Staff Blogs

Booktalking Becoming by Michelle Obama

cover of Becoming by Michelle ObamaMichelle Obama became the first black First Lady of the United States in January of 2008. In order to get there, she had to be better, stronger, and faster than the rest. Being a first anything is tough, but Michelle Obama did an excellent job at promoting physical fitness and healthy eating at a time when childhood and adult obesity rates were at epic proportions. She epitomized grace in her role, inspired young women, and supported her family through all of the ups and downs of constant surveillance. Her opinions influenced the presidency of Barack Obama and their daughters thrived throughout the experience, which is no small feat. I am so glad that Michelle Obama was the First Lady of color en la casa blanca.
Getting to the Oval office was no small feat. Michelle honestly did not think that her husband could win, but she went above and beyond to make sure that it happened. She reduced her hours at a Chicago hospital to three days per week so that she could spend more time out on the campaign trail. She and the girls spent hours in transit between events in order to promote the Obama-Biden ticket. She spoke about her personal experience with Barack and her belief in what her husband had to offer so many times. In thanks for her efforts, the press labelled her as "angry," which caused her to adjust her nonverbal communication.
Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama met in Chicago in the 1980s as young lawyers. Barack was an intern that the law office assigned to Michelle. Her job was basically to mentor and woo him to the firm as a permanent employee. Michelle was struck by his nonchalant and humble manner. Barack was still in law school, but he was a few years older than her. He quickly became known in the firm as a rising star. Michelle was unsure about the appropriateness of dating him. Nevertheless, the two were soon together, and staff of the firm were aware of this. They eventually moved in together, married, and had Malia and Sasha. The demands of Barack's work put some strain on the marriage, but counseling helped them resolve their issues.
Michelle never thought of herself as the political type. However, her sprint through schooling and the bar exam towards societal standards of success left her feeling empty. Her law career earned her much money and took up all of her time, but it did not provide fulfillment. Michelle found herself working in the mayor's office for much less money, but she liked it. She became an assistant commissioner then she took an administrative job in a local hospital. Being a great mother is what she did when not on the job. She and Barack always made sure that the girls had everything they needed, including happiness.
Becoming by Michelle Obama, 2018
This is the story of a remarkable woman who did everything under her power to promote her husband's talents and shatter the barriers of color and socio-economic status. She shared her husband's talents with the world. Through sheer exhaustive effort, she persevered in helping America elect its first black president and first black family. Millions of individuals were elated to experience the historic moment of just one more step towards racial equality in this country. Thank you for all that you do and all that you did for America, Michelle Obama.

Booktalking Know Your Power by Nancy Pelosi

cover of Know Your Power by Nancy PelosiBraids or pigtails. This was the big morning drama while raising four young daughters and a son. Nancy Pelosi was happy to put her little kids in a stroller while leafletting local venues to support her candidates whose ideals she believed in. Pelosi loved raising kids, and she was happy enough doing housework, but she did not want that to be her reality forever. She wanted more... Eventually she became more involved with the Democratic National Convention, but it was not until her youngest child was in high school that she contemplated running for office. She consulted Alexandra, who told her to get a life, and she did.
Nancy Pelosi had her sights set on Washington.
Pelosi ran for a congressional seat to represent San Fransisco, her beloved city, in the United States House of Representatives, and she won. Growing up in a political family helped prepare her for this eventuality. Her father, Thomas D'Alesandro, was also a US rep and the former mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. The lady was familiar with what it took to run a campaign, win, and do a splendid job of representing the people in governmental bodies. Being a woman, of course, made her path all the more challenging. Since policy is a male-dominated field, Pelosi was often the only woman or one of few in meetings. Pelosi was so excited to be working in Washington and fighting for her district. Healthcare for all, including children and those with painful diseases, was and is a top priority for her. In fact, in 1987 when she was sworn in she mentioned the eradication or cure of HIV and AIDS as one of the issues that she would fight for.
Nancy Pelosi was not interested in running for speaker in 1994 when members initially approached her. Her plan was to simply serve five terms (a decade) in office and call it a day. She thought that 10 years was plenty long. However, she decided to run for Whip, and she loved securing the Democratic votes that were necessary to help whichever bill was on the floor to pass. Of course, she has now been a congresswoman for 33 years, and she is still going strong. It is not so surprising that she is championing work on the second federal covid relief bill, signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021.
This lady is an inspiration to girls and women everywhere.

Booktalking Everybody's Got Something by Robin Roberts

Everybody's Got Something cover imageRobin Roberts: the happy-go-lucky host of Good Morning America (GMA). After beating breast cancer, it seemed like a double blow when she discovered that she now suffered from bone marrow cancer. Miraculously, one of her sisters, Sally Ann, was a perfect match. Of course, she agreed to be a donor. Complicating everyone's lives and worrying the sisters was their mother's illness. She had recently suffered a stroke, and her life was on the decline. Their other sister, Dorothy, was caring for her at home in hospice. Lucimarian Roberts died a few days before Robin's transplant.
Being a donor and a recipient of a transplant are both excruciatingly painful experiences. Robin rallied as best she could to get through this life hurdle. She was extremely grateful to the staff of GMA for being understanding and assuring her that her job would wait for her. They held a wonderful send-off for her. Fans gifted her blankets, get well cards and medical equipment. Robin also appreciated her medical team for caring for her, and her friends and family, especially her life partner, Amber, who was always present. She sacrificed so much to ensure that Robin was as well as possible under the circumstances. Oprah Winfrey sent thoughtful texts, and the Obamas sent flowers to the family for the loss of their mother.
Robin was so excited to leave the hospital, see the sunshine and breathe fresh air. Though she was required to quarantine in her apartment for 100 days due to her weakened immune system, she was delighted to be home. She missed her Jack Russell terrier, but she was soon to be reunited with him. After 100 days, she got her dog, KJ, back, and her chances of survival were greatly improved. KJ was so happy to be back in the house that he scampered throughout the apartment with joy. In time, Robin was able to return to work at GMA on a part-time basis. Her energy flowed in fits and starts. Sometimes, she wanted to be back at work, and at others, she did not. She also needed to grieve for her mother, since chemotherapy stole her focus from that while she was in the hospital. Robin Roberts was on the mend; look out, world!
Everybody's Got Something by Robin Roberts, 2014
I love the tenacity and upbeat nature of this indefatigable woman. Not only a TV icon, she is an inspiration to women everywhere, especially women of color.

Booktalking Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway

Summer of a Thousand Pies cover12-year-old Cady Bennett finally gets to see her mother's sister. The meeting does not occur in exactly the manner that she had hoped. Instead of having a wonderful family event, Shell arrives to remove her from foster care after her father ends up in jail... again. She takes the girl to Julian, a small rural community, to live with her and her partner, Suzanne. Michelle has dogs, chickens who lay eggs, a nice house, land, and best of all... a pie shop, Shell's Pies. There is plenty of food there for Cady to eat and a place for her to stay, unlike the food and housing insecurity that she experienced with her father. However, the teen is unsure how long all of this will last. No one can tell her when her father will get out of prison.
Cady is a foodie: she loves food and baking. She cannot wait to perfect her pie-making and cake-baking skills. Shell encourages the girl to make a thousand crusts in order to perfect the craft of pie making, and the first dozen or so have to be completed by hand. In the girl's cooking adventures, she has a few foibles. One pie lands on the floor, pitched there by Cady in her frustration of not achieving a perfect crust. Her attempt at baking a cake and then forgetting it while it is baking results in a scorched mess... but she and Shell manage to salvage a few of the remains. Most troubling... this misadventure almost burned down the house.
Cady likes Maria and her kids, Claudia and Jay, all of whom work in the pie shop. Jay becomes her buddy, and she hangs around town with him. It is distressing to the girl to learn of the family's limited opportunities since they are undocumented immigrants. Jay and family live in constant fear of deportation, and they do not trust law enforcement officials. Cady's family situation has different problems: her parents were addicted to drugs, and her father has not been stable. The two of them lived as vagabonds and homeless persons.
By contrast, Shell and Suzanne are loving and sweet. There is only one glaring problem with this storybook scenario: the pie shop is in real financial trouble. Shell has had difficulty paying the bills, and the pie shop is alarmingly empty much of the time. Similar restaurant businesses in the area seem to be booming. Shell's and Maria's families depend of the shop for their livelihood. Can Cady imagine up any ideas to keep Shell's Pies open for business? She better dream up a brilliant plan fast since bankruptcy is swiftly approaching.
Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway, 2019
I loved the stark, honest look into the lives of an undocumented family.

Booktalking Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson

Love is a Revolution coverNala's life revolves around Imani, the cousin that she lives with, Tye, the boy she is crushing on, and her Grandma, whom she visits at her senior residential complex with Grandma's friends. Imani is completely engulfed in her activist work at Imagine Harlem, and she is very enthusiastic about recycling. Tye has recently joined Imagine Harlem, and he wants Nala to be an activist, as well. Nala is a bit overwhelmed by their passion for the environment and zeal for social justice.
But she has a solution. She will become whoever it is that she thinks Tye wants.
Nala lies left and right to impress Tye. She professes to be a tree-hugging vegetarian. She falsely claims that she volunteers at a senior residential center. She even makes a faltering speech about doing the right thing at an Imagine Harlem event. But her heart is not in the social change movement. She wants to stop the dishonesty and be who she was meant to be. She is not ultra-prepared and she does not have her life figured out yet. She simply wants to enjoy a leisurely teenage summer with her friends, the food carts of Harlem, the festival, and the local creamery. Family and friends lie at the very heart of this teen's existence. 
Sugar Hill, Harlem, is Nala's universe. The girl loves spending time with her grandmother and the other older folks who reside in the senior living complex. During her frequently lengthy visits, the group discusses young people today, the lives of other residents, and the decor in the apartment complex. One day, one of the older women commented on the need for a redesign of the lounge space. Visual art on the walls would definitely spruce the place up. With that, Nala was up and running with grand plans for a photo legacy project to adorn the walls of the home. She even dragged Tye along with her to help.
I am a big fan of Renée Watson. This novel is fun.
by Miranda McDermott