I is immigration stories: COME ON IN, ed. by Adi Alsaid (YA book review)

book cover of Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, ed. by Ali Alsaid. Published by Inkyard Press-Harlequin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Being uprooted,
Growing in a different place,
Wondering if this is the right spot or not…

Since the earliest days of this country, people have arrived ‘from away’ in waves and trickles, immigrants with high academic credentials or no shoes on their feet, all seeking a better place.

Detained by TSA, keeping diaries of now and then, “where are you really from?” – these 15 stories by noted young adult authors who are themselves immigrants or children of immigrants illustrate the many facets of moving away and starting anew.

“The Wedding” of two Americans must be held in Canada so great-uncle from Iran may attend – travel ban keeping old man and his older brother from seeing each other for years.

High school in New Jersey is so different from Bombay that Priya cannot speak aloud, even as her little brother’s new hearing aids open up the world for him, in “First Words.”

Her grandparents finally have visas from Venezuela, but Valentina’s lost all her Spanish – how will they even communicate? “Hard to Say”…

Short story contributors include Adi Alsaid, Varsha Bajaj, Maria E. Andreu, Sharon Morse, Misa Sugiura, Nafiza Azad, Maurene Goo, Sona Charaipotra, Yamile Saied Méndez, Zoraida Córdova, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Sara Farizan, Isabel Quintero, Justine Larbalestier, and Lilliam Rivera.

How do we welcome people and invite them to come on in?
**kmm

H is for brainy pigeon HOMER ON THE CASE of the missing watch! by Henry Cole (MG book review)

book cover of Homer on the Case, by Henry Cole. Published by Peachtree Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Racing for home,
Navigating by instinct,
Aware of changing conditions – and crooks!

Homer enjoys training for competitions as Otto and Grandpa drive far from town and let the homing pigeon free to zoom back to his rooftop enclosure – watch out for hawks en route!

He taught himself to read the newspapers lining his cage and keeps up with all the town news, so Homer knows he’ll find his bird friend Carlos and some free food at the street fair in the park.

They witness a bold daytime heist, as two rats steal a gold bracelet! That’s just the first in a rash of thefts as park visitors are suddenly missing a gold pen, a shiny hairclip, jeweled dog collars.

Otto and Homer are happy to meet Charlotte and her vivid green Amazon parrot Lulu in the park – where the new bird-buddles get word from Carlos that Grandpa’s keepsake gold watch has just been stolen!

That’s the last straw! Lulu can speak her own mind in Human, and speedster Homer can read the Dick Tracy comics – this brilliant pair of birds will find the thieves who are stealing lovely keepsakes from their neighborhood park!

Over the streets, down into the storm drains?
Why would rats and cats steal so many things they can’t eat?
Can they convince Otto and Charlotte to help them get to the bottom of this mystery?

Enjoy the author-illustrator’s detailed sketches of our brave bird heroes and their faithful human friends as they follow the clues just like Homer’s favorite fictional detective!

**kmm

Book info: Homer on the Case / Henry Cole, writer & illustrator. Peachtree Publishing, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

G for GLIMPSED by a high school fairy godmother! by G.F. Miller (YA book review)

book cover of Glimpsed, by G.F Miller. Published by Simon Schuster BYFR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Seeing their deepest wish,
Sending a few ‘nudges’ into nearby minds –
teen fairy godmother improving lives… right?

Charity can ‘glimpse’ someone’s most-longed-for future and secretly help them attain it – with best friend and fashion maven Sean’s help as needed – and sees past successes in her California high school halls.

Her grandmother (and fairy godmother mentor) warns that trying to nudge Vindhya from robotics club to Homecoming Queen in nine days is too fast, that people need time to change themselves based on the suggestions that Charity plants in their minds.

Uh oh! Adorkable Noah has figured out that the super-popular Pom squad dancer is also a fairy godmother and is ready to tell all!

Eldest in his Star Trek-obsessed family, Noah is sure that her ‘gift’ is logically explainable, and since Charity granted Holly’s wish to be popular which took Holly away from Noah… time to examine the data.

Could she help get Noah and Holly to their Happily Ever After without nudging anyone?

Who’s right – big sister Hope far away from their too-quiet house, workaholic Mom denying that she has any gift, or her grandmother embracing it extravagantly?

Is she pushing Glimpsed relationships in the right direction or are the Glimpses controlling her?

Ask for Glimpsed at your local library or independent bookstore to find out which path Charity chooses for her own future!

Do you want a Glimpse to become true…really and truly?
**kmm

Book info: Glimpsed / G. F. Miller. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

F is four friends FACING THE SUN & big changes, by Janice Lynn Mather (YA book review)

book cover of Facing the Sun, by Janice Lynn Mather. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Poems and stories and whispers,
Secrets and revelations and sorrows,
Good friends can endure them together… right?

Eldest of five, Eve is so tired of chasing after siblings, being the perfect pastor’s daughter, awash in her parents’ worries about losing the church to developers and something about her father’s health that they won’t tell her. Singing with Toons in the perfect acoustics of that small building is harmony and peace and maybe a little more.

Her single mom keeps Nia on such a short rope, claiming that an all-girls summer arts camp just across the bay wouldn’t be safe, that she needs to read every story before they print the neighborhood newspaper. Borrowing a song heard in the sea-grove as the poem for her camp application could be Nia’s ticket to some breathing room this summer.

Faith’s mother is getting further from reality, and trying to balance homework and dance lessons at her sister’s studio and maybe liking Toons and getting home to keep Mummy safe while her father works late is pulling Faith apart. She doesn’t live on Pinder Street like most of her school-friends, but it hits hard to find out that Daddy’s down there, saying the neighbors have no rights to go onto the beach anymore.

Keekee wonders why she’s the one getting grief from their mom when it’s Toons who’s stepping around with Faith and Eve and Paulette. Her songs channel some of the sting from neighbors’ scorn, those who don’t understand that Angel’s home laundry business supports folks who can’t afford to go to the clinic for condoms or period products.

What’s good about fencing off the beach and tearing down the church so rich people can stay at yet another Bahamas hotel?
Who set the church building on fire as protest?
Where is Toons? Where?

Ties between friends and families twist and tangle in this beachside neighborhood where change seems all-peril, little promise. A tale told in the voices of all four friends, from the Bahamian-Canadian author of Learning to Breathe (my no-spoiler review here).

How do you make yourself brave enough to face changes?
**kmm

Book info: Facing the Sun / Janet Lynn Mather. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is empowering words by THE LIGHTNING DREAMER: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, by Margarita Engle (YA book review)

book cover of The Lightning Dreamer, by Margarita Engle. Published by Harcourt | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Reading is escape.
Forbidden now, freedom removed –
She will tell new stories!

Of course she must marry someday, but Tula is told by her grandfather that the highest bidder will claim her next year, that her mother and stepfather will gain enough money in 1828 to buy more slaves to save their Cuban sugar plantation from ruin, that the thirteen year old’s too-brief time with her late father’s books will end forever.

Sent to wait at the convent, Tula meets nuns who accept every child abandoned because their skin is darker, who save every book they can find, who allow her to read the silenced poet Heredia’s calls for equality.

She writes plays and allegories that hide freedom’s songs within folktales, hiding them in her brother’s room. She dreams with her best friends of marriage based on love. She is betrayed, and yet continues composing messages of hope.

As the abolition of slavery is discussed publicly in America’s north, silence reigns on the island of Cuba, enforced by the whip and imprisonment. But what prison bars can keep captive the words of truth?

This novel-in-verse by the author of Jazz Owls (my review) and With a Star in My Hand (my review) sprinkles the voices of Mama, the nuns, and others among Tula’s poems about dreams, love, and a better future for all. Based on the life of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (1814-1873).

What are your powerful dreams?
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Book info: The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist / Margarita Engle. Harcourt, hardcover 2013, paperback 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D for daring & doubts in WWII: I AM DEFIANCE, by Jenni L. Walsh (MG book review)

book cover of I Am Defiance: a novel of World War II, by Jenni L. Walsh. Published by Scholastic Press | BooksYALove.com

Purity of Aryan blood!
Devotion to the Fuhrer!
Questions not allowed!

Brigitte tries to act just like the other girls in her Hitler Youth JM group, but the 12 year old worries that a leader may discover big sister Angelika’s disability or Papa’s empathetic heart and take them away to the camps that no one talks about.

A pamphlet with unusual words like ‘freedom’ and ‘resistance’ appears in apartment mailboxes, and her botany professor Papa silently takes it away. Then comes another, and Brigitte’s JM leaders denounce the White Rose group for trying to undermine the Nazi government.

Then the third pamphlet arrives, and Brigitte agrees with Papa and Angelika that it carries more truth than the official state radio and newspapers. They’ll pretend to be ‘good Germans’ for now…until they can leave Munich safely.

Can Angelika hide her limp well enough to continue at university?
Can Brigitte hide her new knowledge from JM friends and leaders?
Is there any chance that the Schmidt family gets out of this war intact?

As Allied bombers close in on Munich, the secret trapdoor to the cellar may be what saves them, if their neighbors don’t report them first!

What is your defiance against the wrongs you see?
**kmm

Book info: I Am Defiance: a Novel of World War II / Jenni L. Walsh. Scholastic Press, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C for CHASING LUCKY & choices & second chances, by Jenn Bennett (YA book review)

book cover of Chasing Lucky, by Jenn Bennett. Published by Simon Pulse | BooksYALove.com

Moving, again.
Mom’s secrets, of course.
People don’t change… or do they?

Josie dreads going back to Mom’s Rhode Island hometown where the Saint-Martin women’s “unlucky in love” curse is well-known.

But someone has to run the family bookstore while her aunt and grandmother are trekking in Nepal, so here they are for the historic coastal town’s summer tourist rush and run-ins with old friends and adversaries.

Rich families like Adrian’s sail their fancy boats and working families like Lucky’s fix them up – no love lost between the golden ones and the year-round residents.

That goldens’ party with her cousin was a mistake – turning down drunken Adrian’s advances makes 17-year-old Josie a target for the rich kids’ ridicule all summer.

When did the aspiring photographer’s childhood best friend Lucky turn into the town bad boy?
Why does he help her out of a sticky situation with the police?
What’s the truth about that scandalous picture suddenly making the rounds?

Hopefully her long-gone famous photographer father will get back in touch and help Josie escape this tiny town and go to art school on the West Coast…

A romantic boat ride, a sudden storm, vandalism, long-buried secrets unleashed in this tangled love story.
**kmm

Book info: Chasing Lucky / Jenn Bennett. Simon Pulse, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

B for brothers and THE BLUE WINGS, by Jef Aerts, transl. Laura Watkinson (MG book review)

book cover of The Blue Wings, by Jef Aerts; translated by Laura Watkinson; illustrated by Martjin van der Linden. Levine Querido Books | BooksYALove.com

Families love each other.
Cranes migrate from Finland to Spain for winter.
Sometimes, things don’t go as planned…

When an injured young crane can’t leave with its flock, autistic teen Jadran decides that he and younger brother Josh must teach it to fly and go south.

Never mind that their city apartment is crowded since Mom remarried and Murad moved in with his daughter Yasmin… Sprig will stay on the balcony until he’s healed.

Josh knows that being Sprig’s teacher using the blue wings from Mom’s old costumes is a bad plan, but the 11 year old also knows Jadran will have a howling meltdown if they don’t try.

The law of gravity still applies to best intentions, Jadran still plows on with an idea stuck in his head, and Sprig really, really needs to catch up with the other cranes.

So away the Muslim brothers go, a road trip with Sprig… a most unusual road trip.

Can Sprig learn to fly?
Will they get him to the flock in time?
Will Jadran find his place in this big loud world?

A story of brotherly bonds and learning to let go.
**kmm

Book info: The Blue Wings / Jef Aerts; translated by Laura Watkinson; illustrated by Martjin van der Linden. Levine Querido, 2020. [author site] [translator site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A is for ANA ON THE EDGE, by A.J. Sass (MG book review)

book cover of Ana on the Edge, by A. J. Sass. Published by Little, Brown | BooksYALove.com

Figure skating competition = rules and regimens.
Chinese-American home = expectations and routine roles.
Can time on the ice become Ana’s freedom and focus?

Age 12 means moving up to the next figure skating competition level for Ana and also following her coach to a new Bay Area rink, with new choreography and music and routine.

Ana likes her short hair, sleek skating leggings, and bold Juvenile national championship choreography. But Intermediate ladies will be skating to a princess theme, and Ana doesn’t like the quiet music or boring moves that famous Miss Lydia has chosen or having to wear a skirt to practice or the huge bill that her single mom must pay!

As a skating rink assistant this summer, Ana can earn free practice hours – too bad she has to miss being with her best friend at her old rink and at their synagogue. Awesome that she meets new student Hayden, who just moved here and is now publicly identifying as a boy.

Hayden assumed Ana was a boy too, and she didn’t correct him. Will he get mad when he finds out?

Ana feels very in-between about girl or boy – what does that all mean?

And this new choreography and music… how can Ana make it more Ana?

Discovering who you are takes time and work – Ana may have the people nearby who will help!
**kmm

Book info: Ana On the Edge / A. J. Sass. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Almost time for A2Z Challenge – 26 book reviews in April!

logo of 2021 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

Every year, I debate with myself about committing to the April A-to-Z Challenge – posting 26 alphabetic entries during April (every day except Sundays).

But after my recent posting doldrums (too much news, not enough sunshine), I knew that I could use my TENTH consecutive A2Z Challenge to refresh my writing routine and bring y’all wonderful books from my To Be Reviewed shelves.

If you want to participate by blogging A to Z about what you love, sign up on the Master List here by April 7 – or just keep on writing!

April #AtoZChallenge, here we come!
**kmm