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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.


Syria, Turkey, Iraq – refugees & Rolling Blackouts: graphic novel by Sarah Glidden (book review)

book cover of Rolling Blackouts, by Sarah Glidden. Published by Drawn & Quarterly | recommended on BooksYALove.com

War hurts the innocents the most,
Refugees fleeing or staying in bombed-out homes,
True now as it was in 2016…

So much of what the Seattle Globalist journalists and ’embedded artist’ Sarah Glidden experienced as they traveled in this strife-filled area of the Middle East is repeating in the news today.

Look for this nonfiction graphic novel at your local library or independent bookstore to see what happened and is still happening in Syria and neighboring Turkey and Iraq.

Where can you go when home is no longer safe… or even there?
**kmm

Book info: Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq / Sarah Glidden. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As part of an independent US journalism team examining conflict in the Middle East, cartoonist Sarah Glidden shows actions and interactions resulting when people in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq are asked “Who are you?” including the young veteran of the Iraq War accompanying them as a civilian.

The Seattle Globalist team has to leave for Turkey without visas for Syria (the Syrian ambassador in DC said yes to reporting on youth culture, but no to covering drought and refugees), but they’re looking forward to interviewing many different people on their two-month journey in 2010.

“Who are you?” they ask Iraqi refugees in Syria, their Kurdish driver in Iraq who won’t go to the Arab cities, an Iranian blogger, an American couple helping students get into college, a man deported from the US, their veteran friend who returned to Iraq for perspective.

This visual chronicle of their encounters and challenges brings glimpses of understanding about the continuing conflicts resulting from modern national boundaries intersecting with long-established cultural groups’ traditional territories.


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.

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico, by David Bowles (book review)

book cover of Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico, by David Bowles. Published by Cinco Puntos Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comGods walk the earth,
demigods arise, humans also,
in the lands we now call Mexico.

As a single narrative, this recounting of the traditional tales of creation and learning, good and evil, progress and conquest runs from the pre-dawn of the First Age through the rise of civilization with the Toltecs, Maya, and Aztecs to the coming of the Spanish whose swords and diseases killed so many and whose religion silenced these stories.

Encounter Aztec and Maya names that you might recognize, like Kukulkan and the ancient city of Chichen Itza, and many more whom you need to meet (some from as far away as possible, like god of war Huitzilopochtli).

Other mythic traditions we should pay more attention to?
**kmm

Book info: Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico / David Bowles. Cinco Puntos Press, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The myths threading through the ancestral memories of Mexico’s native peoples are brought together here in an entrancing narrative that spans the five ages.

World-shaking jealousy between bright-burning Heart of Sky and knowledge-bringing Feathered Serpent raged over millenia, the Hero Twins journeyed down into the lands of Death, the gods toyed with human kingdoms throughout time to turn peaceful allies into feuding neighbors – so many stories of loyalty and betrayal wind through the history of the place now called Mexico.

Discover the origin of the mosquito and spider monkey, learn how the Mixteca-Cloud People were born of river trees and challenged Lord Sun himself, wonder as eagle, wolf, and jaguar journey with Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl as willing sacrifices to the temple where his bloodthirsty uncles await.

Weaving together separate Toltec, Maya, and Aztec traditional tales with accents from Purepecha, Zapotec, and many more kingdoms, this deeply researched story-stream begins before humankind existed and ends with the near-erasure of the peoples of Mesoamerica by Spanish conquistadors.

Growing up female in USA: Our Stories, Our Voices – edited by Amy Reed (book review)

book cover of Our Stories, Our Voices. Edited by Amy Reed, published by Simon Pulse. | recommended on BooksYALove.comGirls have been marginalized,
belittled, abused, attacked, ignored –
time to tell the stories and fight injustice!

Strong personal essays by Martha Brockenbrough, Jaye Robin Brown, Sona Charaipotra, Brandy Colbert, Somaiya Daud, Christine Day, Alexandra Duncan, I.W. Gregorio, Maurene Goo, Ellen Hopkins, Stephanie Kuehnert, Nina LaCour, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sandhya Menon, Hannah Moskowitz, Julie Murphy, Aisha Saeed, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Amber Smith, and Tracy Walker bring a wide range of young female experiences together in this book, begun in the wake of 2016 election.

You’ll recognize some names from my recent recommendations of their fiction – like Amy Reed – The Nowhere Girls,
Julie Murphy – Dumplin’,
Maureen Goo – I Believe in a Thing Called Love,
Sandhya Menon – When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle With Love
and others from books you’ve encountered in libraries, bookshops, and friends’ collections.

Meet them, hear their voices, find your voice, vote whenever you can!
**kmm

Book info: Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America / edited by Amy Reed. Simon Pulse, 2018. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Growing up female in the US became even less safe after the 2016 elections, but personal essays by 21 YA authors can bring readers empathy, empowering messages, and a measure of hope mixed with sparks toward moving forward.

Intersectionality – being female and (non-white, immigrant, LGBQT, disabled, fat, bullied) – is the reality for many of these authors who may or may not have transformed their shame, anger, or sorrow into wide-open political activism.

Essays can cover subjects which are very difficult for some readers, so the Editor’s Note specifies which titles discuss abuse, sexual assault, and racist violence.

Read these experiences and seek out others, consult the resources given, be aware of the powers each of us has to steer the future, make your voice heard.

Teen tales of Love & Profanity, bullying, friendship, and more (book review)

hardback book cover of Love & Profanity, edited by Nick Healy et al. Published by Switch Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comTeen angst and adoration,
family, friends, love, work –
40 true stories from authors you know and authors you’ll want to meet.

The book’s subtitle explains it all: “a Collection of True, Tortured, Wild, Hilarious, Concise, and Intense Tales of Teenage Life” and its subject index includes Stories about… Authority Figures, Being Sneaky, Friends-Bad, Friends-Good, and much more.

You can find this eclectic book at your local library or independent bookstore as the 2015 hardcover or 2016 paperback (2 different covers).

What personal story would you be bold enough to share?
**kmm

Book info: Love and Profanity: a Collection of True, Tortured, Wild, Hilarious, Concise, and Intense Tales of Teenage Life / edited by Nick Healy, with Kristen Mohn, Nate LeBoutillier, and Lindsy O’Brien. Switch Press, 2015 (hardcover), 2016 (paperback) [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Writers share vignettes from their teen years in this collection of autobiographical short stories, ranging from mild to wild, mundane to life-altering, divided into four “Love and” sections – profanity, physics, madness, and apologies.

By including YA authors we recognize like Kwame Alexander, Carrie Mesrobian, and Jon Scieszka alongside new-to-us writers like essayist Joey Franklin and science writer Esther Porter, we see a wide range of teen experiences from different genders and sexualities, regions of the US, economic and social conditions, and family configurations.

The subject index itself portrays teenage life, noting Stories About… Being Helpful (or Not), Bullying, Cars, Crushes, Romance Gone Wrong, Siblings, Struggling to Fit In, Working, and much more.

Tough stories? Listen and learn

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC bring us strong stories from real life and real-life situations.

Download these complete audiobooks from Thursday through Wednesday this week for free, then listen to them whenever you like.

If you miss the free download time, check with your local library through WorldCat to see if they have the CD (or print book or eBook) that you can borrow.

CD of The Invisible Girls, by Sarah Thebarge | Read by Kirsten Potter Published by Oasis Audio, LLC. | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe Invisible Girls (download free here from 5-11 July 2018)
by Sarah Thebarge
Read by Kirsten Potter
Published by Oasis Audio, LLC.

As a young woman remaking her own life in a new city, the author meets a refugee mother desperate to feed her five daughters in a new culture they don’t understand.
Girls Like Us (download free here from 5-11 July 2018)
CD cover of Girls Like Us, by Gail Giles | Read by Lauren Ezzo, Brittany Pressley Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comby Gail Giles
Read by Lauren Ezzo, Brittany Pressley
Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Publishing

After graduating, Biddy (fists raised against everything) and Quinny (so timid, so very scared) are placed together as apartment-mates and must learn to navigate the world beyond their special education program.

What memoirs and true-to-life fiction have you read lately?
**kmm

Tales of despair & hope – listen up!

So many stories of enslavement and escape – here are two to read with your ears!

Thank you to the publishers of these audiobooks for making them freely available each week through http://www.audiobooksync.com/. 

Download either or both titles by clicking on the link from Thursday through Wednesday (14-20 June 2018), then listen to them whenever you want.

CD cover of My Name is Not Friday, by Jon Walter | Read by Dion Graham Published by Scholastic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.comMy Name Is Not Friday (download here free 14-20 June 2018)
by Jon Walter
Read by Dion Graham
Published by Scholastic Audio

During the Civil War, young free-man Samuel stands up for his brother and is sold from their Northern orphanage into Southern slavery where he vows to remember his own name and regain his freedom.

Come August, Come Freedom: the Bellows, the Gallows, and the Black General Gabriel (download here free 14-20 June 2018)CD cover of Come August, Come Freedom by Gigi Amateau | Read by J.D. Jackson Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Gigi Amateau
Read by J.D. Jackson
Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Publishing

Born into slavery, talented blacksmith Gabriel is inspired by Haitian revolutionaries to organize enslaved people of Virginia to rebel in 1800 – a little-known true story.

This Juneteenth, what other historical stories of rebellion and freedom should we be hearing?
**kmm

Staying true to yourself – free audiobooks this week

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC bring us stories of being one’s truest self despite others’ prejudices.

You can download these complete audiobooks from Thursday through Wednesday (17-13 May 2018) at zero cost, then listen to them whenever you like (as long as they’re saved on your device).

Big thanks to the audiobook publishers who share these super choices all summer long at http://www.audiobooksync.com/!

CD cover of Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki | Read by Rebecca Lowman Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.comSaving Montgomery Sole (free download here 17-23 May 2018)
by Mariko Tamaki
Read by Rebecca Lowman
Published by Listening Library

Struggling as the daughter of two moms in their small narrow-minded town, Monty discovers that mysteries come in all forms and that true friends (and frozen yogurt) are true gifts.

 

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen (free download here 17-23 May 2018)CD cover of Being Jazz, by Jazz Jennings | Read by Jazz Jennings Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Jazz Jennings
Read by Jazz Jennings
Published by Listening Library

Jazz reads her second autobiography recounting her teen years and the challenges and bullying she has faced as a prominent voice for transgender youth in the years following her family’s support as she transitioned as an elementary school child.

What other books about fitting in versus being your true self would you recommend?
**kmm

Violence and truth – books to read with your ears!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC bring us 9-year-olds faced with violence and hard choices, on opposite sides of the world.

Download either or both titles by Wednesday (5/16/18), then listen to your selection any time you like, using the free Overdrive app.

Bookmark the SYNC site now so you can download great audiobooks all summer long: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of Johnny Get Your Gun, by John Ball | Read by Dion Graham Published by Brilliance Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com Johnny, Get Your Gun (free download 5/10-16/18)
by John Ball
Read by Dion Graham
Published by Brilliance Publishing

Fight the school bully? A 9 year old boy with a gun sparks violence in his impoverished LA neighborhood as racial tensions flare during the 1960s.

 

On Two Feet and Wings (free download 5/10-16/18)CD cover of On Two Feet and Wings, by Abbas Kazerooni | Read by Abbas Kazerooni Published by Brilliance Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Abbas Kazerooni
Read by Abbas Kazerooni
Published by Brilliance Publishing

Abbas can become a soldier at age 9 in the Iran-Iraq War or escape to Turkey without money, family, or friends! Autobiography narrated by the author.

Other stories of young kids prevailing in terrible times?
**kmm