Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park


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This Day in June, by Gayle E. Pitman

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman is a beautifully written and illustrated picture book with a simple rhyming pattern throughout the book. With these short, sweet, simple rhymes, Pitman conveys the feelings of the Pride Parades that are held annually in June to celebrate the LGBT community.

As you pick up and open This Day in June, the first thing that catches your eye are the gorgeous illustrations by Kristyna Litten. The style is very charming and expresses joy, love, and pride throughout the book. Each page shifts in hue, reflecting the colors of the rainbow. 

In addition to the story, the book includes a note to parents and caregivers. It gives suggestions for talking to children in different age groups (3-5, 6-12, and 13-18) about sexual orientation and gender identity in age-appropriate ways. It also includes a reading guide that explains the historical events and figures mentioned throughout the book.

With Pride fast approaching pick up a copy of This Day in June to get the party started early!

 


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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

 

Ari Mendoza is fifteen years old during the summer of 1987. He lives in El Paso, TX and has few friends. His mother is a teacher and his older siblings are grown up and out of the house. His twin sisters are mothers and are 12 years older than him. His brother is in prison. His father is a Vietnam veteran, though he never speaks of his time in the war and he and Ari rarely speak at all. Life for Ari is pretty isolated until he decides to make a decision that is his and his alone after going with the flow or just doing nothing for his entire life. He rides his bike to the public swimming pool, despite not knowing how to swim. It’s there that he meets Dante.

Dante is unlike anyone that Ari has ever met. He is intelligent, kind, and adores his mom and dad. Like Ari, Dante is also Mexican-American. Their shared cultural background and loner status are just a few of the similarities that ignite their initial friendship. The relationship between Ari and Dante flourishes throughout the summer until they go back to school. They don’t attend the same school and won’t see each other again until the following year. During their time apart they grow in different ways. Ari has taken a job and has become an angry teen. He wants to know more about his brother, who he barely remembers. He learns to drive and spends time alone star gazing in the desert. Dante, spending the year in Chicago, starts to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood.

During this gap between being a child and an adolescent, Ari and Dante learn about friendship, acceptance, sacrifice, and love. As a teen centered LGBT novel, it deals with the themes of coming out in a place and time where being gay was not seen as an easily acceptable concept. It also goes into gender roles, specifically masculinity, as well as artistic expression, family secrets, and intellectualism.

The book chronicles the summer, school year, and following summer from the perspective of Ari as he exists between the universe of being a boy and a man. It is one of the purest and most sincere relationships to have graced the pages of a YA novel.  Sáenz’s characters are well written and fleshed out and their story is so realistic that you might question whether or not you are truly reading a work of fiction.

The audio book is narrated by Lin Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton. The attitude and inflection with which he reads the story truly feels like an auditory glimpse at the life of two teens in 1987.

Check the PPLC catalog for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.