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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.

O is for Nadya Okamoto & PERIOD POWER (YA book review)

book cover of Period Power, by Nadya Okamoto. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Subtitled “A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement,” this informational book seeks to start conversations and remove taboos surrounding a natural body function for half the world’s population.

Look into the history of period products, the mid-20th century educational pamphlets created by their manufacturers, and modern alternatives to their current contribution to plastics pollution.

Did you ever think about the difficulties experienced by homeless persons during their periods? Of school-age menstruators whose families can’t afford period products? Of trans persons who are reminded monthly of a gender identity that is not their own?

Okamoto’s quest to destigmatize menstruation myths and misunderstandings led her to start period.org in high school, and today the Harvard student continues to advocate through this largest youth-run NGO in women’s health – you can, too!

Donate period products at your next food drive or service project.

Choose personal period product options that are less-polluting and fight against the “tampon tax“.

Keep conversations open so women and men can normalize this fact of life.

What’s your next step?
**kmm

Book info: Period Power: a Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement / Nadya Okamoto, illustrated by Rebecca Elfast. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author Twitter] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

April AtoZ Challenge begins Monday – no fooling!

logo of 10th April Blogging A to Z Challenge

It’s challenge time again!

For the eighth year in a row, I am participating in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge – 26 posts in 26 days!

So you will get 25 new book recommendations and one surprise during April – Sundays off to catch up!

Ready to kickstart your blog? Sign up at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ and publish your A post on Monday, April 1st (no fooling!).

Want to find more blogs to follow? Visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ and search the categories on the Master List. The Challenge is also on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/atozchallenge) and Twitter (@AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge).

Looking for my A2Z posts from earlier years? Click on the A2Z under Tags in the right hand column.

See y’all on Monday (and Tuesday and….)
**kmm

Here, have A PEBBLE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS & grow kindness, by Megan Murphy (book review)

book cover of Pebble for Your Thoughts, by Megan Murphy. Published by Mango Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The right words
at the right time
can make all the difference.

When Megan Murphy decided to turn off the negativity of the morning news and spread love during her daily walks, The Kindness Rocks Project was born.

“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” – Winston Churchill (pg. 40-41)

This book collects some of her favorite sayings to paint on rocks and leave where others can find them (info on where not to leave them also included).

“If not us, who? If not now, when?” – John F. Kennedy (pg. 56-57)

What uplifting message will you send out into the world?
**kmm

Book info: A Pebble For Your Thoughts: How One Kindness Rock at the Right Moment Can Change Your Life / Megan Murphy. Mango Publishing, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Starting with one person’s attempt to counteract negativity through small encouraging messages to anyone, The Kindness Rocks Project has grown into a worldwide movement trying to uplift everyone.

Chapters featuring quotations on

  • strength -“Never underestimate yourself”,
  • encouragement – “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” – Rumi,
  • grief and healing – “Sometimes, something as simple as a smile can make all the difference”,
  • faith – “Live the way you want to be remembered”,
  • personal growth – “You can go your own way” – Fleetwood Mac, and
  • self-love – “Accentuate the positive”
    show example Kindness Rocks in picturesque natural settings and discuss the word or quotation painted on each one.

Sections on the Project’s origins and how to become involved by painting your own Kindness Rocks round out this handy collection, which reminds us to LeaveNoTrace and place our own #thekindnessrocksproject inspirational rocks in just the right places.

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.