YOU CAN’T SAY THAT! yes, authors can! #BannedBooksWeek (nonfiction book review)

book cover of You Can't Say That! Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell, edited by Leonard S. Marcus. Published by Candlewick Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Too rude! too scary!
Not in our school, our town,
we don’t talk about such things…

Name a ‘controversial topic’ and you can find a list of books for kids and teens that someone, somewhere in the US has tried to censor or ban from class or remove from library shelves.

That’s why this is Banned Books Week and why noted children’s books expert Leonard Marcus decided to talk with authors whose books have challenged by people who think their viewpoint is the only one.

Marcus sets the stage in each chapter by noting the author’s books, the censorship they faced, and how he knows them, so the interviews are conversations between friends as well as explorations of how their depictions of real life often clash with adults trying to protect kids from unpleasant things.

Authors interviewed include: Matt de la Peña, Robie H. Harris, Susan Kuklin, David Levithan, Meg Medina, Lesléa Newman, Katherine Paterson, Dav Pilkey, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, Sonya Sones, R. L. Stine, and Angie Thomas.

You’ll recognize challenged titles from Captain Underpants to the Goosebumps series to Heather Has Two Mommies that have been stolen, challenged, and even publicly burned, but might not have heard about authors being ‘disinvited’ from speaking at schools because their books include gay characters or children in families with alcoholism.

Meg Medina expresses the balance between would-be censors and the author’s right to tell their stories freely: “When it comes to formal challenges to books, the problem is not that parents don’t have the right to be involved in deciding what their children read. The problem is that they don’t have the right to make that determination for other people’s children.” (p. 96)

What are your experiences with book banning or censorship at your school?
**kmm

Book Info: You Can’t Say That! Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell / Leonard S. Marcus, editor. Candlewick Books, 2021. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

The more you know: CONSTITUTION DECODED, by Katie Kennedy, art by Ben Kirchner (Nonfiction book review)

book cover of Constitution Decoded, by Katie Kennedy, art by Ben Kirchner. Published by Workman Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Preamble, articles amendments –
we know what they are,
but what do they mean?

If we’re widely reading something over 200 years after its publication, it’s a classic.

To better understand the meanings of the Constitution’s old-time phrasing and vocabulary, we could use some help – here’s the book we need!

Going article by article, even word by word, we get insights into the historical context of key principles like separation of powers, creating new states, and establishing the U.S. monetary and postal systems.

The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights, detailing important ideas like the rights of free speech, peaceful gatherings, and trial by jury.

Other amendments fine-tuned Constitutional concepts or changed certain sections that were outdated. Did you know that here were no political parties in 1776, so the Vice President was the runner-up in the Presidential election? The 12th Amendment establishes the Electoral College with distinct voting on President and Vice President.

This book gives clarifying ‘translations’ side-by-side with each section of the Constitution and amendments, notes where amendments changed the original document, and provides vocabulary definitions, case examples, and facts in action (the 27th Amendment was ratified in 1992, but had originally been proposed in 1789!).

With full-color art on each page to help readers remember key concepts and fact-checked by a constitutional law scholar, this book makes a very old document very readable today.

Did you have to memorize the Preamble for school?
**kmm

Book Info: The Constitution Decoded: a Guide to the Document That Shapes Our Nation / Katie Kennedy; art by Ben Kirchner; contributions by Kermit Roosevelt. Workman Publishing, 2020. (author site) (artist site) (contributor site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She stays BRUISED to mask her bone-deep anguish, by Tanya Boteju (YA book review)

book cover of Bruised, by Tanya Boteju. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Block the mental pain
with physical pain,
repeat, repeat, repeat…

Daya bruises herself to keep from feeling the guilt and sorrow of surviving the car crash that killed her parents. Keeps her distance from everyone at school, from the well-meaning artsy aunt and uncle she lives with now, from the therapist trying to coax out feelings that must stay boxed in.

But the Sri Lankan-Canadian teen finds a better escape when skateboarding pal Fee introduces her to roller derby. Strong women, sweating and pushing and falling and getting up to skate and hit some more!

Can Daya up her skating skills enough to get onto the rink where the bashing starts?
Was Fee right when they said she could really do this?
Is Daya willing to let veteran skaters help her improve?

When she starts falling for Shanti, the derby team captain says Daya’s interest in her sister shows weakness, threatens to bench the former youth boxing champ for not being tough enough…

Stellar complex story from the author of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens (recommended here).

Ever try the right thing for the wrong reasons?
**kmm

Book Info: Bruised / Tanya Boteju. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Let’s keep this BETWEEN YOU, ME, AND THE HONEYBEES, by Amelia Dian Coombs (YA book review)

cover image of Between You, Me, and the Honeybees, by Amelia Dian Coombs. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The contented buzz,
orderly and productive –
bees always tell the truth.

Josie finally got through graduation and just wants to work full-time at her family honey business outside their small North California town.

But Mom insists that Josie apply to college (the chance she never got), and her bossy best friend is more than ready for them both to escape Volana for school in LA.

When the grandson of rival beekeepers arrives for the summer, Josie finally meets someone who understands her anxiety and her love for the bees. Ezra is a manga fan too and really wants to draw graphic novels professionally, despite his father’s disdain for the arts.

This summer, Hazeldine Honey will try for its 25th win for best honey in the state, beating the rival Blumsteins yet again… when disaster strikes.

Why can’t Mom understand that caring for their bees is more important than leaving town?
Will her beloved Gran have to move back with them because of her medical and memory issues?
Can Josie and Ezra keep their relationship secret from their feuding families?

Maybe sweetness doesn’t always have to come with a sting – read Josie and Ezra’s summer story to find out!

What’s your dream that’s outside the expected, tried, and true?
**kmm

Book Info: Between You, Me, and the Honeybees / Amelia Dian Coombs. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

THE ADVENTURE IS NOW on island of wonders! by Jess Redman (MG book review)

book cover of The Adventure is Now, by Jess Redman. Published by Farrar Strauss Giroux BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

During a truly terrible year at middle school, the Isle of the Wild game on Milton’s HandHeld device is the only good thing left, as he becomes intrepid explorer Sea Hawk instead of the boy no one wants to be friends with anymore.

So Milton is okay with traveling to his uncle’s research station on remote Lone Island for the summer – better than being around as his parents finalize their divorce.

Far out in the Atlantic Ocean, Lone Island is filled with unbelievable tropical flora and fauna, like an elephant that burrows underground and the Incredible Symphonic Cicadas noted in Dr. Paridis’ field journals.

But after her death, the Truth-Will-Out Vine covered the whole island except the research station and researchers’ small houses, even shutting out aerial views of its wonders!

Other kids on the island? Interesting.
No way to recharge his game device? Egad!
A greedy corporation trying to claim the amazing island? No way!

Milton and his new friends must find a way through the Truth-Will-Out Vine so they can verify Lone Island’s uniquely wondrous creatures, plants, and trees before it’s too late!

Look for this May 2021 adventure at your local library or independent bookstore so you can join the search for the Earthworm Pachyderm, Beautimous Lemallaby, and Yes-No-Maybe-So Tree!

When have friends helped you find something wonderful and worth sharing?
**kmm

Book info: The Adventure is Now / Jess Redman. Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Gothic intrigue in DIRE DAYS OF WILLOWEEP MANOR graphic novel! by Shaenon K. Garrity & Christopher Baldwin – YA book review

book cover of The Dire Days of Willoweep Manor, by Shaenon K. Garrity (story) & Christopher Baldwin (art). Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A daring rescue,
a ghost in the manor,
a brooding hero with a dark secret…

Haley’s teacher insists that she must write a book report on anything but a gothic romance if the African American teen wants to pass English class… sigh.

When Haley rescues a man from drowning under the river bridge, they emerge from the water into a different world! But what world and when??

The manor house is “three centuries and four European architectural traditions smushed together” on the eerie moors, brooding older brother Laurence says they’re in “the year of our Lord none of your business,” and there’s a ghost that only Haley can see or hear – are they actually inside a book?

Perhaps so, because Haley is now “the Maiden” attired in a long dress, the sinister housekeeper lets a few secrets out, and youngest brother Cuthbert acts more zany by the hour.

But maybe not, because Montague (the brother that she rescued) insists that he was seeking help from her world because a devouring Penultimate Evil was encroaching on Willoweep Manor, a pocket universe that’s the final defense…and there are cracks in the barrier!

As the Bile seeps out, it infects every creature to join in its attack against all things good!

Will the three brothers finally band together instead of bickering?
Can Haley become the Gothic Heroine that Willoweep needs?
Is she trapped in this pocket universe forever?

This clever graphic novel uses every trope, tradition, and cliche of gothic romances to great effect as our intrepid heroine and the desperate caretakers of Willoweep fight to save… everything!

What what you learned from reading fiction that can help in real time?
**kmm

Book info: The Dire Days of Willoweep Manor / Shaenon K. Garrity (story) & Christopher Baldwin (art). Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Book cover image and review copy courtesy of the publisher.

One night only! It’s the BATTLE OF THE BANDS anthology, ed. by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith (YA book review)

book cover of Battle of the Bands, edited by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

On stage, behind the scenes, in the audience,
taking tickets, selling merchandise –
all connected by local teen musicians!

Sixteen authors bring us interlinking stories that center around the annual Battle of the Bands at a suburban New Jersey high school from many points of view.

Solo acts and long-standing bands, breakups and first kisses, new friends and old grudges, family ties that bend and stretch (but will they break?).

Most stories begin before The Big Night with characters appearing in more than one narrative, just like the overlapping circles of acquaintance at the high school… or the first-time interactions at the Battle itself.

Get this book now at your local library or independent bookstore – just published last week!

I rarely read books twice, but I honestly can’t wait to reread this one, now that I’ve met so many characters as they gather for the music, the friendship, and the best Battle of the Bands ever!

What’s your favorite concert story?
**kmm

Book Info: Battle of the Bands / Lauren Gilbaldi & Eric Smith, editors. Candlewick Press, 2021. ISBN 9781536214338 (Lauren’s site) (Eric’s site) (publisher site)

Stories by Brittany Cavallaro, Preeti Chhibber, Jay Coles, Katie Cotugno, Lauren Gibaldi, Shaun David Hutchinson, Ashley Poston, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Sarah Nicole Smetana, Eric Smith, Jenn Marie Thorne, Sarvenaz Taghavian, Jasmine Warga, Ashley Woodfolk, and Jeff Zentner, and featuring Motion City Soundtrack’s Justin Courtney Pierre.

Romance & relationships – listen in with free audiobooks!

Time to download this week’s love-filled free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Save these complete audiobooks to your Sora shelf (FAQs here) free! from Thursday through Wednesday, then listen to them at your leisure – the loan period is 99 years!

The Henna Wars (free Sora download 8-13 July 2021)
By Adiba Jaigirdar
Read by Priya Ayyar
Published by Listening Library

When Flavia comes back into Nishat’s life, the Irish-Bangladeshi teen is smitten with her.
But for their high school business competition, both young women decide to showcase their henna skills.
Can they get past the competition to see if their relationship will bloom? Will Nishat hide her feelings for Flavia to keep her family happy?

Saints and Misfits (free Sora download 8-13 July 2021)
By S.K. Ali
Read by Ariana Delawari
Published by Listening Library

Janna can cope with being considered a nerd because she studies or different because she wears the hijab at public school, which her remarried dad says is “too religious”.
But when the guy who assaulted her keeps her in sight at every mosque activity and is welcomed at friends’ homes, her fear grows – and she doesn’t want to be afraid anymore!

(Recommended on BooksYALove: https://booksyalove.com/?p=8819 as well as the sequel, Misfit in Love, just published in May! https://booksyalove.com/?p=12109)

More love stories, please?
**kmm

Pride and identity – audiobooks bring stories to life

Quick, quick! Put these outstanding free audiobooks from SYNC on your Sora shelf right now, before the selection changes on Wednesday night (30 June 2021)!

Once they’re saved on your free Sora shelf (FAQs here), you have 99 years (yes, really) to read them with your ears!

CD cover of audiobook Sasha Masha, by Agnes Borinsky. Read by Agnes Borinsky. Published by Tantor Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sasha Masha (free download 24-30 June 2021 on Sora)
by Agnes Borinsky
read by Agnes Borinsky
published by Tantor Media

Alex struggles with their identity, trying to live up to expectations of being a boy in Baltimore. A photo sent by faraway best friend revives suppressed memories, leading Alex to find a supportive social club for queer youth amid awkward interactions at home and school.

Read by the transgender author who invites us on Alex’s journey of personal truth.

CD cover of audiobook Stay Gold, by Tobly McSmith. Read by Theo Germaine, Phoebe Strole Published by Harper Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Stay Gold (free download 24-30 June 2021 on Sora)
by Tobly McSmith
Read by Theo Germaine, Phoebe Strole
Published by Harper Audio

At his new Texas high school, Pony isn’t announcing that he’s transgender, just wanting to make some friends, including cute cheerleader Georgia.

Georgia just wants to finish high school and get over a bad breakup, not expecting to fall for Pony.

What other affirming stories would you recommend for Pride Month and all year long?
**kmm

Listen to art talk – free audiobooks this week

Let’s talk about art – this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC are ready for you to download to your Sora shelf now!

These professionally narrated complete audiobooks are only available for Sora download from Thursday through Wednesday, or you can find them any time through your favorite independent bookshop or local library.

audiobook cover of Poemsia: a novel,  by Lang Leav. Read by Saskia Maarleveld. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Poemsia: a Novel (free download 17-23 June 2021 on Sora)
by Lang Leav
Read by Saskia Maarleveld
Published by Listening Library

When an obscure poem found in her grandfather’s antiquarian bookstore is mistaken for one of Verity’s own writings, the Australian teen is offered a publishing deal and travel to New York City!

Supported by her life-long best friend and new boyfriend, Verity has to cope with sudden fame and high expectations as she strives to stay true to herself.

audiobook cover of This Is What I Know About Art, by Kimberly Drew.
Read by Kimberly Drew Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

This Is What I Know About Art (free download 17-23 June 2021 on Sora)
by Kimberly Drew
Read by Kimberly Drew
Published by Listening Library

Access to art for all people, the relationship between art and protest – learn more about the ways that artistic expression can be open to everyone with the social media manager of NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art who communicates passionately about cultural studies, fashion, and Black contemporary art.

What art-inspired books can you recommend?
**kmm