Ophelia, or Ophie, wakes up one night to her father telling her she needs to get out of the house. Moments later, some men from town come and set it on fire. It is only later that Ophie discovers her father was killed the night before, and that his ghost came to give her the message. She and her mother flee Georgia for Pittsburgh, where they must live with Ophie’s sweet great aunt, but also her horrible aunt and cousins. Seriously, they are really unpleasant! Ophie’s mother gets a job as a maid in a very rich family’s home, and soon Ophie must come to work there as well. All the while, she keeps seeing ghosts, and what’s more, the ghosts know she can see them. They start to ask her for things, things they need said or done so they can pass on. Ophie stumbles across a mystery at her job, and her curiosity and desire to help cause her to put herself in danger, all in the name of solving the mystery and helping one very charming ghost.
This book takes place in the 1920s, and Ophelia’s family is black. Her father is killed because he tried to vote. Even though black men got the right to vote in 1870, it was basically impossible in the South at that time. And even though Ophie and her mom come to the north, they still experience a lot of racism and bad treatment. The story is a hard and sad one, but also very exciting, and by the end, I was so proud of Ophie for her bravery and compassion. If you like your ghost stories with some historical facts sprinkled in, pick up Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland. I listened to the book, which was wonderful, so if you like audiobooks, give it a listen.
In a couple of hours, life on earth will end. It is the year 2061 and a comet is heading towards earth. Only a few hundred scientists, politicians, and their children are escaping. Petra Peña and her family are some of the lucky ones who will be put into a sort of sleep paralysis, and wake up 380 years later on a new planet to start over. Everyone believes it is a chance to make the world a better place. When they arrive, it is nothing like what Petra expected. She will have to use her skills as a storyteller, passed down by her abuelita (grandma) who she calls Lita, to reverse the damage that has been caused. This thrilling dystopian story looks at the power of stories, and the beauty that comes from our differences. It is exciting, scary, sad, hopeful, and a book I absolutely loved reading! This may be a science fiction story, but readers of all types should give it a try. This book also won a Newberry Medal and the Pura Belpre Award, meaning librarians think it’s pretty special.
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi Cabrera
J B BROOKS, G.
Discover the life and legacy of this famous Chicagoan in a biography that is beautiful to read and look at.
Gwendolyn Brooks grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a family that didn’t have much money, but was rich in love and books. Hearing her father read poems made her want to write her own poetry, and her parents truly believed in her dream to become a great poet. Her first poems were published when she was only 11, but writing poetry didn’t help her make friends or pay bills once she became an adult. But still she wrote and wrote, and before long, she won the greatest prize in poetry, the Pulitzer Prize! Her poems were about her life on the South Side of Chicago, and about the inequalities she and her neighbors faced because they were Black.
I loved learning about Gwendolyn’s life in this quick, award winning read with gorgeous illustrations. I bet you will too!
Read the Rainbow! To celebrate Pride Month this June, Youth Services staff have curated a collection of books that feature diverse families, identities, and ways of living. Everyone needs to see themselves reflected in books (and the world around them), and we also grow when we learn about people who are different from us!
When Cece was young, she lost her hearing because of an illness and her whole life changes. She starts wearing a bulky hearing aid around her neck, and has to learn not only how to use that, but how to read people’s lips. There are all sorts of adjustments she has to make. Worst of all, people start treating her differently, speaking to her really slowly, like there’s something wrong with her. She starts dreaming about being the good kind of special, like a superhero and having a best friend. However, it’s not really a sad book. Even though Cece has to deal with a lot of hard things, there are plenty of funny moments too! I’d recommend this book for fans of Smile by Raina Telgemeier, and people who like funny and heartfelt stories.
Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian