Book reviews by librarians at the Schlessman branch, Denver Public Library.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
by Yuval Noah Harari
At one time in history, there were more than half a dozen species of human, but now only our species—homo sapiens—remains. If you are interested in reading the best theories about who we are and how we got here—and maybe even some ideas about where we might be heading—then this book is for you. Yuval covers a lot of ground in this accessible and surprisingly entertaining book, but the journey is so enjoyable that you won’t mind. Yuval’s writing is light and vivid, and the information he presents is eye-opening and thought-provoking. Highly recommended!
The Last Painting of Sara De Vos
by Dominic Smith
In 1637, a woman paints a landscape that somehow captures her pain at losing a child. In 1957, that same painting is stolen from a private collector, and a forgery is left in its place. In 2000, a famous art historian is on the brink of being exposed as the person who created the forgery. These three narratives intertwine to create a book that is part historical fiction, part mystery and part art lesson. The novel moves forward and backward in time, building tension and deepening the reader’s understanding of the characters and what drives them. This is a heartfelt, compelling read.
Lily and Dunkin
by Donna Gephart
Lily has a secret. Everyone thinks that she is a boy, but deep inside, she knows that she is a girl. Dunkin also has a secret. He has bipolar disorder, and something painful happened in his past. Secrets are very hard to keep, especially when they go to the heart of who you are. When the book opens, each secret is starting to unravel. When Lily and Dunkin meet for the first time, each wonders if the other holds the key to being oneself, while still getting along in the world. This is a beautiful and affecting book that tackles many difficult topics with calm authority. There is also a universality to its themes. All teenagers struggle to figure out who they are and how much of themselves to reveal, and they will find much to identify with in this book.
Joseph’s Big Ride
Story by Terry Farish, Art by Ken Daley
Joseph lives in a refugee camp in Kenya with his mother and many, many other people. His friend Daau has a bicycle that Joseph longs to ride, but Joseph is too small for Daau’s big bike. One day, Joseph and his mother travel far from the camp. They ride in an airplane. They arrive in America. In his new home, Joseph experiences different food, a new language, and a different kind of school. He also meets a girl who has a shiny red bicycle. Joseph’s desire to ride the bike and the girl’s kind, welcoming nature bring the two children together in friendship. This is a happy, beautiful book that touches gently on the refugee experience, but focuses more on how children become friends. Parents looking for books with diverse characters and settings will appreciate this book.