Lubbock Home and Family Book Review for September 2013

LHF_logoEach month, I write a book review column for a local magazine here in town. In collaboration with (and with permission from) the publisher, thought it might be fun to read here. So – here you go:

what_makes_a_rainbow_coverYOUNGEST:
What Makes a Rainbow? – Betty Ann Schwartz
A baby rabbit asks its mommy what makes a rainbow and as you read the story, there is a charming surprise – a brightly colored ribbon threads through each page. Each real ribbon is a different color and as you read through the book, more and colored ribbons are added until, on the very last page, we have a lovely complete rainbow to look at. This is such a charming and gentle book which is fun to look at and fun to read. Just loved those ribbons! Apparently, there are several of these ribbon books in the series so there may be one that is just right for your youngest reader.
level_upMIDDLE:
Level Up – Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham
A graphic novel about a young Asian-American man who is struggling to fulfill what he believes his parents’ dream for him: going to medical school. However, the character would much rather play computer games and is really very good at them. In trying to do what he feels he has to do (by going to med school despite his doubts), he learns about the power and the importance of being true to yourself as well as the value of respecting others. He also learns how unreliable one’s memory can be at times. It’s a quick read with a story that almost every person can relate to at some point in their life – the importance of sticking with your dreams while trying to please others at the same time. Great water-color illustrations bring it all together. Keep in mind that this is a graphic novel (not a comic book a la superhero) and so covers some more mature themes.

in-the-sanctuary-of-outcastsADULT:
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts – Neil White
A non-fiction book about a man who was convicted of kiting multiple business checks and then assigned to a prison in Louisiana which was a former leprosarium, or care facility for people who had had leprosy (or Hansen’s disease). The authorities were in the middle of a transition from hospital to federal prison so when White entered as a prisoner, there was a mix of both felons and patients living on the same campus. It’s an interesting story. I found White himself to be a bit annoying in that he was not particularly contrite about his criminal behavior (he’s more annoyed that he got caught), but aside from that, the actual history of the hospital/prison and the stories of both the prisoners and the patients make for a fascinating read. This was written in the 1990’s, when leprosy was rarely mentioned in typical conversation and most people think it’s a disease that’s belongs in the Olden Times. So it was fascinating to see the histories of the patients who had chosen to stay in the hospital grounds despite the official gradual transition to being a federal prison. It brings up the question of “who was the prisoner” in the end? Short chapters make it a fast read, and it will give you lots to think about. This would be a good choice for book groups, I would think.

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