Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome: Perspectives Beyond Library World

Nothing says self-confidence like a young girl wearing jean overall shorts and oversized glasses, playing the recorder, and dancing her way through her neighborhood in a music video. This is Sarai Gonzalez, young star of the music video for “Soy Yo,” (in English, “It’s Me” or “I am Me”) a hit song by the Colombian band Bomba Estéreo. Please delight in this video a moment: the rest of this post will wait.

This music video premiered online in September 2016 and the song quickly became one of my favorites. The song alone was catchy, but the music video featuring a spunky kid unafraid to be herself brought the song to a new level (a testament to the way additional media and ephemera can enhance the experience of something like song, movie, or book. See I Want My MTV: The Uncensored History of the Music Video Revolution). The video also vaulted young Sarai to stardom, which included, among other things, a book series for young readers that just began in 2018.

As a Youth Librarian primarily serving children, I am constantly searching for fresh, diverse series to recommend to young readers looking for something new. When I saw that Scholastic was publishing a series based on Sarai’s life, co-written by her and award-winning author Monica Brown, I was excited. Aimed at 2nd-4th graders, Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome is a fun and engaging story of a tight-knit extended family facing an (age-appropriate) housing crisis. Sarai rushes to figure out how to keep their family from being forced to move.  What young elementary schooler doesn’t want to feel like they too could try to save the day like Sarai (emphasis on try)?

More books are to come in this series, still centering around the life of young Sarai Gonzalez. Who knew that a viral popular music video aimed at adults could inspire a chapter book series for kids to enjoy? No matter what age or population you serve in libraries or are serving as a library school student, you never know where the next big thing (or small thing that’s meaningful to your audience) may come from. Look at the things that interest you and see how you can mediate that interest into something helpful or interesting for your audience.

What movie/song/book/video game would you like to see turned into another medium for an audience you serve?

Sarah Davis is a Bilingual (English/Spanish) Youth Librarian at a public library in Oklahoma and an MLIS student at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.

This post is part of an occasional series discussing how non-library-school-specific books and materials are relevant to library school students. To read others in this series, check out the tag Reviews.

Categories: Reviews

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