November 29, a few good books

Hi everyone,

My daughters, with Gizmo the kitten, and 26 Story Treehouse

I hope you had a terrific weekend full of good food and good family time. We baked, biked, walked, played with our new kitten, cleaned the house, and ate everything! The pumpkin pie was so good I made another one this morning! I’m not quite ready to go back to work this morning, but here we go anyway.

The Woman in Red by Diana Giovinazzo

I knew nothing about the struggle for independence in Brazil and Uruguay in the 19th century. I knew nothing about the struggle to unify Italy in the same time period. Through this work of historical fiction and the story of Anita Garibaldi I learned a lot. Anna “Anita”, meets Jose Garibaldi, and it is love at first sight. Anita follows the revolutionary Jose from Brazil, to Uruguay, into Argentina, and up to Italy, all the while fighting and supporting her husband, and having his children. Anita is told many times that her place is at home, but Anita and Jose know that they are stronger together. She threatens soldiers that are too cowardly to fight. She is chased by political leaders that recognize she is the way to get her husband to do their bidding. She plays the orator in Italian high society. She (almost) conquers the judgement of her mother-in-law. The prose is lovely, the story is complex, and it was a joy to read.

The 26-Story Treehouse (The Treehouse Books)

26 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

I have not read this one. My 8 year old picked this up in a grumpy huff the other day when she was at the library with me. So grumpy in fact, that the next day several of my colleagues mentioned the dirty looks and blank stares she was giving them. However, she came home and giggled the whole way through the book. She got her big sister to read it. We picked up from the library the 36 Story Treehouse on Saturday, and they both sat in the same chair reading the book to each other and laughing! I have no idea what the book is about, but my girls loved it! I’ve placed the next 3 or 4 books on hold for them from the library and they can hardly wait until the books come in! The series goes from 13 stories up to at least 105 stories, with 13 stories being added with each new book in the series. These are quick reads, so perfect for picking up from the library!

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Sunday, November 22, 2020: Three picture books and a teen novel

It’s been a long time since I’ve written book reviews and I am finding that I am out of practice. What do I say that will make you interested in reading these books? How do I best convey the power in the stories? How do I best describe the images so that you get a sense of the beauty in the art and words? These are all things that I have to work on as I move through this journey. Thank you for reading and showing me patience as my writing and descriptions get better.

Were I Not A Girl: The Inspiring and True Story of Dr. James Barry:  Robinson, Lisa, Berke, Lauren Simkin: 9781984849052: Books

Were I Not a Girl: The Inspiring and True Story of Dr. James Barry by Lisa Robinson and Lauren Simkin Berke

Dr. James Barry was not born James Barry, he was born Margaret Ann Buckley around 1789. At that time, girls were not allowed to be more than wives, homemakers, and mothers. Margaret was fascinated by the medical books that she read at a friend’s home, and she also wanted to join the military – neither of which were possible to girls. So Margaret chopped off her hair, put on pants, and became James. He went to medical school. He joined the military. He traveled to South America, the West Indies, and other countries. He was a respected medical professional where he lived. And he lived a long life.

What I enjoyed about this book: This picture book is non-fiction, so it briefly shows the struggles women faced in moving beyond traditional female rolls. It discusses Dr. James Barry’s exploits in the military and as a physician. The illustrations are lovely, pastel drawings. My girls found the book interesting to see the lengths women had to go to follow their dreams.

William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad, by Don Tate (Tate is a co-contributor of the Brown Bookshelf)

This is the story of William Still, chronicler of slave stories as they escaped through the Underground Railroad. The book discusses his family before William was born and after, chronicling his childhood and the hardships of his early adulthood. In his mid-twenties, William began working for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society as an office clerk where his hard work was noticed by the abolitionist and he moved up within the organization. William eventually opened his home as “station” on the Underground Railroad, helping people rest and heal before the next leg of their journey to freedom. After a chance meeting with a family member who had recently escaped enslavement, William began collecting the stories of others that had recently passed through his home. As time past, William left the Anti-Slavery Society and opened a business in coal, just in time for the Civil War and became one of the richest black men of the day. He used his power and influence to help other black people in his community and in 1872 he published his collected stories in a book called The Underground Rail Road. This book is a homage to the power of stories and to the work of those that supported African Americans as they escaped the horrors of slavery.

I Am One: A Book of Action by Susan Verde, Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Let me just start with I love this series. Each of these books are simple, beautiful, and powerful in their brief 32 pages. I Am One is no different. The premise is simple, one small action, one kind word, can create a chain reaction of one-small-things that turn into something larger and more beautiful when we do those things with and for others.


Pride by Ibi Zoboi

I listened to this one on audiobook and it is read by Elizabeth Acevedo. If you have not heard other books that she narrates, then you are missing out! I love the cadence of her voice, the way everything becomes poetry as she speaks, I love her rich New York/Dominican accent. She’s just fantastic!

Pride is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, narrated for us by Zuri Benetiz, the second oldest of 5 sisters growing up in a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. She loves her neighborhood; she’s lived there all her life and knows everyone on the block. Until the rich Darcy boys move in across the street signaling that gentrification is getting closer and that everything is about to change. Zuri’s first instinct is to hate those boys, but they are too fine to ignore. Over the course of the story, Zuri’s feelings for Darius Darcy evolve, she grapples with finding her place outside of her “hood” at Howard University in Washington, DC, watching her neighborhood and family change, and finding out that home is where her family and her heart are. This is a fun retelling and Elizabeth Acevedo’s narration makes it sparkle. Intended for a teen audience, there’s a fair bit of swearing, but minimum physical intimacy.

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Plans for this blog

Hi everyone,

I daydream of opening a children’s bookstore one day where we bring in authors, host writers’ retreats, bring in cool educational toy demonstrations, and just talk awesome kids books, with titles for adults thrown into the mix.

In the meantime, I will use this site as a place to connect my community to great books. Not everything on here will be read by me. I’m already talking to my daughters about helping to provide content for this. I’m imagining different sections for different kinds of books – picturebooks, graphic novels, middle-grade, young adult, audiobooks, adult books in all it’s various forms. I want to promote diversity, “own voices”, inclusion in all it’s forms, and most importantly, the love of a great story! Most of what I review will be things I bring home from the library, so you know you can get it there too. The unifying theme will be that either I have loved it or someone I love has loved it. So that you know that the recommendations are coming from a trusted source.

Why Ladybug Books you might ask? It’s what I call my daughters when I’m speaking to them as a collective as in, “time for bed ladybugs!”. It’s a name that means something to the girls I love, and to the people around us that love us all.

This blog will be about book love, in all it’s forms and for all it’s books. I hope you enjoy checking with us occasionally to follow along.

Love and ladybugs ~ Monena

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