The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al Mansour
Ages: 10 and up
Grade Level: 5 and up
I read this book a year ago, and it makes the perfect follow-up to Malala’s biographies. Eleven-year-old Wadja wants one thing – a green bike. Something that’s nearly impossible for a Saudi Arabian girl. She faces many of the restrictions Malala faced in Pakistan. Saudi girls aren’t allowed to ride bikes, and their mothers and big sisters can’t drive cars. Wadja encounters many hurdles in her quest to own her own bike. Along the way, you’ll also discover differences between our cultures. It’s way easier to be an American girl! Haifaa is a Saudi film maker and is the first Saudi female to shoot a full-length movie. This is her first book, and it’s based on her award-winning movie.
For The Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai's Story
Written by Rebecca Langston-George
Illustrated by Janna Bock
Ages: 8 - 11
Grade Level: 3 – 4
This is a picture book version of Malala’s story. The content matches the chapter book version, which I expected. The biggest difference is in the pictures. The characters remind me of Disney books. The pictures are beautiful. They help you picture what life was like in the Swat Valley. It’s still too dangerous for Malala to return to Pakistan. She lives in Birmingham, England where she was once taken for surgery. She hopes to return to Pakistan someday to work for her country. In the meantime, she and her father continue to speak out for education, and she has an organization that funds education in countries like Pakistan.
Who Is Malala Yousafzai? By Dinah Brown
Ages: 8 - 12 years
Illustrations by Andrew Thomson
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Another Great Biography! This one’s from the Who Is series, and they’re great! Not only do they tell about a historical figure, but they provide background on that figure’s world. This one tells you about things like the Swat Valley and Mahatmas Gandhi. But, the best thing about this book is Malala’s story. She is such a brave person, and so young! Her father was a teacher who founded several schools in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. Her mother had no education but wanted one. When Malala was born, her family didn’t receive gifts because she was a girl. But her parents loved her anyway and continued to, even after two boys arrived. Malala received the education her mother dreamed of. She could speak three languages, but life changed when the Taliban moved into the Swat Valley. They promised to shut down girls’ schools, and they did. At 12, she wrote a blog for the BBC television network about her school struggles. The Taliban discovered it and tried to kill her. She was only 14. Malala survived and refused to be silent. At 16, she won the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest recipient ever. After reading this book, you’ll understand why, and you’ll admire her like I do. FYI- her mother now goes to school, and Malala helps her with homework.
Mesmerized by Mara Rockliff
Ages: 6 - 9 years
Illustrations by Iacopo Bruno
Grade Level: 1 – 4
This month, I’m looking for great biographies, and this is one of them! Ben’s in Paris seeking help for the American Revolution, and the French King asks him to investigate Dr. Mesmer’s magic. Evidently French doctors are furious that Mesmer’s taking their patients. His tools are a dark room and a metal wand. Using scientific method and the first “blind study” (literally), Ben figures out the real magic is from the placebo effect/the power of suggestion. Pictures/side comments make this a funny, fascinating read. The last 2 pages tell the true story. Example: Ben never met Dr. Mesmer. Gout made traveling so difficult that Mesmer’s assistant made a house call.
Judy Moody and the Bucket List by Megan McDonald
Ages: 6 - 9 years
Illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds
Grade Level: 1 - 4
Another great story! I’ve never read Judy Moody before, but now I know why this series is so successful… great characters and a kid-friendly plot. In this book, Judy discovers her grandma has a bucket list and decides she needs one too. Along the way, she discovers how to earn money (scooping poop) and to ride a horse (actually a hinny). Judy wanted to go to Antarctica but didn’t make it. Instead she learned new ways to have fun and to make a difference. She also decides to add to her grandma’s list so she’ll live a little longer. Awesome sauce! (Now I know where that phrase comes from.) This is a great book!
Mind Your Monsters by Catherine Bailey
Ages: 4-8 years
Illustrations by Oriol Vidal
Grade Level: Preschool – 2
I love this book! Monsters took over Wally’s town, and they’re out-of-control. They scare kids and knock over lamps. They make messes, and worst of all, they stink! Wally saves the day…with one magic word. Best of all, kids rescue the world, saving even grown-ups too. Imagine! A picture book where monsters like vampires, werewolves, and zombies go wild, till please saves the day. Let the rumpus begin!
Whenever I read or write, I find a comfy chair with a great view. I get my favorite drink, stretch out, and let the words take me away.