Everything is different,
no one understands –
moving to a new country is so hard!
Jingwen feels like like an alien when Mom moves him and little brother to Australia, especially when Yanghao picks up English so much faster than he can. Or maybe a ghost, since his classmates hardly include him in anything because he’s so quiet.
Only remembering Papa’s special cakes makes him happy (and sad), so he decides to bake each one, just as Papa taught him back in the family bakery after all the plain, inexpensive ones were done.
Why did Mama decide to emigrate, even after Papa died?
Why can’t Jingwen understand English better? Why?
Will he be held back at school to be in little brother’s class next year!?
Illustrated middle grade novel with so much heart! (and fantastically yummy descriptions of Papa’s cakes)
How can we understand others when words don’t connect us? **kmm
Book info: Pie in the Sky, by Remy Lai. Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Life aboard an old space station alternates between boring and emergency, even for its kids. (Please say that school won’t be same old routine in the future!)
With something loose in the maintenance tunnels disrupting power and other essential services, our genius middle-schoolers are on the search team, trying to locate Princess Sparkle before anyone else finds their three-headed kitten – or anything else goes wrong!
What’s your favorite cute/oops pet story? **kmm
Book info: Sanity & Tallulah / written & illustrated by Molly Brooks. Disney/Hyperion, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My Book Talk: When her lab-engineered (cute, but very illegal) pet escapes, preteen genius Sanity and best friend Tallulah must find the three-headed kitten before it causes any more critical outages in the space station!
Sanity used only outdated (very unstable) tech and her own energy allowance to create Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds, but the Wilnick’s lab director (Tallulah’s mom) still confiscates the cute carnivore. Three heads are smarter than one – Princess quickly gets out of confinement and into the station’s maintenance tunnels.
Sudden power disruptions all over Wilnick! Something has been chewing on the coolant lines.
Weird noises on the supply shuttle! Tallulah’s dad and little brother can track that down.
Power outage locks their class in the chemistry lab! Sanity can find a way to get them out safely.
Everyone’s on alert so they can eliminate the “huge beast” threatening this old space station’s life support systems – Sanity and Tallulah must find the kitten first in this futuristic graphic novel!
This graphic novel traces the shortened life of son, friend, musician, bicycle messenger, history scholar Alfonso and the stories of other African Americans killed by police brutality.
Robinson and Jennings’ black and white illustrations expand the #blacklivesmatter narrative written by Tony Medina, whose poems are recited at the Poetry Protest that Alfonso can see and hear as his ghost drifts from the train to his neighborhood and back…
Check out Medina’s article describing how he created this non-stereotypical Puerto Rican Black teen who loves his community’s history so deeply – why should a such a talented young man be dead?
Where is justice? How can everyday people stop the violence? **kmm
My Book Talk: Buying his first suit shouldn’t get him shot, shouldn’t keep him from seeing Dad finally home from prison with his name cleared, shouldn’t stop him from trying out for ‘Hip-Hop Hamlet’ at his arts high school in NYC, shouldn’t prevent him from telling bestie Danetta how he really feels about her…
On a subway train filled with ghosts of other African Americans wrongly killed, Alfonso learns more than his history studies revealed – about injustice, unfair treatment, deliberate abuse and prejudice – but dead is dead…
The Black-Puerto Rican young man’s family, friends, and community rally for justice and the prosecution of the police officer who shot Alfonso dead in this too-real #blacklivesmatter graphic novel.
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?
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.
Luvander reluctantly joins forces with three other adventurers also heading for the fabled treasure hidden deep within the Dragon’s Maw caverns.
Hmm… why does she love roast meat and riddles so much?
Who’s the guy stalking them, with that Wanted Dead or Alive poster in hand?
Elves in battle, creatures of water, and beings of fire – time and again, Luvander is asked “Who are you?”
We join her story in volume 1 as the team journeys “Into the Dragon’s Maw,” then go further afield on land and sea with “Treasurehearts” (each volume collects 5 issues of the continuing comic).
Any adventurous blood singing in your veins?
Book info: Into the Dragon’s Maw (Scales & Scoundrels, vol.1), Treasurehearts (Scales & Scoundrels, vol. 2) / Sebastian Girner, art by Galaad, lettering by Jeff Powell. Image Comics, 2018. [author site] [artist Tumblr] [publisher site] Review copies and cover images courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Meet one who hunts treasure, another seeking a lost brother, a prince looking for adventure, and the bodyguard sworn to protect him on the quest in this graphic novel series set in a medieval world of magic and no little mayhem.
Luvander bows to no one during her ongoing treasure hunt, Dorma brings her dwarven guiding talents to the team, the prince wants to see beyond his kingdom while completing his adulthood challenge, and Koro must stand between him and excessive folly to get him home in one piece.
They traverse a land where dragons fiercely guard their treasure, misfortune takes many a peasant from their family, and bandits eagerly take hostage any well-to-do travelers crossing their territory.
Finding the legendary hidden treasure cave called The Dragon’s Maw is much easier than successfully avoiding its traps and perils – not even a bespelled dragon gives up one bit of its hoard without a fight!
Can Dorma find her brother who also sought to go “Into the Dragon’s Maw”?
What is the strange language Luvander speaks to statues down there?
If they escape with treasures, what curse might the team set loose on the world?
Surprises and secrets continue in volume 2 “Treasurehearts” as more of Luvander’s true self is revealed, the treasure hunters are hunted, and fire battles against the balance of power.
My book talk: A schoolgirl in mourning and a tale-telling new ghost unexpectedly meet in this graphic novel that explores endings and beginnings.
Marjorie keeps the family laundry going when her father cannot cope. Never mind that she should be concentrating on her junior high assignments instead of “no starch, get that spot out, I need it today” customers – or Mr. Saubertuck’s demands that she sell out so he can build a yoga spa in their small Pennsylvania town.
Wendell brings a new story to every DYE meeting, but still isn’t ready to share with the other ghosts how he died. Never mind that it’s forbidden to even walk near the train connecting the worlds of living and dead – or to sneak a ride and arrive wind-blown in Marjorie’s laundry.
Ghosts aren’t real! If they were, Marjorie’s mother would have drifted by to comfort her little brother and dad, of course.
So how can Marjorie see little-boy-ghost Wendell?
Why could Wendell get back to the living world?
Why can’t he remember what’s important about this lakeside town?
As Halloween approaches and Mr. Saubertuck pressures Marjorie to sell their home and business, maybe a young ghost with holes in his memory and a young woman with a huge hole in her heart can find a way to heal together.
Her father dead, a new king crowned.
Her destiny unclear, her life in peril!
O, that she could read the stars as her mother does, so far away!
As a royal daughter, Lady Pyppenia (Poppy to her friends) knows she has little control over her future, but she hadn’t imagined falling in love with her protector!
See the first few pages here (thank you, artist preview service) to meet Lady Poppy, her late father, and the Sleepless knight Cyrenic who swore to protect her by staying ever-awake (burning the candle of his own life at both ends). Her adorable long-eared animal friend Bini has an important role in this multicultural story, too.
If healing now would take away time from the end of your life, would you do it?
Book info: Sleepless / Sarah Vaughn, illustrated by Leila Del Duca, with Alissa Sallah and Deron Bennett. Image Comics, 2018. [artist Twitter] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Shadows deepen in Harbeny as assassins target Lady Pyppenia, teen daughter of the late king and Mrebeshi star-reader Amena, under the protection of a magically Sleepless knight.
Each minute that Cyrenic is Sleepless removes time from his life; the strength of his bond to Lady Poppy may weaken his hold on the present as well, just as three attempts are made to kill her!
The new king orders lovely dark Poppy as companion to his pale daughter just arrived from Etland, but can the cousins ever become friends?
Princess Rellen will someday become queen, while Lady Poppy never could – why is Lord Helder wooing them both?
Poppy just wants to leave Harbeny and go back to her mother’s country – what reason does King Surno have for keeping her here?
May the Stars watch over Lady Poppy amid court intrigue, and Time keep her Sleepless knight Cyrenic in the present as his increasing drifts into the past could rob him of full attention to the dangers of now in this richly colored graphic novel collecting volumes 1-6 of the ongoing comic series.
Snatched from his fishing waters by a factory-fishing-ship,
Adrift on the wide ocean in such a small boat,
the old man sees land ahead – but which land?
When he doesn’t return that night to their small coastal town, the fisherman’s wife goes searching for him, consulting the marine authorities, a soothsayer, and her own heart.
Join them on this wordless adventure/voyage/love story with scary and hilarious sidetrips!
Are you ready to travel to recover someone or something that you love?
Book info: The Sea of Love / Wilfrid Lupano; illustrated by Gregory Panaccione. Lion Forge, 2018. [artist site] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A Breton fisherman’s daily routine goes awry when his small boat is entangled by a mega-trawler, sending him on a trans-oceanic adventure far beyond his familiar French coastal waters in this near-wordless graphic novel.
Paddling the life raft to their village, the first mate tells the fisherman’s distraught wife that the huge ship Goldfish has taken the old man away!
How will he survive stormy seas and angry seagulls?
Can she get word to the captain of Goldfish to help her husband?
If the vision in the pancake is correct, he is safe, but how to get there?
Love and devotion, Brittany’s traditional lacemaking, tropical island and revolution, cans of sardines (oh, how he loathes sardines…) – over 200 pages of mishaps, persistence, and waves for miles make this story a keeper.
Teen 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.
What personal story would you be bold enough to share?
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.
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