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Always leave THE FIRST BLADE OF SWEETGRASS, Grandmother says, by Suzanne Greenlaw, Gabriel Frey, Nancy Baker (Picturebook review)

book cover of The First Blade of Sweetgrass: a Native American Story / Suzanne Greenlaw & Gabriel Frey; illustrated by Nancy Baker.  Published by Tilbury House Publishers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Musquon’s first trip to the salt marsh with Grandmother to gather sweetgrass!

But in an ocean of grasses, how will the young girl know which kind to pick?

Grandmother patiently shows her the emerald green grass with a purple bottom and reminds Musquon that her ancestors are here with them, where so many have carefully picked sweetgrass for basketmaking and spiritual medicine.

Musquon breathes the salty air, remembering that Grandmother learned as a small girl in this same marsh to pass over the first blade of sweetgrass she finds: “If we never pick the first blade, we will never pick the last one.”

Soon she will learn how to braid sweetgrass and help Grandmother make baskets as the Wakenabi people have done for countless generations.

The authors note the cultural significance of sweetgrass for First Nations’ peoples in their home state of Maine and beyond, as well as a glossary of Passamaquoddy-Maliseet words used in the story including Musquon (“blue sky”) who shares a name with one of their daughters. Watch an interview with the authors here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7weayTgxwgk

What gifts of the natural world are important to you?

**kmm

Book info: The First Blade of Sweetgrass: a Native American Story / Suzanne Greenlaw & Gabriel Frey; illustrated by Nancy Baker. Tilbury House Publishers, 2021. [author & illustrator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

He wants to shine! CARLOS GOMEZ FREESTYLES…HEAVY ON THE STYLE, by Chuck Gonzales (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Carlos Gomez Freestyles...Heavy on the Style, written & illustrated by Chuck Gonzales. Published by Reycraft Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Take a chance?
Stay in the background?
Be himself?

Two years after moving to so-white South Dakota for Dad’s job, their Mexican-American family still faces racism at every turn, including the nosy ladies across the street.

For youngest kid Carlos, it’s been disastrous – his lisp got worse, he’s terrible at PE, and his classmates call him queer and tease him for loving art and fashion.

Luckily, RJ arrives in fifth grade and actually talks to Carlos (without spitballs). Her BMX bike team enters the town charity talent show and invites Carlos to ride with them – once he ditches the training wheels (his balance is just so bad….)

They have big competition – his big sister Marie dazzling with her interpretive dance, middle brother Juan’s astonishing magic act, and a chainsaw-wielding stump carver – plus the yummy biscochito cookies that Mom and the nosy ladies make for the bake sale.

Can Carlos’ bike skills catch up in time?
Will his flair for fashion and sparkles win over the judges?
Will that bully Scott ever quit pushing him down?

This graphic novel has its roots in the artist’s own childhood as a lisping, non-athletic Mexican-American gay kid who didn’t fit in with his South Dakota classmates and found his own happier future in another place.

What act would you perform for a talent show?
**kmm

Book info: Carlos Gomez Freestyles…Heavy on the Style / written & illustrated by Chuck Gonzales. Reycraft Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Which side of his family will LUMBERJACKULA follow? by Mat Heagarty & Sam Owen (Graphic Novel review)

book cover of graphic novel Lumberjackula / words by Mat Heagarty, art by Sam Owen. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Chop, chop, chop!
Eerie, eerie, spooky!
What to do? What to do?

Choosing a secondary school is so important! Should young Lumberjackula go to Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire Academy like Dad and Grandpa or to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep like Mom and her parents did?

The 11 and a half year old will try one day at each school so he can see where he fits best.

But Jack splashes out during the essential lumberjack skill of log-rolling, and he’s scared of heights, so the flying part of being a vampire is out.

Feeling out of place at both schools, Jack dances out his stress in the woods, where a fairy dancer sees him and invites him to try the dance school she attends in a nearby town.

Fibbing to his parents about another trial day at each of their schools, Jack treks to Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy where he’s warmly welcomed and complimented on his technique.

This is where he belongs! But how will he convince his family that dancing is the better choice for him?

Some family drama, some friend misunderstanding, and a ManaTeen giving good advice – it’s your future to decide, Lumberjackula!

Enjoy this video interview with writer Mat and artist Sam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwhhJHbHEFg

What family tradition have you veered away from?
**kmm

Book info: Lumberjackula / words by Mat Heagarty, art by Sam Owen. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [artist info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

In a world GONE DARK, the prepper skills she longs to forget may save them, by Amanda Panitch (YA book review)

book cover of Gone Dark, by Amanda Panitch. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books /Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Forget how she got away,
just think of the future,
till it all goes dark.

Zara and her mom have a better life in southern California, five years gone since they escaped from her father’s survivalist compound back east.

Computer games instead of skinning squirrels? What teen girl wouldn’t leave behind such a hard life? But her father’s voice still echoes that the world is ending soon… no wonder Zara has panic attacks.

Then the sporadic power outages become a nationwide blackout, and civilized behavior vanishes, just like Dad predicted. When a huge stranger barges into their darkened house and calls for Zara by name, the 17 year old knows it’s time to leave.

Unable to get Mom to safety, Zara and her best friends head away from the coast, trying to outrun the threatening stranger and avoid danger on the road.

A Mormon fortress welcomes them, but can they ever leave?
More people join the group as they travel – can they stay safe together?
If they reach the hidden compound, can they survive its border traps?

This future where the electric grid fails large-scale could be tomorrow, just like the difficulties that Zara and friends endure in a world gone dark.

What’s your emergency plan for disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Gone Dark / Amanda Panitch. Margaret K. McElderry Books /Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

At the powwow, hear ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith (YA book review)

book cover of Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids / Cynthia Leitich Smith, editor. Published by Heartdrum/Harper Collins | recommended on BooksYALove.com
Cover art by Nicole Neidhardt

“A powwow is
where our hearts beat as one
to the thump of the drum,
together
so strong
where we belong.”

  • Kim Rogers (pg. 3)

The great Dance for Mother Earth Powwow draws Native American families and friends from all over North America to visit, dance in competitions, sell their wares, and celebrate being together in Michigan.

Smell the frybread cooking, eat the best corn soup, admire the silver bracelets and intricate beadwork, hear the drums – it’s time for the Grand Entry of all the dancers!

Can Jess convince her grandpa to dance in the Veterans’ Dance or will they go back to Oklahoma sad again this year?

Back in New Mexico, Alan and Kevin definitely don’t get along, but at the Powwow the sixth graders need to help each other locate down a certain girl and a certain silver bracelet.

Oh, beaded regalia has gone missing at this powwow too? Shana asks Tokala to help find her floral-beaded Anishinaabe moccasins before the Jingle Dance begins!

Marino’s t-shirt business could use some clever advertising – good thing that “everybody’s dog” Ozzie hitched a ride all the way from the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh to the powwow!

This collection of intertwined stories brings us viewpoints from 16 Native authors from different places and tribes, as Elders, young people, and one very cool rez dog experience Powwow, some for the first time, others returning for their favorite weekend of the year together.

Enjoy these stories and poems during Native American Heritage Month and all year long!

What Native American dances have you seen?
**kmm

Book info: Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids / Cynthia Leitich Smith, editor. Heartdrum/Harper Collins, 2021. [editor site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Can he shoot a deer or not? It’s HUNTER’S CHOICE, by Trent Reedy (MG book review)

book cover of Hunter's Choice, by Trent Reedy. Published by Norton Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Family tradition,
careful practice,
fear of failing!

He has been waiting so long – taking hunter safety classes, getting his deer hunting license, practicing and practicing – because even if this is his very first hunting trip, twelve-year-old Hunter knows you get just one good shot at a deer.

Hunter’s granddad built a lodge on their property in the mountains above their Idaho town, so his family knows the streams where deer like to drink and where a bear might hang out.

His cousin Yumi brings their classmate Annette for the weekend so she can write about hunting for the school newspaper and give Yumi a buffer between her dad and his post-Afghanistan war PTSD.

Hunter might have a little crush on Annette, so his nerves about this important milestone get worse. On their first night, Grandpa, Dad, and Uncle Rick tell stories about past hunts and time here together – reminders that hunting is more than getting venison for the freezer.

“For the time that we’re hunting, everything else, all the frustrations and bull crap from the outside world don’t matter,” (pg.101) Grandpa says as they head out for the evening hunt.

Can Hunter let go of his worries and focus on spotting a deer?
Can Yumi understand what her dad is struggling with?
Will Hunter actually choose to kill a deer?

The author’s experiences fill this book with authentic details, from safe gun handling to field-dressing a deer, as he shares the decisions every hunter must make.

First of three interconnected books set on McCall Mountain – great for fans of Hatchet, hunting, fishing, and the woods.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity with family?
**kmm

Book info: Hunter’s Choice / Trent Reedy. Norton Young Readers, 2021 hardcover, 2022 paperback. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Sports, school, and living Pride with this week’s free audiobook selections!

Your Sora shelf (setup info here) has room for lots of audiobooks, including this week’s Pride stories.

Download either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks – free! – by Wednesday 6/29/22, and they’re yours to listen to as long as you can access your Sora shelf online!

Remember to check your local public library or independent bookstore for any AudioSYNC titles that you may have missed – you’ll be amazed at their selections!

CD cover of Fence: Striking Distance, by Sarah Rees Brennan, Johanna the Mad, C. S. Pacat | Read by Will Collyer. Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Fence: Striking Distance (free Sora download 6/23-6/29/2022)
by Sarah Rees Brennan, Johanna the Mad, C. S. Pacat | Read by Will Collyer
Published by Hachette Audio

Illegitimate son of an Olympic fencer barely qualifies for the fencing team at his elite high school – how can Nick fit in with his rich classmates?

Team-building exercises bring Nick, Seiji, Aiden, and Harvard closer together… how much closer? This audiobook is based on a graphic novel!

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/185517/fence-striking-distance-by-sarah-rees-brennan-johanna-the-mad-c-s-pacat-read-by-will-collyer/

swirling lines divider clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of Honestly Ben - Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg | Read by Dan Bittner. Published by Scholastic Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Honestly Ben – Openly Straight, book 2 (free Sora download 6/23-6/29/2022)
by Bill Konigsberg | Read by Dan Bittner
Published by Scholastic Audiobooks

Sensitive 17 year old Ben pushed away his best friend Rafe when like became maybe-love. Now he’s dealing with his grumpy dad, a new school, and super-macho baseball teammates.

Add to this his search to figure out whether he’s straight, gay, or gay-for-Rafe…

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/128289/honestly-ben-by-bill-konigsberg-read-by-dan-bittner/

What other Pride stories would you like to read with your ears?
**kmm

divider clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159

What is stalking cryptid healer SORCELINE & her classmates? by Sylvia Douye & Paola Antista (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Sorceline, by Sylvia Douye; illustrated by Paola Antista. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Studying mythic creatures,
learning how to heal them,
all she’s ever dreamed of!

Late to her first cryptozoology class because her guide was eaten en route, Sorceline is thrilled to be on the Isle of Voon, but the Professor’s assistant (a vampire who can endure sunlight…) calls the teens outside where a gorgon lies unconscious!

Brooding, quiet Merope knows the correct first response, so he will care for the gorgon who needs unicorn blood to survive.

When Tara goes missing during their night field trip to find a unicorn, everyone is worried; when a pile of shattered glass is found in her place, they’re worried and puzzled – what creature can do this?

Zombie pixies? Everyone knows pixies never come out at night, but one bites Sorceline who yells insults, then watches in horror as it turns into glass!

The Professor said that only one of these six students would become his apprentice – who or what is trying to eliminate some of the competition?

Sorceline’s gift is identifying magical creatures with just one look – can she help the Professor find what he needs to cure those turned into glass? Or is she the cause?

Alcide is smitten with Sorceline, utterly obsessed – is he a real teenager or a mythic creature himself?

Originally published in France as a three-part bande dessinee, Sorceline was just released in the US last month – stunning art with so many mystical creatures on the eerie island!

How do you maintain friendships while competing for the same goal?
**kmm

Book info: Sorceline / Sylvia Douye; illustrated by Paola Antista. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2022. [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

His dream needs THE CEDARVILLE SHOP AND THE WHEELBARROW SWAP! by Bridget Krone (MG book review)

book cover of The Cedarville Shop and the Wheelbarrow Swap, by Bridget Krone; art by Karen Vermeulen. Published by Catalyst Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Too-small house,
big-big dream –
action time is now!

Reading an old magazine aloud to his grandmother, 12-year-old Boipele finds the most interesting story – a man in Canada began with a red paperclip and kept trading until he had a house!

He longs to get his father and grandmother out of this tiny two-room house in their dusty South African village where they have many friends, but no jobs.

Boi and his best friend Potso decide he can start trading with the clay cow they make, so Mrs. Viljoen gives them permission to place their poster outside her Cedarville Shop.

Once folks understand that Boi is trading for something “of greater value” everyone is talking about his swapping dream. For each new trade, Potso draws another clever poster.

As the swapping continues, their classmates prepare for the Talent Show, and little breezes of hope stir through the village, along with a newspaper reporter who wants Boi’s story!

Why are his village’s problems as big as Cedarvale Mountain?
Will lovely, kind Sesi in his grade ever notice Boi?
Can Boi truly swap his way to a house big enough for three?

Come over to Cedarville and meet all of Boi’s neighbors as this young man works to make his dream come true.

What would you trade Boi for his clay cow?
**kmm

Book info: The Cedarville Shop and the Wheelbarrow Swap / Bridget Krone; art by Karen Vermeulen. Catalyst Press, 2022. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Eerie Southern gothic tales to read with your ears (Audiobooks)

Are you ready for delightful frights? This week’s free, professionally produced audiobooks are ready for you to download into your Sora account (info here), through Wednesday, 6/22/22.

Choose either or both selections, and they’re yours to listen to as long as you can access your Sora shelf online!

Did you miss any earlier free AudioSYNC selections? Just check your local public library or independent bookstore.

Time to shiver and watch over your shoulder…

cd cover of Bacchanal, by Veronica G. Henry. Read by Robin Miles. Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bacchanal (free Sora download 6/16-6/22/22)
by Veronica G. Henry | Read by Robin Miles
Published by Brilliance Audio

The carnival traveling through her southern town during the Depression intrigues a young woman whose ability to communicate with animals averts an alligator wrestling disaster.

She gladly accepts the owner’s invitation to join the carnival, little realizing what evil it hides.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/198866/bacchanal-by-veronica-g-henry-read-by-robin-miles/

swirly lines clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
cd cover of Cemetery Girl: Book One: The Pretenders, by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden. Read by a Full Cast. Published by Graphic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Cemetery Girl: Book One: The Pretenders (free Sora download 6/16-6/22/22)
by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden | Read by a Full Cast
Published by Graphic Audio

Waiting for her memory to return after nearly being murdered, Calexa stays in a suburban cemetery crypt.

Who tried to kill the young woman – and why?

This audio adaptation of a graphic novel includes sound effects and a full cast of 15 performers.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/96952/cemetery-girl-book-one-the-pretenders-by-charlaine-harris-christopher-golden-read-by-a-full-cast/

What’s spookier – reading a scary story or hearing it?
**kmm

divider clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159