Summertime’s for Reading! Four New Books for Children to Young Adults

By  0 Comments

In 1826, when Elizabeth Cady’s last brother died, the 11-year-old hoped to comfort her father by vowing to be as good as any boy he knew. Yet she was still a girl and that wasn’t great; females in the mid-1800s didn’t have many rights.

They couldn’t own property or keep their paychecks. Cady understood these facts, and a cousin further schooled her on issues of slavery, so when Cady married Henry Brewster Stanton, she made sure he understood her stance on equality.

She met others who wanted rights, specifically the right to vote, and on July 13, 1848, five women sat down to discuss a suffrage convention. They spread the word; six days later, more than 300 people showed up to learn about women and voting. At a subsequent meeting, Harriet Tubman became a supporter but, alas, suffrage efforts were temporarily shelved during the Civil War. When black men got the right to vote after the war, women doubled-down on efforts to gain voting equality. The audience for Votes for Women! by Winifred Conkling will be going to the polls soon. That’s why it’s important for your 15- to 18-year-old; she needs to know who did battle for her.

Grandma’s Purse
What’s in the bag? Maybe it’s a doll or a truck or a bar of chocolate. Or maybe, as in Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, it’s a whole lot more!
Grandma Mimi is coming to visit! She gives the best hugs. She always has treasures to share, and every one of them hides in the bottom of her purse. That purse! It’s full of magical things. It’s full of what makes Mimi, Mimi. She keeps a mirror in there, and a lipstick so she’s ready to leave kisses all over your cheeks. She needs her “smell-good,” so you know she’s been in your living room after she leaves. Lucky for you that she sometimes doesn’t mind if you play with her things. When you put on her lipstick, her “smell-good,” her scarf and glasses, you could almost be Mimi. But wait. What’s that in the bottom of Mimi’s purse?

You’ll want to read this one aloud. It’s a story of being silly, being surprised, and being loved between generations, and one that purse-loving, surprise-loving girls will appreciate, no matter their ages. Your three- to six-year-old will love Grandma’s Purse almost as much as she loves to rummage through a handbag.

Music was everywhere for Libba Cotten. The axe she used to chop wood sang to her. There was a clickety-clack of music in the trains as they sped by.

Libba, by Laura Veirs, illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, portrays a child who longed to make music, but her brother didn’t like anyone touching his guitar. Whenever he wasn’t home, Libba went to his room, took up the instrument and played, even though she was left-handed and had to do it upside down and backwards. Years later, she met a woman from a “musical family” who hired her to work as a housekeeper at a home that was filled with music! Day and night, musicians drifted in and out, men with names like Muddy Waters and Woody Guthrie, and Libba started hearing music again. Then one day Libba borrowed a guitar. And she played music. Upside down. And backwards.

Before you snuggle up with your child and Libba, take a few minutes to read the book yourself, so you’re fully prepared for Fazlalizadeh’s illustrations. It’s a story of keeping a dream alive; Laura Veirs’ words dance like fingers on frets as she lends lightness to the story, despite its Depression-era theme.

The Pants Project
The first day of middle school stinks, but it was worse for Liv. It wasn’t just the newness that bothered her. The thing she dreaded was that the school had a dress code, which meant wearing a skirt. Liv hadn’t worn a skirt in years.

But the first day didn’t kill her, and PE class wasn’t bad, as long as Liv changed before everybody else got to the locker room. Changing clothes in a crowd of loud girls made Liv uncomfortable. That’s because she knew she was transgender, a boy in a girl’s body. It was the secret she wished she could tell somebody, but she was afraid. Her moms would probably understand but Liv wanted to wait. She’d tell when the time was right; until then, she’d endure sixth grade. Except life took a turn for the worst. Her best friend Maisie didn’t want to be Liv’s best friend anymore. Everybody started teasing Liv about having two moms. And ugh! those skirts. It wasn’t fair that boys didn’t have to wear skirts. So Liv cooked up an audacious plan.

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke is a great reminder that adolescence is hard, kids are mean, support is key, and it’s all wrapped up in a wise, self-aware preteen you’ll enjoy meeting. ■