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Ailey longs for THE MAGIC IN CHANGING YOUR STARS, by Leah Henderson (middle grade book review)

book cover of The Magic in Changing Your Stars, by Leah Henderson. Published by Sterling Children's Books| recommended on BooksYALove.com

Frozen on the stage,
no voice, no dance steps!
His tryout is disastrous…

Ailey knew, absolutely without a doubt, that he’d be the perfect Scarecrow in The Wiz – but during tryouts at school, the Black 11 year old just blanked out, couldn’t dance or sing.

Moping around the family hardware store, Ailey learns that his grandfather was a phenomenal tap dancer as a kid and the great Bojangles Robinson gave him a special pair of tap shoes – but Grampa stopped dancing soon after.

In case there’s a bit of special left in those shoes and somehow Ailey gets to the next round of tryouts, he stealthily tries them on – and is transported to 1939 Harlem, near the theater where Bojangles himself is about to perform!

Can he find Grampa in this unfamiliar neighborhood?
Can Ailey keep secret that he’s from the future?
Can he get his grandfather on that stage so Bojangles can see his talent?

The same stars here as in Ailey’s Pennsylvania home town – maybe wishing and working will get things the way they’re supposed to be (and send Ailey back home)!

What wish are you willing to work to make come true?
**kmm

Book info: The Magic in Changing Your Stars / Leah Henderson. Sterling Children’s Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ready, set, go deliver DRAGONS IN A BAG! by Zetta Elliott (kids’ book review)

Book cover of Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott, art by Geneva B. Published by Yearling-Random House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Follow the rules to stay safe,
avoid trouble,
keep your eyes open!

Jax doesn’t need a babysitter! The Black 9 year old isn’t happy that he has to stay with old Ma while Mom is in court to fight being evicted.

Hmm…he is intrigued when a squirrel zips into Ma’s apartment and tries to feed whatever is in Ma’s big handbag, the thing that came from Madagascar, something that Ma needs to deliver elsewhere – very special lizards!

There’s a transporter in Prospect Park?
The lizards are really dragons?
Ma is a witch?!

Maybe Jax can help Ma as her apprentice, if he follows the rules: keep the dragons in their case and never feed them.

When a problem with the transporter lands Jax and the baby dragons back in Brooklyn without Ma, he enlists the help of his best friend Vik to get the dragons safely to their new home in another dimension.

First in a series, followed by The Dragon Thief !

What mythic creature would you like to see in your town?
**kmm

Book info: Dragons in a Bag / Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Geneva B. Yearling/ Random House, 2018. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Secrets abound at A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS! by Kathleen Baldwin (book review)

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Torture or merely draconian discipline?
Surely her parents won’t make her stay…

High society frowns on girls who prefer chemistry to needlepoint or whose frequent migraines are really visions of disaster – shutting them far, far away from the cotillions and balls of Regency London.

Yet the science experiment that burned down Father’s stable may be a blessing in disguise for Georgiana as the teen finds herself not in a reform school for rebellious girls, but a secret spy school!

Under the direction of Miss Stranje and Madame Cho, several young ladies with highly unusual talents are honing their skills in self-defense and espionage in the fight against Napoleon.

Georgie’s secret ink may give England the upper hand, if she can perfect its formula, if she can keep her heart safe from young Lord Wyatt, if they can keep French agents from stealing it!

Set in an alternate 1814 where Napoleon successfully returns from exile, this first book in the Stranje House series is followed by the equally adventurous and properly romantic Exile for Dreamers (centered on Tess), Refuge for Masterminds (Jane’s story), and Harbor for the Nightingale (Maya’s tale).

Where might your unusual talents take you?
**kmm

Book info: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, book 1) / Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Great powers…at what cost? Thrilling tales to read with your ears!

Adventure, peril, grand reward, danger – this week’s pair of free audiobooks from AudioSYNC take us far beyond our everyday world.

Use the links with each title to download these professionally produced audiobooks before late night Wednesday 17 June 2020.

They’re listenable through the Sora app for your phone or tablet as long as you keep them on your Sora shelf – more details here.

CD cover of Mark of the Raven, by Morgan L. Busse. Read by Jaimee Draper. Published by Oasis Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mark of the Raven (download here free 11-17 June 2020)

by Morgan L. Busse. Read by Jaimee Draper. Published by Oasis Audio

Lady Selene of Ravenwood walks through people’s dreams to gather information or manipulate their desires and fears.

But what if the young woman’s inherited powers are instead causing death? First in the Ravenwood Saga series, a world of seven ruling houses, conflict, love, and turmoil.

CD cover of Easy Prey, by Catherine Lo. Read by Nick Mondelli, Elizabeth Cottle, Jack Meloche. Published by Dreamscape Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Easy Prey (download here free 11-17 June 2020)

by Catherine Lo. Read by Nick Mondelli, Elizabeth Cottle, Jack Meloche. Published by Dreamscape Media

One student uncovered a teacher’s racy photos and shared them, but who?

Super-nerd Mouse who would do anything to get to MIT (and away from his father)? Super-charmer Drew whose athletic charm easily gets girls’ info and sexy photos? Super-rebel Jenna who wants justice after someone leaked her photos and ruined her good name? A mystery in three voices, past and present.

How would you deal with deep secrets and deep powers?
**kmm

Among P.T. Barnum’s wonders, WE ARE ALL HIS CREATURES, by Deborah Noyes (book review)

Book cover of We Are All His Creatures, by Deborah Noyes. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The greatest showman!
Spotlight on him!
Overshadowing all others to reach his dreams…

Barnum’s museum of wonders captivates New York in 1842, yet his daughters feel he cares about the mermaid more than he loves them, would rather transform a little person into General Tom Thumb than tell them stories.

Jo is the decoy, drawing away mobs of fans so that famed opera singer Jenny Lind can safely make her way to each performance hall on Barnum’s 1851 tour, ever in her best friend’s shadow.

At home on her father’s lavish estate in Connecticut, only twelve year old Helen and the Barnum menagerie sense the presence of little sister Frances’ ghost who’s angry enough to wreak havoc as big sister Caroline’s 1852 wedding day approaches.

In 1868, no one can know that the Bearded Lady has a son! Mr. Barnum runs a most respectable establishment, and news of her illegitimate child would doom them both. Luckily, the American Museum is so crowded that Jack can sketch the animals with no one the wiser.

This double-handful of tales re-imagines the lives, dreams, and worries of people locked into their orbits around the self-created brilliance of “there’s a sucker born every minute” Barnum.

Is it ever right for the difference of others to be a show for the rest?
**kmm

Book info: We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman / Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Outward change or inner transformation? Audiobooks for our times!

Books can be timely, timeless, both.

When the weekly AudioSYNC pairings were decided many months ago, no one knew we’d be shouting about systemic racial inequalities during a pandemic, yet these stories to read with your ears really hit home right now.

Remember to download either or both by using the links with each title before late night Wednesday 10 June 2020.

The Sora app is your key for listening to these free audiobooks on your phone or tablet as long as you keep them on your Sora shelf – more details here.

CD cover of Into White, by Randi Pink. Read by Adenrele Ojo. 
Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Into White (download free 4-10 June 2020)

by Randi Pink. Read by Adenrele Ojo. Published by Listening Library

Bullied by other Black students at their mostly white high school in Alabama, LaToya prays to become white, pretty, and popular.

When her wish is granted, life changes for now-blonde and beautiful Toya in ways she couldn’t imagine…

Like No Other, by Una LaMarche. Read by Phoebe Strole, Leslie Odom, Jr. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Like No Other (download free 4-10 June 2020)

A northeast hurricane traps a devout Hasidic Jewish girl Devorah and a nerdy West Indian guy Jaxon in an elevator for a long time – long enough for the teens to get to know each other, to really really like each other…

When the elevator doors finally open, what now?

How are you educating yourself in response to current events?
**kmm

It calls them all – A SONG BELOW WATER, by Bethany C. Morrow (book review)

book cover of A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Every Siren is a Black woman,
her magical Call irresistible,
a danger that the majority wants to contain…or silence.

Tavia and Effie share secrets and worries as the Black almost-sisters navigate high school while growing into their individual powers.

To Portland, Effie is ‘the girl from the park’ who survived when sprites turned her playmates into stone statues years ago.

Trying to strangle the siren-voice out of herself at age 11 didn’t work, but coming here from California gave Tavia a chance to start over, away from her grandmother’s revealed Siren legacy.

When Effie moved up the hill from her grandparents to stay with Tavia for school, a gargoyle arrived too, perching on the roof whenever the teens are home.

Tavia stays quiet except in choir, for her siren-voice is too powerful and compelling for everyday people to deny. But when she’s stopped for driving while Black – did the other cop hear her Call to be released?

It’s almost Ren Faire time, where Effie is the mermaid Euphemia, so she practices her underwater dance at the pool, missing her late mom and their shared love of Faire performing more than ever.

Does Effie’s constantly itching skin mean she’s becoming a mer for real?
Is an electronic silencing collar in Tavia’s near future?

They know that attending the community protest of a young Black man’s death at the hands of police could quickly turn dangerous, especially when a celebrity who just revealed she’s a Siren arrives…

Effie’s hair has a mind of its own, Tavia seeks her grandmother’s counsel through water, family secrets begin to unravel.

Happy book birthday to this story of self-discovery and speaking to power! Request A Song Below Water now at your local library or buy from an independent bookstore directly or through bookshop.org for home delivery.

Where can you use your voice for good, right now?
**kmm

Book info: A Song Below Water / Bethany C. Morrow. Tor Teen, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Unwise love and unforgivable secrets to read with your ears! (audiobook reviews)

Forced together by circumstance, forced apart by society, choosing to remember…or forget.

This week’s pair of audiobooks bring us a mother and daughter’s modern then-and-now story and a fantasy enemies-to-lovers (maybe) tale.

Download either or both titles to your phone or tablet using the links below so you can listen whenever you like through the Sora app.

These are available on the AudioSYNC site free through Wednesday evening 3 June 2020. If you miss the free download for any of these featured audiobooks, check your local library or school library.

CD cover of In Search of Us, by Ava Dellaira. Read by Adenrele Ojo.
Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

In Search of Us (free download 28 May- 3 June 2020)

by Ava Dellaira. Read by Adenrele Ojo. Published by Brilliance Audio.

Mom says her black father died before Angie was born, but new information about him sets the mixed-race teen on a road trip to California, with her ex-boyfriend!

Marilyn’s own love story as a teen in the 90s derailed her career as actress and photographer, but what brought her and baby Angie to New Mexico?

CD cover of Serpent & Dove,  by Shelby Mahurin. Read by Holter Graham & Saskia Maarleveld. Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Serpent & Dove (free download 28 May- 3 June 2020)

by Shelby Mahurin . Read by Holter Graham & Saskia Maarleveld. Published by HarperAudio.

Escaping her coven, Louise tries to survive in the city by her wits alone. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” guides Reid as he hunts them down.

When Lou and Reid are caught in a compromising position, they must marry or else!

When is it time to let secrets remain secret?
**kmm

Soul calls to soul, WILLA AND THE WHALE, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown (middle grade book review)

book cover of Willa and the Whale, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

She observes and learns,
listens and writes,
are her own answers in the sea?

Same island town in Washington that Willa left as a nine year old when she and Mom moved to Japan after the divorce, but now her horizons are wider and her grief is deep.

On a whale-watching trip with Dad just a month after Mom’s death, Willa films a gigantic female humpback whale breaching and calls out to her and the whale Meg talks back!

Too much can change in three years – best friend in a different house, too many people in Willa’s old house (step-siblings, half-sibling, too much noise!), no Mom to help her study the creatures of the ocean.

When Willa calls to Meg from the island beach, the whale answers from the distant deeps.

When friend Marc is secretive, Meg gives Willa good advice. When something dreadful happens on the beach, Willa tells Meg about it first.

Missing her Mom – will it ever get easier?
Being herself – will her island classmates ever understand?

In this tale of grief and loss and love, Willa’s journal entries from then and now reveal her deep appreciation of the sea’s inhabitants and her struggle toward living less-alone on the land.

When have you heard a call from afar?
**kmm

Book info: Willa and the Whale / Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [Chad’s site] [Shelly’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

What gift given this time? FOREVER GLIMMER CREEK, by Stacy Hackney (middle grade book review)

book cover of Forever Glimmer Creek, by Stacy Hackney. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Miracles are unpredictable,
a gift that’s useful or not,
in her town, Miracles are real.

Every year a Glimmer Creek resident gets a trace of magic after surviving a danger, and no one knows why a particular person gets their Miracle.

Rosie knows Miracles aren’t a legend, so the seventh grader is going to interview them all for her Festival movie instead of investigating the Lost Train Treasure, like Henry wants.

But not every Miracle holder wants to talk about their experience, Henry and Cam can’t help with every filming session like they used to, and time to finish her documentary is running short.

Mama and Rosie are the perfect pair – why won’t the Sheriff stay away?
Her long-gone dad is filming nearby – why won’t Mama ever let him visit?
Cam is so busy with the soccer team – what if she doesn’t have time for Rosie anymore?

If Rosie could just have her own Miracle – she would bring home her movie actor father, become a noted film director, keep her two best friends forever…

Read chapter one here for free, thanks to the publisher.

What’s your happily-ever-after movie ending?
**kmm

Book info: Forever Glimmer Creek / Stacy Hackney. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.