Beastgirl and Other Origin Myths by Elizabeth Acevedo
Rating: 3 stars
Representation: Latina (Dominican-American)
"Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths is a collection of folkloric poems centered on the historical, mythological, gendered, and geographic experiences of a first-generation American woman. From the border in the Dominican Republic to the bustling streets of New York City, Acevedo considers how some bodies must walk through the world as beastly beings. How these forgotten myths are both blessing and a birthright." - Author's Website
I have loved every book I've read by Elizabeth Acevedo and was so excited to get my hands on this book. Surprisingly, it wasn't a hit for me. While the first few poems were definitely what I was looking for when it came to origin myths, the ones that followed were increasingly hard for me to visualize. Acevedo had so many descriptive words and phrases but many of them either didn't make sense to me or went over my head. Part of the reason I stopped reading poetry when I was younger was because I felt as if it had become too intellectual or elite for me. It often seemed like everyone appreciated it or understood it but me. That makes the experience less enjoyable. So while I recognize that this is probably great poetry, I don't think it was for me.
Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genre: Children's Books (love story)
"Set in an incarceration camp where the United States cruelly detained Japanese Americans during WWII and based on true events, this moving love story finds hope in heartbreak.
To fall in love is already a gift. But to fall in love in a place like Minidoka, a place built to make people feel like they weren’t human—that was miraculous.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tama is sent to live in a War Relocation Center in the desert. All Japanese Americans from the West Coast—elderly people, children, babies—now live in prison camps like Minidoka. To be who she is has become a crime, it seems, and Tama doesn’t know when or if she will ever leave. Trying not to think of the life she once had, she works in the camp’s tiny library, taking solace in pages bursting with color and light, love and fairness. And she isn’t the only one. George waits each morning by the door, his arms piled with books checked out the day before. As their friendship grows, Tama wonders: Can anyone possibly read so much? Is she the reason George comes to the library every day? Beautifully illustrated and complete with an afterword, back matter, and a photo of the real Tama and George—the author’s grandparents—Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s elegant love story for readers of all ages sheds light on a shameful chapter of American history." - Penguin Random House
Unique illustration and important story! I love that this book is based on the true connection between the author's grandparents. Children may think this is cute and it's wonderful to see a couple of young people bond over books. The author's note grabbed my interest the most. She placed the story within the context of American racism, hate, and marginalization. It isn't just about this beautiful connection, it's about how it came about and not romanticizing why Tokuda-Hall's grandparents were in a prison camp to begin with. If a child's guardian or teacher includes the author's note in their reading of the book, I think it has the potential to really make them think about how hate can be so terrible and strong.