stahl, Miriam Klein. Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! 
April 14th 2015 by City Lights Publishers

E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Covering 25+ American women who influenced a wide variety of public arenas, this book is a great choice for middle grade readers to introduce them to a diverse group of women they may not have heard of! From the somewhat well known (Billie Jean King, Bessie Coleman, Nellie Bly) to women of whom I had never heard, each entry gives a brief overview of the woman's life and how she influenced the world. Accompanied by brightly colored illustrations, this would be a fantastic book to use in the classroom for Women's History Month. Since the entries are short, teachers could read one a day. I wouldn't be at all surprised if teachers bought an extra copy to cut up and laminate for a bulletin board. In fact, I think City Lights should consider packaging the illustrations this way-- on one page with the text!

If my youngest daughter ever has children, this would be the sort of thing she would take to the hospital to read to a newborn, in much the same way I read her D'Aulaire's Greek Myths! In fact, I may have to go buy multiple copies for just such gift giving purposes!

What a great book for #WeNeedDiverseBooks. And I particularly appreciated how the title specified the descriptive "American", although "US" would have been even better. Maybe there will be a "World" edition next!

22836574Williams-Garcia. Gone Crazy in Alabama.(Gaither Sisters#3)
April 21st 2015 by Amistad
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

In this final book in the trilogy (One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven), Delphine, Vonetta and Fern are sent on a bus to visit their Big Ma, Ma Charles, and Uncle Darrell in Alabama. They are glad when they get there to find that the outhouse is a thing of the past, and that Mr. Lucas has added some rooms to the house. Their cousin, James Trotter, is there to help them adjust and to help them navigate the treacherous waters surrounding their grandmother's relationship with his grandmother, her half-sister. There are several issues within the family-- Vonetta refuses to trust Darrell, who stole money from the sisters to buy drugs after he came back from Vietnam. Fern has very strong feelings about the dietary differences between generations. Delphine is unwilling to starch and iron the heavy cotton sheets that Big Ma thinks are essential. These differences seem petty when a tornado hits town, and the local constabulary is less than helpful, since the sheriff is most likely also the KKK leader. The rest of the family, including the girls' mother from California and father and pregnant step-mother from New York City, comes to help out. The tornado's aftermath leads to more family understanding, as well as some unexpected alliances.

Strengths: The differences between life in the north and life in the south are explained nicely, and the girls struggle with the differences. Clearly, they have been influenced by their "hippie" mother, as well as their "libber" step mother. I especially like the inclusion of the Apollo 11 moon launch; I was allowed to stay up late to watch the moonwalk. Of course, I remember playing with my Silly Sponge set more than I remember watching the television; the two are inextricably joined in my mind!
Weaknesses: While I understand why Williams-Garcia included information about the grandmother's differences, I found it hard to get too interested in the old family drama when so much new stuff was going on.
What I really think: I really, really, really want to read Soul Brothers and Sister Lou now!  All three of these books are so rich with details of life during this time period. The cover is perfect! I think I had the pink dress!

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.


thechroniclesofachildrensbookwriter said...

Rad was rad. They were in Portland yesterday but I was working. If we had more copies in store, I tend to recommend this with the A is for Activist board book.

Tara Smith said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Williams-Garcia book, now I can't wait to finish the cycle and see how all the pieces fit together.

Kay said...

The Rad American Women seems like my kind of book. If it had been around nearly 17 years ago, I would have taken it to the hospital for my daughter's birth. I loved One Crazy Summer. I see I have some catching up to do with these three sisters. You can check out my reading this week here

Jenni Enzor said...

The Rad American Women sounds really intriguing. I'm glad that lesser-known females are portrayed, which is always nice. I also like the sound of One Crazy Summer, because I love books set in that time period.

Claire Caterer said...

Nice choices this week! My daughter would've loved the Rad Women book. And in fact, she probably would love it today, even at age 20. Might have to get it for her. :)

LInda Baie said...

I've enjoyed the Williams-Garcia books, but may not get to them soon. I will recommend them to my colleagues who teach younger students. Thanks for the Rad book too!

Cheriee Weichel said...

We've got a literature set of One Crazy Summer. Readers always want to read PS Be Eleven afterwards. I am sure that getting Gone Crazy in Alabama will make them even happier. I know I'm looking forward to it! I'm interested in Rad Women, but wonder if the term American really means USA or if it applies to all of the Americas?

Crystal Brunelle said...

Now I definitely can't wait to get to Rad. I am looking forward to Gone Crazy. I love those girls.

Myra Garces Bacsal said...

I've been meaning to read One Crazy Summer for awhile now - I didn't realize that now there's a THIRD book in this series?! Oh wow, indeed. Will definitely try to catch up soonest.

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