Everyone's Books recommends titles for those nostalgic for a past political era

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This week marks the 11th anniversary of the election of our first Black president. In recognition of that, and to lift the spirits, we are recommending some titles for those who miss the humor, warmth and sanity of the Obama White House. "To Obama, With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope" by Jeanne Marie Laskas brings together, along with stories and observations, a wonderful collection of letters received from ordinary citizens and replied to by Barack Obama. The picture painted is one that can't fail to give hope that those who may fear that our People's House will never be the same.

We're also really in love with the fantastic photographs of Pete Souza, author of "Obama: An Intimate Portrait." Souza's newest book of photographs and observations since Obama left office, "Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents" is now out in paperback, updated with 60 additional pages of photos and snippets of news, real and fake.

Finally, one of the bestselling memoirs of the past decade, Michelle Obama's "Becoming" is an excellent read written with the warmth, the depth and the amazing strength of a woman who'll be remembered for her courage and grace in the face of some pretty astounding challenges.

Released this summer is a picture book about differences by Justice Sonia Sotomayor called "Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You." Beginning with the metaphor of a garden and how the many colors, shapes, sizes, and textures make it interesting and beautiful, and drawing on her own experience as a diabetic child who regularly had to inject herself with insulin, Sotomayor encourages children to talk about what makes them different. Appealing to a child's natural curiousity, she encourages kids to ask their friends and others in their lives about the differences they see, so that they can be explained and better understood. Using the voices of children with a range of physical and cognitive issues from asthma to blindness to ADHD, alongside bright, whimsical illustrations by Rafael Lopez, Justice Sotomayor addresses some of the many differences a child might encounter among the humans in their lives in a clear, straightforward manner. While acknowledging that not all children will be ready to talk about their own situation, this book encourages them to speak up about what makes them unique, and when they are confused or curious about differences in others, it lets them know they can just ask.

Fans of "Rosie Revere, Engineer" and "Ada Twist, Scientist" will love the new book by Andrea Beaty, who adds another mighty girl to her cadre of strong girl characters. The newest one is second grader, Sofia Valdez, who sees a problem in her neighborhood while out walking with her Abuelo, and goes on a campaign to fix it. In "Sofia Valdez, Future Prez," kids will learn that while a problem may be too much for one young girl to tackle on her own, by being a leader who organizes her neighbors around a solution they envision together, big change can happen. Change takes lots of people working together, but it also needs leaders like Sofi, who might even run for President one day.

Also brand new is a gorgeous fictional biography by the author-artist of "A is for Activist" and "Counting on Community," Innosanto Nagara. "M is for Movement" is also illustrated by the author, and this time is geared toward older elementary kids. Part imagination, part biography, it tells the story of being born at a time of profound social change to activist parents who are deeply involved in the movement. In documenting that time in Indonesia, first from the point of view of a child, then of a deeply engaged young adult, and then an adult looking back, we are given a fair amount of background on the conditions in Indonesia which led to the rise of its resistance movement. But this story, which is personal for the author given his family story, is also an intimate experience of the alternating fear and courage that inhabit those who confront repressive power and work for change.

A book we love to recommend this time of year is "Before We Eat: From Farm to Table" by Pat Brisson, and gorgeously illustrated by Mary Azarian. This book is wonderful way to introduce young children to the practice of gratitude for what they have on their dinner plates. Without religiosity, it reminds children of all of the people who contributed to their having food on their table, from the farm workers and all of the jobs they do, to the packers and drivers, to the grocery clerks, and finally, to their parents. It would make a great family read before the start of Thanksgiving dinner, or any meal for that matter.

Everyone's Books on Elliot Street in Brattleboro, a family-owned independent bookstore, recently celebrated its 35th anniversary in business.



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