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L is LUMINOUS LIFE OF LUCY LANDRY: orphan, treasure seeker, by Anna Rose Johnson (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Luminous Life of Lucy Landry, by Anna Rose Johnson. Published by Holiday House/PRH

Mama the actress died, then Papa,
now her guardian too –
where will Lucy go?

A remote lighthouse on a tiny island in vast Lake Superior!? Living with a family she’s never met? Thankfully, they’re also of Ojibwe and Acadian heritage…

So 11-year-old Lucy goes to the Martin family in 1912, an only child in hand-me-down clothes with a big imagination and few practical skills now among a bustling family of eight.

They gather seagulls’ eggs for cooking, their school lessons arrive every month with the household supply order and a box of books, and not one of the six children believes that Lucy’s mother was a famous actress…

Her ship-captain father told Lucy of a valuable ruby necklace lost when the Elva Jane shipwrecked and how a grand piano from its cargo washed ashore at Mermaid’s Cove across the water from this island – she’s determined to find that necklace in memory of her father!

But first she has to get over her fear of boats and convince the older Martin children to help her search and not make more mistakes at the lighthouse (that scary inspector could arrive any time).

The necklace’s owner is still living? Perhaps she knows a little more.
Who’s that boy searching for the necklace? Lucy must find it first!
A storm is coming while Mr. Martin is away? The children must light up the lighthouse for sailors’ safety!

Lucy tries to find her place in a new family in northern Michigan while keeping memories of her parents alive in this historical novel touched with mystery, glossary of Ojibwe and French words included.

Could you live on an island with little communication to the outside world?
**kmm

Book info: The Luminous Life of Lucy Landry / Anna Rose Johnson. Holiday House, 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is Supriya Kelkar’s STRONG AS FIRE, FIERCE AS FLAME during revolution! (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame, by Supriya Kelkar.  Published by Tu Books /Lee & Low Books

Soon to be married,
then tragedy, death!
Must she die also?

Changes, changes! In 1857 India, British occupiers push Indian men to join their military as Sepoy brigades, tax people so much that starvation is increasing, and want to change devoutly followed religious traditions, leading to widespread rioting.

When Meera turns 13 in a few days, she’ll move into Krishna’s family home, sealing the Hindu marriage agreement made when they were toddlers.

Aiie! Instead of a wedding celebration in their tiny village, it’s Krishna’s funeral on the day before her birthday. Tradition demands that widowed Meera commit sati and allow herself to burn on her husband’s pyre as she follows him into the afterlife.

Leave! Go! Aunt urges her to run away, and Meera flees alone into the rainy night and an unknown future. Could she possibly reach Rani Lakshmibai, the widowed queen who defies the British and rules her region with fairness?

Rescued from the raging river by people on a boat, Meera meets Bhavani who is going to see her sister in town. Perhaps she can help both girls find jobs…

A tiny mistake puts them in the hands of Captain Keene, the one who’s abolishing their traditions! He orders them to work at his big house to pay for their error – at least they’ll have food and a place to sleep.

Luckily, his wife doesn’t share his anger, this kindly memsahib who likes to sketch, who mourns the death of their daughter, who asks that schools for local girls be created.

The two young teens help the cook, serve meals to Captain and Memsahib and their guests, and hear much talk about how the East India Company will soon complete the takeover of their homeland. Bhavani and her sister believe that the British must leave India alone, so they’re meeting with local rebels to make plans.

What’s this? Captain has a secret stash of ammunition and plans to attack! The rebels must be told!

Is Meera brave enough to search the Captain’s desk and help the rebels find out how to get that ammunition?
Can the sepoy Charan truly be on their side against the British officers?
Will the young women be as fearless as Rani Lakshimibai?

Based on true events of India’s history – see the endnotes for more details and timeline. By the author of contemporary middle-grade novel That Thing About Bollywood, recommended here.

When have you chosen to stand against injustice instead of just being a bystander?
**kmm

Book info: Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame / Supriya Kelkar. Tu Books /Lee & Low Books, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

J is THE JOCKEY AND HER HORSE – yes, a Black girl should ride in races! by Sarah Maslin Nir & Raymond White Jr. (MG book review)

Book cover of The Jockey and Her Horse, by Sarah Maslin Nir & Raymond White Jr. Published by Cameron Kids/ Abrams

To understand without words,
to work as a team of two,
horse and rider, running together with one mind!

Was the horse barn was Cheryl’s favorite place in the world, or the pasture where the queen mare ran with their herd? Only riding in races on Jetolara, the first thoroughbred she ever loved, could ever be better than growing up on their Ohio racehorse farm.

Dreaming of a better future for their children, her White mother and Black father married well before the 1964 Civil Rights Act allowed it nationwide.

Cheryl’s great-grandfather was a Black horse trainer who refused to let prejudice force him out of racing. Her father continues the business with pride and knowledge. He is sure that little brother Drew will be a winning jockey, when it’s really Cheryl who has the desire and skill.

A whiz at school, she accepts her mother’s challenge for 1971- if Cheryl aces her senior year classes, she’ll get to race on powerful filly Ace Regard to earn her jockey license!

Studying for academic quiz show tryouts and the jockey license exam, riding Jetolara and Ace in training runs, preparing to race nearby and travel far away to Senegal – can Cheryl do it all?

Listen in on the thoughts of Jetolara and Ace as they find their places in the herd and in Cheryl’s life, too.

This fictionalized story of Cheryl White, the first Black female professional jockey and winner of 750 races, was co-written by Cheryl’s little brother who held almost every job in horse racing – except jockey, because he grew too tall!

What’s your dream job and what will you do to get there?
**kmm

Book info: The Jockey and Her Horse (Once Upon a Horse, book 2) / Sarah Maslin Nir & Raymond White Jr., art by Laylie Frazier. Cameron Kids/Cameron + Company, 2023. [co-author interview] [artist page] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I is for OUR INCREDIBLE LIBRARY BOOK and the Wonderful Journeys It Took, by Caroline Crowe & John Joseph (Picturebook review) #A2Z

book cover of Our Incredible Library Book and the Wonderful Journeys It Took, written by Caroline Cooke, illustrated by John Joseph. Published by Floris Books

“Ready, Set, Library!” for National Library Week (7-13 April 2024)!

Welcome to the children’s area of a public library, filled with kids and books and parents from every part of the community.

So many books to choose from! Beyond the story told by author and illustrator in each book is “the tale of the journey it’s been on as well…”

Let’s follow a picture book from the New Books display to Nia’s house, where she read it over and over, even while her cocoa got cold (and left a little ring on a page).

Returned to the library, the book is borrowed by Luis – the first book he can read all by himself! He reads it to Abuela and even Ana while she’s in the tub (just a little bubble bath splashes onto a page).

And on and on this incredible library book travels through town in bouncy rhymes as young readers nudge sleepy cats off it (pawprints), read it to ducks in the park (muddy fingerprints), use it as a bridge for toy trucks after reading together, and as a shield in the rain. Each encounter leaves a mark on its pages or cover, showing how much this book is loved and shared.

Readers can see themselves and families like theirs in this book – kids with glasses, kids with missing front teeth, wheelchair users, moms in hijab, single dads, families of many ethnicities – as they are reminded that we can enjoy books in many places, as solo readers or with others.

What stories could your favorite book tell of its travels?
**kmm

Book info: Our Incredible Library Book and the Wonderful Journeys It Took / written by Caroline Cooke, illustrated by John Joseph. Floris Books, UK 2022, USA 2023. [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

H is for HEALER OF THE WATER MONSTER, a huge task for a Navajo preteen! by Brian Young (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Healer of the Water Monster, by Brian Young. Published by Heartdrum / Harper Collins.

No electricity, no cell service –
a boring summer at grandmother Nali’s place…
until Nathan encounters a Holy Being!

Nali doesn’t mind the hardships of living part-time on their Navajo ancestors’ land – chopping wood, hauling water – so Nathan tries to help her and shake off his divorced parents’ squabbles.

The 11 year old starts his science project of comparing the growth of Nali’s traditional corn to the modern kernels he bought in the city and begins to learn more about this dry place where the usual summer rains haven’t arrived in years.

Uncle Jet shows up suddenly at Nali’s, still off-balance after his military service, still trying to heal his soul with alcohol.

One night in the desert, Nathan meets Water Monster from the Third World of the Navajo creation story, stranded here in the Fourth World and dreadfully ill!

Is Nathan the only one who can see and hear the Holy Beings?
Can he learn all the correct Navajo songs and travel the difficult path to heal Water Monster?
Will Uncle Jet ever listen to Nali and ask the elders to help him find peace?

An amazing journey to the Third World, frustration when adults don’t believe the Holy Beings are real, a summer that will shape Nathan forever.

Published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books, Healer of the Water Monster was named as Best Middle Grade Book: 2022 American Indian Youth Literature Awards.

The sequel, Heroes of the Water Monster, will be published on May 14, 2024 – more at https://www.harpercollins.com/products/heroes-of-the-water-monster-brian-young?variant=41096247541794.

Could you brave the unknown to save a friend?
**kmm

Book info: Healer of the Water Monster / Brian Young. Heartdrum/ Harper Collins, 2021 (hardcover), 2023 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

F is this FAR OUT! festival, with UFOs and mysteries, by Anne Bustard (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Far Out! by Anne Bustard. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

“Welcome to our extraterrestrial festivities, with aliens as guests of honor!”

Well, invitations have officially been extended to any and all space people for the first annual Come On Down Day at Totter, Texas in November 1964.

Mary Jane and her best friend Nick can’t wait to see an actual meteorite at the library’s new display, but it goes missing before the grand opening!

MJ’s beloved grandmother is arrested as the main suspect (by a deputy, not MJ’s dad/the sheriff), so the 11 year old starts gathering evidence to prove that Mimi is innocent.

How many people had a library key? Who was in the town square that night? Who wants to mess up Come On Down Day?!

Space-themed bingo at school, counting down to the big day, then Mimi goes missing!

Was she abducted by aliens? Does the visiting UFO expert have information to share? Can Dad’s photos shed light on the matter?

A big day in their small town – hope the aliens Come On Down!

Also available in paperback on 24 April 2024.

Have you ever spotted a UFO?
**kmm

Book info: Far Out! / Anne Bustard. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is for ENLIGHTENED: A Fictionalized Tale of the Buddha, by Sachi Ediriweera (Graphic Novel review) #A2Z

book cover of Enlightened: A Fictionalized Tale / words and art by Sachi Ediriweera. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Locked safely in the palace after his mother’s death, lively Prince Siddhartha has never known suffering, never seen an old person – how can he be a good king in the future when he knows so little about real life?

Even when he marries, the King insists he and the princess stay inside the palace for safety. Their son is born, and yet the young family must remain there, suffering despite having the best of everything.

Enough! Siddharta leaves behind his wife and child, traveling into the countryside to meet his people, to try to understand the truths about suffering – however long it takes.

The king of a nearby realm leads Siddhartha to a monastery, where the prince will live and work and meditate as a monk, learning from a wise teacher.

After a year, Siddhartha has found inner peace, but not the answers for his deepest questions, and so he travels onward. Will fasting provide insight? More meditation?

Time passes as he journeys, and he suffers because he desires to see his family as much as he desires to know the truth about suffering. Clarity comes at last – suffering and desire are a never-ending cycle!

He refines his realizations into Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path that can end the pain of our cyclical existence: right view, right intention, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, right concentration.

As the Awakened One, he teaches to all who will listen as he travels back toward his homeland and the family he left behind, never again to be a prince, moving ever onward to establish monasteries for men and women in India and beyond.

Experience the Buddha’s life and journey toward enlightenment in this compelling graphic novel. Sri Lankan artist and author Ediriweera skillfully uses soft blue, umber, and orange tones to accentuate both the stillness and the action of its storyline.

What are your experiences with Buddhism?
**kmm

Book info: Enlightened: A Fictionalized Tale / words and art by Sachi Ediriweera. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D is for a dog, determination, and OUR DIVINE MISCHIEF interfering! by Hanna C. Howard (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Our Divine Mischief, by  Hanna C. Howard. Published by Blink YA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

What will be her role in the village?
Mother must let her go try!
It’s time…

Aila sails to Yslet’s island to discover what skill the goddess will grant her. But instead of a golden disk with apprentice symbol inscribed, the 17 year old finds only a muddy puppy who insists on going home with her.

Hew waits with the other villagers, hoping that she didn’t receive a blank disk like he did, praying that she’s not cursed to be Unblessed as he is…

The priest is flummoxed, finds that a series of Ordeals might still reveal Yslet’s way for Aila’s lifework, and assigns Hew to watch over her as she prepares.

Orail, the puppy, is delighted to be with Aila and Hew as her mind expands, as the teens experience her mischief and magic growing rapidly, as she secretly helps Aila during the Ordeals.

When a scribe from the mainland intuits that Orail is a wish-granter, he decides that the dog’s gifts will help the Usurper overthrow the King and steals her away!

Aila and Hew follow, never mind the mainland’s dangers – they must rescue their friend!!

Reflecting Scottish history and folklore, this adventure is told in the three voices of Aila, Hew, and Orail, whose poetic mind-speak grows more lyrical as she quickly grows from rambunctious puppy to full-grown protector.

Would you want your future job to be locked-in by others?
**kmm

Book info: Our Divine Mischief / Hanna C. Howard. Blink, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C is CALLING THE MOON: 16 Period Stories from BIPOC Authors, edited by Aida Salazar & Yamile Saied Mendez (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Calling the Moon: 16 Period Stories from BIPOC Authors, edited by Aida Salazar & Yamile Saied Mendez. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

One’s first period…
awaited, dreaded, longed-for, a total surprise?

Whether you know a little or a lot about menstruation and the cultural traditions surrounding it, you’ll empathize, learn, and celebrate the varied perspectives shared by these Black, Indigenous, and people of color writers.

“The Arrival” is chronicled in verse by Nikki Grimes, as a young athlete fears that she’s injured herself at track practice, learns that it’s just a normal first period, and is determined to channel her new “woman-me” into strength and speed at the track meet.

Leah Henderson writes that Amari absolutely knows that she doesn’t want to give up soccer and return to ballet like her mom wants, but is really uncertain about the “Turning Point” Celebration day that Mom sets in motion as soon as the 12 year old gets her first period.

After their mother’s sudden death, how will Papi cope with his girls growing up? wonders the eldest, 13-year-old Lucia, when the neighborhood ladies tell him to worry about “pimples and periods and hormones” in “Ofrendas” by Guadalupe Garcia McCall.

Contributors include Hilda Eunice Burgos * Veeda Bybee * Susan Muaddi Darraj * Saadia Faruqi * Nikki Grimes * Leah Henderson * Mason J. * Erin Entrada Kelly * Guadalupe Garcia McCall * Elise McMullen-Ciotti * Yamile Saied Méndez * Emma Otheguy * Aida Salazar * Christina Soontornvat * Padma Venkatraman * Ibi Zoboi.

The list of Resources includes books (like Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, which I recommended here), films, podcasts, support organizations, and websites.

*kmm

Book info: Calling the Moon: 16 Period Stories from BIPOC Authors, edited by Aida Salazar & Yamile Saied Mendez. Candlewick Press, 2023. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

B is for BORN READING: 20 Stories of Women Reading Their Way Into History, by Kathleen Krull & Virginia Loh-Hagan (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Born Reading: 20 Stories of Women Reading Their Way Into History, byKathleen Krull & Virginia Loh-Hagan; illustrated by Aura Lewis. Paula Wiseman Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The skill of reading hasn’t always been taught to girls or encouraged for women, but that didn’t stop those determined to learn!

Meet Wu Zeitan, the first and only woman emperor of China, who promoted reading and education, published books on farming and government, wrote poetry, and created new Chinese written characters.

Get to know E. Pauline Johnson, an Indigenous Canadian poet and performer who was able to lecture and write about her Mohawk and White heritage in the late 1800s when few Indigenous or native voices reached such wide audiences.

Patsy Takemoto Mink didn’t let prejudice against Japanese Americans after World War II stop her from continuing her education, becoming a lawyer, then going into politics to change policies that discriminated against women and people of color. In Congress, she championed Title IX to end gender discrimination in higher education.

You’ll discover more about the reading lives of historical figures Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Phillis Wheatley Pierce, Chien-Shiung Wu, Indira Gandhi, Shirley Chisholm, and Audre Lorde in this book.

Contemporary women readers chronicled include Temple Grandin, Sally Ride, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor, Serena Williams, Taylor Swift, Mala Yousafzai, Amanda Gorman, and Marley Diaz.

The 20 profiles are followed by sections on Feminist Fun Facts, more Girls with Books, activities to keep you reading, how to access free books, organizations that help girls and children read, and an extensive resource list.

Prolific author Kathleen Krull died in 2021, leaving behind a handful of profiles in the manuscript for this book which was further researched and completed by author and long-time friend Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan.

Kathleen said “Once books change their brains, girls change history.” (page 1)
How will you read your way into history?
**kmm

Book info: Born Reading: 20 Stories of Women Reading Their Way Into History / written by Kathleen Krull & Virginia Loh-Hagan; illustrated by Aura Lewis. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. [Loh-Hagan interview] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.