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Review: How to Love the Empty Air

27 October 2018

Review: Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party

Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party by Megan McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Judy Moody was one of my daughter's favorites. It was weird and sweet to read Judy's return as my daughter is in high school. It actually made me wonder what Judy would be like as a high schooler.

In this new tale Judy is just as we left her - impulsive, self-centered, and hilarious.

Judy gets the notion that she may be part of the English monarchy. She writes to the Queen (and receives a response!) and begins to align her life with what she imagines royalty would do. It isn't a Judy Moody tale without conflict that forces Judy to apologize to someone. She realizes that her relatives may not quite be royalty.

What I like the best about Judy is that she often does something that requires an apology, even if it is to herself. Since these books are meant for kids ages 6-8, it is great to have a beloved character who loves with full passion, sometimes gets carried away, but does end up handling things with grace.

Welcome back, Judy!

Disclaimer: I received this book from a publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power

Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power by Vita Weinstein Murrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This beautiful looking book holds some radical retelling of beloved fairy tales.

Since my favorite fairy tale and princess is the Little Mermaid, Vita Murrow's retelling hit me the hardest. First of all the Little Mermaid is now a young woman of color. Then her adventures finds her meeting what they call a land princess. No prince in this story! Their cross-cultural exchange is sweet, including how they get the Little Mermaid's grandmother involved.

My next favorite is Beauty and the Beast. This retelling does not eliminate the love story between the two, but it does reframe it in a manner that is more feminist than anything Disney has offered us. It also amplifies the strength of Belle that we see in other versions of the tale.

And seriously, this book is beautiful. The cover is red cloth with gold embossing. It feels so nice and will look great on your bookcase.

Disclaimer: I received this book from a publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Princesses Save the World

Princesses Save the World Princesses Save the World by Savannah Guthrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great book if your kids are princesses obsessed and you are tired of the usual princess stories. What starts off as a not-so-spectacular storybook turns into a lesson on the importance of bees, girls working together, and even chemistry. The racial diversity of the princesses gathered to save the world is lovely.

Parents often ask me what they can do to sustain their daugther's interest in science. This book might do just that! In order to relocate bees to a land where there are none, the princesses must create an alluring smell. This is when one of them hits the princess lab to create a perfume to lure bees. This is a great subplot to talk about the importance of science, but not in a heavy handed way! Maybe just reinforce that the princess is in a chemistry lab. Maybe a good time to buy your daughter a chemistry kit too?

Overall "Princesses Save the World" is a safe book about girls banding together to solve a problem. There is nothing radical or revolutionary in it. A great book to get for a birthday party when you know their parents are not hip to some of your feminist ways.

Disclaimer: I received this book from a publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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04 September 2018

Rose Tico and Kelly Marie Tran are the role models we need

Rose Tico emerged from "The Last Jedi" as the breakout character. Who would have guessed when we saw her zap Finn that so many people would fall in love with her passion for life and dedication for the resistance? Considering that Finn gets under my skin as an annoying brat, ME!!

A few weeks ago Kelly Marie Tran wrote a kick ass op-ed in the New York Times about the online harassment that pushed her off Instagram, as well as the importance of Rose Tico to nerds of color:

...the same society that taught some people they were heroes, saviors, inheritors of the Manifest Destiny ideal, taught me I existed only in the background of their stories, doing their nails, diagnosing their illnesses, supporting their love interests — and perhaps the most damaging — waiting for them to rescue me.
And for a long time, I believed them.

Bomber Command
Tran sums up harshly and eloquently why nerds of color need heroes that look like them. I guy came over to my office the other day to fix my phone and he saw my Wonder Woman swag everywhere. "You know she's Latina right?" I told him yes and he just went on and on about how much he loves Wonder Woman because she is Latina. "She's one of us!" Of course we're really talking about Linda Carter as Wonder Woman is really more Mediterranean with her Greek mythology background. And I wish I knew this about Cater when I was a kid running around in my Underoos. BUT I'LL TAKE IT!

Resistance Fighter
But for kids today, especially Star Wars fans with Asian heritage, sisters Rose and Paige Tico are here to serve as inspirations through two young reader books.

I highly recommend these books for Star Wars fans who are super into the details. The nerdiest parts of both books are the detailed plans for a ships, weapons, worlds, creatures, and people. For me, right now, that's more detail than I need! But I know for many fans it is exactly the details they are looking for, especially for kids of color to get engrossed in zoology or engineering.

What I loved about the books is that they are both presented as if pieces of their diaries. The stories move along as part inner dialogue, part reflection. It made their stories feel accessible and real. Of course my favorite part was Rose dragging of Finn for trying to escape. I've never yelled "Hell yeah!" to a young reader book before.

Seriously though, the way Jason Fry situates the Tico Sisters' passion for justice in an idealism that would had been candy for me as a young person especially in this political moment.

If you have a young Star Wars fan who has signed up for the Resistance IRL, get them Resistance Fighter and Bomber Command.

Disclaimer: These books were sent to me from a publicist in return for an honest review that was then prompted by Kelly Marie Tran's amazing op-ed. 

19 August 2018

Review: 90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality

90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality 90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality by Allison Yarrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To be called a bitch is contextual and gendered. If a woman is called a bitch in anger, it is demeaning. If a man is called one in anger, it is not just demeaning, but an attack on their masculinity. And then there are those, like myself, who embrace the term as one of strength. Sometimes women use it as a term of endearment, "You are a strong bitch!" Other times we translate the attack and flip is back to the offender, "You're damn right I'm a bitch!" But how does the word impact our daily lives and politics? From Brenda versus Kelly to Tonya versus Nancy, Allison Yarrow's careful examination of who gets called a bitch reveals why the feminist movement failed to make the progress it should have in the 1990s and its ramifications to our lives today.

You may wonder how one word has so much power. That is why "90s Bitch" is a must read, especially for everyone who grew up in the 1990s.

By examining both sides of different scandals such as Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Yarrow unpacks how the media and our reactions helped to fuel the unraveling of feminist goals that we still feel today. Hillary began the 1990s as the number one bitch. She was an unconventional First Lady who offended many who believed in the traditional doting wife model. Hillary offended many with her comment about not staying home to bake cookies, but once challenged to a bake-off, worked her ass off to win it. Many felt she wasted any goodwill by the revelations of Bill's infidelity by staying with him. On the other hand, Monica was rarely afforded support due to a massive case of slut-shaming. One thread Yarrow misses in this conversation is the reality that the Republicans had taken over Congress and the defense of Bill was one of political will, especially in light of Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde's history of infidelity. Yarrow's indictment of feminist leaders is a hard pill to swallow for those of us lived through the moment, even if we have a sneaky suspicion that Bill deserved to be impeached for preying on an intern. But what Yarrow does is not just reveal the flaws of 1990s feminism in relation to the Bill Clinton affair, but how the bitchification of Monica prevented a better analysis of the situation.

Again and again Yarrow reexamines how the trope of bitch derailed feminist progress in the 1990s. You may have lived through the 90s, but that means you likely took a side and Yarrow shows us that the only side of have was the movement's side.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


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