Monday, January 08, 2018

MMGM- Streetcar to Justice, Cinnamon Bun Besties

Wow. This is my 4,000 post. I've been blogging for neigh on 12 years, which my 6th graders have helpfully pointed out is longer than they have been alive.

Doesn't hurt my feelings, kids. I am wearing a sweater that is older than half of our teachers, and I knit it myself (in 1986)! Age and wisdom will always triumph over youth and beauty!

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

34848502Hearth, Amy Hill. Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York
January 2nd 2018 by Greenwillow Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

One hundred years before Rosa Parks' experiences with segregated transportation, Elizabeth Jennings fought her own battle with the segregated streetcars in New York City. While black men and women were free in many parts of the north at this time, there was still a lot of fear because of the practice of slavery in the south. Jennings was a "respectable woman" who attempted to ride a street car to her church with a friend. At the time, the practice was that blacks could ride the "white" streetcars at the discretion of the conductor. If other riders complained, the person would have to take a "Jim Crow" car, which might not have as direct a route. In Jennings' case, there were no riders who complained, but the conductor did not want to let her on. When Jennings voiced her complaints and demanded to be allowed to ride, the conductor drove her to a police station to have her arrested. Her case went to court, where she was defended by the future president Grover Cleveland, who was a new lawyer at the time. This very obscure bit of history was very thoroughly researched by the author, the many sources used are listed in a bibliography and have footnotes. Some of the newspaper articles are included alongside the text. The afterword on how Hearth came to investigate this case is interesting as well.
Strengths: This was just long enough to cover the pertinent information while still being interesting and compelling. Sometimes, middle grade nonfiction gets to be too involved to keep readers' interest. Hearth gives a good background of what life was like for different groups of people at the time. I really enjoyed this one, and think it is important for young readers to understand what life was like in the past. If I polled my students, I would guess that most of them are of the opinion that ALL black people in 1854 were slaves.
Weaknesses: The cover of this is not great, and I might want to take a look at a print copy to see how the pages are set up before purchasing.
What I really think: We need a lot more interesting, narrative nonfiction about topics like this!

34570464Deutsch, Stacia. Cinnamon Bun Besties
January 2nd 2018 by Sky Pony Press
ARC provided by publisher (So my students can read it!)

Suki is on the student council, and their yearly fund raiser to help with the cost of the year end dance is to sell Candy Cards. Anyone can buy a piece of candy and a card for $1, and the student council delivers them to the recipients. There's a lot of profit, and Suki's organization contributed to the  the previous years' sales record. This year, JJ, with whom she is on the outs, decides that HE wants to help, and he thinks they can sell even more. Suki is angry, but has little recourse to protest, and her best friend Marley tells her to just deal with it. In the meantime, Suki sees a very cute dog loose at the dog park. She goes to the local shelter to see if anyone has brought the dog in, and decides to volunteer there, since she is not allowed to have a dog at home. She and Marley keep trying to catch the dog, whom she calls "Cinnamon Bun" after its coloring and its predilection for a similarly named coffee drink, to no avail. The Candy Cards project is not going well, and we learn a little more about why Suki is at odds with JJ. When the animal shelter is having a hard time making ends meet, Suki asks the student council to donate some of the profits to help with the animals. The news picks this up, and local companies come to the aid of the shelter. The Candy Cards ends up going okay once JJ and Suki learn to work together, and Suki's ability to handle responsibility ends up being rewarded.
Strengths: The inclusion of a group of friends that broke up after a misunderstanding was perfect, and the student council fund raiser was great. In fact, I need to mention to our Builder's Club that they should totally do this for Valentine's Day. My high school sold carnations periodically, and that was always exciting and nerve wracking! The animal shelter subplot is good as well. These books are so popular that I asked the publicist to send a paper ARC instead of an e ARC, because I have about five girls who keep returning the books with their friend, who immediately wants to check the book out! That's a good use of the taxpayers' money!
Weaknesses: Could have used a bit more romance. My first CAR was called Suki, so I had trouble with the name! Also, I swear there was another book about an animal shelter that had cinnamon buns in it. And now I really want a cinnamon bun!
What I really think: I enjoy these books, and my students adore them. I hope there will be more on the way after the February release of Salted Caramel Dreams.


  1. Congratulations on 4,000 posts! Quite an accomplishment. Keep doing the good work and thanks for the heads-up on the two new MG books. They sound perfect for a few students I know.

  2. My daughter has enjoyed the Swirl books. She said they are predictable but fun.

  3. 4000 posts. Wow!
    I sure wish you had a picture of the sweater. Your comment reminded me of Dorothy Parker's line when someone let her enter first an event and said, "Age before beauty." Dorothy responded with, "Pearls before swine." I wonder if anyone will write a picture book biography of her?
    Both of these books look interesting. While the first one is set in America, I suspect the reality wasn't much different for black people here in Canada.

  4. Wow! Congratulations on your 4000th post! Thanks for reviewing another Swirl book. I definitely can see this series flying off the shelves.

  5. I can't imagine 4,000 posts --impressive! Congratulations!
    I am not familiar with Elizabeth Jennings' story and love learning about stories like hers. They need to be told.
    Cinnamon Bun Besties does sound like a perfect teen book. There are some really great themes like fundraising and working together. Glad to know they are popular in your school!

  6. Congrats on 12 years of blogging! Streetcar to Justice sounds like my type of book. I love biographies! Thanks.

  7. Congrats on your 4000th post! That's a very remarkable achievement. (PS-I once had a cat named Dorothy Parker)

  8. Congratulations on your 12th year of blogging and 4000th post! That is a cause for celebration - and amen to wit and wisdom over youth and beauty! Amen! :) We will be celebrating our 8th year of blogging this year.

  9. Congratulations! 4000 posts is an incredible accomplishment! Can't wait to read Streetcar to Justice

  10. Wow! Congrats on the 4000th post! That's a lot, even spread over 12 years. Congrats

  11. Wow, Karen, Congratulations on 4,000 posts. That is amazing. Just think of the number of books you have shared, too! Thanks for these two, new to me and they look good.

  12. I absolutely love your blog and am in awe of all your posts - reaching 4000 is such a wonderful achievement. I use your insightful/honest comments to make purchases for my school library here in Australia. May your happy reading times continue - I raise a glass to you! I only have 1100 which is a quarter of your output - you are my inspiration thanks.