Book Review: Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 4.42.17 PMClayton Byrd Goes Underground is the latest book from the talented Rita Williams-Garcia. It’s about music and grief and family.

Clayton Byrd loves to spend time with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd. He especially loves to play his blues harp in Washington Square Park with Cool Papa and the Bluesmen.

When his grandfather dies unexpectedly, Clayton does not know how to deal with his loss. He’s in trouble at school and at odds with his mother (who is still angry at Cool Papa). So Clayton runs away to join the Bluesmen. But on the subway, he encounters a hip hop group and ends up in even more trouble.

I enjoyed this one more than Larrabee did. He liked the character of Clayton, but he says he prefers books with “fewer sad parts and more action.”

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Book Review: Amina’s Voice

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 11.33.03 AMAmina’s Voice by Hena Khan is a sweet story about a Pakistani-American girl growing up in Milwaukee.

Amina Khokar is in middle school now, and it seems like everything is changing. At school, her best friend is talking about changing her name from Soojin to Susan. Worse yet, she’s befriended Emily, a girl who used to tease them. At home, her high school-age brother is clashing with their parents just when they’re preparing to welcome her conservative uncle from Pakistan for a long visit.

Amina loves to sing, but only her family and best friend know about her talent. The thought of performing a solo brings back memories of her stage fright during her second grade play. And she’s positively dreading the Quran recitation competition hosted by her mosque. When the mosque is vandalized, though, she must find her voice in order to help her community.

Amina’s Voice is about friendship and family, faith and forgiveness.

Book Review: At the Bottom of the World

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 1.54.27 PMIf you and your kids love science, I’m sure you’re familiar with Bill Nye the Science Guy. But did you know that he and Gregory Mone are writing a series of science adventure books for middle grade readers?

The first book is called Jack and the Geniuses: At the Bottom of the World and takes place in Antarctica. Larrabee and I both enjoyed the mix of mystery, adventure, humor, and real science and technology facts.

Twelve-year-old Jack lives with his genius foster siblings, Ava (age 12), who designs drones and speaks multiple languages, and Matt (age 15), a math whiz. A chance encounter leads the three to an internship in the lab of Dr. Hank Witherspoon and a trip with him to Antartica to judge an invention contest. When they arrive, though, they find that one of the scientists is missing along with all of her research.

We liked that the book includes a science experiment relating to density (a concept that’s key to the plot).

Larrabee and I are looking forward to the second book in the series, Jack and the Geniuses: In the Deep Blue Sea, set in Hawaii.