I know you are going to find this hard to believe, but our society isn’t kind to people that are overweight. People like me. While I’m over here living my best life and admiring the body positive messages from the Lizzos and Ashley Grahams of the world, there is still much work to do when it comes to fat acceptance and body shaming.
On this year’s Summer Reading list (coming soon!), there is a gem of a book called Starfish. It highlights this message in bright lights. The debut novel by Lisa Fipps centers around Ellie, an 11-year-old, who is bullied for her weight. Not just by her classmates but also by her own family. From her sister, who nicknamed her Splash for her body’s impact when she swims, to her so-called well-intentioned mother researching bariatric surgery and dieting articles, Ellie is sent the consistent message that she doesn’t fit in. She doesn’t fit in with her peers; she doesn’t fit in the right clothes.
In the water, Ellie is weighless and free – free of societal pressures, free of side eyes and judgment. There are no what-ifs or “if you only lost weight” or “your face is so pretty,” etc.
Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom for Ellie. She finds refuge and support in her new therapist and her father, who advocates for her, even when advocacy leads to arguments with Ellie’s mom. Her new neighbor, Catalina, sees Ellie for her true self and beyond her physical appearance.
What sets this beautiful story apart from other similarly told stories is that the happy ending isn’t one where the main character finally loses weight and suddenly becomes liked by all. (As if a smaller-sized body guaranteed a happier life or popularity, which unfortunately is never guaranteed.) I won’t spoil the story for you, but I think you’ll find in Starfish an out-sized, hearty message with positive rippling effects on our youth.
Carmen J. is a teen instructor at HCLS East Columbia. Among her favorite things are great books, all things 80s, shamelessly watching The Bachelor, gardening, and drinking anything that tastes like coffee.
The past year (plus) has been hard for everyone. As we start to move toward something approaching our previous normal, many families are looking for special ways to enjoy the summer. The Elkridge staff has selected a wide range of titles for all ages to inspire and entertain, no matter your plans for the summer. Read fun stories together, learn about activities that you might try out, or plan a trip to take. If you’re not ready to travel for real, armchair traveling along with authors and photographers is the next best thing. Let the library help you make memories all summer long with these fun reads and many more! Join Summer Reading and check out our calendar to find classes and events for even more summer fun.
For Little Kids
Cannonball by Sacha Cotter and illustrated by Josh Morgan
How would you perform the most perfect cannonball into the pool? Would you wiggle your arms and do a little twirl? That is just what the main character of our story is trying to figure out. Join your little one this summer and learn about overcoming fears, being true to yourself, and nailing your perfect cannonball!
What can you do outside when it feels too hot to do anything? Can you shade yourself from the sun or chase your shadow? Explore all the fun things in this book you can do on a hot summer day or even during a sudden summer thunderstorm!
This rhyming, bilingual story invites readers to join a small town’s summer celebration, which even a rain storm can’t diminish. The illustrations give a glimpse into the full range of festivities, including foods, parade floats, animals, and even a firework celebration to end the night. A glossary at the end helps readers learn new words found in the text.
When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clean up after a terrible storm, she begins to remember how much she missed the sea, as well as her aunt. As Lana explores the beach, she discovers something wonderful: a colony of aquicorns. She rescues an injured aquicorn and cares for it with the help of her aunt, who seems to know far more about these incredible creatures than she’s letting on.
If you loved the questing and mysteries of Harry Potter, the puzzles of The Mysterious Benedict Society, or the thrilling history of I Survived books, The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit will keep you on the edge of your seat. This book is the first in a fantastic adventure series by National Geographic that’s full of action, cutting-edge tech, and plenty of surprises. Join a diverse and relatable cast of tweens as they train to become elite explorers. Cool maps and real photos take this captivating story to the next level.
Hiking is a fun summer activity for children to explore! This great book introduces hiking and hiking safety to children, including topics such as trail etiquette, staying safe, and what to wear. Check it out to prepare for family fun on trails in and around Howard County.
Twenty-five campers who were invited to Camp So-and-So back in February arrive in the summer to discover that this is a wholly different kind of camp. Rather than arts and crafts, activities on the lake, or friendly games, the girls at Camp So-and-So have been divided into five cabins that each have to navigate unexpected and sometimes quite frightening challenges. Trapped in this remote camp with no adult supervision to be found, the campers are forced to find their own way in this creative, unusual story.
In the land of Myre, Eva is princess born with a dark and terrible magick inside her, one that has not been seen for generations. Eva must learn to harness this power to defeat her sister, Isa, in a battle to the death to ascend to the throne.
Readers will find plentiful inspiration in this volume with a wide range of activities for young people, keeping them entertained all summer long. Some old favorites are sprinkled among creative new adventures for kids and teens, with detailed instructions and safety guidelines as needed. Vibrant illustrations and extras such as timelines, trivia, and interviews, bring this book to a level beyond your traditional how-to.
If you are planning an epic journey for this summer, next year, or sometime in the next ten years, you will want to check out this book on awesome places to visit. In fact, even if you are not planning to leave your zip code at all, the dramatic and colorful pictures captured in Destinations of a Lifetime will brighten your thoughts and your coffee table. The travel section at your local library is the perfect place to go to plan vacations, staycations, and to feed your imaginations.
Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr
In the stylish, futuristic city of Nova Honda, Domino Swift is a champion motorcycle racer. By day, she competes in the World Grand Prix, earning fame and fortune, and by night, she races on the streets, pulling off dangerous maneuvers and making risky bets to score Crush, the illegal engine stimulant her body needs to survive. Filled with hot locales and cool characters, this graphic novel has all the fast-paced action and fun of a favorite summer blockbuster.
Pick up this charming summer read to join Laurel as she takes her recently deceased grandmother’s words to heart and jets off to Greece to follow her dreams. As she lives out her own version of her favorite movie, Mamma Mia!, Laurel finds herself feeling more at home than she expected on her vacation. With romance blooming, will Laurel decide that Skopelos is where she’s truly meant to be?
It seems especially vital to raise up and celebrate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) this year, during the increased violence and harassment faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the United States. Racist attacks fueled by fear and hatred, especially surrounding the pandemic, have been on the rise in 2020 and 2021, including here in Howard County. We must all stand together against hatred and work to protect and honor the rich cultural heritage of the AAPI community. Reading “own voices” stories about the life experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is a good starting point for increasing our understanding and appreciation of the AAPI community. See our suggestions aimed at readers of all ages, and keep an eye on our Facebook page for more titles as well.
Will Chibi Samurai find a special pet just for him? Join the adventure in this second beautiful picture book in the three-part Little Kunoichi series. Meet all kinds of creatures familiar in Japanese culture throughout this playful tale, and find out more about Japanese animals and culture with special notes at the end of the story.
Where can an elevator take you? Join your little one on their adventure with Iris, a little girl who loves to press the elevator buttons to go up or down the building where she lives. After the button accidently breaks, Iris is able to save it from the trash, and the elevator button takes her on new adventures in her room.
In this charming story about celebrating differences, a Chinese-American girl wishes for a garden of bright flowers instead of one full of bumpy, ugly vegetables, but her mother assures her that “these are better than flowers.” Once it’s time to harvest, the whole neighborhood agrees that those ugly vegetables turn into the most delicious soup! A recipe at the end invites readers to try their hand at making their own tasty vegetable soup.
With a new baby sibling on the way, spunky eight-year-old Cilla will make sure her family can’t forget about her. She vows to become a famous bestselling memoirist before the baby arrives. Being both Chinese and Caucasian is an essential part of Cilla’s family and her life story. Sincerely touching and irresistibly funny, this is the first book in an excellent three-part series.
Abbie has big plans for the school year, such as running for class president. She’s also thrilled to have her own shiny new locker – that is, until she finds out she has to share it with someone else. Follow the frazzled life of Abbie Wu as she navigates the hazards of middle school in this fast-paced title filled with adventures and doodles.
Chloe Cho has always wondered why her parents will NEVER talk about their lives in Korea before moving to the United States. Other people’s parents are thrilled when their kids ask questions about their lives, but Chloe’s parents just dodge and change the subject. As Chloe enters seventh grade, she is excited to learn that she will have a Korean American teacher who can finally help her learn more about her heritage, but what she learns is VERY different from what she imagined, leading to a whole different set of questions.
Frank Li is a high school senior trying to balance his parents’ expectations of him as a first-generation Korean American, and their racism, with his own dreams and desires. He sets up an elaborate plan to start dating a white girl without his parents knowing but ends up finding his heart pulling him in a different direction. As he faces unexpected obstacles, Frank must figure out what is most important to him and how he can best help all those he loves.
Jay is preparing to graduate high school and attend the University of Michigan in the fall, but his plans take a turn when he learns that his Filipino cousin Jun was killed as part of the president’s war on drugs. With his family refusing to discuss what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines himself to find out the truth. In this captivating story, Jay has to work through more than he expected to find the full truth and his own peace.
In this sweeping novel, author Mitali Perkins draws on her own experiences as an immigrant to the United States to give readers a look into the life of one family across generations. Hear from alternating narrators in the Das family as they experience defining moments during their adolescences, spanning decades and continents. Each woman brings her own views and strengths to the story as she works to find her way through the challenges that face her.
Poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is a moving title about class, race, love, and the power of storytelling. Written in the form of a letter to his illiterate mom, Little Dog – our speaker – recounts his family’s history from before he was born, using it as a gateway to expose parts of his own life that his mother has never known. With a stunning rawness and grace to its prose, this is an intimate, striking portrait of the Vietnamese immigrant experience.
In the Chinese community of 1890s Malaya, Li Lan, the 17-year-old daughter of a struggling merchant, accepts an offer from the wealthy Lim family to become a ghost bride to their recently deceased son, ensuring her a future of comfort and respect as the widow of a man she never knew. What she expects to be her uneventful new life takes an unexpected turn as she finds herself haunted by her ghost husband and drawn into the land of the dead. Hunted by vengeful spirits and assisted by creatures of legend, Li Lan must solve the mystery of her husband’s death and find her way back to the land of the living. By weaving together both history and mythology, Choo creates an enchanting and atmospheric fantasy adventure.
They Called Us Enemy is a graphic novel memoir written by famed Star Trek actor George Takei. Detailing his family’s internment during WW2, it explores the tough choices made by his parents during this dark time of sanctioned racism. Though he was just a child at the time, Mr. Takei’s insights explore his feelings of betrayal and injustice during this harsh chapter of American history.
The Elkridge Branch + DIY Education Center opened the doors of its new building in March 2018. Our staff are always happy to help you with your questions about books, tools, technology, and more!
Mark your calendars on October 12th! Beginning this year, Howard County will celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. On WJZ-13 CBS, County Executive Calvin Ball released a statement on the decision. “Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day does not absolve us from our history, but we hope that it sets a tone and opens up discussions on the importance of restorative practices throughout our government and our community.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an exciting opportunity to explore the incredible history and culture of Indigenous communities that have often been underrepresented in our celebrations. Of course, what better way to observe this holiday than to curl up with a new book? I know I will! Here are ten books for you and your family to read and learn about Indigenous culture by authors of Indigenous descent:
Do you know what fry bread is? This colorful and touching picture book by Maillard answers this question and provides a kinship to the Native tradition of communal food preparation. In addition, Maillard provides a personal background to the narrative as he is an enrolled citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. Coupled with the illuminating illustrations by Martinez-Neal, children and adults will enjoy reading Fry Bread together.
“Water is the first medicine, It affects and connects us all…” Earth is made up of 71% of water and it provides its inhabitants with nourishment and hydration. What would you do to protect it? Inspired by the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, We Are Water Protectors is an incredibly accessible picture book for children to learn more about water and its importance to the health of the Earth. Lindstrom provides readers with a piece of her culture, as she is Anishinabe/Metis and is tribally enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe. She also calls Maryland her home!
With her debut middle grade novel, Day tells the semi-autobiographical story of a 12-year-old girl’s search for her true identity. Adopted at a young age by a white couple, Edie has always been curious about her Native American heritage. When she and her friends find a box of letters and photos of a woman who shares her name, Edie begins to question her parents and the secrets they kept from her. Powerful and important, Day weaves a storyline together that draws from her own Native heritage as an enrolled citizen of the Upper Skagit tribe. I am very excited about this novel and will be adding it to my reading list.
Straight from our 2020 Summer Reading list, Indian No More tells the heartbreaking story of 8-year-old Regina and the erasure of her Native American identity. It’s 1954 and her family is told all tribes in their state of Oregon no longer exist. Much like the other selections on the list so far, this novel is based on McManus’s own experiences when her tribe, the Umpqua, was terminated in 1954. Sadly, McManus passed away in 2018, unable to complete the revisions to her novel. Her friend and fellow author, Traci Sorell, completed the revisions as she wished.
Told from the perspective of young Native American/Indigenous women, #NotYourPrincess weaves together a traditional narrative with artwork, poetry, photography, and interviews to present a well-rounded depiction of issues affect Indigenous communities. While parts of the stories can be tough to read, this anthology is a great conversation starter for teens, especially young women, who could relate to the issues depicted in these stories.
Imagine a dystopian world where a majority of the world’s inhabitants have lost the ability to dream. Set in the future, The Marrow Thieves tells of a world such as this and how the lack of dreams has caused intense madness among society. The only people still able to dream are North America’s Indigenous communities. Their bone marrow is the cure for all mankind for the world to return to prosperity, but this means the certain death of the marrow holders. This sets the stage for Frenchie – a 15-year-old Indigenous teen, trying his best to survive, protect his companions, and flee from “recruiters” who hope to steal his marrow. Written by Canadian writer Cherie Dimaline, who is a member of the Georgian Bay Metis Community, The Marrow Thieves is an action-packed novel for fans of dystopian societies. It also packs a moral punch as to how we, as a society, view Indigenous communities and resources.
As if to speak entirely from its title, Surviving the City is based in an urban environment in Canada, where readers are introduced to Miikwan and Dez. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inniew. They are best friends trying their best to navigate the normal struggles that come with being teens as well as being faced with the challenges of being a part of a small, Indigenous minority in an urban landscape. When Dez’s grandmother falls ill and is unable to take care of Dez anymore, Dez is faced with the possibility of going into a group home. Unable to deal with that solution, Dez leaves home and disappears. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Tasha Spillett’s debut graphic novel series at first seems simple in telling Dez’s mysterious disappearance, but it also sets the tone for providing information about murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
A Girl Called Echoby Katherena Vermette, Illustrations by Scott B. Henderson, colored by Donovan Yaciuk
Time travel fans will enjoy the story of Echo Desjardins, a 13-year-old Metis girl adjusting to a new home and school, separated from her mother. During one of her first lectures with a new teacher, Echo transports to the past in several different environments: a fur-trade route, the Pemmican Wars, and a bison hunt, to name a few. Selected for our 2020 Summer Reading list, teens and adults alike will enjoy this refreshing take on Indigenous history, written by Katherena Vermette, a Metis Canadian author.
An instant hit upon its release, Cheyenne and Arapaho author Tommy Orange provides readers with an intense narrative of the urban Native American. This novel follows the journeys of 12 characters from Native communities, all en route to the Big Oakland Powwow. Each character has endured their own unique struggles, and the interwoven narratives provide a larger, deeper story of the contemporary Native American struggle while grappling with a painful history. A very popular book club choice, There There will definitely provide some complex conversation and will pique your interest in Indigenous history.
I thought I would end with a recent release from this year. Highly acclaimed author Louise Erdrich writes a fictionalized version of her grandfather’s life as a night watchman in the 1950’s. Set on her family’s home reservation (in what is now North Dakota), night watchman Thomas Wazhashk is a Chippewa Council member who is grappling with the new “emancipation” bill proposed by U.S. Congress. Despite “emancipation” as a synonym for freedom in previous events, this bill presents the term more like a “termination” of Native American culture, land, and identity. His story is coupled with that of Patrice Paranteau, a young adult who makes jewel barrings at the plant and is saving to search for her sister, Vera. Poverty, violence, exploitation: Louise Erdrich combines these intense themes and crafts a novel based on her Ojibwe roots and current Anishinaabe membership. I am definitely adding The Night Watchman to my to-read list.
No matter what age, we can all celebrate Indigenous voices this year and for many years to come on Indigenous Peoples Day. I hope there are some selections you will explore this fall, and all are available at HCLS! Add these books to your holds queue and enjoy these amazing stories.
Claudia J. is an instructor and research specialist and has worked for Howard County Library System for a little over four years. She enjoys writing on rainy days and drinking iced coffee on sunny days.