October Picture Book Roundup

Another month of picture book reviews! This is my monthly round up of the picture books I have received for review from publishers/authors/publicists ~ for more of my picture books posts and reviews, stay tuned to my dedicated Instagram account! And HERE is the blog post with all of the picture books I used in my library story times this month.

Please note that when I receive finished copies of quality titles I donate them to my library. When I receive galleys/ARCs, they are shared with Kid Lit Exchange.


The People Shall ContinueThe People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz
(Lee and Low ~ October 15, 2017 (reissue))

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am BEYOND blessed to have received a review copy of this title from Lee and Low ~ it is such an important narration of the “epic story of Native American People” as described on the back. If you add any children’s nonfiction book to your home library, classroom or actual library this fall, it needs to be this one. It’s a re-issue but just as impeccably told and relevant as it was 40 years ago. And in my personal opinion, if Thanksgiving, Columbus or Westward Expansion are mentioned or taught in any way in schools, this book *must* be included as an antidote. There is a Spanish edition of this title as well. Required purchase. I am adding this copy to my school library collection and purchasing an additional copy as well.


Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America SingingListen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing by Leda Schubert
(Roaring Brook Press ~ June 13, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the review copy of this title.

As a school librarian, I absolutely love picture book biographies, and this is one that I will definitely be using for a read aloud with classes. I especially love when books have natural tie-ins with extension activities. Whether or not my students are already familiar with Seger’s work, we will be able to listen to clips of his music and discuss the importance that he had on the culture of the United States – you can find a wide variety of resources on Schubert’s site. Throughout the book, as it covers the timeline of Seger’s career, there are song titles below each significant event or topic – this is an excellent set up for a really rich reading and listening experience, whether it be at home, in a library story time or in a music classroom. The illustrations are beautiful with soft pixelated images.

Included in the back pages of this book are an author’s note, bibliography, timeline, recommended children’s books and recommended recordings.


BraveBrave by Stacy McAnulty
(Running Press ~ October 3, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautiful and colorful story showing all the different ways of being brave. I adore the fact that the term isn’t defined just by typically heroic acts of muscle and daring, but also never giving up, standing back up, fighting for justice and fighting illness. Very simple text with detailed illustrations depicting a diverse cast of unnamed child characters.

Thanks to Running Press for the review copy of this title – all opinions are my own.

Highly recommended for purchase for school libraries and for all the brave kiddos in your life.


Peep and Egg: I'm Not Taking a BathPeep and Egg: I’m Not Taking a Bath by Laura Gehl
(Farrar Straus Giroux ~ October 24, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the review copy of this title.

I read this aloud to my 6 year old for a bedtime story and we both loved it! It’s short and sweet and simple and just perfect for the toddler through kindergarten crowd. I will now be purchasing the rest of the books in this series for my school library – my 4K classes will love them.


Bulldozer DreamsBulldozer Dreams by Sharon Chriscoe
(Running Press Books ~ October 3, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a cute bedtime story for fans of “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” and all things trucks and diggers!

Thanks to Running Press for the review copy of this title – all opinions are my own.

This is a vividly colored picture book with lyrical text that would be an excellent choice for a bedtime story or class read aloud for grades PK and K. I will be using this book as a PK read aloud in my library. The text is a bit clunky at times, but not in a way noticeable by the youngest listeners, and the illustrations and subject matter will be high interest with this population. Recommended purchase for those with construction-loving kid populations, along with the companion title RACE CAR DREAMS.


Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably)Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever by Julie Falatko
(Viking Children’s Books ~ October 3, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Snappsy is a lovable curmudgeon, and kids love hearing this story with the different voices read with lots of expression. It’s a sweet story of reluctant friendship with a healthy dose of exaggeration. Fans of the earlier Snappsy title and books such as the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems will eat this up as they follow Snappsy and his friend Bert (who knew he had a name?!?) on their adventures. The illustrations are adorable and the speech bubbles make this attractive to early readers.

Thanks to Running Press for the review copy of this title.

Recommended for purchase in elementary libraries and in classrooms grades K-2.


Pug Pig Trick-or-TreatPug Pig Trick-or-Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion
(Beach Lane Books ~ July 25, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is adorable, with a story and illustrations perfect for an audience grades 1 and under. The story of friendship and Halloween will delight both readers familiar with Pug and Pig, as well as those new to the pair.

Highly recommended for Halloween storytimes for the younger crowd!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for the review copy of this title.


Me and You and the Red CanoeMe and You and the Red Canoe by Jean E. Pendziwol
(Groundwood Books ~ August 1, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a beautiful book! The style of the illustrations perfectly capture the Northwoods feel of this story of siblings sharing time together on a lake, while the lyrical text and story describe an incredibly peaceful and natural setting. As a native of Northern Wisconsin, this book put me right back at my family’s cabin and evoked such wonderful memories. I will be reading this aloud to my elementary library classes as we head into summer and talk about summer plans.

Thanks to House of Anansi for providing me with a review copy of this title.

Highly recommended for home bookshelves and libraries.


Space Boy and the Snow MonsterSpace Boy and the Snow Monster by Dian Regan
(Boyds Mills Press ~ October 10, 2017)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for this review copy.

This is a fun picture book that is almost written in a graphic format, with different panels on each page. The text is fairly terse, so I can definitely see this one being best used in a one-on-one setting or small group rather than in a large group read aloud. This is book 3 in a series, so fans of the series will be excited about a new title featuring Space Boy!


 Most PeopleMost People by Michael Leannah
(Tilbury House ~ August 15, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks to a publisher’s representative for the review copy of this title.

In these current times of political strife and scary events in our world, this picture book is a reassurance that most people are good. The repeated text and sweet illustrations highlight to kids that despite the actions and words of a few, the world is a good place. I can definitely see this being used with classes or families after witnessing something traumatic, or even just after children see something scary on the news. In my librarian opinion, it would be best to use this in that situation rather than just as a “cold” read aloud. I would recommend this for preschool and up, given that the message can be as deep as the audience wants it to be. This is a book to read alongside Come with Me by Holly McGhee.


 Martí's Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertadMartí’s Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy
(Lee & Low ~ August 1, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Lee and Low for the review copy of this title.

This bilingual biography is written in a poetic format with both the main story and the back matter written in English alongside Spanish. The illustrations are soft and colorful. For those familiar with Jose Marti, this is a beautiful tribute. For those unfamiliar with his life and work, this is a wonderful introduction in a very accessible format. The bilingual presentation is much appreciated for use in library collections and classrooms.


View all of my Goodreads reviews

Weekend TBR Pile Edition 1


You guys. I am SO struggling to keep up blogging with a post per book – the TIME required for that is just immense! So today, I’m trying to start a new thing of sharing my weekend TBR piles on Fridays. Yes, I know I tried a Goodreads Monday thing too – maybe this will last longer! This way, even if books pass through my life without ever making it to the blog, you’ll at least know what my intentions were, right? And if you see a book again, great! I do keep up my Goodreads account religiously, though, so you can follow me there to see all of my reviews!

These piles are always VERY ambitious, but are the titles I have on my radar for the weekend.

Here’s what I’m planning to work on this weekend!

All summaries are from Goodreads

Laws of Attraction (Librarians in Love #3) by Sarah Title
(Zebra Shout ~ October 31, 2017)

Thanks to Kensington Books for this review copy! I requested a review copy after purchasing the first two books in the series, which I am in LOVE with. A romance series about librarians??? YES PLEASE!

Laws of attractionIt’s taken law librarian Becky Schrader a long time to stop comparing herself to her family of overachievers and hone in on what she really wants–a normal life, white picket fence and all, Mr. Dream Guy included. But before she gets ahead of herself, her girlfriends convince her she needs to let down her hair for once, meet a hot guy and let the moment take over . . .

After graduating from an Ivy League law school and practicing in New York for a few years, the plan for Foster Deacon was to return home to Denver and join the family firm, marry the right woman, shoulder his responsibilities. Except Foster’s always been a bit of a rebel, and he’s decided to suit up with his family’s rival firm. What better way to celebrate than to spend a night with a gorgeous blonde who leaves before he could say, “Good morning . . .”

Becky feels she did the right thing, leaving her lover’s bed and not her number. After all, she needs to focus on her job at Glassmeyer & Polak–until the new hire walks through the door . . . with a bad case of happily ever after.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
(Kensington ~ March 28, 2017)

Thanks to Kensington for this copy! There is another title in this collection coming out at the end of November, and I desperately want to read this one first.

extraordinary unionAs the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .

Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.

Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.

Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . .

After Midnight by Diane Shute
(She Writes Press ~ September 16, 2014)

Thanks to BookSparks for this review copy! I’m always up for historical fiction, and the world of 1830s racing world is definitely a new storyline for me. Book 2 in the series is coming out in June 2018!

After midnightAs far as Alix is concerned, she has no past only today, and her plans for the future: creating a dynamic stable of Thoroughbreds that will take the 1830s British racing world by storm. When forced into assuming the role of Lord Griffon’s wife in London, her plans are threatened by disturbing images of a castle from her past that fight to resurface. Alix is determined to find a way to take control of her life and fulfill her dreams. This women’s historical fiction novel is the first in the Midnight Series.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (MIDDLE GRADE)
(Sterling Children’s Books ~ September 5, 2017)

Thanks to WAM! Book Bundle for this copy – I am an Instagram rep for the company. All of my middle grade teacher/librarian friends are RAVING about this one, so it’s a top priority title for me! I was excited to see that it was a part of the Intermediate Bundle for October for WAM!

CACTUSAven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.

Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (YOUNG ADULT)
(Arthur A. Levine ~ July 30, 2013)

if i ever getI am participating in a Librarian Battle of the Books in mid-November, and this is one of the titles I assigned myself for the team. I’m really looking forward to it! I am also extra excited about it because Gansworth has another title coming out May 29, 2018 and I want to read this one first.

Lewis “Shoe” Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he’s not used to is white people being nice to him — people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan’s side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis’s home — will he still be his friend?

Acclaimed adult author Eric Gansworth makes his YA debut with this wry and powerful novel about friendship, memory, and the joy of rock ‘n’ roll.


So, that’s what’s on my pile!

I’ll keep you posted on Instagram and Goodreads (and maybe here!) with my thoughts on each title.

October Library Storytimes and Booktalks

Okay, and some September too, I guess – I got behind sharing these here! I do share them weekly on my new(ish) Instagram for picture books, though. Here are all of the books I have shared with classes in my elementary library for the past weeks! But two notes first…….

One of the things making my kindergarten storytimes SO much more successful this year is pairing books with the accompanying Emily Arrow videos and songs – I can’t say enough wonderful things about her work. I also use her songs as class openers and closers for multiple grade levels and things have been SO much calmer. The session I attended with her and Carter Higgins at NerdCampMI was transformative. AND, I just booked a Skype sing along with her in February for all of my kinders!

Also, if you haven’t watched this 7 minute video about booktalks yet, you need to. I actually shared it with my entire district staff because it’s excellent and shows that booktalks are NOT hard, but ARE essential. Colby Sharp and Donalyn Miller are two of my favorites in the kid lit world right now!

 

img_0082-1

 

 

img_0084

 

 

Elementary Library Sure Bets

Let’s be real here……I am a K-12 librarian with 2 schools to purchase for and manage. I have one assistant in one building and NO assistant in my elementary. And I teach 30 library classes a week. And I do ALL of the purchasing. For everyone. Including professional development titles.

That means I need a LOT of time to pore over catalogs, read reviews and “best of” lists, and analyze books. And I don’t actually usually GET that time, which is an endless source of professional anxiety. What am I missing? Did I buy the absolute BEST dinosaur series? Did I spend my district’s Common School Fund allocation in the best way possible? What did I miss?

One thing that REALLY helps me is having my go-to series, publishers and imprints that I can count on to be top quality in both content and production. Of course I am always open to finding new series and publishers, but when I’m short on time and a teacher tells me he would really love a new sports/animal/plant/biography title, it is SO helpful to know right away which publisher to look at first based on my past experiences.

So, here are some examples of, and a list of, just some of my favorites! There are many more, but remember – NO TIME! Also, no time to write long descriptions!

Note: I do not buy directly from any of these companies – I typically purchase through Follett Titlewave, Amazon, my local Barnes and Noble or Scholastic Reading Clubs. And, as usual, no affiliate links.

Thanks to Blue Slip Media and Media Masters for sending me review copies of several of these titles from SI Kids, Animal Planet, and National Geo Kids. I would have purchased them anyway, though, and already own numerous other titles from these companies/series!

Capstone (especially the PebbleGo imprint)

img_0074.jpg

Animal Planet 

img_0072.jpg

National Geographic Kids

img_0071.jpg

BlastOff Readers from Bellweather

img_0066

Sports Illustrated Kids (fiction AND nonfiction)

img_0070.jpg

Fiction

American Girl

img_0073

Scholastic Branches

img_0069

Bloomsbury Read & Bloom

img_0068

If you are a librarian or kid lit aficionado, I would LOVE to hear your favorite series/imprints as well!

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
(Atheneum ~ October 24, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that I can hardly review, but just have to say……BUY IT. READ IT. SHARE IT.

Book Description (from Goodreads)

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Review

Amazingly powerful YA story in verse, including elements of magical realism. Reynolds pounds home messages about family, gun violence and life choices using terse lyrical language in this brief and timely volume that definitely requires acceptance by the reader of the impact of voices from beyond the grave to teach harsh life lessons.

Required purchase for high school libraries.

View all of my Goodreads reviews

Goodreads is My Reading Crutch


All I can say is……….thank goodness for Goodreads. Why? Well, I have officially reached the point in my reading life where I can no longer accurately remember if I have read a book based on title and cover alone much past a year. Especially if I read it on my Kindle.

That’s why, when BookSparks sent me a book recently for a pop-up blog tour, I got SO excited about it. I was like, WOW, I love this kind of book! Contemporary women’s fiction about a successful mom trying to find balance ~ that’s perfect for me! And after reading the description again, I’m like, HUH, this sounds like another one I read and liked – great!

And then I just went on Goodreads to mark it as Reading and saw I. had. already. read. it. In November of 2015. And I liked it then! It all started coming back to me……..it was a fun, light read and I remember recommending it to someone.

But how embarrassing is that? And that’s the SECOND time I have done this recently. Essentially, if a book isn’t logged on Goodreads, it’s a hole in my memory. Yikes. I do find, however, that now that I am actually writing reviews of books I end up remembering them a lot more clearly, especially since I take photos and such.

Moral of the story: If you ask me if I have read a book, please forgive me when I pull out my phone to check. Goodreads is my crutch. And I’m going to have to be okay with that.

Prince of Pot by Tanya Lloyd Kyi


Prince of Pot by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
(Groundwood Books ~ September 5, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Completely and utterly original, this YA captivated me from page one.

Thanks to House of Anansi Press for the review copy of this title.

Book Description

Isaac loves art class, drives an old pickup, argues with his father and hangs out with his best buddy, Hazel. But his life is anything but normal. His parents operate an illegal marijuana grow-op, Hazel is a bear that guards the property, and his family’s livelihood is a deep secret.

It’s no time to fall in love with the daughter of a cop.

Isaac’s girlfriend Sam is unpredictable, ambitious and needy. And as his final year of high school comes to an end, she makes him consider a new kind of life pursuing his interest in art, even if that means leaving behind his beloved home in the Rockies and severing all ties with his family.

For a while he hopes he can have it all, until a disastrous graduation night, when Sam’s desperate grab for her father’s attention suddenly puts his entire family at risk. 

Review

I have said again and again recently that I’m starting to rate more and more on originality and this book NAILED the quintessential feel of quality YA wrapped in a completely new storyline. I was fascinated with the premise of this book and couldn’t stop reading. It is a story with a TON of heart about secrets, family and growing up in a very, very unique setting. Anyone who has ever had to keep a secret or take care of an elderly relative will relate to this story so closely. Personally, growing up and living in rural wilderness areas make me able to relate to this one on many other levels as well.

I cried and I ached for Isaac as he tried to find his place in the world, but wasn’t left with a feeling of despair. And the BEARS. Oh, those bears.

Highly recommended for mature YA collections.

View all of my Goodreads reviews

American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee


American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West
by Nate Blakeslee
(Crown Publishing ~ October 17, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stunningly addictive, this nonfiction account of wolves, Yellowstone and humanity reads like a fictional account of dueling mob families in a turf war. A must-read for nature lovers and hunters alike.

Thanks to Crown Publishing for providing me with a free advance copy of this book for review purposes.

Nate Blakeslee has done what very few writers can. He has taken a group of wild animals and created an epic drama surrounding their lives ~ a drama that reads entirely like fiction or the best type of biography. I honestly didn’t think it was possible for an almost-300-page tome about wolves to be a page turner, but it truly, truly is. Blakeslee includes just the right balance between the people and politics surrounding the wolves with the actions of the actual wolves to ensure that readers understand just how perilous this animal’s survival chances are. And really, the survival chances of any wild animals in the United States. The stories in this book about Yellowstone and the federal and state agencies regulating the park and wildlife honestly make me despair about the way our nation is run on an entirely new level. Bureaucracy trumps nature at every single turn, but the hearts of those dedicated to protecting wolves give me hope.

Required reading for nature lovers, hunters, and anyone who loves quality nonfiction. This is one of the best out there.

Now, a little bit about my background coming into this book so you can understand my unbridled love for it. First of all, I read National Geographic cover to cover every single month. Nature writing is my THING. Next, we live in rural Wisconsin and the hunting/preservation topic is always close by. In addition, my family has a major wolf obsession due to my son’s extreme interest in them ~ he currently has 8 stuffed wolves that he has with him at all times, a wolf mask, posters, calendars, blankets, and countless books on this topic. The arrival of this book in my household as an advance copy was a cause for great celebration, and I can not wait for my husband and son to get to share it next. My husband also has family in Wyoming and is an avid hunter ~ we have always had spirited conversations about wildlife management, and this book just adds to our discussion fodder.

One of my favorite reads of 2017.

For an update on this topic, see Blakeslee’s October 6, 2017 WSJ article “The Plight of the West’s Wolves”

View all of my Goodreads reviews

Spooky October Kid Lit Books

Just a quick post today to bring you some of my favorite kid lit books that are spooky and perfect for October, but are NOT Halloween-specific. My school still allows little Halloween celebrations, but we do not do costumes or anything major and we have some families who request that their children not participate. My library does have a large Halloween collection, but I’m very sensitive of the community needs. Due to the fact that many families do not celebrate the holiday, it’s great to have a book selection that meets the needs of all kiddos!

Here are some new and old favorites, along with recommendations to the Twitter crowd! I’m linking to the Twitter conversation so you can follow all of the lovely people who made suggestions as well! I’ll be working on tracking down copies of the recommended titles that I don’t already have.

** The copy of Don’t Read This Book Before Bed was provided to me by a publisher for review and it is being donated to my library. All other titles were purchased for my library.



Screenshot 2017-10-16 15.27.19Screenshot 2017-10-16 15.27.05Screenshot 2017-10-16 15.26.40Screenshot 2017-10-16 15.26.19

The Floating World by C Morgan Babst


The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst
(Algonquin Books ~ October 17, 2017)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As dark and disturbing as Katrina herself, THE FLOATING WORLD takes readers into the most damaged neighborhoods of New Orleans, both during and after the epic storm, in this story of family, race and a city in crisis.

Thanks to Algonquin Books for the review copy of this title.

Book Description

A dazzling debut about family, home, and grief, The Floating World takes readers into the heart of Hurricane Katrina with the story of the Boisdorés, whose roots stretch back nearly to the foundation of New Orleans. Though the storm is fast approaching the Louisiana coast, Cora, the family’s fragile elder daughter, refuses to leave the city, forcing her parents, Joe Boisdoré, an artist descended from a freed slave who became one of the city’s preeminent furniture makers, and his white “Uptown” wife, Dr. Tess Eshleman, to evacuate without her, setting off a chain of events that leaves their marriage in shambles and Cora catatonic–the victim or perpetrator of some violence mysterious even to herself.

This mystery is at the center of C. Morgan Babst’s haunting, lyrical novel. Cora’s sister, Del, returns to New Orleans from the life she has tried to build in New York City to find her hometown in ruins and her family deeply alienated from one another. As Del attempts to figure out what happened to her sister, she must also reckon with the racial history of the city, and the trauma of destruction that was not, in fact, some random act of God, but an avoidable tragedy visited upon New Orleans’s most helpless and forgotten citizens.

The Floating World is the Katrina story that needed to be told–one with a piercing, unforgettable loveliness and a nuanced understanding of this particular place and its tangled past, written by a New Orleans native who herself says that after Katrina, “if you were blind, suddenly you saw.”

Review

This book is not an easy read. It’s not a page turner or a nail biter. It’s not a story of a strong New Orleans rising after a devastating storm and it’s not a story of a family coming together in a time of need. It’s a fiercely honest account of a family going through tortured times, both emotional and environmental. It’s a story of hearts breaking and a city sinking and the absolute worst that people can do. As you read, you are trapped in the brains of humans who are suffering, both in typical ways and in ways brought about by mental illness and dementia.

But. But. You also experience the depths of the human condition and the brutal racial divide in the city. You learn about the horrors of a storm most of us haven’t experienced firsthand, and to understand is to empathize.

Is this happy? No. Is it important? Yes.

If you like dark, ruminative stories about complex social issues, this one’s for you. If you’re looking for a light, fast-paced adventure story about surviving a hurricane, this will definitely surprise you with its slow and meandering nature and psychological focus.

View all of my Goodreads reviews