Friday, January 27, 2017

#ReadYourWorld Book Review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

The Curse of the Were-Hyena by Bruce Hale is a tribute to the brilliant and slightly wild minds of children (IMHO). This is achieved through the engaging and interactive style of storytelling. Main characters, Carlos and Benny, don’t narrate in a typical manner—instead it feels as if they are talking to a friend. This technique has the potential to hook reluctant readers. Additionally, the idea of your teacher (Mr. Chu) turning into a monster and displaying over-the-top mannerisms is also reflective of children or at the very least intriguing for many child readers. The transparent discussion of emotions, such as fear and guilt, also worthy of recognition. Hale is truly an artistic writer as he is able to integrate humor and whimsical pencil sketched illustrations into this suspenseful mystery. While diversity isn’t addressed in a preachy or explicit manner it is great to see diverse characters represented in this book in a manner that is positive, real, and reflective of how culture influences us. The diverse family dynamics is also presented implicitly and in respect to valuing multiculturalism. I would recommend this book for mystery lovers and reluctant readers!

*I received this book for review from Bruce Hale and publisher, Disney/Hyperion as part of Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

More event details for the day:
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:
MCBD site:
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Brain on Fire

Cahalan, S. (2012). Brain on fire: My month of madness. New York, NY: Free Press.

Genre: Memoir 

I won this book as a first reads winner (GoodReads Giveaways) in the fall of 2012 from Free Press. Lots of life happened and kept me from reading and blogging as I once did. However, this past Friday (3/18/16), a friend and I were walking around a bookstore as casual therapy after a medical-related meeting and this cover caught my attention…

…after picking the book up off the shelf, I realized I had this book at home. I have an advanced reader’s edition of this book, so there might have been some minor tweaks and changes before it was officially published and released—but nonetheless, Susannah’s scary and incredible journey is still the same in either edition. For curiosity’s sake, here is what the ARC cover looks like…

My review…

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness was impossible for me to put down. Susannah Cahalan is a journalist, so her writing is just as compelling as ground-breaking news. In this memoir, she shares with us the horrifying experience of what happened to her when her brain unleashed war on itself. Cahalan’s story is raw, absolutely frightening, and yet still thought-provoking and incredibly moving. From her fear of bedbugs to seizures to paranoia to incidents of rage to blackouts…she reveals her inner most fears, thoughts, and experiences as this incredibly rare condition completely took her away her out of herself. 

The insight she was able to piece back together from her loved ones, doctors, journals, medical records, etc. is just mind-boggling. It must have been so eerie for her to research herself to recapture what unfolded in the months of her unraveling. For me the most powerful take-away from this memoir is the frightening reality that hundreds (if not thousands) of people are diagnosed with mental illnesses or other conditions that potentially leave them imprisoned in psych wards or other facilities when it’s very possible they could have a similar rarity in their brain. As Cahalan argues in part 3 of this book, there is a great and growing need for fields to work together and for doctors of every kind to be up-to-date with recent literature and studies so people aren’t falling through the cracks of a system that just doesn’t work well together. This could happen to anyone. It did. It does. There has got to be a better way to quickly get people a correct diagnosis and treatment. 

I am amazed by the strength of Susannah Cahalan. Her ability to keep fighting to find herself again and then share her journey with the world is absolutely remarkable. She is raising awareness and saving lives. I cannot wait to see what she writes next. I’m sure she has much more to share with the world. 

I recommend this book for everyone. Seriously. Every single person. Do you really know yourself? Would you notice if your brain was distorting your thoughts, behaviors, and perceptions? I’m going to make a lofty statement and say that a people don’t and wouldn’t. This is why Cahalan’s story is so powerful. Read it…sooner than later. My only regret is having not read it sooner.