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Z is for Zlatka, making Paper Hearts secretly in Auschwitz (book review) by Meg Wiviott

book cover of Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comForbidden in Auschwitz:
humanity, relationships, possessions,
and yet…

Her life forfeit if discovered, Zlatka rises above despair in the death camp by celebrating another year of friend Fania’s life with a paper origami heart, crafted in secret.

See the actual paper heart today in the Montreal Holocaust Museum – how fragile things like paper and hope can survive such hate…

As National Poetry Month closes, this novel in verse based on a true story of friendships opens our hearts.
**kmm

Book info: Paper Hearts / Meg Wiviott. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Pulled from their Jewish families in different Polish hometowns to this terrible place, this death camp, young women Zlatka and Fania find hidden ways to bolster their spirits as they try to stay alive.

The guards turn girl against girl, and girls try anything to get another ration of moldy bread. Forced to work as slaves in a German metal factory making bomb casings instead of bowls, Zlatka and Fania and a few others do their best to be human to one another.

Watching the seasons pass, praying to Adonai in whispers no one can hear. As winter comes near, Zlatka decides to make a card for Fania, because a birthday – or any day – is a gift too precious to ignore.

Can the young women barter enough bread to get a piece of paper or pencil stub?
Can they keep this secret from Fania and the guards?
Will they live or die or keep existing in between?

Zlatka and Fania each tell their story through chapters of poems, enduring and persevering because friendship can make its own family in the midst of horror and despair. Based on actual people and events at Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp during World War II, this novel in verse celebrates the best and the worst of humanity.

U = Unbreakable Code, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (book review) – hot book hunt or literary fire bug?

book cover of Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCoded messages in books,
ships beneath buildings,
an arsonist who must be stopped!

Emily and James are always on the hunt for books hidden by fellow Book Scavenger fans, but when coded clues in particular volumes link up with revenge-fueled fires at listed hidden-book sites, they decide to solve the mystery… but the fire bug is watching them!

Happy book birthday to The Unbreakable Code! You can read this second adventure in the series by itself, but will enjoy it even more if you get the full background in book one, Book Scavenger (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

Be sure to visit the Book Scavenger game website if you want to report a found book or register a book to hide yourself – there are hundreds hidden all over the USA!

What ‘lost treasure’ from a favorite author would you like to find?
**kmm

Book info:The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavengers, book 2) / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books for Young Readers, 2017. [Book Scavenger site]  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.

My book talk: The unbreakable code? As Emily and James seek out hidden books in the Book Scavenger game, the middle schoolers discover a secret message that sets them hunting for information on Gold Rush ships buried beneath San Francisco’s skyscrapers and the code that author Mark Twain said could never be broken.

But someone with a grudge is setting fires at Book Scavenger hiding places and doesn’t want the young teens to discover the next fire site…ever.

What does their teacher (and fellow Book Scavenger) know about the code – and the fires?
Why must they help with the school dance now when they want work on this mystery?
Ciphers, codes, clues – which ones to follow?

As the fires strike closer to what’s important to Emily and James, they must decide who to trust and how far they can go on their own. Second book in the Book Scavenger series, following Book Scavenger.

K is for North Korea & wishing on Every Falling Star, by Sungju Lee & Susan McClelland (book review)

book cover of Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland published by Amulet Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comPrivilege to poverty,
family love to forlorn abandonment,
North Korea then is still North Korea now.

From the easy life as child of favored Army officer to outcast thief and gang member, Sungju kept trying to understand the ‘why’ of changes and finally knew that risking death to escape from North Korea was better than living in his homeland impoverished by dictatorship and lies.

This finalist for the 2016 CYBILS Award for young adult nonfiction brings us unsettling glimpses into a world rarely seen and difficult to imagine.

Without the support of your family, how would you survive a hostile new environment?
**kmm

Book info: Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea / Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland. Amulet Books, 2016.   [author Facebook page]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sungju’s family is flung from high-status to deep poverty after a regime change, as his autobiography reveals the disinformation used to repress North Korean citizens

In a forced relocation from the capital city to a desolate rural town after his father is removed from the military, food and clothing are in short supply, Father reluctantly leaves to find more, Mother doesn’t return from visiting relatives, and suddenly young teen Sungju finds himself living on the street and running a gang of homeless kids.

Why haven’t his parents returned?
What else can he do to survive?
How did Sungju escape to write this memoir?

Almost dystopian in its bleakness and violence, this true story of family, loss, and hope echoes what countless other children and families experience in North Korea even today.

F = fantastic Fashion Rebels, by Carlin Cerniglia Beccia (book review)

book cover of Fashion Rebels by Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia published by Beyond Words  | recommended on BooksYALove.comHigh heels, short skirts,
Sky-high hairdos, hats tall and wide,
Fashion is always in flux!

I was really pleased to see this informative and fun book as a finalist for the CYBILS Award for Middle-Grade Nonfiction, where I got to read and discuss it as second-round judge this year.

Take the Fashion Rebels quiz to see which fashion icon you trend toward, then be your own person!

What fashion trend of the past would you like to see today?
**kmm

Book info: Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World Through Fashion / Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia. Aladdin/ Beyond Words, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fashion trends have signaled rebellion, improved international understanding, and raised parents’ eyebrows for centuries, as this sketch-filled book shows, celebrating Fashion Rebels past and present.

Meet queens Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette, artist Frida Kahlo and dancer Jacqueline Baker, along with Audrey Hepburn, Ellen DeGeneres, and many more as you examine essential components of each woman’s style and discover how you can use their inspiration to make your own fashion statement.

Filled with accurate histories that sound like the best kind of celebrity gossip, lots of DIY techniques and tips for adding signature fashion elements to your wardrobe, and current fashionistas to watch, every section of Fashion Rebels reminds you to be you!

Racism, riot, murders: Dreamland Burning (fiction), by Jennifer Latham

book cover of Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham published by Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRioting and looting for 14 hours,
Murder, torture, arson –
Whites erasing black community

Will is already uncomfortable as son of white father and Osage mother, so when the KKK starts recruiting in Tulsa just as he’s getting to know a Negro brother and sister, how should he react?

Rowan didn’t expect to find a body in her Tulsa yard this summer, or to swap comfortable lab internship for charity clinic work on ‘that side’ of town, or to be slammed with prejudices that her black mother and white father had shielded her from.

Listen to an interview with author Jennifer Latham here for some deep background and insights on why she wrote this book about this 1921 event which wasn’t openly discussed by black or white families in Tulsa for over 50 years.

Happy book birthday to Dreamland Burning! Look for it at your local library or independent bookstore, and find Jennifer’s first book Scarlett Undercover (my no-spoiler recommendation here) there, too.

How to see friendship as a bridge instead of a wall?
**kmm

Book info: Dreamland Burning / Jennifer Latham. Little Brown, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: First day of Rowan’s summer vacation – time to sleep in before lab internship begins, text her best friend, find a dead body in the back yard!? As the biracial teen investigates, details about Tulsa’s vicious and never-discussed 1921 race riot hit her as hard as the new episodes of prejudice she experiences today.

Working in Pop’s store, William sees his father sell Victrolas to Negro families, despite Jim Crow laws. Vernon Fish is recruiting Pop for the KKK and mocks Will as ‘half-breed’ for his Osage mother. Will decides to dare as his Pop does when a black teen wants to buy a record player, little imagining that getting to know Joseph and little sister Ruby as people instead of Negroes may shortly endanger all their lives.

Schedule glitch nixes Rowan’s resume-building internship, so she’s directed to work at the free clinic way across town from her fancy neighborhood and private school. She’ll check with her parents later.

In 1921, reports of a Negro man assaulting a white woman spread like wildfire, and white Tulsans begin attacking the black Greenwood section of town with nooses, guns, and greed.

Can Will really shoot anyone coming to the shop during the riot?
Who is the body under the floor of the servant house?
How does Rowan’s story today converge with Will’s actions over 90 years ago?

Told in voices past and present, this long-silenced episode of history comes vividly alive, as Rowan tries to understand what really happened after World War I when Will struggled to help Joseph and Ruby survive.

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.

Into the Dim, by Janet B. Taylor (book review) – time travel into danger

book cover of Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | recommended on BooksYALove.comMom is not dead?
Just trapped in the past,
One chance to rescue her…

Hope’s photographic memory is no fluke, but an essential part of her heritage as a Viator time traveler. And she’ll need it to complement her hasty training in knife-fighting and proper lady’s behavior before the team’s one-shot trip to 12th century England.

When Outlander author Diana Gabaldon praises a time travel book, you know it’s something special.

Read the first few chapters here courtesy of the publisher, and you’ll be hooked on Hope’s story – past and present. The sequel is due in May 2017, so start your journey Into the Dim now….

If you could travel into the past, where/when would you go?
**kmm

Book info: Into the Dim / Janet B. Taylor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Hope is relieved to discover that Mom didn’t die in that earthquake, startled to learn that her mother is trapped in the 12th century, and completely unprepared to time-travel back to Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court to rescue her!

After Mom is declared dead in an earthquake, her adoptive dad’s family in Arkansas wants to ‘stop this homeschool nonsense’ that allows Hope to edge past her crippling phobias and harness her photographic memory.

Luckily, her never-met Aunt Lucinda invites Hope to Scotland, where the teen learns of her Viator lineage which enables her aunt and others to travel – carefully, very carefully – back in time, as her mother did. But Mom missed the rendezvous and is stranded in the time of King Henry II.

Ley lines, costumes, computers, training in martial arts, languages, and customs – all necessary to make that single trip back to a certain time and place. One chance per Viator, that’s it.

Can Hope master enough skills to pass as a young lady traveling with chaperone?
What does handsome neighbor Bran Cameron suspect about her aunt and the Viators?
Why did Mom bolt back into time without telling her?

First in an exciting time-travel series where one false move could undo Hope’s sanity, the Viator secret, and the world’s history. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Memory of Things, by Gae Polisner (book review) – amnesia, remembering, 9/11

book cover of The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner published by St Martins Griffin | recommended on BooksYALove.comAshes, smoke, run!
Tension, wings, jumping?
Rescued! Memory? gone…

Kyle can’t unsee the Twin Towers falling on 9/11, can’t unrescue the ash-covered girl with costume wings and no memory, can’t unwish that she would stay with him as he cares for paralyzed Uncle Matt while Mom is stuck in LA with his little sister and Dad is at Ground Zero with his police squad and other rescue workers.

You can find this September 2016 release at your local library or independent bookstore to meet Kyle and Uncle Matt and the jagged-hair girl with wings.

What things have the most weight in your own memories?
**kmm

Book info: The Memory of Things / Gae Polisner. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Rushing across the Brooklyn Bridge on 9/11, Kyle spots a girl wearing wings, covered with ashes, poised to jump?

Safely home, the 16-year-old finds that the girl can’t remember her name, he can’t get his dad in downtown New York City on the phone, his mom and sister can’t get home from LA, and paralyzed Uncle Matt’s caregiver can’t get to his family’s apartment.

What can Kyle do but help Uncle Matt, keep trying to contact Dad, and wonder if the girl will get her memory back?

He longs for Uncle Matt to recover faster from the wreck that ended his police career (all Donohue men are cops, says his granddad, but Kyle loves music so), for his family to be together, for the girl to stay…

A love story in the wake of disaster, a family story that endures, a possibility of happy endings. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Manga Classics : Emma, by Jane Austen (book review) – matchmaking & secrets

book cover of Emma by Jane Austen & Manga Classics published by Udon Entertainment | recommended on BooksYALove.comMatchmaking – so satisfying!
Seeing friends happy – so delightful!
Her own future so dull – oh, dear…

Emma is sure that her matchmaking will result in happy marriages for everyone in her social circle, but she will care for her elderly father instead of ever marrying. Of course, love has other plans, and secrets, too!

Enjoy the first chapter of this lively manga here free, courtesy of the publisher, then get your own copy at your favorite local library or independent bookstore.

Especially interesting are the information sections about adapting the classic text (available in full here) for use with this graphic format and creating these manga characters as reflections of each personality.

Another in Udon Entertainment’s great Manga Classics series, like Pride and Prejudice (my review here) and The Scarlet Letter (my review here), that will help first-time readers and long-time fans alike become more familiar with the characters and plots of classic stories while reading each author’s original words – back to front, of course.

So, what matchmaking have you witnessed lately?
**kmm

Book info: Emma / Jane Austen; adapted by Stacy King; art by Po Tse. Udon Entertainment, 2015.  [series Facebook page]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Ensuring the happiness of her friends through matchmaking leaves Emma Woodhouse little time for dreaming of her own future through marriage, but secrets and changes add to the complexities of her social circle in the English countryside.

Why is Mr. Fairfax so changeable around Emma?
Who sent Jane a piano as a gift?
What if Emma’s friends all marry and leave her alone?

Jane Austen’s 1815 tale of matchmaking and misunderstandings gains graphic form through Po Tse’s manga art, while Stacy King selects just the right passages from the classic text as each character speaks and thinks.

All We Have Left, by Wendy Mills (book review) – 9/11 threads past & present

book cover of All We Have Left by Wendy Mills published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comBrother died in the Twin Towers.
Family fractured ever since.
Time to find some answers.

On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, this split-narrative story is anchored in that terror-filled day in the World Trade Center, linking Muslim teen Alia’s experiences as she tried to escape from the North Tower with Travis and today’s aching void felt by his 16-year-old sister Jesse who’s tired of playing it safe to avoid her father’s grief-fueled alcoholism and hatred of Islam.

What are your family’s memories of 9/11?
**kmm

Book info: All We Have Left / Wendy Mills. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Repercussions of 9/11 echo in 2016 as Jesse’s father rages about Muslims causing her brother’s death in the Twin Towers and are narrated by Muslim teen Alia in 2001 as a visit to her father’s office in the World Trade Center that day becomes a race to escape death, as she and Travis try to help others amid the terror.

2001: Alia’s parents don’t trust her, won’t let her attend the special art training, don’t think that creating comic books is suitable for a young Muslim girl. She goes to father’s office in the WTC to ask him one more time… the permission slip is due tomorrow, on Sept. 12th.

2016: Jesse’s parents ‘coped’ differently when big brother Travis was killed in the WTC on 9/11, Dad retreating into the bottle and violent hatred of Muslims, Mom volunteering for everything so she’s away from the apartment above their climbing supplies store. The 16 year old is mouse-quiet, until she starts going out with tagger Nick – big mistake.

On an elevator together when the plane hits their tower, Alia and Travis work together to escape, she worrying about her parents, he gradually telling why he came from his upstate New York town on this specific day…

Trying to redeem herself from deeds done with Nick’s graffiti crew, Jesse learns more about her new climbing partner Adam as they both work at the Peace Center and decides that she needs to know why Travis was in the Twin Towers on the day of their grandfather’s memorial service here.
(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)