Tuesday, January 27, 2015

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Wednesday

It's great that we are starting to see more diversity in children's publishing. Now, we need to get to the point where the books with diversity are not all DEPRESSING AS ALL GET OUT!

Books about kids with cancer. We need more, sure. And we need them not to be about noble kids fighting a good fight, but about regular kids. Add a dog, some adventure, and this sounds really good in theory.

This is getting a ton of love. Five star reviews all over Goodreads. But really-- you want to hand this book to a middle school student? Your students are too happy? You want to depress the holy hell out of them and show them that in the face of adversity, the best path is to make horrible choices that endanger your dog and worry your best friend and parents?

This is the book you need, then. Personally, I'd rather dig out a copy of May I Cross Your Golden River or Sunshine and save myself some money.

22571259Gemeinhart, Dan. The Honest Truth.
January 27th 2015 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Mark is dying of cancer. He's been fighting it since he was a child, but it's back now, and he's tired of it. His grandfather had mentioned climbing Mt. Rainier, but his grandfather has passed away. Tired of treatments and always being the sick kid, Mark takes his dog Beau, boards a bus, and makes his way to the mountain. And a jolly time he has of it, getting rolled by street thugs who steal his money, spending quality time in dive diners, and riding on buses. When he gets fairly close to the park, the weather gets awful, and he is picked up by a man whose son died in Iraq. This man thinks it is a good idea to help Mark further endanger himself as well as his dog, so takes him to where he can begin to climb even after he has seen Mark's terrified parents on the news. Sure enough, poor Beau falls into a crevasse and is almost stuck there. Mark manages to get him out, but then collapses in the cold where he gets his wish and tries to die. Rescue workers follow the dog and find him. Add to the depression Marks lifelong friend, Jessie, who is worried about him as well.
Strengths: The dog is loyal and true, even when stuffed into a bag and carried on the bus. At least Beau gets bacon. There is some outdoor adventure.
Weaknesses: It's bad enough worrying his parents. Kids do that. But to worry his friend like that, and to expose the dog to the elements-- unspeakable. The author says in the notes that this is in honor of a friend who died of cancer and it's a book about living rather than dying. While I appreciate that this isn't the "kid facing cancer with noble courage" type of book, I don't know that choosing to end your life somewhat prematurely with a series of bad choices that worry and endanger others is a good idea, either. 

Running Out of NightLovejoy, Sharon. Running Out of Night
November 11th 2014 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Slavery not depressing enough for you? How about we throw in a girl whose mother died when she was born, whose father has always been abusive and unloving to the point of working her like a slave and starving her? Have her meet a runaway slave, Zenobia, and decide that helping her escape sounds better than staying where she is. Admittedly, there are some bright sides-- the girls raid the larder at Lark's house (she doesn't even have a name-- Zenobia gives her one), get taken in by some Quakers who help Zenobia and another slave get to Canada, and take Lark in. Because her father dies, and she's sad. Add to this the fact that the author has a love of dialect and uses it heavily in the whole book, and this might explain why I have picked this book up twice in six months and couldn't bring myself to review it.

Having filters hasn't helped me in nine years of blogging. Being politic and balancing the good and less good in books hasn't gotten me any more review copies, reviewing gigs, or readers. I'm absolutely fed up with sad books. 

The only reason I have decided to continue to be a middle school librarian this week is Dave Barry's new book, The Worst Class Trip Ever. Brilliant. BRILLIANT. Can't wait until 5 May. Oh, wait. I may be in Washington, D.C. then. At least I will know how to thwart terrorists!



  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading the sad books so I don't have to, and for making me laugh with your reviews. My students are tired of sad books, too. I'll be ordering multiple copies of the Dave Barry!

  2. Hang in there, Ms. Yingling! I hope to finish Naylor's Boys vs Girls series and that will cheer you up! Go out and find them anywhere you can--you'll get through them quickly and they will be a breath of cheerfully fresh air.

  3. Ha, ha. Dave Barry seems to be much more what you're looking for. The last Dave Barry book I read was Peter and the Starcatchers. He is so witty.