From Page to Screen: New TV & Movie Adaptations

April 3rd, 2022 by

If you’re like me, then as soon as you finish an outstanding book, you want to do three things:

  1. Magically relive the experience of reading it again for the first time
  2. Tell everyone about it
  3. Watch a TV or movie adaptation that perfectly captures everything about it

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a way to achieve #1.

Fortunately, I have Kidsmomo in order to accomplish #2.

As for #3, well, it’s probably an impossible wish for an adaptation to perfectly capture everything about a book — so I’m happy to give any adaptation a try, just so long as it extends my experience with the characters and world of a favorite story. And if it’s not great? Luckily, I can always go back and reread the original book!

In that spirit, I’m excited to spread the word about three new TV/film adaptations of beloved books:

Theodosia series on HBO Max, based on the book series by R.L. LaFevers

When I first heard about this new streaming show, I was positively shocked — not because the books would make for a bad adaptation, but because it took soooooooooo long for this to happen! Did you know that the first Theodosia book came out in 2007? And I was kind of a latecomer because I didn’t even read it until 2010 (check out my Kidsmomo review from back then). But I guess that kind of timing doesn’t really matter when you’re talking about a story that takes place in the early 1900s and deals with ancient Egyptian curses! Watch the magic come to life in the trailer below!

Better Nate Than Ever movie on Disney+, based on the novel by Tim Federle

Here are a few things I love: Broadway musicals, New York City, funny books. Put them all together, and you’ve got Better Nate Than Ever! In both the book and the movie, Nate is a complete Broadway fanatic who is often bullied because no one else in his Pennsylvania hometown really understands him. The only person who truly gets him is his best friend, Libby, who convinces him to sneak away to NYC to audition for a new Broadway show. As you can imagine, Nate is not necessarily prepared for what he encounters in the big city, but there’s no stopping him now! Read my Kidsmomo review of the book for more info, and then check out the movie trailer below!

Coming Soon – The Bad Guys movie, based on the book series by Aaron Blabey

Starting April 22, movie theaters across the country will be overtaken by evil animals who only care about themselves and can never be trusted… or is that just an unfair reputation that they don’t deserve? In the book series, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Shark are determined to prove that they’re not the villains everyone believes they are, but their attempts at good deeds don’t always go as planned. From the movie trailer below, it seems like the film may not follow the books exactly, but it does seem to capture the same humor. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see — and in the meantime, you can read the books!

Have YOU watched any of these TV/movie adaptations yet or read the original books? Leave a comment with your thoughts! In your view, how do the adaptations compare to the books?

— Karen

Karen also recently discovered that Apple TV+ has a show based on the book Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh — but Karen doesn’t have access to Apple TV+. Harriet would probably have a solution to this, but as we know from the book, Harriet’s spying did not always end well for her. So Karen is probably going to stick to reading about Harriet’s adventures for now.

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Book Review: A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

March 6th, 2022 by

Imagine a land ruined by a great fire, now covered in ashes and cloaked in darkness — until one day, a man appears in the capital city and magically creates light once again. This is the world of A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat. And this is the world where we meet a boy and a girl who are strangers, and yet their fates depend on each other…

Pong was born in Namwon Prison because his mother broke the law. Now that she has died, Pong is required to stay in prison and endure her punishment until he is old enough to be released. Nok is the prison warden’s daughter, and she is determined to follow the rules and be a perfect citizen.

One day, Pong seizes an opportunity to escape from prison. He has no plan — he just runs. For Nok’s family, this is a major problem for their reputation. Nok’s father gets in big trouble, and Nok decides to restore her family honor and prove herself by finding Pong and bringing him back to prison.

Eventually, Nok and Pong find themselves in the city of Chattana, where both of their lives are turned upside down. Pong learns that some communities have much more access to the magical light bestowed by the Governor while others struggle to get by, and he realizes that even outside the prison walls, not everyone is truly free. Meanwhile Nok discovers a secret that she never imagined, changing the way she sees herself and the world around her. In the face of these surprises, what will Pong and Nok do next? And how will their choices affect one another forever? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

I highly recommend A Wish in the Dark to… well, to pretty much everyone! If you’re a fan of adventures, you’ll enjoy following Pong’s escape and Nok’s pursuit. If you like fantasy worlds, you’ll love visiting the unique settings in the book and reading about all the different kinds of light and how they’re used. If you’re usually drawn to stories about self-discovery, friendship, and community, then you’ll find plenty of character growth and relationships to explore. Like I said, I’d suggest this book to everyone!

If you’ve already read this book, please leave a comment below with your thoughts! Or tell me: What’s your favorite color, and what would be a good use for light in that color?

— Karen

Karen’s favorite color is deep blue. That would make for a pretty dark light, so not good for reading or eating, which are two of Karen’s favorite activities. But deep blue light could be a perfect fit for another one of Karen’s favorite things to do: sleeping!

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2022 Newbery Award Winners

February 2nd, 2022 by

It’s that time of year again — when children’s book fans feverishly refresh their social media feeds on one device, add to their to-read lists on another device, shout in surprise, holler in excitement, and just generally make a ruckus. Anyone who thinks that librarians are quiet never observed them during book awards season!

Last week, the American Library Association announced the 2022 Newbery Medal Winner and 2022 Newbery Honor Books. Every year, the Newbery is given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”

This year’s big winner is The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera — which also won the the 2022 Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award! The Pura Belpré Awards honor Latine writers and illustrators whose books portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latine cultural experience.

So if you’re trying to decide what to read next, check out The Last Cuentista or Donna Barba Higuera’s previous book, Lupe Wong Won’t Danceor any of this year’s Newbery Honor recipients (official descriptions from the publishers):

2022 Newbery Medal Winner:

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

Había una vez…

There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children — among them Petra and her family — have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet — and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard — or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

2022 Newbery Honor Books:

Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she’s the only Indian-American student, and home, with her family’s traditions and holidays. But Reha’s parents don’t understand why she’s conflicted — they only notice when Reha doesn’t meet their strict expectations. Reha feels disconnected from her mother, or Amma, although their names are linked — Reha means “star” and Punam means “moon” — but they are a universe apart.

Then Reha finds out that her Amma is sick. Really sick.

Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can’t stomach the sight of blood, is determined to make her Amma well again. She’ll be the perfect daughter, if it means saving her Amma’s life.

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger 
[Note from Kidsmomo: This book is recommended for ages 12 and up.]

Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories. Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. He’s found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake.

Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries. And there are some who will kill to keep them apart.

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

It’s the summer before middle school, and 11-year-old Bug’s best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn’t particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there’s something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug’s eerie old house in rural Vermont… and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they’re trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light…

Watercress written by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin

Driving through Ohio in an old Pontiac, a young girl’s parents stop suddenly when they spot watercress growing wild in a ditch by the side of the road. Grabbing an old paper bag and some rusty scissors, the whole family wades into the muck to collect as much of the muddy, snail covered watercress as they can.

At first, she’s embarrassed. Why can’t her family get food from the grocery store? But when her mother shares a story of her family’s time in China, the girl learns to appreciate the fresh food they foraged. Together, they make a new memory of watercress.

 

Are you adding any of these books to your to-read list? Or have you already read them? Leave a comment and let us know!

Book Review: From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

January 9th, 2022 by

If you know even the slightest thing about me, then you know I love food. You might recall that from my review of Measuring Up or perhaps my review of Pie or my review of All Four Stars or Granny Torrelli Makes Soup… You get it — I heart food! Well, now it’s time to add another fantastic food book to the list: From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks.

Zoe is determined to compete on Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge — and what better way to get experience than by interning at her favorite local bakery? Zoe is super excited to learn a lot and prove herself as a star baker. But unfortunately, some adults at the bakery doubt her skills, since Zoe is only 12 years old. Can Zoe show everyone that she’s got what it takes?

Also, can Zoe force herself to focus on cupcakes when she’s got some other big things going on in her life? First, Zoe is in a major fight with her best friend and neighbor, Trevor. Secondly, Zoe is dealing with a major shock: a letter from her dad, whom she has never met! All Zoe knows is that her dad has been in prison for a terrible crime. She doesn’t know the details, she’s never spoken to him, and she’s never even gotten a phone call or a note from him — until now. Zoe knows her mom will disapprove, so she hides her dad’s letter and writes back in secret. She knows it’s sneaky, but she can’t help it. After all this time, she wants to know more about her father. And after he tells her that he’s innocent, Zoe won’t stop until she discovers the truth.

As you can tell, this book covers some pretty serious stuff. So if you’re looking for a 100% light-hearted story about baking, then this is not the book for you. However, the book never feels overly sad or heavy. The action moves quickly, and there’s a good balance between the sweet and bitter aspects of the story. I highly recommend From the Desk of Zoe Washington, especially if you’re a fan of books that mix family stories with larger social issues, like A Good Kind of Trouble and the Front Desk books.

If you’ve read this book already, please leave a comment below with your thoughts! Or just tell me your favorite cupcake flavor!

— Karen

Karen has devoured many cupcakes in her life, so it’s hard to pick just one favorite flavor. But she is particularly proud of cupcakes that she made a while ago for a friend’s birthday: chocolate cake with a ganache filling, topped with a minty cookies & cream frosting. Yum yum!

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Book Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

December 12th, 2021 by

Have you ever found a book where it felt like you were being hugged gently the whole time you were reading it — maybe not by arms that might squish you too hard, but more like a hammock that surrounds and fits you perfectly but also gives you a great view? Well, that’s the experience I had when I read The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser.

I love books about big families, little neighborhoods, baked goods, and the winter holidays — and this book has them all!!! The story begins five days before Christmas when the Vanderbeeker family learns that their grumpy landlord, Mr. Beiderman, is kicking them out of their home in the new year. They live on the bottom floors of a brownstone building in New York City, and Mr. Beiderman lives on the top floor. Mr. Beiderman likes things to be quiet, whereas life is always kind of noisy and chaotic for the Vanderbeekers (with five children, two parents, a home bakery business, and an always-changing number of pets). But this is their perfect home, and the Vanderbeeker kids are not going to let it go without a fight! So Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney launch an all-out operation to convince Mr. Beiderman that he should change his mind and let them stay.

As you can imagine, the Vanderbeekers’ attempts to persuade Mr. Beiderman don’t always go according to plan. Homemade gifts turn into calamities. Attempts to show neighbor support only enrage Mr. Beiderman more. And sometimes the Vanderbeekers even end up fighting with each other! Can they come together and win over Mr. Beiderman before moving day? Personally, I found it truly delightful to watch them try!

This book reminded me of some of my longtime favorites, including the Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright, the Penderwick series by Jeanne Birdsall, and Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes. If you’re also a fan of sweet stories featuring large families and a timeless feeling, then I think you’re going to love this book. And fortunately for both you and me, there are five books in the series! So I encourage you to pick up the first book now — perfect for the cozy winter holiday break — and then continue spending more time and seasons with characters who may very well become your new favorite literary family.

Have YOU read the Vanderbeekers books? Or do you have other favorites that make you feel like you’re enveloped in a wonderful hammock hug, like I do with this series? Leave a comment below!

— Karen

Karen also looooooooves stories involving large families, a timeless feeling, and a little bit of gentle magic — like the Half Magic books by Edward Eager and Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder. If you like the Vanderbeekers, you might like those too!

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Book Review: Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim

November 14th, 2021 by

Recently, I was hanging out with a 7-year-old who asked me to tell him some jokes. I wasn’t expecting the request, and my mind went completely blank. I failed to remember any jokes I had ever heard before — so I tried to make up a few of my own. Let me tell you, it was much harder than I expected! In the course of our two hours together, I came up with a total of four jokes. If you’re interested, you can find them at the end of this post, but be warned, they got way more groans than laughter.

Obviously I’m no expert, but after that experience, I can kind of relate to the struggles of the main character in Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim. An aspiring comedian, Yumi spends hours scribbling in her notebook, watching YouTube tutorials from her comedy idol Jasmine Jasper, and practicing her routine by herself. She’s got tons of funny material, but the problem is her delivery. Yumi gets super nervous every time she tries to perform — even when she’s all alone in her room!

Fortunately, Yumi gets a chance to learn from the very best and improve her skills when she finds herself at a comedy camp taught by Jasmine Jasper herself. But there’s a major problem: Jasmine and everyone else mistake Yumi for a student named Kay Nakamura, a student who paid for camp but never showed up. So now Yumi is pretending to be Kay in order to join the camp, and she feels terrible for lying to Jasmine and her new friends.

And did I mention that Yumi is also lying to her parents, who think that she’s studying at the library every afternoon? If they knew Yumi was at comedy camp, they would be furious — not just about the deception but also because they’ve told Yumi over and over again that she needs to focus on academics, like her perfect older sister who’s already in medical school at the age of 20. But Yumi is not her sister! She just wants to pursue comedy and be herself — even if that means pretending to be someone else…

I absolutely loved loved loved this book. Unsurprisingly, it’s full of funny jokes, plus plenty of amusing antics as Yumi sneaks around and attempts to cover up her lies. But the book is also very moving. While I laughed at Yumi’s comedy, I also cried at some of her conversations with her parents. On the one hand, they act as a barrier between Yumi and her comedy dreams. But on the other hand, they’re working hard to provide for their kids — and they have their own challenges they’re dealing with, as their beloved family restaurant is losing business.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys realistic fiction, especially stories about finding your way or making peace with your family. I think you’ll particularly like Stand Up, Yumi Chung! if you’re a fan of books about comedians (like the I Funny series) or books about immigrant families (like Front Desk and Measuring Up).

And now, I leave you with my original jokes — which could definitely benefit from some help from Yumi and Jasmine… Please share YOUR favorite jokes in the comments!

Karen’s Mediocre Jokes:

Why are potatoes such good spies?
They have eyes everywhere!

What did the field of corn say to the man who had a secret?
We’re all ears!

Why didn’t the cherry want to date the banana in the sundae?
He just didn’t have a peel! (a peel = appeal, get it?)

What are the best vegetables for announcing you have visitors arriving at your home?
Doorbell peppers!

(And yes, I realize all of these jokes are related to food. I had to go with what I know best, right?)

— Karen

Karen’s favorite knock knock joke involves an interrupting cow.

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Book Review: Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson

October 10th, 2021 by

Have you ever gotten so mad at your sibling that you played a prank on them? Have you ever moved to a new house that didn’t feel quite like home? Have you ever felt singled out at a party with your classmates? Have you ever felt nervous making a big speech in public? Have you ever been teased about your name? Have you ever participated in your school’s talent show?

Maybe you haven’t had ALL of those experiences, but I bet that you’ve had some of them — and that’s why I think you’ll like Ryan Hart just as much as I did! She’s the main character in Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson, which follows Ryan and her family as they make some major changes in their lives.

After Ryan’s dad loses his job, they move to a smaller house and adjust to new routines. But fortunately, Ryan gets to stay at the same school (where she is in 4th grade). And a lot of other things also stay the same. For example, her older brother, Ray, is just as bossy and annoying as ever! Good thing Ryan has friends to hang out with and parents who support her experiments in the kitchen as an aspiring chef.

If you’re a fan of the Ramona Quimby books, the Vanderbeeker series, or Boy by Roald Dahl, then I think you’ll really enjoy Ways to Make Sunshine. This book doesn’t have one big story to it — more like lots of little stories, just like regular life. And I think that’s what makes the book so great! I could totally relate to Ryan’s experiences, and I look forward to seeing what she does next in the sequel, Ways to Grow Love.

Have YOU read any of the Ryan Hart books yet? If so, please leave a comment with your thoughts! What was your favorite part?

— Karen

Karen still gets nervous making speeches in public. She likes writing a lot better. That way, she can take her time — and she doesn’t have to worry what she looks like. It’s always nice to do things in pajamas, don’t you think?

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Book Review: Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

September 12th, 2021 by

Would you believe that our world is bursting with supernatural and mythical creatures in disguise? Your next-door neighbor might be a witch, or your classmate might be a weredragon — and the bridge between the human world and this hidden world is a secret agency called the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs.

In the fantasy adventure Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston, life at the Bureau is just as enchanting as you might expect: talking elevators with their own personalities and attitude, True Sight drops for your eyes, and an initiation ceremony for trainees (involving Merlin’s Crystal Ball) — just to name a few of the fascinating delights. But despite the miraculous magic in every nook and cranny, you might be surprised to learn that for new human recruits, arriving at the Bureau with pre-existing magic is a major no-no! And unfortunately for Amari, she is one of the few people in the world to be identified as a magician. In other words, she’s in big trouble.

But it’s not Amari’s fault! For most of her life, she didn’t know anything about magic or the Bureau! She didn’t even know that her older brother, Quinton, had trained with the Bureau himself. But now that Quinton is missing, Amari is excited and relieved to learn the truth about his job as a Bureau agent — because she is determined to find Quinton and bring him home. To do that, Amari just has to ace her exams and earn her spot at the Bureau, get to the bottom of Quinton’s disappearance (although no one else has been able to do it, not even his mentors), and show the doubters that not all magicians are bad (even while an evil magician is terrorizing the world and threatening to destroy the Bureau). No big deal, right?

Fortunately, Amari is up to the challenge. ivermectin treatment for guinea pigs Unfortunately, that’s because she has lots of experience being bullied and underestimated. As a scholarship student at a fancy private school, her classmates never let her forget that she lived in low-income housing projects. Now her fellow trainees and some of the leaders of the Bureau are also judging her unfairly. But Amari is determined to prove that she deserves a chance at the Bureau, just like everyone else. And luckily for us, she’s also going to have a very entertaining adventure while she’s at it!

You’ve probably guessed by now that I totally loved this book. I was immediately sucked in by Amari’s story, and I positively raced through the pages to see what would happen next. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fast-paced adventures with fantastical elements and strong characters. Are you a fan of Harry Potter or Percy Jackson? In other words, are you a person who reads? Then you absolutely must check out Amari and the Night Brothers!

If I haven’t convinced you by now, then maybe the dramatic book trailer will work its magic (see what I did there?). Check out the video below:

And if you want to get started right away, you can listen to the beginning of the audiobook here:

Once you read this book, I guarantee that you will want to know what the future holds for Amari, her family, her classmates, the Bureau, and the whole supernatural world. Fortunately, a second book in the series (Amari and the Great Game) comes out in February 2022. I just wish I were a magician with the power of time travel so that I could jump forward a few months and read the sequel sooner! ivomec se puede usar en humanos

Have you read Amari and the Night Brothers yet? Please leave a comment with your thoughts on the book! Or share what you would choose as your supernatural power, if you had the option!

— Karen

Someone recently asked Karen what she would choose as her ideal superpower, and she immediately thought about invisibility. Then she thought about mind reading. Then she thought about charmspeak (like Piper in the Heroes of Olympus books). In the end, Karen couldn’t choose, but the smart option would probably be something more physical — like mega strength — because in case you were wondering, Karen has no upper body strength. ivermectin treatment for coronavirus

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Book Review: The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker & Stacy Davidowitz

August 6th, 2021 by

It may be hard to believe, but school is already starting in some areas of the country. Where did the summer go?! Well, if you want to extend that seasonal feeling with one last summer story before heading back to class, look no further than The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz. The book is all about Nat’s first summer in New Jersey after being forced to move cross-country with her parents.

If you’ve ever left your best friend behind to start a new life in a new town, then you know that Nat is not super excited about the move. But she starts feeling hopeful when she learns about a local production of Wicked, her favorite musical of all time — and that’s really saying something because Nat is obsessed with musical theater.

Luckily, Nat finds out about the production right before auditions, which means that she can finally live out her dream of being in a musical! Well, that’s what she thinks. Unfortunately, Nat’s parents are not into it. Nat uses a wheelchair, so her parents are overprotective and they worry that she won’t be able to participate in the musical. Instead they encourage her to continue with wheelchair racing like she did back in California. But Nat decides to audition anyway (even though it means ditching her first practice with the racing team) — and she gets cast in the chorus!!!

Nat is overjoyed to be part of the show, and she’s even more thrilled when she becomes friends with other kids in the cast, especially the very cute and friendly and talented Malik(!). But her excitement starts to fade when the director tells her that she will be excluded from the dance numbers because of her wheelchair. Nat is determined to prove she shouldn’t be sidelined, but soon she and her new friends face another challenge: the entire production may be canceled! Now that she’s so close to her stage debut, can Nat find a way for the show to go on?

As a fan of musicals, I loved all of the book’s references to various Broadway shows — especially Nat’s punny username in the group chat: NatThrowinAwayMyShot! (Any other Hamilton fans out there?) Obviously, I highly recommend this book if you’re into musicals and you enjoy behind-the-scenes stories about theater productions, such as Better Nate Than Ever, the Jack & Louisa series, and Short. In other words, if you’re like me and your favorite awards show is The Tonys, then it’s a good bet you’ll like this book!

But I would actually suggest this book to everyone, even if you’re not a Broadway person. On the one hand, I think most readers will relate to Nat. Lots of us have experienced being the new kid, fighting with our parents about extracurricular activities, dealing with friend drama, and/or trying to figure out if our crush likes us back. I immediately recognized parts of my own life in Nat’s story, and I’m sure you will too. On the other hand, a lot of Nat’s life is affected by the fact she uses a wheelchair. It’s not just the situation with the Wicked director cutting her out of the dance numbers — Nat also has to deal with buildings and transportation that are not accessible, wishing she had more independence instead of relying on her parents and friends more than she’d like, not always being seen as a whole person, and sometimes even dismissing her own hopes and dreams as impossible. Of course, Nat doesn’t deserve to have more limited opportunities and experiences just because she uses a wheelchair. As someone who does not use a wheelchair, I was glad for the opportunity to learn more about Nat’s experiences and perspective. (In case you were wondering, author Ali Stroker uses a wheelchair and she made history as the first actress in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway!)

Speaking of the book’s authors… After you read The Chance to Fly, if you’re still looking for more summer stories, then you can check out the Camp Rolling Hills series by Stacy Davidowitz. Below is a book trailer where you can learn more — and you Broadway fans are going to love the video because it’s kind of like a mini musical!

Do you have a favorite musical or Broadway showtune? Please leave a comment and let me know!

— Karen

Karen has indeed listened to the Hamilton cast recording a million gazillion times (to be exact), but that’s really just a recent favorite. Her lifelong favorite musical has always been Into the Woods!

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Book Review: Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte and Ann Xu

July 18th, 2021 by

Take one part graphic novel, swirl in an immigrant family’s experience, mix in a cooking competition, and sprinkle in some friend drama. What do you have? The recipe for a sweet and satisfying treat — in this case, the book Measuring Up, written by Lily LaMotte and illustrated by Ann Xu!

The book begins in Taiwan, right before 12-year-old Cici and her parents immigrate to the United States. After the move, Cici makes new friends and starts getting used to her new life. But she desperately misses her grandmother (A-má) back in Taiwan. They used to visit the market together every week, and spend lots of time together cooking and chatting. But now all they have are video calls — which are obviously not the same! Fortunately, Cici soon cooks up a plan to bring A-má for a visit: she’ll enter a local kids cooking competition and use the cash prize to buy A-má a plane ticket! But will Cici have the culinary skills to take first place?

As a foodie, I loved the book’s focus on cooking. I especially enjoyed the close-up illustrations of all the mouth-watering dishes created by Cici and the other competitors. For example, check out these sample panels from the book, featuring cookies sprinkled with smoked sea salt:

Yum yum! Be right back, I gotta get a snack…

Okay, I’m back. Just eating a little cookie over here. Anyway…

Despite a feast of food scenes and images, Cici’s journey doesn’t just take place in the kitchen. She’s also dealing with her parents’ expectations, including her dad’s disappointment when her grades begin to slip after she spends so much time working on her recipes that she starts neglecting her schoolwork. Plus, Cici also faces racist remarks from some of her classmates and even the competition judges! Sometimes Cici wonders if her friends see her as too Taiwanese, too different from them.

Will Cici gain the confidence she needs to triumph in the competition and proudly be her full authentic self with her friends, family, and neighbors? I definitely suggest that you read Measuring Up and find out!

What is YOUR favorite food to cook/bake or eat? Leave a comment below!

— Karen

Karen doesn’t really enjoy cooking, but she loves to bake — especially brown sugar blondies. In fact, she has some sitting right here. Hmmm, is it time for another snack? Gotta go, byeeeeeee!

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