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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

Our freedoms secured by INVISIBLE HEROES OF WORLD WAR II #YAlit by Jerry Borrowman (book review)

book cover of Invisible Heroes of World War II, by Jerry Borrowman. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Battling uphill against relentless gunfire,
Surviving tropical torture camps,
Building a bridge today & blowing it up tomorrow…

So many World War II stories concentrate on the big-name heroes we saw in our history textbooks, but thousands upon thousands of people with their own talents, strengths, and courage helped the Allies win.

Meet individuals like photojournalist Dickey Chapelle who made a name for herself as one of the first ’embedded journalists’ during the War and socialite Nancy Wake who worked for the French Resistance, taking escaped Allied prisoners to safety by train, right under the noses of the Nazis in Vichy France.

This book also notes the heroism of groups such as the Nisei Japanese-American Purple Heart Battalion fighting in Europe while their families were interned in concentration camps in the US, the Navajo Code Talkers whose top-secret service went unrecognized for decades, and the combat engineers keeping the US Army moving over land, marshes, and rivers.

The author of Compassionate Soldier (I recommended it here) brings us another good balance of personal stories and collective histories, rarely discussed and well-known, all worth discovering.

What under-told stories of heroism might be found in your family’s old letters, photo albums, and tales shared at family gatherings?
**kmm

Book info: Invisible Heroes of World War II: Extraordinary Wartime Stories of Ordinary People , by Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is for PATH TO THE STARS: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist, by Sylvia Acevedo (YA book review)

book cover of Path to the Stars, by Sylvia Acevedo. Published by Clarion Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The world of books,
the sisterhood of Girl Scouts,
her chance for dreams to come true!

Papa’s attention went mostly to her big brother, Mama focused on little sister whose bout with meningitis scarred the whole family (not much money, lots of love), so Sylvia discovered her own best way through life, with the help of her Girl Scout troop and leaders.

This biography brings readers into Sylvia’s extended family, into the days when Latinas were just being accepted into science professions, into her growing attitude that she can plan and dream and make those dreams come true.

So excited that she is a keynote speaker this week at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Austin!

What influences have helped you during your life journey?
**kmm

Book info: Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist / Sylvia Acevedo. Clarion Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Also available in Spanish – Camino a las estrellas (Path to the Stars Spanish edition): Mi recorrido de Girl Scout a ingeniera astronáutica / Sylvia Acevedo and Isabel Mendoza. Clarion Books, 2018.

My book talk: From the rocket science lab and executive board room, Sylvia Acevedo looks back on the events which brought her here from a crowded Las Cruces neighborhood, acknowledging the hardships and help received along the way.

Moving across town from the dirt streets where everyone knows everyone’s business to a new neighborhood with air-conditioned houses in the 1960s, Sylvia fights expectations that she’s academically behind her new classmates and gets used to hearing English spoken everywhere except her home.

An invitation to a Brownie troop meeting changes her life, as Sylvia finds the perfect place to explore her own interests (instead of Papa’s limits), learn how to manage money and speak confidently (cookie sales!), and plan for her future (not a strong skill in her family).

She loves science and math and star-gazing and going to the library and dreams of going to college – determination and planning can get her there!

This true story of one Mexican-American girl’s journey from just getting by to getting rockets into space as an engineer celebrates the strength of family love, the power of positive role models during childhood, and her own persistence in learning everything she needs to move to the next step in her plans.

Authors & illustrators share their childhood works in Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissman (book review)

book cover of Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissnman. Published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Looking forward to a new year,
looking back over the past –
writers and artists do this, too!

You’ll recognize so many of your favorite authors and illustrators of works for kids and young adults in the “About the Author” section at the publisher’s webpage for this book!

So think about the stories you wrote in earlier years, the comic strips you drew, the plays that you put on for your family, the news reports that you made as a kid.

A new year, new opportunities, what will you begin?
**kmm

Book info: Our Story Begins: Children’s Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids / edited by Elissa Brent Weissman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: “When did you start drawing? When did you know that you wanted to write books?” These frequent questions from young readers are answered by 25 of our favorite authors and illustrators – with examples of their very early works – in this anthology which will inspire a new generation of creators.

A grade-school photo from each author and illustrator begins their chapter which includes reproductions of their childhood stories or drawings in crayon, pencil, pen, or typing.

There’s a photo of author Elissa Brent Weissman as a kid with Gordon Korman at his book signing, then turn to Korman’s chapter to read his fifth-grade speech “How to Handle Your Parents”.

Kwame Alexander’s mom still has his first-ever poem (to her on Mother’s Day) framed in her living room. Thanhha Lai and her family fled Vietnam during her childhood, but she can still recite the story-poem “A Bird in a Cage” that she told her mother over and over.

Illustrators’ talents as kids ranged from polished (Grace Lin) to rudimentary (Jarrett J. Krosoczka – graphic novels), and several authors say that they copied their favorite writers’ styles in early stories – all continued to work at their craft and work to be published.


Feminism now! Here We Are, by 44 voices, edited by Kelly Jensen (book review)

book cover of  Here We Are...Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen. Published by Algonquin Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comA feminist is…
angry? empowered?
quiet? loud?

All of the above, and then some!

Essays, lists, comics, and graphs from 44 authors and illustrators bring out many facets of today’s feminist movement while reflecting on its past and ways the future might go.

Where do your life and feminism intersect?
**kmm

Book info: Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw, and Speak About Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen. Algonquin Books for Young Readers, 2017. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: What is feminism? Can a guy be a feminist? Can you be feminist and feminine? Many questions and many views on this crucial movement begun by our great-grandmothers are gathered in this multi-dimensional book of words and images.

From Starting the Journey with essays “Forever Feminist” by Malinda Lo and “Privilege” by Matt Nathanson to Go Your Own Way with illustrated how-to “Guide to Being a Teenage Superheroine” by Allison Peyton Steger and Rebecca Sexton, seven chapters of writing and art by women and men of varying gender, racial, sexuality, and ethnic identifications discuss the movement’s history, definitions, challenges, and victories.

“Feminism isn’t a uniform’ we’re reminded as we read and explore the intersection of “Faith and Feminism” from Muslim author Kaye Mirza, of “The Big Blue Ocean and My Big Fat Body” by Angie Manfredi, or of girls’ only future role as being “The Princess or the Witch” in Wendy Lu’s comic about growing up.

Individual entries range from light-hearted – Liz Prince’s personal journey from misogynist to feminist recounted as a comic –
to angry – cultural appropriation and cornrows by Amandla Sternberg –
to serious – Kelly Jensen’s interview with Laurie Halse Anderson and Courtney Summers about rape culture, girls’ stories, and girls’ voices
and are solidly supported with a Further Reading list of fiction, non-fiction, and online resources.