“Stonewall: A building, an uprising, a revolution,” by Rob Sanders and Jamey Christoph

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1969, many significant events in U.S. history happened, among them the Moon landing, Woodstock, and the Manson murders. But the one that is foremost in my mind and in my heart is the Stonewall riots, when LGBTQ+ individuals fought back against legalized harassment and oppression by demonstrating against police raids in New York City.

Although this story has been told many time before, in different formats and styles, author Rob Sanders and illustrator Jamey Christoph delve in again, with their marvelous storybook, “Stonewall: A building, an uprising, a revolution,” found in the Children’s Department of the Joplin Public Library.

Sanders and Christoph’s approach is to highlight the history of both a structure and a liberation movement, in words and images.

Originally built in Greenwich Village in the 1840s as stables to house the horses of wealthy New Yorkers, the two buildings witnessed the eventual flight of the affluent uptown, the arrival of immigrants, and the rise of the Village as a cultural center of New York City before being joined together as first a restaurant and then later a nightclub, the Stonewall Inn.

Through the years, the Village became a haven, “a place where you could be yourself and where being different was welcomed and accepted.” Musicians, writers, and artists of all ages, religions and races brought creative energy to the district. And gay men and women were welcome in the Village, “a home for people who were told that they didn’t fit in or belong.”

In 1967, the Stonewall Inn opened, providing a place for gay men, lesbians, transgender people, drag queens and many other individuals to socialize. But the nightclub was not a completely safe haven: Police raids, fueled by laws that persecuted and prosecuted those who were gay or wore the opposite gender’s clothing, were common, culminating in detainments and arrests.

But in the early-morning hours of June 28, 1969, something changed. Stonewall patrons, angry at and frustrated by the harassment, had had enough. They rose up and resisted the police. For several days, crowds demonstrated and fought back. The Stonewall Uprising had started, and it was the birth of the modern gay-rights movement.

The author and illustrator take a simple, honest approach to this crucial moment in human-rights history. Sanders doesn’t flinch from using terms such as “gay,” “lesbian” and “transgender” in his writing, and Christoph features artwork, by turns colorful and muted, of men in women’s clothing and smiling, same-sex couples dancing, holding hands and embracing. The story is told matter of factly, without being sensationalized.

If you’re looking for a similar book, I highly recommend one of Rob Sanders’ other storybooks, “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag,” which I have previously reviewed in these pages. You can also consult any of the Children’s Department staff for additional guidance.

I also urge you to visit the Joplin Public Library and learn more about the events of the summer of 1969. We have books, DVDs and other resources for all ages that offer entertainment and edification.

Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

Dogs. I love ‘em.

So when I saw “Stay” featured on the Facebook page of an Oklahoma public library that I follow, I knew I had to read it. Problem was, Joplin Public Library didn’t have this already two-year-old children’s book in its collection. No worries, I simply suggested it for purchase and impatiently waited until it arrived.

Written and illustrated by sisters Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise, respectively, this storybook is subtitled “A girl, a dog, a bucket list.” Lest you think with wording like that that it will be a heartbreaking tale of loss, let me assure you that “Stay” is in fact a sweet story of the special relationship between two friends.

Eli, a big, fluffy, gray and white dog, has been around since Astrid came home from the hospital as a newborn. As Klise puts it, “He was Astrid’s first friend.” He is her protector, her playmate, her pillow. He eats under the table when she eats, and sleeps in her bed.

But as Astrid grows up, Eli grows old. It’s a poignant refrain in the book.

One day Astrid comments on how slowly Eli walks now. After a special day at the park, spent eating popcorn and sliding down a sun-warmed slide, Astrid vows to make a list of the things Eli should do before he gets too old. She forms a bucket list of adventures they can have together.

What’s on Astrid and Eli’s bucket list? Riding a bike. Checking out dog books from the library and reading them together. Going to see “Lassie” in a movie theater. Sleeping under the stars. Taking a bubble bath. Astrid even surprises Eli with something special.

Weeks pass, and Eli continues to age. His vision fades, and he no longer has the strength to walk to the park. But that doesn’t matter, as Astrid and Eli happily spend precious time together.

I will warn you, I shed tears while reading this book. It’s not that “Stay” was sad, per se; it was just bittersweet, and it made me think about the dogs I’ve had in my life, and how I watched them grow old.

There was Charlie, the intelligent and loyal black miniature poodle I grew up with. Then came Costi, the yappy Shih Tzu prone to begging at mealtimes that joined my family when I was in high school. Toby, the first dog I adopted as an adult, was a stubborn, willful Rottweiler-German Shepherd mix who tested my patience but became my whole heart and taught me how to enjoy life again. Molly, a rescue rough-coated Collie was possibly the sweetest dog I’ve ever met. All those dogs are gone now, but I have Buster, my fun-loving Corgi-German Shepherd mix who at 10 years old still likes to jump off the side of the back porch, chase rabbits and tussle with my dog sister, Destiny. But even now Buster is slowing down. His eyes are growing less bright, and white hair is starting to creep into his muzzle. I’m confident he has years left, but I’m still aware of the inevitable passage of time.

I hope you find inspiration in this lovely book, which can be found in the Children’s Department of the Joplin Public Library. Yes, we grow old, as do our animal companions, but there is still much fun to be had together. Embrace the time you have, and make it special. Even the little things you do create lasting memories.

Find in Catalog



Cravings: Hungry for More, by Chrissy Teigen

I must admit that when I received Chrissy Teigen’s first cookbook, Cravings: Recipes for all the Food You Want to Eat, in a subscription gift box, I shook my head. I knew Teigen only as a model and the wife of singer John Legend. But could she cook? I had my doubts, but I dived in and, to my surprise, I enjoyed the book. There were actually recipes I wanted to try, and I became a fan of her chatty, breezy style of writing.

So when the Joplin Public Library recently acquired Teigen’s follow-up cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More, I promptly put it on hold and eagerly checked it out. I got distracted by work and let it sit on my desk for a couple weeks, but when I finally opened it, I was delighted. And I found several recipes I want to try.

Like savory waffles? Teigen has a Crispy Parmesan Waffle Breakfast, featuring easily homemade waffles with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and served with a Spicy, Buttery Maple Syrup. She had me at cheese and buttery maple syrup. Yum. One note: The buttery maple syrup gets its heat from red pepper flakes, although I would probably use a smallish dollop of sriracha instead.

I plan to make the Cheesy Polenta with Mushrooms for dinner this week. It looks like a fast, simple after-work meal, with the fanciest ingredient being fresh thyme. The recipe calls for white button mushrooms, though I prefer baby portobellos, or creminis. Really, any mushroom would do. Who doesn’t love mushrooms?

Like Teigen, I love soup. She features a Creamy Tomato Soup with Peppery Parmesan Crisps. I’m always looking for a good tomato soup recipe, and although I think I prefer my old stand-by that uses tomatoes seasoned with garlic, basil and oregano, Teigen’s tomato soup is quick and basic. The Peppery Parmesan Crisps are a nicely elegant alternative to my favorite accompaniment, grilled cheese.

Speaking of grilled cheese, I’m most eager to try the Sweet & Spicy Peach & Brie Grilled Cheese. Ideally, I would have come across this recipe when peaches were in season and found at this summer’s farmers markets, but, alas, it’s November and I’ll have to settle for a store-bought peach. I can’t get enough of Brie lately, so this recipe really calls to me. It features a basic ingredient list of butter, bread, Thai sweet chili sauce (probably my favorite condiment), red onion, Brie and one peach. Put them all together, and throw in the skillet. Easy-peasy.

I could go on, but that would just make you and me hungrier.

Aside from the variety of recipes I’m looking forward to trying, there’s much I appreciate about Cravings: Hungry for More. I like Teigen’s conversational writing style, which she displays when she prefaces each recipe. Ingredients for her recipes are easily acquired; it’s all stuff you’d have in your refrigerator or pantry, or could find at your local supermarket or farmer’s market. This book is definitely a family affair: pictures feature Teigen’s mother and father, husband and children, and several recipes are inspired by her Thai mother. And the food photographs that partner with the recipes look scrumptious.

The Joplin Public Library has both of Teigen’s cookbooks in its collection, as well as an e-book version of Cravings: Hungry for More. If you’re looking for an accessible cookbook and some delightful inspiration in the kitchen, I suggest you check them out.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders, Illustrated by Steven Salerno

Although I don’t read a lot of children’s storybooks, one occasionally catches my eye with its use of artwork or subject. The latter was the case with Pride: the Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno.

This slim volume opens with some brief background of then-unknown Harvey Milk, relating his hopes and the crux of Pride: Harvey dreamed that everyone “even gay people” would have equality. He dreamed that he and his friends would be treated like everyone else. He dreamed that one day, people would be able to live and love as they pleased.

Harvey goes on to find success as a politician, winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and becoming one of the United States’ first openly gay people elected to public office.

He and his friends plan protests to highlight inequality and unfair laws. Before one such march, Harvey has an idea. Deciding that the gay community needs a symbol, he talks to artist and Chanute, Kan., native Gilbert Baker, who suggests a flag. Gilbert’s vision culminates in the creation of a flag with eight colorful stripes, a rainbow flag.

The flag was first unfurled on June 25, 1978, at the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco. It was â rainbow, as bright and unique as the men and women who walked behind it.

Sadly, five months later, on November 27, 1978, five months after the debut of the rainbow flag, Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone are assassinated by former city supervisor Dan White. That night, there is no flag, no protests, only thousands of silent, grieving people marching with burning candles and mourning the loss of two lives.

Harvey’s death didn’t slow the momentum of the rainbow flag, however.

After a couple alterations “ hot pink and turquoise are removed, leaving six stripes, and indigo is changed to royal blue” the flag is mass produced and begins to appear everywhere.”It was a flag of equality” author Rob Sanders writes. “More and more people began to think of the flag as their flag. And they began to feel pride. They began to have hope.”

A 30-foot wide, mile-long rainbow flag is even carried by 10, 000 people during a New York City Pride celebration in 1994. And on June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court rules that gay and lesbian couples have the constitutional right to marry, the White House is lit with the colors of the rainbow flag.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag moved me. Like many children’s books these days, it doesn’t shy away from tough, potentially divisive topics such as gay rights and death. The writing is as vibrant and inspiring as the colors of the rainbow flag, with strong action verbs and alliteration. It is poignant, as well. The illustrations are colorful and realistic.

By the way, if you’re looking for more information on Harvey Milk, you can find in the adult DVD collection the fine documentary The Times of Harvey Milk or the motion picture Milk for which Sean Penn won a Best Actor Academy Award. The Joplin Public Library also has an excellent collection of LGBTQ+ books for all ages, among them Cleve Jones’ memoir When We Rise: My Life in the Movement

Find in Catalog