Monday, March 13, 2017

MMGM- ALL the Girl Power!

It's MMGM at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and #IMWAYR at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday

28818218Mary Cronk Farrell is hosting a giveaway of her fantastic new book, Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman's Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights  HERE.

If you missed it earlier, here is my review

30312547Khan, Hena. Amina's Voice
March 14th 2017 by Salaam Reads
Copy provided by the publisher

Amina (AH min ah) lives near Milwaukee, and enjoys being with her friend Soojin. She loves to sing, but doesn't like to do so in public. Things are changing in her world-- Soojin has decided that once she and her family have become citizens, she will change her name to something that sounds less Korean, and is also friendly with Emily, the girls' former nemesis. At home, Amina's brother Mustafa is becoming an obnoxious teenager, and her father's older brother is coming from Pakistan to stay with the family for three months. Because her father respects his brother so much, he expects Amina and her brother to be on their best behavior, which includes no singing around the house as well as entering a Quran recitation contest, which has Amina very nervous. When a misunderstanding causes Soojin and Emily to stop speaking to her, Amina thinks things can't get any worse... until the mosque her family attends is gravely vandalized. What do the vandals mean, "Go home!"? Amina is home, and has to reconcile how she sees herself with how others see her, not only regarding her Muslim background but her singing and her relationship with family and friends.

Many middle school students are involved in religious organizations without thinking too much about the philosophy of the religion, and it is great when a book can speak to this experience and hit the right balance. Amina occasionally thinks about whether her actions are consistent with her religious beliefs, but is more concerned with the social aspects-- her Sunday school class, the Quran competition, and how her culture is understood by her friends at school. While this book will speak to students who share Amina's Muslim background, it also addresses universal concerns that middle grade students have in a realistic and touching way.

The details of Amina's home life are wonderfully drawn, and the descriptions of food, clothing, celebrations and family relationships again serve as vivid mirrors or clear windows to a way of life. Her individual quirks, such as being afraid of speaking in public and having trouble eating when she is upset, are very common among middle school students, and are depicted with a light touch.

When I was in middle school, I loved reading stories about ordinary girls struggling through their own middle school experiences so that I could compare the things they went through with my own life. Paula Danziger, Ellen Conford and Betty Miles were authors I turned to for this sort of book; today, Lauren Myracle, Meg Cabot, and Heather Vogel Frederick offer this same reassuring type of story. Amina's Voice is a lighthearted but insightful look at Amina's very ordinary life that also manages to delve into much more serious and timely issues of culture, acceptance, and the concept of home.

31213390Kops, Deboarh. Alice Paul and the Fight for Women's Rights
February 28th 2017 by Calkins Creek
ARC provided by the publisher at ALA

In this very timely book, the story of Alice Paul's life is interwoven with the women's movement in the same way that Paul's life was interwoven with her work. Giving just the right amount of information about Paul's early life, Kops paints a colorful picture of a driven and pioneering woman who saw an injustice and dedicated herself to righting it. The most amazing thing to me was that Paul was just slightly older than my grandmother, but managed to graduate from college and eventually earned a Masters degree as well as a PhD in sociology AND a law degree. She spent time in England working with Emmeline Pankhurst, and spent a lot of time in jail for her outspoken and often violent protests. Returning to the US, she threw herself tirelessly into working for women's suffrage in the US. Paul devoted her entire life to women's issues, starting work on the Equal Rights Amendment in 1925! She passed away on July 9, 1977-- my 12th birthday.

I learned a tremendous amount about women's history from this book. I had no idea that the ERA had been in the works for so long, or the reasons behind some women's opposition to the amendmTitle VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. While this was helpful in putting into legislation some protection for women, it also did not help the cause of the ERA.

While this book might be a bit long for the average middle school reader to pick up for pleasure reading, it is an essential purchase for History Day projects as well as for readers who are dedicated to learning more about women's rights. It is both entertaining and informative, and a great companion to Blumenthal's Let Me Play, Macy's Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) and other works that help budding feminists understand that while we have come a long way (baby), there is still a long way to go.


  1. Great picks, as always. I'm falling behind! Thanks.

  2. Thanks so much for mentioning FANNIE NEVER FLINCHED! So honored the book is listed in such great company. I've been salivating over ALICE PAUL, and now I can't wait to read AMINA!

  3. Wow! Amnina's Voice sounds amazing. I will need to add that to my TBR pile. I also enjoyed reading books about girls going through the struggles of middle school while I was going through that awkward phase. Have you read Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper? Although it is part fantasy the struggles and insecurities that the main character has are definitely real to any middle schooler!

  4. "Amina's Voice" sounds wonderful - I love stories that are both universal in their themes and also specific at the same time. Amina's story will have appeal and importance to kids of all backgrounds with its universal themes of friendship, fitting in and being yourself, but it's also a Muslim story that doesn't shy away from its identity. A perfect blend!

  5. Thanks so much for these books Karen. I'll be looking for them. It drives me crazy that we don't just get to move forward for equality, but have to continue to work to just keep what we've won.

  6. I just started reading Amina's voice last night. I'm at the part where Amina just confessed to Soojin and Emily about what she did. In the first few pages I thought there wasn't going to me much, but Amina is grappling with so much related to culture, friendships, family relationships that it is quite interesting.

  7. My copy of Amina's Voice arrives tomorrow. Excellent review, but I didn't read it closely because I want to be surprised. We need more stories that proudly share their cultural identity. Am not familiar with Alice Paul, but enjoy strong women who worked to improve women's rights and made a difference. Three great recommendations!

  8. I've been reading so much book love about Amina's voice - it does sound like a powerful read.