V is for VIOLETS ARE BLUE, Wren and her makeup are, too, by Barbara Dee (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Violets Are Blue, by Barbara Dee.Published by Aladdin / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New town, new school,
same Mom, new stepmom,
same worries, plus some…

They move the summer after the divorce, after her sixth grade sort-of-friends abandon her, after Wren starts learning to do special effects makeup, after Dad marries pregnant Vanessa in faraway Brooklyn.

Wren hides the high-quality makeup that Vanessa buys so she can create mermaids and super-characters like KatFX videos show. Mom adds a lock to her bedroom door to keep the cat out… huh?

When her skills catch the attention of new friends, Wren is asked to do makeup for the school play – turning snooty Avery into so-green Elphaba might be fun.

Kai is really talented – draws superheroes, runs sound and lights for the play. Wren hopes he doesn’t really have a crush on her.

Mom’s an ER nurse on different shifts, sleeps all the time she’s home, pill bottles under the sink… now she’s missing work.

Why can’t Wren make KatFX’s mermaid instructions work?
How can she keep Kai as just a friend?
Why did Dad say she could call him about anything?

Seventh grade year is full of tension for Wren as she tries to balance two families and navigate too many changes at the same time.

When someone you love is in trouble, how do you know when to help?
**kmm

Book info: Violets Are Blue / Barbara Dee. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

U is being unhappy with TAKING UP SPACE, by Alyson Gerber (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Taking Up Space, by Alyson Gerber. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Basketball is her favorite thing!
Her changing body isn’t
How to fix this??

Since she’s getting curvier and taller all at once, Sarah feels awkward on the basketball court for the first time ever. Coach says this is normal and that the 7th grader will get used to herself again – but how long will that take!?

As Coach discusses nutrition in health class, Sarah and so-cute Benny decide to be partners for the Chef Junior competition at their Massachusetts school – he cooks such wonderful things for his family!

When Dad’s away, Mom can forget that Sarah needs a good dinner every night. At least she remembered to sign the Chef Junior permission slip.

Mom hides candy from herself, eats only little bits of boring food, forgets to buy Sarah the healthy food she asks for – how will she get back to her best size for basketball?

Will Benny start to really like her as they practice cooking together?
Why can’t Mom remember to keep enough food at home?
When will Sarah feel like herself again on the court?

Big questions during a tumultuous junior high year for her whole friend group.

What advice from health class nutrition do you remember?
**kmm

Book info: Taking Up Space / Alyson Gerber. Scholastic Press, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

T is for Trix, family secrets & A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES, by Miranda Asebedo (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of A Constellation of Roses, by Miranda Asebedo. Published by Harper Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Thieving is a gift,
all that Trix has now
since Mom has gone again.

Running away from that foster home wasn’t her best idea, but Trixie knows that if drug-addicted Mom is coming back, she’ll come to this cheap motel – exactly where her social worker finds the 17-year-old and takes her to relatives on her dad’s side, a family she never knew about.

Her aunt Mia bakes amazing pies, almost magical Lucky Lime, Never-Lonely Lemon – all the McCabe women have some kind of gift, according to her great-aunt. Eventually her very quiet teen cousin Ember will tell Trix about her gift, maybe.

What’s a streetwise teen with a gift for undetectable theft going to do in this tiny Kansas country town? Live with her aunt and graduate from high school – or go to prison! Okay… but Trix missed so much school that it’ll take two years to finish now!

She’s sketched since she could hold a stolen pencil, so art class is fine (artistic just like her late father, folks say), and some of the students are okay, like Jasper who helps with pie deliveries.

How did Jasper’s brother die last year?
Why does everyone in Rocksaw have a different story of how her dad died?
What future does her great-aunt see in Trix’s palm?

Putting down roots like the climbing roses at the McCabe house or blowing away with the drifters in the city – Trix thinks and thinks…

What paranormal gift would you choose, if you knew it was in control?
**kmm

Book info: A Constellation of Roses / Miranda Asebedo. Harper Teen, hardcover 2019, paperback 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is for sisters & THE SPLENDOR, hotel of secrets & stolen memories! by Breeana Shields (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Splendor, by Breeana Shields. Published by Page Street Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Glamour, luxury,
delights and dreams,
upheld by secrets, dark secrets!

At the Hotel Splendor, whatever you wish for comes true! This glittering promise has kept hope alive for orphaned sisters Juliette and Clare, now young women struggling to make ends meet.

A year of working extra jobs allowed Juliette to save up enough to give Clare the chance to live out her dreams at The Splendor, but a few weeks later, Clare returns as a stranger instead of Juliette’s dearest friend!

Whatever happened at the Splendor, Juliette must find a way to reclaim her sister’s love, so she takes their rainy-day money and becomes a guest at the dazzling hotel up on the hill.

There, she finds possibilities beyond her dreams – diving beneath the sea, riding on a giant bird, a garden made of sweets – as the staff creates a Signature Experience for each guest using the Splendor’s unique magic.

It is handsome young Henri who makes those Experiences seem more than real, with his mother Stella directing their huge staff of seamstresses, chefs, and concierges at the glittering, luxurious hotel.

How can Henri grant Juliette’s dearest wish when it was the Splendor that took away Clare’s love for her?

Every elegant inch of the Splendor Hotel is enhanced by Henri’s magic, but at what cost?

After Juliette is caught exploring behind the scenes, will the extravagant costume ball be her last dance?

Told in alternating chapters by Juliette and Henri, the dark secrets of the Splendor Hotel are gradually revealed! By the author of The Bone Charmer (recommended here).

What amazing experience would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: The Splendor / Breeana Shields. Page Street Publishing, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Cover image from the author; review copy courtesy of the publisher.

R is for Rowenna, regrets, enchanted swans’ RUSH OF WINGS, by Laura E. Weymouth (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Welcomed by salt spray and wind,
born with a power inside,
ignored, untrained… how long?

So hard for young teen Rowenna to control her temper, amidst all these rowdy brothers. That’s why her mother won’t yet teach her the magic craft needed to protect their seaside Scottish village from wicked creatures of land and water.

A terrible beast steals Mother away, a storm catches father and the older boys in their small fishing boat, and now 18-year-old Rowenna finds a young man Gawen washed up in the cove – searching for her and her craft to save his family, he says.

Amazingly, her menfolk return safe from the storm, bringing with them Mother… who’s someone altogether different on the inside, who angrily turns the brothers and Gawen into swans, who steals Rowenna’s voice.

Banished by her father who believes Rowenna has bewitched them, she follows the swans inland, leaving her beloved sea for the very first time.

Ah! At night, the swans regain human form – and she can speak! Gawen has led them to Torr Pendragon’s castle, where his friend lady Elspeth tells Rowenna how to break the curse.

Even so far from the sea, the wind whispers to her that she can’t trust battle-victor Pendragon, especially when the ruler wants to use her magic to control a foul mystical beast.

Each night, the boys’ time as humans grows shorter and shorter – can Rowenna break the curse before it’s too late?

It’s Pendragon who has captured Gawen’s family – can she save anyone?

And that creature living in her father’s small house on the shore – what can Rowenna do?

Voiceless as those she cares for are threatened, Rowenna must find a way to harness and direct the power that simmers in her breath and blood in this retelling of the Six Swans folktale.

Swans – what’s your story about them?
**kmm

Book info: A Rush of Wings / Laura E. Weymouth. Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Q is for questions & quarrels TANGLED UP IN LUCK, by Merrill Wyatt (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Tangled Up in Luck, by Merrill Wyatt. Published by Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Two weeks till summer break!
Start a special class project?!
Now? Why? Hidden jewels!

Learn to work together, find things that aren’t on the internet – the seventh graders aren’t too happy to have different assignment partners or go through old newspaper articles at the library for this project.

Find the lost jewels hidden in the late 1880s when Jacob Hoal’s partner Thomas dynamited the safe and jumped on a train – the same train that collided with Jacob and Lucretia’s train, killing them and leaving an orphan son!

Volleyball star Sloane gets paired with class eccentric Amelia – arguing in the town library, sneaking around the historical museum – this won’t be easy as old grudges make the girls wary of each other.

A circus gone bankrupt, a Stock Market wizard, explosion at the mansion, a manhunt through Ohio and beyond, then the fatal train crash – newspaper articles tell the story, but what information is missing?

Their classmates are using the same resources (bad luck), so Sloane and Amelia check the museum and find old timers to interview (good luck), getting a little less uncomfortable around each other as they go.

Did Thomas take the jewels on the train with him?
What happened to the orphaned son?
Why are the kids working on this complicated project right now?

As Sloane frets about her widowed father remarrying and Amelia dreads going home to her ultra-competitive family, they don’t yet realize the danger they’ll face if they solve the mystery!

What local historical event still has people talking in your area?
**kmm

Book info: Tangled Up in Luck (Tangled Mysteries, book 1) / Merrill Wyatt. Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is painting! P is president? BLAINE FOR THE WIN, by Robbie Couch (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Blaine for the Win, by Robbie Couch. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Dumped! In public!
On their anniversary!
Gotta win him back…

Blaine was sure that Joey was planning to ask him on a ritzy trip with his rich family, not break up on their one-year anniversary! The mural-painting junior doesn’t fit into senior Joey’s long-range plan to become the first out US President, since he’s “not a Serious guy” like Blaine’s classmate Zach.

Well, Blaine will show Joey that he’s serious – he’ll run for Senior class president! His best friend Trish says she’ll be his campaign manager, her girlfriend Camilla will help too (between interning at the Field Museum with dinosaur bones).

His loving, workaholic parents support him, as does his biggest fan Aunt Starr who’s living with them between jobs – best company ever on these long, no-Joey nights.

Whoa, so many requirements to get onto the ballot: 50 junior classmates’ signatures in two days, a speech to the 94-member student council, then a debate between the highest-ranked candidates in front of the whole school!

Trish helps Blaine stand out from the other candidates – he asks fellow students to talk to him, instead of telling them why he’s great. So many concerns that center around stress and mental health issues…

And cute Dannie, whose aloe vera plant was a casualty when Blaine literally ran into him on the sidewalk, joins the group as his dad’s coffeehouse in their Chicago neighborhood becomes their campaign headquarters, complete with amazing Vietnamese pastries.

Can he really make a difference for his classmates?
Will he win back Joey if he wins the race?
Where did his passion for painting murals go?

Easy-going Blaine shifts his focus from big murals to the big picture and finds out what’s really important to him.

When did you step out of your comfort zone?
**kmm

Book info: Blaine for the Win / Robbie Couch. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is for ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS with cards, candle, dark waters! by Caroline O’ Donoghue (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of All Our Hidden Gifts, by Caroline O'Donoghue. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

In-school suspension (again),
Storeroom clean-out (boring),
Tarot card deck…hmmm.

Falling behind in high school, Maeve longs for the days when her four much-older siblings lived at home so she wasn’t Mum and Dad’s only focus.

The tarot cards she found in the school basement storage are more interesting than her classes, for sure, especially as she studies more about them online.

Soon her circle of acquaintances at their all-girls school is asking her to do tarot readings for them, with pal Fiona as scheduler, earning Maeve some pocket money and a tiny bit of popularity.

It all goes bust after a unique card appears in a reading for her former best friend Lily. Maeve doesn’t know what it means, so she left it at home! When quiet, hard-of-hearing Lily says it’s all done just for attention, Maeve snaps that she wishes that Lily would disappear. That’s the last time anyone sees Lily…

The police have questions for Maeve several days later; so does Lily’s big brother Roe whom Maeve began talking to just as this tarot thing began. Of course, the headmistress confiscates the tarot deck.

Days crawl along with no progress, as slow as the river Beg through their Irish city. Maeve’s dreams include gender-fluid Roe and his band, the mysterious Housekeeper on the unique card, and eventually Lily by the river. And the tarot deck brings itself to Maeve’s house.

Is the Housekeeper more than ink on a card?
Who will believe that she has taken Lily?
How can the three teens bring her back without losing themselves?

The power of wishing, the power of hope, the power of learning to love your true self – don’t miss this UK novel brought to American readers by Walker Books US – in hardcover now, paperback release in May 2022 – read the first chapter here, free courtesy of the publisher.

What hidden gift has graced your life as you’ve gotten older?
**kmm

Book info: All Our Hidden Gifts / Caroline O’Donoghue. Walker Books US, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N is no, not again! Oh HONESTLY ELLIOTT! by Gillian McDunn (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Honestly Elliott, by Gillian McDunn. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Some days at different houses,
so many assignments (just hide them),
not sporty, just his messy honest self…

Every kid in town goes to sixth grade in the same building for project-based learning and cool stuff together, except Elliott’s best friend who’s homeschooling across the country with his moms this year…sigh.

That leaves Elliott and his guinea pigs alone to deal with his divorced parents, his ADHD making his brain zone-out more often, and his lunch-buddies to excluding him from their year-end group project.

Well, brilliant Maribel can’t agree with her friends on what project to do, so it looks like she and Elliott are partners – with their semester grade on the line!

Their project must be something they can make themselves to sell, that’s related to their hometown, staying within a budget…hmmm.

Super-organized Maribel must avoid gluten in food or her digestive system goes haywire – how about gluten-free pies?

Easily distractible Elliott loves to experiment with cooking, but baking? His star chef idol says “cooking is about inspiration and baking is about control” (pg. 60) – can’t hurt to try.

In his mom’s cozy kitchen, the pair gets to work. Elliott’s attempt at gluten-free pie crust is disastrous, and Maribel’s wonderful strawberry filling is too expensive, so they search the cookbook library at Avery Local market for ideas.

As the weeks count down, the pressure builds up – have a successful project, get ready for his new step-brother to be born, stop ignoring The Incident, stop disappointing Dad about everything…

Honestly, Elliott is a guy you want to cheer for – and hope he can cope with all these changes!

What do you prefer – baking or cooking?
**kmm

Book info: Honestly Elliott / Gillian McDunn. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

M is for THE MAN OF THE MOON AND OTHER STORIES FROM GREENLAND, retold by Gunvor Bjerre & Charlotte Barslund, art by Miki Jacobsen (book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Man of the Moon and Other Stories From Greenland / retold by Gunvor Bjerre; translated by Charlotte Barslund; illustrated by Miki Jacobsen. Published by Inhabit Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

So many folktales, you’ve heard over and over, with slight variations and “happily ever after” to soothe modern listeners.

Not so with this collection introducing us to long-ago stories from Greenland that most folks nowadays have never encountered.

These stories told by elders and parents during the long, dark Arctic winters reflect the difficulties of living in brutally cold terrain where one mistake during a hunt can doom a whole village.

Many begin with “Once upon a time…” like “The Wild Geese Who Made the Blind Boy See” as they punished his greedy grandmother and “Manutooq, Whose Daughters Drifted to Akilineq on an Ice Floe” after their father abandons them on a hunting trip.

It was dangerous to ignore warnings – don’t shout at a harpoonist hunting in their qajaq (kayak) like “The Old Man Who Trapped Children Inside a Rock” and never be rude toward a shaman or else their helper spirits can’t help you find “The Witch Who Abducted Children in Her Amauti.”

Some stories give the history of why things are, like why the Sun and “The Man of the Moon” are never seen at the same time and “The Great Fire, or How the Mussel Came to Be” a coveted food source.

Hunger and death are frequent visitors, and stories of orphans are common – some grow up to be good hunters who provide for all (even after constant bullying), others don’t survive their childhood (even with the help of supernatural beings).

There’s an Inuktitut-English glossary in the back, and illustrations help us place these stories in their habitat of sea and ice, white bears and seals, rocks and snow.

Inhabit Media is based in Nunavut, the northernmost province of Canada, publishing books in English and languages of the First Peoples.

What’s the most unusual “once upon a time” story that you’ve heard?
**kmm

Book info: The Man of the Moon and Other Stories From Greenland / retold by Gunvor Bjerre; translated by Charlotte Barslund; illustrated by Miki Jacobsen. Inhabit Media, 2016. [artist info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.