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THEY CALLED US ENEMY – Japanese-Americans in WWII, by George Takei (Graphic novel review)

Book cover of They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Published by Top Shelf Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Leaving their home and possessions,
not his parents’ choice…
Why? Why!?

His mama’s purse is full of treats for five-year-old George and little Henry as they make the long train trip with her, Daddy, and baby Nancy from their home in Los Angeles to a camp in the woods of rural Arkansas.

Not a vacation place, but an internment camp with barbed wire fences, unfamiliar foods, very little privacy, and their loyalty to the USA constantly in question – boring for kids, disheartening for adults.

Later, George’s family was moved to a facility in the California desert at Tule Lake, another of several concentration camps that housed 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese who were forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II.

At war’s end, they hoped to move back to their homes and businesses, but their properties had been seized and sold to others… time to start all over again.

Will the US government deport George’s family?
How can they live in a country that hates them?
What will the future be like in a world after war?

This is a sobering portrayal of a dreadful time in America’s history, as seen through a child’s eyes and reinforced by decades of subtle and overt racism against Asian Americans.

(One of the white co-authors had worked previously with Takei and pitched the idea of capturing his childhood memories as a graphic novel. The book’s artist is Japanese-American, creator of Himawari House graphic novel that I recommended here.)

The well-known Star Trek actor and social activist continues to speak out against discrimination, racism, and the rights of all to love and be loved.

What young childhood memory would you write or draw?
**kmm

Book info: They Called Us Enemy / George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf Media, 2019. [author site] [co-author site] [co-author interview] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

BLACK BALLERINAS: My Journey to Our Legacy, by Misty Copeland & Salena Barnes (picture book review)

book cover of Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy, byMisty Copeland; illustrated by Salena Barnes. Published by Aladdin S&S | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Every child needs role models who strive to improve life,
who work hard,
who look like them…

Misty Copeland saw very few Black ballet dancers as she grew up, cherishing each one that she met on her path to become the first African American female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater in 2015.

They told of being denied lessons as children and positions with dance companies because of their race. It was worse in earlier times, so the accomplishments of Black ballet dancers were overlooked or erased from dance history books.

Copeland began searching for the stories of those talented women who had preceded her. Mostly American, some were forced by prejudice to dance outside the US, others trained for years and were denied their turn on the stage.

Now this book highlights 27 outstanding Black ballerinas of the past and present: Lauren Anderson, Aesha Ash, Debra Austin, Joan Myers Brown, Delores Browne, Janet Collins, Marion Cuyjet, Stephanie Dabney, Frances Taylor Davis, Michaela DePrince, Nikisha Fogo, Robyn Gardenhire, Celine Gittens, Alicia Graf Mack, Lorraine Graves, Francesca Hayward, Tai Jimenez, Christina Johnson, Virginia Johnson, Nora Kimball-Mentzos, Erica Lall, Andrea Long-Naidu, Ashley Murphy-Wilson, Victoria Rowell, Anne Benna Simms, Raven Wilkinson, and Ebony Williams.

Copeland’s retellings of their dance experiences – good and bad – and signature roles include the too-common theme of “not fitting in” with majority white dance troupes. She acknowledges that colorism still impacts darker-skinned performers more than mixed race women like herself.

Barnes’ elegant and energetic illustrations capture each woman’s vibrant grace – en pointe, pirouette, leaping, in the spotlight.

This outstanding picture book is indeed an ‘everybody book’ – get it at your local library or independent bookstore today!

Who’s your career role model?
**kmm

Book info: Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy / Misty Copeland; illustrated by Salena Barnes. Aladdin, 2021. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ballet is all she knows…then what? TINY DANCER memoir, by Siena Cherson Siegel & Mark Siegel (graphic novel review)

book cover of Tiny Dancer, by Siena Cherson Siegel; art by Mark Siegel. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Dance, stretch,
push through pain,
dance, dance… down.

Ballet classes during her blissful childhood in the 1970s set Siena on her life path. Dancing becomes an escape from the sixth-grade mean girls, from missing her big brother when he leaves Puerto Rico for Boston, from Mom and Dad fighting.

Audition for the School of American Ballet? Live in New York City? School with real friends? All wonderful (except leaving Dad back in San Juan).

Siena wants to be a ballerina more than anything, so that means total dedication, practice, and more practice. Summer ballet schools in and out of New York State as she grows just a little taller than is acceptable for the parts that she longs to dance, spotlight roles that go to her classmates.

An ankle injury forces her to sit out some practices at the New York City Ballet company, just as auditions for the next level are starting – the other girls will get ahead! A little pain is worth the chance to advance, right?

No time for boyfriends or hobbies… even in her dreams, she dances.

No carbs, no desserts – a ballerina’s physique is sleek and svelte…or else.

As her ankle’s healing slows and stalls, Siena’s self-confidence dwindles, and the teen feels trapped by expectations, like turning into a statue instead of a whirling, feather-light dancer.

This graphic novel memoir starts with light and lively lavender colors showcasing Siena’s early days, becoming darker and heavier as she struggles with what could possibly come after ballet, the tutu-clad ghost of her young dreams hovering over many sequences.

Where have your childhood dreams taken you?
**kmm

Book info: Tiny Dancer / Siena Cherson Siegel; art by Mark Siegel; backgrounds by Abe Erskine. Atheneum, 2021. [author bio] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Tapping her HIDDEN POWERS: LISE MEITNER’S CALL TO SCIENCE, by Jeannine Atkins (YA book review)

book cover of Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner's Call to Science, by Jeannine Atkins. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

School through age fourteen,
prepare to raise a family,
but she wants more, so much more!

In a time when new elements are being added to the periodic table, Lise longs to be a scientist, to study further – so unladylike for the early 1900s!

But she persists, going to university, earning her PhD, hearing the discoveries of Planck and Einstein and Hahn from the great men themselves – so much more to learn!

Segregated in her Berlin basement laboratory away from the university’s male chemists and physicists, Lise makes an electroscope to examine radioactive substances – surely they can fill the periodic table’s gaps!

She publishes her important findings in academic journals before and during and after World War I – Dr. L. Meitner is applauded, yet her male co-researchers get more of the credit.

Hitler invades her home country of Austria in 1938 – safety for a Jewish woman in Nazi Germany will soon be impossible!

Can Lise escape to another country?
How will she continue her research?
Why did her lab partner alone get a Nobel Prize for their work on nuclear fission??

This biography in verse is a worthy addition to your reading list for International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February or any day!

What woman of science do you think should be more celebrated for her work?
**kmm

Book info: Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner’s Call to Science / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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.

How can life’s rarities outlast everyday reality? Audiobooks show us more!

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

Remember to save these complete audiobooks to your Sora shelf (FAQs here) from Thursday through Wednesday so you can access them any time on your phone or device.

If you missed the free download of earlier AudioSYNC recommendations, be sure to check through your local public library!

CD cover of audiobook Crescendo:The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town,
by Allen Cheney, Julie Cantrell [Contributor].Read by Allen Cheney. Published by Thomas Nelson | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Crescendo: The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town (free download on Sora 10-16 June 2021)
by Allen Cheney, Julie Cantrell [Contributor]
Read by Allen Cheney
Published by Thomas Nelson

Bullied in his small Georgia hometown, musical genius Fred Allen escapes to New York City where his talent is appreciated and applauded.

The musician’s wife and family support his dreams, even when the long-term effects of childhood trauma darken his outlook. This biography is written and narrated by Allen’s grandson with love and hope.

CD cover of audiobook Extinction,
by Hannie Rayson. Read by Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Darren Richardson, Joanne Whalley. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Extinction (free download on Sora 10-16 June 2021)
by Hannie Rayson
Read by Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Darren Richardson, Joanne Whalley
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

Spotting a tiger-quoll in the wild means the endangered Australian carnivorous marsupial could be saved from extinction… if the American zoologist who finds it can convince a greedy timber baron to spare its habitat.

How can the rare and wonderful be saved from everyday life’s brutality and greed?
**kmm

Can you create a new future for yourself? Audiobook stories bring us more!

Last century and this century – two young men take steps to secure their futures in this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC.

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available for free download from Thursday through Wednesday, you can listen them on your phone or device any time as long as you keep them on your Sora shelf (FAQs here).

CD cover of audiobook The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud | Read by Sheldon "Shelley" Berman, David Cromer, Marge Kotlisky, Naana Potok, Malcolm Rothman, Jensen Wheeler. Published by LA Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Magic Barrel (free download 27 May – 2 June 2021)
by Bernard Malamud | Read by Sheldon “Shelley” Berman, David Cromer, Marge Kotlisky, Naana Potok, Malcolm Rothman, Jensen Wheeler
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

The Yiddish matchmaker’s envelope brims with prospective wives for those who seek out her expertise in 1950s America.

This classic short story explores her magic barrel of possibilities for a shy young rabbinical student looking for a bride, so certain in his faith and so uncertain about his future.

CD cover of audiobook Of Beetles and Angels:  A Boy's Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard, by Mawi Asgedom | Read by Mawi Asgedom
Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard (free download 27 May – 2 June 2021) by Mawi Asgedom | Read by Mawi Asgedom
Published by Hachette Audio

The author narrates his memoir of escaping war-torn Eritrea with his family and the long journey from Ethiopian refugee camp to the United States.

His decision to treat all people as angels (even if they were disguised as hard-cased beetles) buoyed his faith and brought him to academic success.

Does your future hinge on chance or can it be changed by your determination?
**kmm

W is for THE WILLIAM HOY STORY: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, by Nancy Churnin (Picture book review)

book cover of The William Hoy Story, by Nancy Churnin, art by Jez Tuya. Published by Albert Whitman & Co. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Umpires, coaches, players –
so many hand signals in baseball!
Why do they do that?

Have you watched a baseball game and wondered what story the coach is signalling with their hands touching shoulder, nose, ear, ear, nose?

Each combination tells their players what the pitcher should throw to this batter or whether a runner should steal or stay on base.

Who started this no-words communication on the baseball diamond? It was William Hoy, a Deaf player in the early 1900s who practiced hard so he could run faster and hit harder to play in the Major Leagues!

He couldn’t hear the umpires say ‘ball’ or ‘strike’ at the plate or read the lips of players who hid their mouths behind their mitts – but when the umpires used American Sign Language to signal their calls as William suggested, he could steal bases better than anyone!

His teammates learned signs so they could talk strategy without the other team hearing it. too. Even the fans started waving their hands high in the air as Deaf applause after William’s great plays as an outfielder and base-runner.

Learn more about this game changer and the early days of baseball in this picture book for everyone.

What obstacles have you overcome to do something you loved?
**kmm

Book info: The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game / Nancy Churnin, art by Jez Tuya. Albert Whitmas & Company, 2016. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Personal collection; cover art courtesy of the publisher.

Meet 3 BLACK HEROES OF THE WILD WEST! Graphic novel by James Otis Smith

book cover of Black Heroes of the Wild West, by James Otis Smith. Published by Toon Books | BooksYALove.com

Wild mustangs accepted Bob as a herd member.
Mary’s stagecoach always got through, always.
Bass outsmarted and arrested many outlaws.

Perhaps you’ve heard of lawman Bass Reeves, the first Black Deputy U.S. Marshall west of the Mississippi River, but did you know that his dedication to justice inspired the adventures of the fictional Lone Ranger?

Like Reeves, Mary Fields was born into slavery and found freedom in the West working at a mission school, opening her own business, and becoming “Stagecoach Mary,” the most successful stagecoach driver in Montana – a cigar-chomping, punch-throwing, gambling real-life legend.

Bob Lemmons’ patience and tracking skills allowed him to gradually be accepted into a herd of wild Texas mustangs where he challenged the stallion for leadership, then led the mares and colts into his corral. This formerly enslaved man died a respected rancher at age 99 in 1947!

Illustrator Kadir Nelson‘s introduction sets the tone for this new look at American history of the West.

Smith’s art and words bring us along on these heroes’ adventures, with interesting back matter about African Americans on the frontier, how Black and Native Americans interacted, cowboys, railroads, and homesteading.

Which of these heroes would you want on your side on the frontier?
**kmm

Book Info: Black Heroes of the Wild West / written & illustrated by James Otis Smith. Toon Books, 2020. (author video interview) (publisher site)

Extraordinary life stories – listen up! #audiobooks for all

Most of us would say that we lead unexceptional lives. That’s why we’re so intrigued by celebrities and folks whose lives are anything but ordinary.

This week, we get to listen in on the lifestories of superstars in the world of sport and the world of art, with two free audiobooks from AudioSYNC (thanks again, publishers!).

Click on a title below by Wednesday 17 July 2019, follow the easy directions at the AudioSYNC page, and you can keep the downloaded free audiobook on your device as long as you wish.

CD cover of Becoming Kareem,  by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Becoming Kareem, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Published by Hachette Audio

US basketball legend recounts his life from boyhood in New York through his professional career and onward as an activist for social change, sharing the many lessons learned from his mentors.

CD cover of Vincent and Theo,  by Deborah Heiligman | Read by Philip Fox Published by Dreamscape Media  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Vincent and Theo, by Deborah Heiligman

Read by Philip Fox

Published by Dreamscape Media

The Van Gogh brothers shared dreams and heartaches throughout their lives, with Vincent leaving their family home to pursue his art and Theo later giving him a place to stay and work in Paris. Based on their lifetime of correspondence.

What other biographies would you recommend?
**kmm