An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

Black and White

Black and White - David Macaulay

Reminiscent of Meanwhile by Jason Shiga for younger kids. Choose your reading order, determine the story for yourself. Some may find this frustrating, but those willing to engage with the text and images should find something entertaining and/or thought provoking there. 

Smoky Night

Smoky Night - David Diaz, Eve Bunting

After a few disappointments, this Caldecott winner is so great. I love the illustrations. I love the way the frames work with the text and the main images. I love the story and the depiction of interracial tensions and relationships (I know that probably sounds a little weird, but it was very realistic without being heavy handed, too didactic or over the top). 

Arrow to the Sun

Arrow to the Sun - Gerald McDermott

Having a retold folktale that specifically names the culture/people it is taking the tale from easily allows anyone reading to find the source material, but it's not always easy for an outsider to see the problems in a retelling. Thank goodness for Debbie Reese. Check out her posts on McDermott's Arrow to the Sun and it's problems here.


I really liked the imagery in the book. The illustrations are very striking, but there are many problems with the story (like the fact that McDermott straight made up a ceremonial dance).

A Story, A Story

A Story, a Story - Gail E. Haley

The author repeats "African" four times in the introduction to the book which always tells me to be cautious.


The story if not directly retold from an Akan or Ashanti/Asante folktale is inspired by characters and plots from those traditions, so it's not a mishmash of "African" elements or a fake "African" story made from whole cloth. The decision to call Mmoatia a "fairy" reads as a Western-ification of the story, though from what little information I've been able to find, Mmoatia are not that different from some traditions of fairies.


The illustrations are good from an aesthetic point. I cannot speak to their accuracy. The book could have been a lot worse in its retelling and interpretation of the folktale. But it also could have been better.


Shadow - Blaise Cendrars, Marcia Brown

The illustrations are really striking, but I didn't like the poem. I also can't think of any kids that would like the book.

A Ball for Daisy

A Ball for Daisy - Chris Raschka

It makes sense for the Caldecott to honor wordless picture books. An author who can tell a compelling story just through their illustrations is of course worthy of praise and accolades. That said, I don't really like wordless picture books. This is just a personal preference. When reading a picture book having words enhances the experience (usually... in a bad picture book it can confuse the reading experience). 


Last year I read Anno's Journey and that had enough interest and complexity that I read it several times (and would read it again). A Ball for Daisy doesn't have quite the same appeal. 

Ashanti to Zulu

Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions - Margaret Musgrove, Leo Dillon, Diane Dillon

I checked this book out for an assignment last year but ended up not using it. I'm really glad I came back and read it. 


I love the Dillons. Their illustrations are always so beautiful. There was no reaching for words for less used letters like you so often see in alphabet books. I really liked the inclusion of the map to see where each people comes from and the brief insight to their traditions. I wish there were more information on both the people and their traditions but then it would be a different book. 

Poe Dameron Vol 2

Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 2: The Gathering Storm (Star Wars (Marvel)) - Charles Soule, Phil Noto

OK. The story is picking up. Real vague maybe slightly spoiler-ish Star Wars thoughts under the cut.

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How the heck is it 2020? Where did this last year go?


In 2019 I reread a lot of stuff because I was in school and that made it impossible for me to take in new stuff (for pleasure) on top of the school stuff. I realized I reread The Boxcar Children twice and one of my coworkers made fun of me for it, but honestly, the idea of running away and living in the woods and just like having time to wander around and find eggs and cook them sounded so good when I was in the middle (/end-ish) of grad school.


This year I'm going to try to read more and to read more new (to me) things (though I'm also planning on rereading some stuff). We'll see if I actually get any of it done.


Happy new year and happy reading!

Poe Dameron, Vol 1

Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Vol. 1: Black Squadron - Charles Soule, Phil Noto

I read the first issue of Poe Dameron a while back and it didn't really interest me. Having seen Ep XI now, I was more interested in his previously established back story. Since this run is now complete, I thought I'd give it another try since I really want to like Poe but the movies made it so difficult to actually like him.

Colors of Confinement

Colors of Confinement: Rare Color Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II (Documentary Arts and Culture) - Eric L. Muller, Bill Manbo

A fascinating insider's look at Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming. I first looked at all the images and then went back and read the essays (the last one was dry and didn't hold my attention, so I didn't finish it). I found it helpful to have an idea of the scope and subjects of the images when reading the essays. Some background knowledge of the history of Japanese people in America and their internment during WWII will probably enhance the reading experience of this book, though this isn't a bad place to start learning about internment either. 

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles - Julie Andrews Edwards

This book is reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth and The Wizard of Oz. It took a while for the story to get going (all the bouncing between our world and Whangdoodleland didn't help my reading flow), but once it did it's a pretty solid fantasy adventure. 


Jumanji - Chris Van Allsburg

I generally like Van Allsburg's books, but Jumanji didn't really capture me. I wanted more illustrations and more page turns to build tension and suspense rather than having each turn play out in one spread. The story is still good. I just think it could have been more effective if the book were formatted differently. 

Jabari Jumps

Jabari Jumps - Gaia Cornwall

The illustrations really work with the story to show how high the diving board is and how scary it can be. They also do a great job showing Jabari’s dad’s support and the fun Jabari has once he conquers his fear. Jabari Jumps is definitely a new favorite of mine. 



One - Kathryn Otoshi

The design of this picture book is clever with the colors and words corresponding in the text and then corresponding to their place within the word count when they transform into numbers. It contains a great lesson on acceptance and standing up for yourself. Ultimately though I thought I would enjoy it more than I did, so it gets three stars. 

Two of Everything

Two of Everything - Lily Toy Hong

I thought this silly folktale might have a stronger moral about greed or generosity. Perhaps the original moral of the tale became lost in the adaptation. The story is still entertaining particularly the exaggerated expressions of Mr. and Mrs. Haktak throughout, but an author’s note containing the original tale would have been appreciated.