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Read this: Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

July 4th, 2016 · No Comments · books, Entertainment, Reads

Roller Girl Book Cover Roller Girl
Victoria Jamieson
Juvenile Fiction | Middle Grade
March 10, 2015
Heard about it on Pop Culture Happy Hour
Middle grade girls and boys, reluctant readers

I read Roller Girl in one sitting, enjoying every minute of Astrid's adventure.

The Newbery Honor Award Winner and New York Times bestseller Roller Girl is a heartwarming graphic novel about friendship and surviving junior high through the power of roller derby—perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier's Smile! For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid's life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl. In this graphic novel debut that earned a Newbery Honor and five starred reviews, real-life derby girl Victoria Jamieson has created an inspiring coming-of-age story about friendship, perseverence, and girl power! From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Read | Notorious RBG: the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

May 20th, 2016 · 2 Comments · books, Reads

Notorious RBG: the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Biography of a Badass.



The authors Carmon and Knizhnik have done an impressive job of bringing the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg into pop culture while highlighting serious scholarship and the fierceness of the Supreme Court Justice. Before reading Notorious RBG, I considered her a  remarkable woman. While I was reading I responded personally more than once, pausing because her steadfast and resolute campaign for equality took my breath away. I have become a rabid fan of her work.

The book touches upon many aspects of her life: her early years, her academic appointments, her arguments before the court. She is one of the most important Civil Rights leaders of today. You will want everyone you know to read about this cultural icon.


RBG-early timeline

Her early years were often spent in the library with books [You know I couldn't possibly leave out that detail]:

“For a while, her favorites were books about Greek and Norse mythology, and then she graduated to Nancy Drew. “This was a girl who was an adventurer, who could think for herself, who was the dominant person in her relationship with her young boyfriend,” RBG remembered happily.”
RBG - timeline

Her early career:

“The pedestal upon which women have been placed has all too often, upon closer inspection, been revealed as a cage.”

“1963: RBG becomes the second woman to teach full-time at Rutgers School of Law.   “[The dean explained] it was only fair to pay me modestly, because my husband had a very good job.”

“She said, ‘I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”


RBG - and her partner Marty


The story of her marriage reveals what a true partnership looks like, decades before the idea of men sharing equal responsibilities in raising children reached popular culture.


RBG - workout routine

RBG’s physical resilience is yet another area where I was floored. She has survived cancer twice, and can do more pushups in her nineties than I can.



She does it all with the clarity of her life’s work.

“The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity,” she said simply. “It is a decision she must make for herself. When government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

“She likes to quote the opening words of the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union.” Beautiful, yes, but as she always points out, “we the people” originally left out a lot of people. “It would not include me,” RBG said, or enslaved people, or Native Americans. Over the course of the centuries, people left out of the Constitution fought to have their humanity recognized by it. RBG sees that struggle as her life’s work.”

No wonder she’s inspired a cult of admirers.






Read it: Carmon, Irin, and Shana Knizhnik. 2015. Notorious RBG: the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

And check out the Tumblr that started it all.

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Middle Grade March- Books I Read; Gifts to Give

April 19th, 2016 · 1 Comment · books, Reads

4 books perfect for middle graders to readI finished reading 4 books in March, all middle grade (or younger) stories.

1. Cheaney, J. B. 2015. I Don’t Know How the Story Ends:

Our story begins in a dusty little town in California, a bustling place called Hollywood…

Isobel Ransom is anxious. Her father is away treating wounded soldiers in France, leaving Izzy to be the responsible one at home. But it’s hard to be responsible when your little sister is chasing a fasttalking, movie-obsessed boy all over Hollywood! Ranger is directing his very own moving picture… and wants Izzy and Sylvie to be his stars.

Izzy is sure Mother wouldn’t approve, but scouting locations, scrounging film, and “borrowing” a camera turn out to be the perfect distractions from Izzy’s worries. There’s just one problem: their movie has no ending. And it has to be perfect – the kind of ending where the hero saves the day and returns home to his family. Safe and sound.

My take: This would be nice to give to a young reader interested in history and especially the history of Hollywood.

2. The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts:

An artfully playful collection of unexpected and remarkable facts about animals, illustrated by Swedish artist Maja Säfström.

Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that ostriches can’t walk backward? These and many more fascinating and surprising facts about the animal kingdom (Bees never sleep! Starfish don’t have brains!) are illustrated with whimsical detail in this charming collection.

My take: A charming book for all ages, my husband and I actually read this together, discussing the tidbits about animals.

3. Benjamin, Ali. 2015. The Thing about Jellyfish

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…

My take: Heartbreaking and beautiful, a wonderful book I would give to any sensitive middle grade student navigating the difficult lessons of growing up.

4. Shevah, Emma, and Helen Crawford-White. 2015. Dream on, Amber

My name is Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto.
I have no idea why my parents gave me all those hideous names but they must have wanted to ruin my life, and you know what? They did an amazing job.

As a half-Japanese, half-Italian girl with a ridiculous name, Amber’s not feeling molto bene (very good) about making friends at her new school.

 My take: I adore spunky Amber who needs encouragement to stand up in the face of racial insensitivity and confront bullying. She creates her own world and works through insecurities by drawing. I wish I had read a book like this in my early years.

“Read a Middle Grade Novel” is part of the Book Riot “Read Harder” challenge for 2016. Read more about the challenge here.

Do you have any middle grade books to recommend?


* This post contains affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. Thanks for supporting me!

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