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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.

Ready…set…MAKE YOUR OWN MANGA! by Elaine Tipping and Erwin Prasetya (YA book review)

book cover of Make Your Own Manga: Create Your Own Anime Comics With Action-Packed Story Fill-ins and Blank Comic Panels, by Elaine Tipping and Erwin Prasettya. Published by Adams Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

If you love anime and manga,
if you imagine the dialogue you’d write on the next page,
if you sketch and sketch on any paper nearby –
this is the book you need!

Story and art must work together seamlessly in manga, so Make Your Own Manga provides you pages upon pages of practice space for each skill.

Manga artists Elaine Tipping (draws Dubious Company and Licensed Heroes ) and Erwin Prasetya (illustrates Blade Bunny ) give you helpful hints about transfering your imagination to the page, then set you free to create.

Part one – Write Your Own Story – contains six illustrated stories with empty dialogue bubbles so you can practice fitting the story you’ve written into the usual manga framework. Three stories by each author are presented in left-to-right, top-to-bottom pattern, rather than traditional manga reading style, because this is a practice book to help you with the flow of the story. Why are they flying? Who’s the villain? – you decide!

Part two – Write and Draw Your Own Story – is hundreds of professionally drawn comic frames in many styles, just waiting for you to capture your manga! You can divide these 100+ pages into as many anime comics as you like – be sure to note each one’s title and starting page on the blank table of contents at the front of the book.

So get this book now at your favorite independent bookstore or order it through Bookshop.org where you choose the indie bookstore that gets credit, and the books are shipped straight to you! (These aren’t affiliate links; BooksYALove never profits from recommending books)

Whether you’re just starting to draw manga or you’re an experienced creator looking for layout inspiration, grab your pencil and Make Your Own Manga – then keep creating!

What series would you recommend for a first-time manga reader?
**kmm

Book info: Make Your Own Manga: Create Your Own Anime Comics With Action-Packed Story Fill-ins and Blank Comic Panels / Elaine Tipping and Erwin Prasettya. Adams Media / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [Elaine’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and 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.

The more you know: CONSTITUTION DECODED, by Katie Kennedy, art by Ben Kirchner (Nonfiction book review)

book cover of Constitution Decoded, by Katie Kennedy, art by Ben Kirchner. Published by Workman Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Preamble, articles amendments –
we know what they are,
but what do they mean?

If we’re widely reading something over 200 years after its publication, it’s a classic.

To better understand the meanings of the Constitution’s old-time phrasing and vocabulary, we could use some help – here’s the book we need!

Going article by article, even word by word, we get insights into the historical context of key principles like separation of powers, creating new states, and establishing the U.S. monetary and postal systems.

The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights, detailing important ideas like the rights of free speech, peaceful gatherings, and trial by jury.

Other amendments fine-tuned Constitutional concepts or changed certain sections that were outdated. Did you know that here were no political parties in 1776, so the Vice President was the runner-up in the Presidential election? The 12th Amendment establishes the Electoral College with distinct voting on President and Vice President.

This book gives clarifying ‘translations’ side-by-side with each section of the Constitution and amendments, notes where amendments changed the original document, and provides vocabulary definitions, case examples, and facts in action (the 27th Amendment was ratified in 1992, but had originally been proposed in 1789!).

With full-color art on each page to help readers remember key concepts and fact-checked by a constitutional law scholar, this book makes a very old document very readable today.

Did you have to memorize the Preamble for school?
**kmm

Book Info: The Constitution Decoded: a Guide to the Document That Shapes Our Nation / Katie Kennedy; art by Ben Kirchner; contributions by Kermit Roosevelt. Workman Publishing, 2020. (author site) (artist site) (contributor site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Listen to art talk – free audiobooks this week

Let’s talk about art – this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC are ready for you to download to your Sora shelf now!

These professionally narrated complete audiobooks are only available for Sora download from Thursday through Wednesday, or you can find them any time through your favorite independent bookshop or local library.

audiobook cover of Poemsia: a novel,  by Lang Leav. Read by Saskia Maarleveld. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Poemsia: a Novel (free download 17-23 June 2021 on Sora)
by Lang Leav
Read by Saskia Maarleveld
Published by Listening Library

When an obscure poem found in her grandfather’s antiquarian bookstore is mistaken for one of Verity’s own writings, the Australian teen is offered a publishing deal and travel to New York City!

Supported by her life-long best friend and new boyfriend, Verity has to cope with sudden fame and high expectations as she strives to stay true to herself.

audiobook cover of This Is What I Know About Art, by Kimberly Drew.
Read by Kimberly Drew Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

This Is What I Know About Art (free download 17-23 June 2021 on Sora)
by Kimberly Drew
Read by Kimberly Drew
Published by Listening Library

Access to art for all people, the relationship between art and protest – learn more about the ways that artistic expression can be open to everyone with the social media manager of NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art who communicates passionately about cultural studies, fashion, and Black contemporary art.

What art-inspired books can you recommend?
**kmm

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

Launch into DRAWING FOR BEGINNERS as you journal beyond the ordinary – grab your pencil & let’s sketch! by Jamie Markle (book review)

book cover of Drawing for Beginners: 100+ Ideas and Prompts to Release Your Inner Artist, by Jamie Markle. Published by Adams Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Doodle a little,
sketch what you imagine,
give your artistic self permission to try!

No requirements to only “draw exactly what you see”, no demands to practice drawing shapes over and over before attempting to capture something from life – you’re encouraged to try various techniques as you grow your own style over dozens and dozens of varied subjects in this hands-on journal.

The initial glossary of art terms and techniques is followed by more than one hundred prompts, most on double-page spreads, each with a few sketched lines to anchor your experimentations and a Take It Further challenge to try now or return to when you want more options.

Work your way page by page and project by project in this “illustrated drawing journal” or pick and choose what strikes your fancy at the moment, from outdoor settings or still-lifes, imagined images or live subjects. Birds on a Wire is followed by Bustling Bouquets, then a Ring of Keys and a Treasure Hunt map.

Whether you stick to your trusty #2 pencil or add pens and colored pencils to your drawing tools, you can improve your drawing skills and imaginative eye with this soft-cover journal.

Take to heart the words of this inviting book’s creator, “Let your drawing practice be your launching pad into self-expression as you find your visual voice.” (p. 191)

What do you want to sketch next?
**kmm

Book Info: Drawing for Beginners: 100+ Ideas and Prompts to Release Your Inner Artist / Jamie Markle. Adams Media / S&S, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.