Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Ways to Make Sunshine

Watson,Renée. Ways to Make Sunshine
April 28th 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Ryan Hart lives with her parents and brother Ray in Portland, Oregon. Her parents are struggling financially, and when their landlord sells their house, they have to move. Luckily, Ryan gets her own room, and can now walk to school. She misses being dropped off by her dad, who now works a different shift and earns less money. Still, she tries to find the bright side to things and is glad to be closer to her friends. Throughout the year, she is involved in a variety of activities; reading a poem at church at Easter, going to birthday parties for friends, arguing with her brother, and helping her mom sell needlework at the weekly farmer's market. She does her fair share of cooking, and even had a plan to cook for the school talent show, if only they would allow her to use a deep fryer. At the end of the school year, her parents have a big surprise for her. Ryan isn't thrilled with their news, but makes the best of it.
Strengths: Ryan is a fun character who knows what she wants. There is a slight mystery about a box of possessions found in the family's new house that was fun. Her friends and family are supportive, and the glimpses of school amusing. There is also some interesting information about Black hair that will resonate with readers who have had their hair hot combed and be informative for those who have not!
Weaknesses: I've been in the mood for more plot lately, and this is more of a book like The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary or The Family Fletcher that follow characters through a school year.
What I really think: This had sort of an updated Ramona or B is for Betsy feel and would be a great choice for an elementary school. The combination of illustrations and elementary school concerns make this too young for my middle school students.

Ali, S.K. and Saeed, Aisha. Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices.
May 5th 2020 by Amulet Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Short stories collections are the hardest thing for me to review, and I always finish each story and want an entire book to follow through with the character! I won't even try to do justice to this marvelous collection, but will just say that I am definitely purchasing a copy, and I am sure it will be very popular with my students. I do find it vaguely interesting that there are so many Pakistani Muslim writers; most of my Muslim students have Somalian heritage, although looking at demographic maps, there is a small Pakistani population in central Ohio.

"Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!

Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift-giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.

The full list of Once Upon an Eid contributors include: G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen, Ms. Marvel), Hena Khan (Amina's Voice, Under My Hijab), N. H. Senzai (Shooting Kabul, Escape from Aleppo), Hanna Alkaf (The Weight of Our Sky), Rukhsana Khan (Big Red Lollipop), Randa Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?), Ashley Franklin (Not Quite Snow White), Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Mommy's Khimar), Candice Montgomery (Home and Away, By Any Means Necessary), Huda Al-Marashi (First Comes Marriage), Ayesha Mattu, Asmaa Hussein, and Sara Alfageeh."

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