Review: For the Right to Learn – Malala Yousafzai’s Story

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For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story
by Rebecca Langston-George

My Rating:
★★★★

Those of you who know me know that girls’ education is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I’ve spent the last three years of my life as Founding President of American University’s chapter of She’s the First, an organization that provides scholarships to girls in low-income countries who will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. People like Malala inspire me to continue advocating for girls’ education, as well as educating myself and others about the struggles faced by girls and women around the world. Over the past three years, our chapter has raised over $40,000 to sponsor girls who will be the first in their families to graduate, and we’ve learned so much about leadership along the way.

When I saw that Rebecca Langston-George had written a book to tell Malala’s story to readers 9-12, I was so thrilled that there would finally be a way to share Malala’s inspiring story with children. While Malala’s rise to fame started with a violent act against her, her story is one of peace and teamwork that carries meaningful lessons for students.

The illustrations by Janna Bock are absolutely breathtaking. They truly bring Malala and her village to life for readers who may have never seen pictures of the beautiful mountains in which Malala grew up. The pictures add to the story, communicating meaningful information and allowing students to make inferences based on the visuals.

Starting the story back when Malala was a little girl, Langston-George’s beautiful writing brings the story to life and truly conveys the determination that surrounded every moment of Malala’s journey. The book manages to communicate a large amount of historical information into a piece that is appropriate in length and language for the 4th-6th grade set.

I expect this book to be turning up in many classrooms and libraries in the months to come. So many students will learn about Malala through this book, and I hope they will be as inspired by her journey as I am.

Classroom Connections

  • A glossary is included in the back of the book, along with a page with more historical information for teachers and parents who may like to bring a little more detail to their teaching of the story. This is a great resource for adults who are sharing this book with young readers.
  • This book is a great fit for a biography project. If students are researching key historical figures, Malala certainly qualifies as a “living legend.” This book is a great introduction to her story and can be a helpful starting resource for students who are looking into Malala’s life.
  • Malala’s speeches and blog posts are key moments in this story. Youtube videos and online blog posts are publicly available, and sharing videos with students while reading about Malala’s story can help students to grasp that Malala is a real person with a real story of growth and determination.

Book Information
Title: For the Right to Learn
Author: Rebecca Langston-George
Illustrator: Janna Bock
Publisher: Capstone
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Price: US $15.95
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
CapstonePub.com

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this text from Capstone in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own – thank you for reading!

Blog Tour: Wake-Up Call

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Pieces of Why
by K.L. Going

My Rating:
★★★★

I’m so thankful to a be a part of the blog tour for Amy Avanzino’s debut novel, Wake-Up Call. A mix of 50 First Dates and real life, Wake-Up Call is a clever look at the turns our lives take and how we handle them.

Synopsis

Sarah Winslow wakes up with a terrible hangover…and a kid in her boyfriend’s bed. She makes the horrifying discovery that, due to a head injury, it’s not a hangover. She’s got memory loss. Overnight, five years have disappeared, and she’s no longer the hard-living, fast-track, ad executive party girl she thinks she is. Now, she’s the unemployed, pudgy, married, stay-at-home-mom of three kids under five, including twins.

As she slowly pieces together the mystery of how her dreams and aspirations could have disintegrated so completely in five short years, she finds herself utterly failing to manage this life she can’t imagine choosing. When Sarah meets the man of her dreams, she realizes she’s got to make a choice: Does she follow her bliss and “do-over” her life? Or does the Sarah she’s forgotten hold the answers to how she got here…and how she can stay?

Review

An enjoyable book with engaging plot lines and strong character development, Wake-Up Call is a great debut novel. While the concept of amnesia was famously addressed in 50 First Dates, the addition of three children under age five complicates things a little bit. The concept of a mother rediscovering her own life is intriguing and engaging to read about.

For the most part, I loved the characters in this story. Kofi and the children are especially well-developed characters, with depth and integrity. Unfortunately, the main character is not as likable at the start of the story, but as she grows into her own, she grows into readers’ hearts as well.

The plot of the book is quickly moving and suspenseful, providing just the right amount of predictability and surprise. Including humor and sadness within the span of just a few pages, Avanzino manages to make the Reddix family seem remarkably real. Their journey is one that will captivate readers and leave them wanting to learn more. It’s a good thing that Avanzino’s bio says she’s working on a series!

This is an especially strong casual read for a day that you want a beach read or a Kindle romance with a little more depth. A great debut from Avanzino will leave you wishing she had more books available.

About the Author

Amy Avanzino received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the University of Washington. She is a former advertising executive, who has spent the last several years writing, while doing extensive hands-on research for her Wake-Up Call series. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York, which won two Audience Choice Awards. Amy currently lives in Folsom, California, with her husband and four children. Connect with her at http://www.amyavanzino.com.

Book Information
Title: Wake-Up Call
Author: Amy Avanzino
Publisher: Henery Press
Release Date: 2015
Price: $15.95
Source: Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
AmyAvanzino.com

Note: I received an Advanced Review Copy of Wake-Up Call from Henery Press. All opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: Pieces of Why

PIECES OF WHY

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Pieces of Why
by K.L. Going

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My Rating:
★★★★

I am so honored to be a part of the blog tour for KL Going’s Pieces of Why from Penguin Group! This book addresses extremely heavy topics that unfortunately affect the lives of children and youth around the world. From gun violence to family drama and more, these real life issues are addressed by KL Going in a way that makes them a little more understandable for youth.

Synopsis

From the award winning author of Fat Kid Rules the World andThe Liberation of Gabriel King comes a lyrical, middle grade gem that asks all the hard questions and hits all the right notes–perfect for fans of Cynthia Rylant and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.

Tia lives with her mom in a high-risk neighborhood in New Orleans and loves singing gospel in the Rainbow Choir with Keisha, her boisterous and assertive best friend. Tia’s dream is to change the world with her voice; and by all accounts, she might be talented enough. But when a shooting happens in her neighborhood and she learns the truth about the crime that sent her father to prison years ago, Tia finds she can’t sing anymore. The loss prompts her to start asking the people in her community hard questions–questions everyone has always been too afraid to ask.

Full of humanity, Pieces of Why is a timely story that addresses grief, healing, and forgiveness, told through the eyes of a gifted girl who hears rhythm and song everywhere in her life.

Review

I’m a firm believer that music can heal. It can help us grow and change and accept the things that happen in our lives. Tia, the main character of Pieces of Why, believes the same, until one day she loses her voice after finding out the truth about a crime her father committed. In a family with a father she never knew and a mother who has kept secrets from her, Tia gets stuck thinking her voice doesn’t matter. Luckily, she has people like her best friend Keisha and her choir director to prove her wrong.

Taking place in New Orleans and addressing topics like gun violence, poverty, and crime, this book is an important tool to demonstrate how some youth are living today, and how they can use positivity and work with others to change things in their communities. While this book deals with very sensitive topics and should be previewed by a parent or teacher before given to a middle grade reader, KL Going’s truthfulness in telling this story is desperately needed in this genre. Some children and youth live their lives like Tia’s, with parents in prison or violence occurring right around the block. Those children need books that, like Pieces of Why, accurately represent their experiences while giving them characters to relate to.

If you are interested in a heavy but uplifting read that helps bring humanity to even the worst situations, Pieces of Why may be a good fit for you.

 Favorite Passages

On positivity:
“You know, sometimes if you’re having trouble creating something beautiful, you’ve got to find the joy in your life. Focus on the good things.”

On bad days:
“Certain days ought to come with warning notices. WARNING: This day will be hazardous to your health. Instead, most days start out normal. Maybe even better than normal. Which is so much worse.”

On being a teenager:
I looked up into the branches of the magnolia tree high above us, trying to imagine God sitting among the stars listening to Keisha’s wish turned prayer and deciding whether or not we were worthy of making out with boys in the backseat of a bus.”

Win a Copy of the Book!

Throughout the blog tour for Pieces of Why, you can enter to win three fantastic sets of prizes! Just click on the Rafflecopter Giveaway link below to enter.

A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

giveaway

1st Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, a Fat Kid movie, a signed Fat Kid original book cover, a signed poster of Saint Iggy and Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)

2nd Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, a signed paperback of The Liberation of Gabriel King, a sign poster for The Garden of Eve and a Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)

3rd Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, an audio edition of The Garden of Eve, a signed poster for The Garden of Eve and a Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)

About the Author

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KL Going is the award winning author of books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz honor book by the American Library Association, as well as one of the Best Books for Young Adults from the past decade. Her books have been Booksense picks, Scholastic Book Club choices, Junior Library Guild selections, winners of state book awards, and featured by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Children’s Book Council as Best Books. Her work has been published in Korea, Italy, Japan and the UK.

KL began her career working at one of the oldest literary agencies in New York City. She used this inner knowledge of publishing to write Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel — a how-to book for aspiring writers, published by Writer’s Digest. She has also written short stories for several anthologies and currently has two picture books under contract for future release. She currently lives in Glen Spey, NY where she both writes and runs a business critiquing manuscripts. To visit KL on-line go to www.klgoing.com.

Book Information
Title: Pieces of Why
Author: K.L. Going
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: 2015
Price: $16.99
Source: Advanced Review Copy

Find this book on:
Goodreads
KLGoing.com

Note: I received an Advanced Review Copy of Pieces of Why from Penguin Group. All opinions are my own.