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Mixed Media Roundup: October 2023



Empanadas for Everyone 

By Jackie Azúa Kramer, illustrated by Lenny Wen 
Reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema

Carina looks forward to Saturdays, when she visits Tia Mimi in her New York barrio and together make their favorite empanadas. As they create the filled-pastry turnovers, they move to the beat of salsa on the radio and sing, “I like empanadas! I like you!”  

But this Saturday, Tia has left Carina a note asking her to shop at the neighborhood stores and gather the ingredients they need for their empanadas. She’s reminded that people from different cultures have their own versions of empanadas, and she understands that they are “the same, but different.”  

Jenny Wen’s artwork captures the joy and vitality of a neighborhood that is “always humming with life” and that is a welcoming space for people—and their empanadas—from around the world. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Malcolm Guite YouTube Channel

Reviewed by Sam Gutierrez

The door opens gently into Malcolm Guite’s office. Viewers are invited in while Guite searches his cluttered shelves to choose a treasured book to read out loud. But before he does, he’ll often light his pipe, pour a drink, and speak about the power of words to open doorways into worlds full of magic, courage, heartbreak, risk, and adventure.

It’s not professionally produced, but it doesn’t matter. His wonderful English accent and that twinkle in his eye make you feel like Narnia might be hiding right behind his bookcase. Like children, we’re drawn in as Guite puffs smoke rings like Gandalf as he reads poetry to people all over the world lucky enough to have found his channel. (YouTube)


Reviewed by Lorilee Craker
What does it mean to be human? 

This is the question posed by the blockbuster movie directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie as the plastic plaything. 

We meet Barbie in Barbieland, a kind of Eden before the Fall. But before you can say “stereotypical,” Barbie starts thinking about death and becomes a fallen creature, all too aware of her fallen arches and other proofs of humanity. 

Barbie teaches us that to be human is to risk pain and even death, but that it is worth it to live an authentic, honest life. Not every day is the “best day,” but some days are, and it’s the hard, sad days that make the good ones even better. (In theaters; rated PG-13 for suggestive dialogue and brief language. Warner Bros.)

Wings in the Wild 

By Margarita Engle
Reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema

Soleida and her parents are acutely aware that if Cuban government officials discover their secret garden filled with sculptures of chained birds, they will be arrested and imprisoned. When a hurricane devastates the nation and the sculptures are revealed to the public, Soleida’s worst nightmare is realized: Her parents are arrested, and she is forced to flee her homeland.  

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Dariel, a Cuban American teen, joins his grandfather, Abuelo, on a trip from Miami to the refugee camp where Soleida is staying.  

Written in free verse and alternating between Soleida’s and Dariel’s voices, Engle’s poignant narrative captures the angst and hope that fuel two teens’ present goals and future dreams. Recommended for ages 14 and older. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) 

The Lowdown

Applying the Bible to Politics: In The Ballot and the Bible, Kaitlyn Schiess unpacks examples of how Americans have connected the Bible to politics in the past, highlighting times it was applied well and times it was egregiously misused. (Brazos Press)

Killers of the Flower Moon: In the 1920s, members of the Osage tribe of Osage County, Okla., are murdered after oil is found on their land, and the FBI decides to investigate. (Paramount, in theaters Oct. 6, streaming Oct. 20 on Apple TV+)

Based on the Bestselling Book: In All the Light We Cannot See, the paths of a blind French girl and a young German soldier collide during WWII. (Netflix, Nov. 2)

Mitch McDeere Returns: More than 30 years after The Firm helped put John Grisham on the map, the prizewinning author is releasing a sequel, The Exchange. (Penguin Random House, Oct. 17)


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