Rosanne's Staff Favorites
Rosanne writes books for children. She is a frequent visiting author in schools across the country and a presentor at writer's conferences. Her newest books are The Last of the Name, historical fiction about Irish immigrants during the American civil war, and the NY Times Best Selling A Wolf Called Wander. She lives with her family in an old farmhouse in Portland and writes in a treehouse in her back yard. She joined our staff in November of 2014.
In this anxious and contentious time, when you are looking for a gift of uplift for a graduate or for a parent on Mother's or Father's Day, look no further than The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. Here's a man who made a deliberate decision to seek out each day something to delight in. He captures those moments, however fleeting, in a collection of lyric essays. They are brief; most are a page or less. It's the sort of thing that could go saccharine, but Ross Gay's essays are piercingly honest and true-hearted. It has inspired me to look on my world with a more generous eye and search, amid the toxic flotsam of the moment, for things to treasure in my fellow humans.
Here is the perfect grandparent story. It's about a child who doesn't speak the same language as his grandparent but uses the power of drawing to communicate. It's an affirmation of cultural bonds that go beyond words and an action packed adventure in vibrant color.
In a year full of weighty political tomes, each more grim than the last, I find myself in need of inspiration more than information. The Faithful Spy is both a salve for the weary soul and a much needed encouragement to brave action in dark times. In this slim volume, John Hendrix chronicles Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life, from the comfort and privilege of his childhood to his spiritual influences including the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. Through image and text, direct quotations and summaries, The Faithful Spy shows how Hitler and his Nazi party took hold of a nation no more innately racist than any other. How Hitler manipulated their media and their political processes to pin the economic suffering of the depression on "the other." It shows how a man no more innately heroic than any other chose to ally himself with "the other" that the Nazis so despised. It illustrates his growing faith and growing conviction that Hitler must be stopped at all costs. There is no happy ending for Bonhoeffer and yet this is not a bleak book, but rather a testament to how one man found the courage to act in the face of great evil.
In her latest book, Strange the Dreamer, Oregon Book Award winner Laini Taylor has created a vivid world, a chilling power dynamic, an unexpected love story, and a cast of characters that will live in your heart long after the last page.
I read a book this spring that was timely in a hundred ways I wish it wasn’t. In the months that have followed it has become all the more relevant. If there is one book I’d give to every family to read this fall it would be Russell Freeman’s newest non-fiction book for readers as young as 10 and as old as 100.
We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler is the story of Austrian teenagers Hans and Sophie Scholl who at the beginning of Hitler’s rise to power were glad to join the Hitler youth which they saw as a patriotic organization. But as the Hilter Youth moved from scout-like campouts to militia training and racist indoctrination, the Scholl siblings knew they had to resist at any cost. They put together The White Rose, a society devoted to making Hitler's war crimes known and turning the tide of German popular opinion against the Nazis. They succeeded, although it cost their lives. Freemen’s book is well researched and includes many historical photographs and yet it handles this very dark subject matter in such a way that most elementary school students can understand without being emotionally overwhelmed. This book won a Jane Addams honor for writing that advances the cause of peace and social equality.
Charlie and Mouse is the newer hipper version of Frog and Toad. Two brothers have a blast in a neighborhood very remeniscent of Portland. Perfect for family read-aloud and new readers.
Wondering what to say about immigration to the young readers in your life? The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye is a gorgeous immigration story about a boy getting ready to leave Oman and his beloved Sidi. Instead of the usual scrappy tale of a youngster making his way in the America of yesteryear, this is the tender story of a contemporary boy bidding farewell to his home and the grandfather who helps him gather the courage to go. An empathy building story you will want to read aloud.
This is my candidate for the new Good Night Moon. The rhyming text is warm and wise and does not become wearisome on repeat readings. The illustrations have a timeless quality and yet are thoroughly modern in capturing the diversity of family structures and the warmth and beauty of a simple day spent with people you love.