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Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler; ill. by R. Gregory Christie

Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler; ill. by R. Gregory Christie

One of my all-time favorite stories for babies and toddlers, Jazz Baby is a simple picture book about a music-loving family dancing and singing with their little jazzy baby. It features a diverse cast of young and old characters and is exceptionally fun to read aloud with its rhyme scheme and onomatopoeia ("So they TOOT-TOOT-TOOT and they SNAP-SNAP-SNAP and the bouncin' baby be-bops with a CLAP-CLAP-CLAP!"). The illustrations are as lively as the text, filled with all the ecstatic dancing and peppered with musical notation. This is so fun and infectious, I often find myself reciting this book as I'm going about my daily business; I've even recorded it for far-away friends to enjoy with their children. Love it!

Number of Pages: 
40

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano

Sonia Manzano faced many obstacles during the turbulent 1950s and 60s--both at home and at school--before she became the beloved character Maria on Sesame Street. Growing up in the South Bronx in a working class family, Manzano had to fight for what she wanted as she learned how to deal with her alcoholic, abusive father and a world that insisted on dividing life into black and white. It is only when she finds refuge in theater that she finally understands she can aspire to a life beyond the limited career options available to women at the time and maybe change the world in her own way while she's at it.

Listening to Becoming Maria (available through the library on Hoopla) is a terrific experience as it is read by Manzano herself. If you grew up with Sesame Street as I did, just the sound of her voice is like hearing a lifelong friend. Her memoir is poignant, featuring lots of humor and tenderness towards difficult topics, and while Sesame Street is barely mentioned, learning of her experiences lends so much insight to her future role as Maria. Becoming Maria is a fabulous addition to the nonfiction pertaining to the groundbreaking work of Sesame Street (I also highly recommend Street Gang and Sesame Street Unpaved).

Number of Pages: 
262

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson

At the start of World War Two, Stalin made (yet another) political blunder in thinking that he could get on Hitler's good side, but instead his support wound up opening the floodgates to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Among the atrocities visited upon the country was the siege of Leningrad, one of the most horrific and destructive sieges in history. Amid this turmoil, composer Dmitri Shostakovich was called upon to share his seventh symphony to rally support against Nazi totalitarianism, but his life and work as an artist within the Soviet Union's Communist regime was not always so vaunted...

Symphony for the City of the Dead examines the intersection between artistic expression, politics, and history during the extraordinarily tulmutuous era of Russia's Communist Revolution to its participation in World War Two. I found it fascinating to learn in more depth how the Revolution impacted certain aspects of cultural life in Russia as well as to read more about the Russian point-of-view during WW2, both from the figures holding office to life on the streets in Leningrad (modern-day St. Petersburg). I listened to it on audio, which enhanced the experience as the production includes excerpts of Shostakovich's music (I got a copy through the fabulous and free-to-all summer audiobook program Sync). While this is billed as Young Adult non-fiction, it is an engaging read for teens and adults alike.

Number of Pages: 
456

Me, My Hair, and I (edited by Elizabeth Benedict)

Me, My Hair, and I  (edited by Elizabeth Benedict)

It may seem excessive to devote an entire book of essays to the subject of hair, but each of these writers proves that there's plenty of ground to cover that goes way beyond appearance.  As Marita Golden says, "hair is not benign, it is important and potent."  Each of these essays illustrate that hair, especially for women, is not just something to be groomed and maintained, it's a signifier of one's history, personality, status, age, taste, health, the list goes on . . .  Although these themes ran through each piece, every story was unique.  Suleika Jaouad, who went through leukemia and chemotherapy at age 22, reveals how losing her hair made her feel like an outcast, and getting a "hair tatoo" made her feel empowered again.  Anne Kreamer decides to "go gray," and experiences a profound shift in her concept of time.  Anne Lamott finally finds her look with dreadlocks, after years of hairstyles that never felt right.  

Several other essays focus on parent/child relationships--one mother's confusion over how to "do" her biracial daughter's hair, a child's struggle with an abusive, Old World father who insists she cannot get a haircut, and other scenarios in which grooming hair is a loving ritual, or a painful argument each time.  Of course politics, social movements, and religion also play a role.  One woman leaves behind her Hasidic Jewish culture in which married women must shave their heads and wear a wig.  And an African American woman adopts a "natural," tired of straightening her hair in a forced attempt to be something she is not.

One essay also pays a much-warranted visit to body hair.  Other writers explore hair as a means of attracting a mate (also satisfying or displeasing a mate), their own hair perceived as a success or failure in their culture, or hair in relation to a sibling--a means of shared experience/closeness, or a source of envy.  This mutable extension of our bodies becomes an expression of independence, beauty, and nonconformity.  And yes, of course, numerous haircut experiences, frustrations, and triumphs are recounted that explore all manner of colors, textures, lengths, and styles.  This made for an enjoyable, diverse read on a subject for which surely everyone has a story to tell.        

Number of Pages: 
316

The Death Of Superman by Dan Jurgens

The Death Of Superman by Dan Jurgens

A strange creature named Doomsday has exscaped his prison and is headed to Metropolis.
Not even the entire Justice League can stop him. Soon, only Superman is able to fight the creature who seems to be nothing more than pure rage.

Can the Man Of Steel stop him or will even Superman fall victim to this terrifying menace?

Number of Pages: 
160

Avengers VS X-Men: Consequences

Avengers VS X-Men: Consequences

A week after Namor's attack on Wakanda Storm and some of the remaining X-Men return there in an attempt to help with the reconstruction effort... Things are bad all over.. Even the mystical city of K'un L'un needs reconstruction.

Meanwhile, Scott Summers in priso and trying to get Wolverine to kill him as a martyr. With the rest of the Phoenix Force in hiding Scott soon decides what he really needs to do is have Magneto break him out of prison...

Number of Pages: 
120

Satan is Real: the Ballad of the Louvin Brothers, by Charlie Louvin

Satan is Real: the Ballad of the Louvin Brothers, by Charlie Louvin

Satan is Real is a biography by Charlie Louvin about his music career with his brother Ira, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 1965.  Charlie carried on making solo music and touring until his death in 2011.  Charlie and Ira began singing and performing gospel songs in their youth in Alabama, but went on to secular music and had many Billboard hits and a long stint on the Grand Ole Opry.  They were well-known for their sibling harmony, arguably the best duo in country music, and extremely influential to artists in the decades following their heyday.  They grew up picking cotton for their hard-core father, listening to their mother sing mountain ballads, and dreaming of escaping to a life like Roy Acuff's, rolling around the country in an air-conditioned car.  In a series of short chapters, this book reveals the sordid details of Ira's many marriages, life on the road for the traveling musicians, and the hits and misses of their days in Nashville.  Charlie was forced to accept the position of being the responsible one, having to put up with his brother's volatile personality and bailing him out of many scrapes, but also knowing the pair wouldn't have been the same without Ira's songwriting, mandolin playing, and charisma. In the end it is a true tale of brotherly love, of highs and lows, losses, and the ties of blood--sounds like the perfect country tune.

Number of Pages: 
297

Avengers VS X-Men by Jeph Loeb; Jason Aaron; Brian Michael Bendis; Ed Brubaker; Jonathan Hickman; Matt Fraction; Kathryn Immonen; Steve McNiven; Kieron Gillen; Christopher Yost; Rick Remender; Ed McGuinness; Dan Slott; Mark Waid; Yves Biger

Avengers VS X-Men by  Jeph Loeb;  Jason Aaron;  Brian Michael Bendis;  Ed Brubaker;  Jonathan Hickman;  Matt Fraction;  Kathryn Immonen;  Steve McNiven;  Kieron Gillen;  Christopher Yost;  Rick Remender;  Ed McGuinness;  Dan Slott;  Mark Waid;  Yves Biger

The Phoenix Force is returning to Earth.  The Avengers are determined to stop it... But, the X-Men believe that its arrival will restart the mutant population, which has been on the verge of extinction.

When five X-Men recieve the power of the Force Marvel's greatest heroes battle to determine what will happen to the Force and ultimately the future of the planet.

Just how far is each side willing to go?

Number of Pages: 
384

Battle Of The Atom by Brian M. Bendis, Brian Wood, and Jason Aaron

Battle Of The Atom by Brian M. Bendis, Brian Wood, and Jason Aaron

After a disastrous incident with the Pheonix Force Hank McCoy brought the X-Men of the past forward to the present in order to try to remind the splintering X-Men about Charles Xaiver's dream of peace between mutants and humans.

Unfortunately, their presence is presenting a danger to all of the time-space continuum. They have to go back to their own time.  But, past Scott Summers and Jean Grey learn about what will happen to them should they return... and they refuse to return.

Then, the X-Men of the future arrive inisting that the past X-Men must be returned to the past.  Jean Grey uses her psychic powers to run away and starts a huge battle between past, present, and future X-Men!

Number of Pages: 
248

Photobooth: A Biography by Meags Fitzgerald

Photobooth: A Biography by Meags Fitzgerald

Meags Fitzgerald became obsessed with photobooths in high school, and her passion only grew. After tons of research, travel, and soul-searching, she has produced this fascinating graphic novel that blends history, biography, memoir, travelogue, mechanics, art, and popular culture. Her focus is primarily on chemical photobooths, a vanishing breed becoming rarer by the year and perhaps extinct as manufacturers cease producing its components. She highlights many of the inventors of the photobooth's development as well as many people around the world currently fighting to track, refurbish, and create art with these unique machines. You are guaranteed to discover new information and get caught up in Fitzgerald's commitment.

I requested this through Inter-Library Loan. Please let us know if you need help requesting!

Number of Pages: 
277