My Bio

My Bio
My name is Sharon Levin and I've been reviewing children's literature for 20 years. I founded and run the Bay Area Children's Literature List. My biggest passion (outside my family) is getting books into the hands of children and teens. My favorite thing is getting non-readers to realize that they're readers. I also LOVE t-shirts that have to do with books or literature. As soon as I figure out how to do it, I'll have a click through on the above picture so you can see my entire collection (and where to get them).

July 12, 2017

Review: KATE WARNE: PINKERTON DETECTIVE




Ah, yet another instance of children's books making me smarter (and better at trivia games).  KATE WARNE: PINKERTON DETECTIVE by Marissa Moss, illustrated by April Chu (Creston Books, 2017) tells the fascinating story of the first female detective in the United States.

We've all heard of the Pinkerton Detectives, but I'm sure most of us have a visual of men in suits and hats, not a young woman in a corset (Note: this originally read corset and a bustle, but I checked with Marissa Moss and she informed me bustles were not worn at that time.  AGAIN, getting smarter through children's lit).

At first, Pinkerton was reluctant to hire her, he did not think it was work that a woman could do.  Kate was ready for his objections. "...it's precisely the sort of thing a woman should do... As a woman, I can go places your male agents can't.  A criminal may confide in his wife or lady friend.  And those women will talk to another woman. Not to a man."

In 1856, the Pinkerton Agency was given The Adams Express Case, in which $40,000 was embezzled or stolen from pouches.  The pouches were all locked (numerous times) and no one person had all the keys,  so where had the money gone?

There were a couple of suspicions, but no proof, and how to get that proof when no one can find the money?

Well, I"M not going to tell you how it was done, you have to read the book for that!

I WILL tell you that the case could not have been solved without Kate's ideas and undercover work, so, not only was Kate the first female detective, she helped solve the case that made the Pinkerton Agency's stellar reputation.

To add to the depth of this book are the illustrations by April Chu.  As a non-artist, I am not quite sure how to describe the page layout, some are in thirds, some are split screen, all draw the reader further into the story. The end papers, filled with wanted posters and early versions of mug shots, get the story started as soon as the book is opened.

Honestly, I cannot recommend this book enough.  History, mystery, womenstry (sorry, I was on a roll) it's a fun, challenging (I couldn't figure out the mystery) and informative read.







June 13, 2017

GUEST POST: IMPOSTER SYNDROME






 This post originally appeared in Her Campus, the UC Davis edition.  It is used with permission of the author (um, who is my daughter, #ProudMom)



“They must have made a mistake." This is the first thought I have when something goes well in my life. Whether it’s a good grade on a test, an internship, or organizing something important, I don’t think about the hours I put in studying or the effort I put into my application. The imposter phenomenon, also known as Imposter or Fraud Syndrome, was first described in 1978 by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD. Clance defines imposter phenomenon as a phenomenon in which people who have been successful by “external standards” feel as though their success has occurred due to luck, fluke, or “great effort.” People who resonate with Imposter Syndrome believe that it will be found out that they do not have what it takes to complete a task, feel a need for everything to be perfect, and often feel anxiety and depression throughout the process of completing tasks. They overthink everything and are afraid that people will discover this. I definitely recognize these feelings within the experiences of my own life and mental health.

Clance developed the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS). Although this scale is not validated for official diagnosis, it can be used to see how one compares to others and has been used in peer reviewed research. The test is scored from 20-100 and can be found here if you are interested in taking it yourself. The higher the score, the “more frequently and seriously the Imposter Phenomenon interferes in a person’s life." I received a score of 67, which corresponds with frequently having imposter feelings. It is difficult for me to even admit that I frequently experience feelings of being an imposter. To admit so is to say that I think I am successful. The test is predicated on one being successful to a certain degree by external standards. By external standards and through other people’s eyes I can see that I am successful. I go to an amazing university, have done well, have the opportunity to write and have my words read. But many times I do not feel the least bit successful, continuing the cycle of feelings of being an imposter.

Over the years, this has damaged and heavily impacted my mental health. I constantly compare everything I do with the highlight reels of those around me. I feel fake and like I am going through the motions of life without actually being able to take the time to step back and enjoy the situations I find myself in. I worry about what will happen ten years from now and imagine situations where someone will come up to me ask me why I am there, what gives me the right to be here?  But with the recognition that these are valid feelings, I have come to work through them and cut myself more slack. If you recognize these circumstances within your own life, I want you to know that it is possible to work through. It is very common, especially among women college students, and you should not feel that what you are facing is not important. There are many ways to get help, including, talking to someone about it, working on changing your thinking, and making realistic assessments of your abilities.
I wanted to talk about this because I feel like mental health is a stigmatized issue no one likes to talk about, even though most people deal with some mental health issue at some point in their lives. My personal mental health is not something I really like to discuss or bring attention to; a lot of people tend cover up their mental health issues. However I think the first step to destigmatizing these situations is to talk about it. It is important to me for people to realize that they are not alone in any circumstance they may face.
None of the images used belong to the author or Her Campus UC Davis.

May 9, 2017

We are here, We are here, WE ARE HERE!!!!


 


On November 9th I lost hope.

Our country had elected a racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, Anti-Semitic, self-described sexual predator. I had truly believed that our country would elect Hillary, the only question was how much of a landslide she would get.

I mean, come ON, look what Barack Obama said about her, "I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as President of the United States of America."

But,  this is not a rant about Tr**p and the racists who support him ('economic insecurity' my ass), this is about the reclaiming of hope, when I thought it was gone forever.

I wore the shirt in the photo on a recent trip to Barcelona.  I had ordered it for the trip, since I wanted to let the Europeans know that we did not all support this horrific administration (as we know, a MAJORITY of us do not).

The reactions were WONDERFUL!! I had women from all over the world taking pictures of the shirt, people thanking me for my vote, people defying my own stereotypical thoughts (although a couple fit stereotypes perfectly).

The first day I wore the shirt was to La Sagrada Familia and as we stood in line some young women (20 somethings) looked at my shirt and smiled and started talking to each other while looking at my shirt.  Since I am very shy (you're welcome for the laugh), I smiled and said, "Do you like my shirt?" and they started chatting with me and asked if they could take photos. 

Other women in line and at the entrance commented positively on my shirt.  I said to many, "I get positive feedback from women, not so much from men."  So, of course, within 30 seconds a young American man said, "I like your shirt." I smiled and told him he blew my statistics, but I was glad to have that happen.  He was travelling with a group of grad students from Stanford and he said, "Yeah, one of the women in my group ADORES Hillary." (as do I, as do I).

About a minute after that, an older, white man made sure to catch my eye and glared at me as he walked past me (I smiled beatifically back, I find that pisses people off more).  I heard him talking later, and he was definitely American.

I had such a great time meeting people and seeing their reactions to the shirt, that I wore it a second day (so 1/4 of the days we were there, I was 'repping' Hillary).  On that day we went to a restaurant where across the room, I saw a young woman (just pretty much figure when I say young, I mean 20's) who looked at my shirt, smiled and then spoke to the man next to her. They both looked, made eye contact with me and smiled.  I giggled and the spousal unit asked what I was giggling at, I said, "That woman and her friend like my shirt."  A group of Spanish men who were sitting near us at the bar said, "So do we, so do we."

At the Picasso Museum I had a group of women come up to me and say, "WE voted for her too." They were white, wealthy and Southern and I would have put them in the Tr**p camp (yes, I am guilty of stereotyping).  Were they liberal?  Hell, no.  But they hated Tr**p and everything he stands for.  They were from Alabama and were incredibly angry at Sessions as well.  I told them to keep making phone calls and speaking up, that was our only hope.

And, here we are, back at that word, hope.

And why do I feel hopeful now?  The Democrats finally, FINALLY got a backbone and started speaking up.  Grassroots campaigns, taking the playbook from the Tea Party, started calling, texting, e-mailing and, most importantly, SHOWING UP at meetings with elected officials.

It takes EVERY Who in Whoville (yes, that's where the title of this post came from) to speak up, to let them know that WE ARE HERE (and DAMMIT we ARE here!!)

And as long as we speak up, hope is alive.

Yopp......








March 14, 2017

Let's Hear it for the Girls (and Women)! Part 1

It's Women's History Month and since I seem to actually be getting blogs out on time, I may be able to review some books while it's still March (no promises though).



Let's start with The Youngest Marcher:  The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton (Atheneum, Books for Young Readers, 2017) https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781481400701

Audrey was inspired by their friend Mike, who used to sit at their dinner table, say grace and talk about civil rights, while enjoying "hot rolls baptized in butter".  Mike would talk about segregation and that "An unjust law is no law at all." Audrey knew that meant that it was right to stand up to segregation and laws that forced her to use the back of the bus, never sit at the lunch counter, or drink from the 'white fountain'.

If you haven't guessed, 'Mike' is Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (Mike was the name given him at birth, his father was Mike Sr., Mike Sr. changed both their names to Martin Luther after the religious reformer).

Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Reverend James Bevel called for protest at Monday night church services at Reverend Shuttlesworth's church.  The congregation would sing songs like We Shall Overcome and then congregants would give testimonies about how segregation and racism were affecting their lives.

At first, there was a call for 'filling the jails' with adult protesters, but adults were too afraid (and with good reason).  "Boss man will fire me! Landlord will evict me! Policemen will beat me!"

Reverend Bevel came up with a new idea, "If grown-ups won't do it, fill the jails...with children!"

Audrey immediately wanted to participate (keep in mind, she was 9 years old), and with her parents' blessing, she showed up two days later in a nice outfit (protesters should look nice) and with a game her father gave her and walked out in the street with all the other children.  She was the youngest one there, but she kept her head high and sang loudly "Ain't gonna le-e-t nobody turn me 'round, turn me 'round, turn me 'round."

Audrey and all the marchers were arrested that first day.  Prison was miserable, lonely (she was so much younger than the others), the bed was awful and the food was worse. 

BUT, children marched every day until by the 5th day the PRISONS WERE FULL! After a week, Audrey and the others were sent home.

Now, I love this book and I love learning about Audrey, but I do find the pages that follow the protest a bit simplistic. "No one else could be sent to jail. Everything had changed." 

It makes sense in a way, since this book is written for younger readers, so this is a good 'entry' book to the Civil Rights Movement.  However we do know that it wasn't this easy and even though Birmingham took the segregation laws off the books two months later (this is 1963), it didn't mean that African Americans had an easy time sitting at lunch counters, getting jobs, or, of course, voting.

Sadly, this book is even more timely, given that we are seeing a resurgence in voter suppression (specifically of voters of color).  The Youngest Marcher reminds us that battles are never over and that we all can (and MUST) speak up and take action when we see injustice in our world.

p.s.  As a DELICIOUS bonus, there is the Hendricks' family recipe for 'rolls baptized in butter'.







Further Reading:

We've Got a Job :The 1963 Birmingham Children's March By by Cynthia Levinson, (Peachtree Publishers)



 


March 7, 2017

Life, Literature, Laughter...: CENSORSHIP! (or is it?)

Life, Literature, Laughter...: CENSORSHIP! (or is it?):  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of ...

CENSORSHIP! (or is it?)

 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

                              First Amendment to the United States Constitution



Censorship has been at the top of the news recently.  

 We just had the ‘Milo Debacle’ at UC Berkeley which has a lot of liberals defending free speech.   (On a semi-side note, I truly believe that those 100 ‘demonstrators’ were Milo plants, stirring up trouble to get Milo sympathy and air time on mainstream media, sadly, it worked).

I’m liberal, I love free speech,  I also believe that I get to use speech to fight hatred, bigotry, ignorance, etc.  I also know that the First Amendment is about the GOVERNMENT restricting my speech, not my fellow citizens restricting it and believe me, there are a LOT of people who would LOVE to restrict my speech (probably starting with my daughters).

So, is calling out a book, movie, t.v. show for racism, hate speech or homophobia (to just name a few), censorship?  Nope.  I don’t understand why people are so gung ho to say that bigots can speak up but for us to speak up against them is suppression (especially we liberals, we are so busy trying to make nice – yeah, ‘make nice’ got us a fascist President, but I digress)

Last fall I was at a publishers’ presentation night with various publishing reps showing us their top choices for Fall and Winter.   I started flipping through a book called Bad Children’s Books, a parody of the often treacly, old fashioned covers of the classic Little Golden Books for children.

Having the maturity level of an adolescent, I kept giggling and showing pages to some of my co-workers.  My favorite was Woody Wakes With a Woody, showing a little boy with, um, you know, a ‘tent’ when he wakes up in the morning. (I told you I had the sense of humor of an adolescent).

There was a raffle at the end of the evening and if your number was called, you could choose two books.  I immediately picked this one, with the intentions of reviewing it the next day.

I brought it to my Shut Up and Write group and before we hit the ‘shut up’ part, I was showing everyone this HILARIOUS book.  Then, I turned the page to an illustration of a little girl in a burka holding a ticking bomb and offering it to a little boy.  The title was Happy Burkaday Timmy!  We all gasped, we could not believe what we were seeing.

It was incredibly offensive, hurtful, shocking and, in my opinion (and I get to have one) unacceptable. 

I vowed immediately to write a scathing review of the book.  However, being the Queen of Procrastination, I didn’t do it immediately.  I did send it out to a couple of groups that I’m in. One is my own Bay Area Children’s Literature List and another is the Child Lit listserve.  Thank goodness people on those lists are not the procrastinors that I am and negative reviews were written and an outcry was raised.

The author, who writes under the pseudonym Robert Gackley (but, is children's book author/illustrator Bob Staake - this is public knowledge) asked Abrams (the publisher) to stop publication of the book.  It was not withdrawn from bookstores, but more copies would not be made once it was gone.

Gackley is quoted as saying "The book is clearly not being read by some in the way I had intended – as satire – and, more disturbingly, is being misread as the very act of hate and bigotry that the work was meant to expose, not promote. For this reason, I have asked Abrams to cease publishing the book.”

Let's look at this. Is Gackley owning that he crossed a line? No, he doesn't believe that he has.  Does he at least feel bad that it is hurting people?  No.  Look at his language "not being read..."  "being misread"  Let's call this what it is, it's  'blame the victim'  language.  It's "I didn't do anything offensive/wrong. It's those humorless people who aren't smart enough to read my book in the correct way."

As a woman and a Jew, I can tell you that this is what ALWAYS happens when 'jokes' are made about a gender, race, religion etc.  It's not that the joke is offensive, racist, bigoted, sexist etc.  it's that the offended person just 'doesn't have a sense of humor'.

Or as Abrams says “taking elements of the book out of context and failing to recognise it as an artistic work of social satire and comic parody”.

Again, blaming the humorless victims.  'ARTISTIC work?!?!" so now, those of us who are offended are just uncouth as well as humorless. Wow....

Abrams also released this statement:

“At Abrams, our books and our publishing house have never, nor will ever, stand for bigotry or hatred. Those misrepresentations, aspersions, and claims surrounding the book, and the attempts to promulgate them, fly in the face of the values that our company and our employees hold dear.”

Oh, okay, as long as you say that you don't stand for bigotry or hatred, I should believe you.  Hmm, do you also think I should believe Trump when he says that he's not Anti-Semitic and that his Executive Order is not a Muslim ban?

Just saying it doesn't make it true Abrams.

Recently, Simon & Schuster has come under fire for giving Milo (see above) a quarter of a million dollar advance for a book he hasn’t written yet.  Milo is a dangerous hatemonger who incites violence against transgender people, among others. 

The publishing/literature world blew up.  Some saying How DARE Simon and Schuster do this? Others saying,  CENSORSHIP to those who objected.

Let’s visit this again.  It is not censorship to disagree with the contents of a book or movie and to call out that book or movie for its racism etc.  To question a publisher for publishing/promoting racism and bigotry is not only acceptable, it's necessary.

Note: Since I wrote this, S&S has cancelled Milo's book since he came out in favor of pederasty.  I appreciate they did this, but they also sent the message that transphobia, racism and doxxing your  critics (Milo puts personal information about his critics out on the internet, thereby putting them in danger from his followers) are COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE.  

Again, especially at this terrifying and unsure time in our country's history, it is our duty to speak up, to shine a light on bigotry and hatred. 
-----

To read more, I HIGHLY recommend these blog posts that really nail the issues:  https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2016/12/about-anti-vaccine-kid-in-bad-little.html

http://bookriot.com/2016/12/02/its-not-funny-its-racist/

And, this article has some brilliant thoughts, stating the issues so much better than I can:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/03/us/satirical-book-outrage/

February 28, 2017

REVIEW: BLEED, BLISTER, PUKE, AND PURGE: The Dirty Secrets Behind Early American Medicine




 
Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge: The Dirty Secrets Behind Early American Medicine  by J. Marin Younker,  (Zest Books, 2016)

Remember how I say that children’s books make me smarter? Sometimes they totally gross me out WHILE making me smarter. Bleed, Blister, Puke and Purge definitely fills requirements in both categories (making this a PERFECT YA book!)

Want to get that reluctant reader who loves all things ghoulish interested in a book?  Get them to read the first paragraph about Union soldier Corporal Quick who was shot behind the jaw. It wasn’t the bullet that killed him (directly), it was the treatment. First they told him to rest and poop (cuz the jaw is connected to the intestines?), when that didn’t work, they tied off his carotid artery (he was awake for the procedure), which of course, killed him. It took nine days (miserable, horrible days for Quick) but he finally died.

Or about John Hunter who wanted to study STDs so he knowingly infected himself with syphilis (this may be an urban legend).  Hunter wanted to document the symptoms of syphilis, in order to be able to separate its symptoms from those of gonorrhea.   Unfortunately the sailor he got the syphilis from (by taking, ugh, pus, from the sailor’s penis and putting it on his own, had both diseases.  I also learned that Goodyear (yes, GOODYEAR) started mass producing rubber condoms in 1885.  I wonder if they also sold retreads (rimshot).

We also learn that women and minorities were blocked from studying/practicing medicine (SHOCKED, I’m SHOCK…. Wait, no I’m not).  Many of the women burned at the stake or drowned for being witches were actual healers and midwifes.  Women doctors still earn about $20,000/year less than their male colleagues according to a 2016 study.  This may be because many women doctors are in the ‘female side’ of medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology, which often pay less (don’t get me started on how we place less value on things that affect women and/or children).

Want a fun fact to share with your teen readers?  Well, you can serve them Graham Crackers and let them know that the original purpose for these was to “restrain sexual appetite, improve digestion, and cure insanity” Yup, Dr. Sylvester Graham believed in clean living which apparently included “curbing lust” or, as the book states, “The common phrase of the Graham movement was: (no pun intended re: digestion)  “If it feels good then don’t do it.”

We learn about how insanity was seen and often used (especially against women) to keep people in their “place” Such as Elizabeth Packard, whose husband had her committed, essentially for disagreeing with him and his very conservative and controlling religious views.  Or, the heartbreaking story of John Rush, who was institutionalized for 27 years, after he tried to commit suicide (probably suffering from PTSD, not a known diagnosis in 1810)  His father, Dr. Benjamin Rush, was known as the “Father of American Psychiatry” but he could not help his own son.

Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge  is informative and HIGHLY entertaining.  It’s 105 pages of text (so it works for those teachers, who, for whatever reason, require that a book be more than 100 pages) and great graphics.  The cover displays various, TERRIFYING medical ‘tools’



Additional Reading:  Breakthrough (reviewed on May 16, 2016) and Fortune’s Bones by Marilyn Nelson


August 16, 2016

A Very Special First Day of School


Warning:  This is a Mom Brag Blog, I just can’t help it.  BUT I’m also not one of those annoying moms who think their child can do no wrong and pretends it was all smooth sailing.  Elise and I have discussed writing a book (when she’s 30) titled My Teen’s Not Perfect, How ‘Bout Yours?  So,  yeah, I know better. J

So, onward…

I have had many first days of school, my own, of course, but those for the most part have faded.  I do remember sixth grade when my friends and I had discussed whether we’d wear dresses or pants on the first day.  I am old enough, that even having that choice was a bit new for us.  Until fourth grade, girls had to wear skirts or dresses, pants were not allowed.  Forgetting to wear shorts under our clothes on PE days usually resulted in that classic poem about European capitals and underwear.

But, the first days of school that are more important to me now are those of my daughters.  I remember Elise’s first day of kindergarten, looking at her hunched sleepily over her hot chocolate and thinking to myself, “This is my life for the next 15 years.”

Well, as they say, The days are long but the years are short, and those 15 years (plus 2) are over now. 

We still went shopping for school supplies this year though, not only for Sasha, our college sophomore, but also, in a very special way, for Elise.

This fall, Elise will be experiencing the first day of school from the other side of the desk.  She will be a student teacher, teaching math to seventh graders.  I look at the path she’s taken and who she is and I think how lucky these students are to have her.

Elise has always had a passion for education and for schools.  She started a major fundraiser for her school district in 5th grade, she has tutored or been a camp counselor since middle school and volunteered in multiple schools in Berkeley and Oakland during her college years.

She ‘gets’ this age and she gets math (that would be the paternal genes at work) but mainly, she is kind, loving and intelligent and she realizes that everyone, especially adolescents, need to feel seen and heard. 


Her eventual job goal is to work in educational research, but she realizes that to do research and to make recommendations, she needs to have practical teaching experience first.

Teaching, like parenting, is MUCH easier in theory, than in practice.

So, yes, it’s a different first day of school and an incredibly special one and I couldn’t be more proud.

May 10, 2016

Review: BREAKTHROUGH (aka Another Children's Book That Made Me Smarter)

 


Recently I picked up the book Breakthrough by Jim Murphy (Clarion Books, 2015) http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780547821832 The subtitle is: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever

Now, I am not a major science reader, I leave that to the spousal unit.  I read some of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks but I mainly got my information from her Fresh Air interview and talking to others who read the book.  It's a fascinating story and very well written, it's a case of "It's not you, it's me." I'm not a big reader of really long non-fiction books. 

So, Breakthrough was absolutely perfect for me.  Fascinating medical history, civil rights (or lack thereof), well written and 101 pages (probably deliberate on the publisher's part, since some teachers insist a book be 100 pages to be 'worthy' of a book report. Yeah, don't get me started.)

But enough about me (hee hee, too late) let's talk about the book.  Breakthrough is about three doctors.  Nope, wait, two doctors and a research assistant.

It tells the story of Dr. Alfred Blalock, Dr. Helen Taussig and Vivien Thomas, Dr. Blalock's lab assistant and their radical new surgery to save the lives of 'blue babies'. These were babies born with a congenital heart defect, tetralogy of Fallot, that caused insufficient oxygen in the blood.  Since deoxygenated blood is blue and this color is seen where vessels are close to the surface (fingertips, etc.) babies with this defect were called "blue babies"

The survival rate of children born with this defect was very low, "Twenty-five percent of children born with tetralogy of Fallot died before their first birthday; 70 percent were dead by the age of ten."

Dr. Blalock was an internationally famous physician, due to his groundbreaking work on the causes and treatment of shock (which took many lives on the battlefield) while at Vanderbilt and then Johns Hopkins University.

Vivien Thomas, an African American man, had wanted to go to medical school and had worked very hard to achieve that goal. He was accepted to Tennessee State College in 1929, but lost all his tuition money when the Depression hit and his bank closed its doors.

Dr. Helen Taussig was dyslexic (before that had a diagnosis or name) and a woman who wanted to become a doctor at a time when "only 5% of practicing doctors in the United States were women." Women were often denied admittance or even their degrees (after they had completed their studies).

Dr. Taussig did become a doctor and was actually asked to run the pediatric cardiac clinic at Johns Hopkins when it was created in 1930.

In 1938, Dr. Taussig read about an operation that gave her an  idea about an operation that could help her 'blue babies' that she was unable to save.   She discussed it with a Dr. Gross at Harvard who dismissed her idea out of hand.

*We now interrupt this review for a brief political point:  It is fascinating to see how Dr. Taussig and her staff were perceived.  Even though she and Blalock did end up working together he said that she was "difficult"...Dr Taussig (and her entire staff)) come around here and worry me so much."  By "worry" he meant that she wanted to make sure her ideas were not "dismissed out of hand" and that her patients and their parents were treated well.  Wow, how dare she? (sarcasm emoji).*

Why is this a political point?  Well, watching the election coverage, I would say that women (one in particular) are still subjected to such an extreme double standard when it comes to behavior.  A male doctor's concern would not have been seen through such a condescending lens.

She saw her chance to try again when Dr. Blalock came to Johns Hopkins.  She met with Blalock and Thomas and they were receptive to her ideas (and surprised she had a "pleasant personality" sigh).  Thomas immediately started studying the collection of defective hearts that Taussig had (she was literally surrounded by her failures, making her more determined to find a cure) and coming up with ideas for an operation.

It is also fascinating (and aggravating) to note that although Thomas perfected the surgery, he was never allowed to operate on human patients (he practiced on dogs, and the book does talk about protests against animal experimentation), he would have to stand behind Blalock and advise him.

Breakthrough not only tells the story of a life changing/life saving medical procedure, it gives us a window into what it was like for women and people of color






Warning:  There is a photo in this book of two lynched African Americans dangling from a bridge.  It is horrifying and jarring and shows the heartlessness of the lynch mob.  They took souvenir photos which they often made into postcards.

April 26, 2016

Review: BEAR & HARE: WHERE'S BEAR?




Emily Gravett has done it again! She has written a DELIGHTFUL book and an easy hand sell (and my bookselling persona thanks her for that).

Bear & Hare:  Where's Bear? (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016) http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781481456159 is an engaging and hilarious book for ages 2-6 (and 53)

Bear and Hare are back and in this book they're playing Hide and Seek.  Bear hides first and Hare gleefully counts to ten, with brightly colored (wait, coloured, since Gravett is British) numerals dancing across the page. 



Bear is easily found hiding behind a thin floor lamp, a stack of books (this would DEFINITELY have worked in my house, I could hide an ELEPHANT and still have books left over) and an aquarium. 

Bear goes looking for Hare next and cannot find him anywhere, but then Bear disappears!  Hare looks frantically for him to no avail.  What will happen?!?!?!?

What makes the book more fun are all the little visual jokes and nods to literature that Gravett puts in.  The end papers (always look at picture books' end papers, they are often delightful and sometimes part of the story) show Hare in 'search mode' in the front and Bear searching on the back end papers.

One of the books in the stack of books is Gravett's own Monkey and Me and the artwork on the wall is from Bear and Hare: Snow!  The headboard on the bed has Hare jumping over the moon and feels a bit Goodnight Moon-ish.  My favorite (given the maturity of my sense of humor) is the chamber pot under the bed with an illustration of bear sitting on a chamber pot in the woods (FINALLY answering that age old question) and holding a roll of toilet paper. *

There are also numerous images of goldfish, in the aquarium (duh), on the lampshade, on the spine of a book.  I wonder if they're alluding to Gravett's next book.

Gravett's books are always delightful, she truly gets what is happening in the minds of children (or their animal stand ins) and portrays their emotions so well. Get this and put it on the shelf next to Again (and if you don't have Again! get it NOW! There are princess panties in it!)

Immaturely yours,

Sharon

*This reminded me Trina Schart Hyman's 'interesting' table leg illustration in King Stork