An independent K-12 school on a beautiful wooded campus, 3 miles from Washington, DC

Arundel Family Library

Audio Book Reviews by Middle School Students

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Arundel Family Library News

By now, many Potomac students know that The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera won the 2022 Newbery Award, but I bet you can’t tell me the winner of the 2022 Walter Award. Named for Walter Dean Myers, the Walter recognizes diverse authors whose works address diversity in a meaningful way. This year’s award ceremonies will be June 23 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in DC. They are open to the public and you can attend. Click here to reserve a ticket. Another local award, the Children’s Africana Book Award, is sponsored by Howard University in DC. Other awards recognizing diverse literature include the Asian Pacific American Award, the Sydney Taylor Book Award recognizing books authentically portraying the Jewish experience, the Malka Penn Award for Human Rights, the Jane Addams Award recognizing equity and social justice, and the Tomas Rivera Award for literature depicting the Mexican-American experience.  By the way, this year’s Walter Award winners are Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca for younger readers and Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley for teens.

Since January, renowned writer Jacqueline Woodson has been an Artist in Residence at the Kennedy Center. Catch the final product of her stint here in DC, as the Kennedy Center presents a dance interpretation of her classic picture book The Other Side, the story of two girls fighting against the color line in their small Southern town. The production runs April 21- April 30. Watch the following two videos to learn more about Woodson and the collaboration.

Looking for great book recommendations? Maybe you should check out the extraordinary Read with Val YouTube channel and her Instagram feed. Sixth-grader Val W. has been reviewing books online since the pandemic began. Her channel now boasts close to 200 book reviews. And a new review is posted almost every week. Check out her most recent review of New From Here by Kelly Yang on YouTube. Or follow her here on Instagram.

Maulik Pancholy Visits

On October 29th, Potomac students were fortunate to have author and actor Maulik Pancholy speak about his first book, The Best at It.  Pancholy, best known for his television roles as Jonathan on 30 Rock, Baljeet on Phineas and Ferb, and Sanjay on Sanjay and Craig, has written a strong debut novel that has garnered rave review.  Pancholy is also a founder of the Act to Change anti-bullying campaign. Students were enthralled to hear the voices of some of their favorite cartoon characters, but they also learned an important lesson, "Being different is what makes us fun.

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24 Hours in Nowhere by dusti Bowling

I am not alone in my fondness for Louis Sachar’s Holes. Students often ask me for a book like Holes, and up until now I have not felt any book meets this high standard. 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling does. It is a compelling read about four young people of different backgrounds forced together by circumstance in the hardscrabble, sun scorched and impoverished town of Nowhere, Arizona. The action rarely wavers as the four acquaintances try to find a lost treasure in a treacherous mine. The repartee between the characters is often hilarious and always feels authentic. Bowling’s excellent first book, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus dealt with big questions (physical disability and Tourette’s Syndrome) straight on while this book tends to question racism and poverty less directly in quiet interludes between the next perilous escape. Despite a few plot contrivances, the book holds together well. I am eager to see what Bowling will produce next.