New Book Spotlight: The Blackbird Girls

The New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

The Blackbird Girls / by Anne Blankman / 2020

Content Advisory/Trigger Warning: physical and mental abuse, anti-Semitism

Anne Blankman’s The Blackbird Girls is a historical fiction that jumps between Oksana and Valentina in the aftermath of the Chernobyl power plant explosion in 1986, and Rifka who is on the run from the Nazis in 1941.

Rifka grew up practicing Judaism while Valentina identifies only ethnically with Judism. Separated by over forty years, the two girls experienced anti-Semitism in ways that were similar yet so different. Oksana was the perfect Ukrainian, and all her life she was told to hate Valentina and people “of her kind”.

When the Chernobyl power plant exploded, Valentina and Oksana’s lives were forced together much to their dismay. But when they have to live together in Leningrad with Valentina’s grandmother, they learn how similar they are and how important they are to each other.

Blankman explores the impact World War II and the Holocaust had on Jewish people while showing personal growth in a prejudice time in world history. Blankman has created a story full of hope and resilience in a time of fear and uncertainty.

The Blackbird Girls is available from CECH Library, as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks. It also won the 2020 National Jewish Book Award for Middle Grades Literature.

Review by Alice Somers (she/her), CECH Library Student Assistant | Secondary English Education, CECH 2025

CECH Spotlight: Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

CECH Spotlight highlights recommended books in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

Julian is a Mermaid / written and illustrated by Jessica Love / 2018

On Saturdays, Julian and his Abuela go swimming at the community pool. One Saturday, Julian sees several women wearing beautiful mermaid dresses and is totally entranced. He decided he wants to be a mermaid himself, but what might his Abuela think of this?

Jessica Love’s Julian is a Mermaid is an absolutely breathtaking picture book. It follows the story of a gender non-conforming child, which is a rare but very welcomed sight, who dreams of becoming a mermaid. This heartwarming story is full of vivid and magical illustrations that beautifully depict a child’s imagination and embrace diversity with a broad range of body types and skin tones. With each turn of a page, you will feel the anxiety, the love, and the acceptance Julian feels through subtle details in facial expressions and body language. Along with Julian, readers of all ages will learn that anyone can be a mermaid, and all it takes is acceptance, creative expression, and unconditional love.

Julian is a Mermaid is available from CECH Library,  as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Sadie Matthews, CECH Library Student Assistant | Elementary Education, CECH 2023

 

New Book Spotlight: The Magic Fish

The New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

The Magic Fish / written and illustrated by Trung Le Nguyen

As the son of refugee parents from Vietnam, Tiến doesn’t know how to tell his mom that he is gay and worries that she won’t accept and love him anymore. Not only that, but he struggles to find the right words in Vietnamese. On the other hand, Tiến’s mother, Hiền, experiences her own journey of wondering if immigrating to America was worth leaving her family in Vietnam behind and if she’s to blame for the disconnect between her and Tien. 

Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish takes an unconventional approach to graphic novel storytelling by sharing fascinating fairytales and intertwining them with Tiến’s and his mother’s journey with vibrant colors and pictures that immediately draws readers in. Although not all readers will directly relate to Tiến’s or his mother’s story, it will surely take you on an emotional journey that might just encourage you to reflect on your own personal journeys. 

The Magic Fish is available from the CECH Library, as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks. 

Review by Alexis Parker, CECH Library Student Assistant | Public Relations and International Affairs, A&S 2024 

New Book Spotlight: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

The New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me / written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrations by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell / 2019

CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNING: toxic relationship, abortion, emotional abuse, adult/minor relationship, infidelity

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me is a coming-of-age story. Freddy, our seventeen-year-old protagonist, is dating Laura Dean, the attractive popular girl who is all wrong for her. Laura keeps cheating on and breaking up with Freddy, but they always end up back together. 

This graphic novel is a great read for older teens and adults alike. It has diverse representation and portrays LGBTQIA+ relationships in a way that is rarely seen in YA fiction. It focuses on the relationships between people rather than homophobia, coming out, or struggling with identity (though those themes are somewhat present). We get a glimpse of Freddy’s inner monolog as she struggles to navigate her relationships through emails to an advice columnist. It’s a realistic and raw portrayal of a toxic relationship and how it can impact every part of life. This book really captures the essence of high school relationships and what it feels like to love someone who isn’t good for you. The characters are hard to love and their flaws are at the forefront of the story. But they do feel real and raw. 

Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s art brings the story to life. It is dynamic and makes very creative use of color. Much of the book is black and white; however, pops of pink appear throughout the panels making it both visually appealing and dynamic to read. On particularly powerful moment in the book has all the characters, except Freddy, facing away from the reader really emphasizing how truly alone she is, as well as how much she has alienated her friends because of her toxic relationship with Laura Dean. 

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is available from CECH Library, as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Haley Shaw, CECH Temporary Librarian

 

CECH Spotlight: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

CECH Spotlight highlights recommended books in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe / written by by Benjamin Alire Sáenz / 2012

Celebrate Pride all summer long and read about the important stories of LGBTQ+ youth and their lives. Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe can be described as a very simple yet impactful read. Sáenz needs no intense plot twist or a plethora of characters to tell a touching and memorable story.

Follow along Ari’s coming-of-age journey as he faces struggles with loneliness, sexuality, and familial relationships, and along the way forms a special relationship with Dante, an artsy and talented swimmer he meets at the neighborhood pool. Ari and Dante live nearly opposite lives, yet are still struggling with the same issues. A perfect summer read with relatable teenage struggles, Ari & Dante is an authentic story that focuses on the small details in relationships and life, such as those ponderings about life, love, personal moments, and self-discovery.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is available from CECH Library,  as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks. Keep an eye out for the sequel that debuts in October!

Review by Alyssa Gruich, CECH Library Student Assistant | Political Science, A&S 2022

Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride at CECH Library

The CECH Library is a proud ally of the LGBTQIA+ communities and a safe space for all.

Check out our pride window display this month outside the CECH Library in 300 Teachers-Dyer Complex. In addition to hundreds of hanging colored paper hearts, the display features quotes from LGBTQIA+ activists including Harvey Milk, Audre Lorde, and Marsha P. Johnson.  

We have also put together a reading list of LGBTQIA+ children’s, teen, and YA booksAll of these books are available at the CECH Library and can be requested by visiting your library record. 

Haley Shaw, Temporary Librarian
CECH Library

Books on the Big Screen at CECH

Summer is a great time to relax and catch up on all those shows you never got around to watching. Summer is also a great time for reading. So before you binge on Netflix, check out the books that came before the films. The CECH Library has many books that have been adapted for film and television. From the classics like Little Women to the ever-popular Shadow and Bone, there is something for everyone.

TV and film adaptations can be an excellent way to introduce readers to books they may not naturally be drawn to. In addition to aiding with understanding or reading comprehension, they can also assist with understanding difficult vocabulary. Film and TV adaptations can be a helpful motivator for reluctant readers. 

Whether you read before you watch or decide to pick up the book because you loved the show or movie, the CECH Library has got you covered! Check out this list of selected titles that have film or TV adaptations.  

Post by Haley Shaw, CECH Temporary Librarian
List by Sadie Matthews, CECH Library Student Worker

New Book Spotlight: The Astonishing Color of After

The New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library

The Astonishing Color of After / written by Emily X.R. Pan / 2018

This is an intensely emotional young adult novel about Leigh who is battling
grief after the loss of her mother. She journeys to Taiwan in order to meet her
maternal grandparents for the very first time, and embarks on a path to remember her
mother, the events that led up to her death, and the deep impact on her family.

Pan uses magical realism to create an immersive and touching atmosphere to tell the
story, weaving in themes of friendship, coming-of-age, grief, hope, and ultimately
love. Mental illness plays a large part in telling the story, and we get an engaging look
into family life in Taiwan, as well as the culture that also plays a large part within the
story and Leigh’s family history. Pan’s use of color to describe emotions throughout
was a beautiful touch to the story. The Astonishing Color of After is an alluring story
woven together by various important themes, and an important look at the impact of different cultures on mental illness and familial relationships.

The Astonishing Color of After is available from CECH Library,  as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Alyssa Gruich, CECH Library Student Assistant | Political Science, A&S 2022

Read AAPI: Asian American Pacific Islander Month

collage of book covers

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month. To celebrate, the CECH Library has created a list of books by AAPI authors.  

Update: The use of the term #OwnVoices has been discontinued by We Need Diverse Books and the booklist below has been updated to reflect that. #OwnVoices has been used by many publishers/bookstores as catch all for diverse authors and illustrators, making it a vague term that hides the diverse identities of the authors and the book characters from the narrative. Why We Need Diverse Books Is No Longer Using the Term #OwnVoices.

What makes a book Own Voices? 

An Own Voices book is one that is written by an author that is part of an under-represented group that features characters that are also part of that group. For example, if an author is part of the LGBTQ+ community and they write about a character that is also part of the LGBTQ+ community then that book is an Own Voices book. 

#OwnVoices was created by Corinne Duyvisa young adult author and co-founder of Disability in Kidlit. She created the hashtag to shardiverse children’s literature.  

Why are Own Voices books important? 

Own Voices books amplifdiverse voices and provide necessary and important representation on our shelvesWhen book authors identify with the same group as their characters, they are more likely to have accurate and nuanced portrayals of that group than an author who is an outsider. Own Voices books are also less likely to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. 

How can I find Own Voices books? 

Many libraries, bookstores, and publishers develop Own Voices book lists. You can also search for #OwnVoices on social media to find reviews and book lists.  CECH Library’s AAPI book list is also available via our Children’s and Young Adult Literature LibGuide.

Interested in learning more? 

Post and book list by Haley Shaw, CECH Temporary Librarian

Read Before You Watch: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Read Before You Watch highlights books in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library coming soon to TV screens or movie theaters.

Shadow & Bone / written by Leigh Bardugo / 2012

In this New York Times bestselling young adult fantasy, Shadow & Bone tells the story of young Alina Starkov as she discovers that she possesses a power with the ability to defeat the darkness of the shadow fold and unite the two sides of her country. Ravka, torn by years of dark power, sees Alina as she suddenly becomes the most important person within the country. All eyes are on her as she is taken by the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha in the kingdom, to the Little Palace for training.

Shadow & Bone is an excellent entryway for young readers interested in fantasy. A light yet gripping read, it draws the reader in an encapsulating universe and a fiery love triangle. Bardugo’s ability to create an engaging and original storyline grips you until the very last page as you take a dive into the Grishaverse. Shadow & Bone is a must read for lovers of fantasy and strong female leads!

Check out Shadow & Bone today at the CECH Library and read the series before it debuts on Netflix this spring!

Shadow & Bone is available from CECH Library,  as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Alyssa Gruich, CECH Library Student Assistant | Political Science, A&S 2022