Tag Archive | African American

Alien earth-visit with one slight problem: LEONARD (MY LIFE AS A CAT), by Carlie Sorosiak (MG book review)

book cover of Leonard (My Life as a Cat), by Carlie Sorosiak. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

He studied all the media and video,
chose his new identity carefully –
ready for a working vacation on Earth… oops!

Getting distracted during atmospheric entry was a huge mistake, as a young 300-year-old alien appears in a coastal South Carolina town as a house cat during a storm instead of becoming a park ranger at Yellowstone!

Animal-lover Olive has a hard time making new friends and feels stranded this summer before middle school as Mom and her new boyfriend are in California for his business. After her dad died, she hadn’t been here in a long time – maybe volunteering at the aquarium with grandmother Norma will be okay.

Rescuing a scruffy cat she calls Leonard makes things better – a very unusual cat who loves being at the aquarium with them… and starts typing messages on her laptop!

Leonard has just a month to do all the things he’s dreamed of for centuries – go to a real movie theater, host a dinner party, create and enjoy a cheese sandwich – so of course Olive will help.

Learning to walk on a leash, trying to do absolutely anything without opposable thumbs, becoming fond of Olive and Norma and Q at the aquarium – these are not the experiences that Leonard planned to carry back to his all-mind society on their helium world…

Of course, that last part wouldn’t leave Earth since only data will return with Leonard, no emotions. And if he doesn’t get to Yellowstone by the end of the month, he won’t return to his galaxy – ever!

Does Q suspect that Leonard isn’t an ordinary cat?
Will Norma ever ask Olive to call her ‘grandma’?
Can Olive and Leonard convince Q and Norma to take a trip to Yellowstone very soon?

Come along on the ultimate summer road-trip for this hyper-intelligent cat and his new friends!

If you could go any place, any time, what’s your ultimate destination?
**kmm

Book Info: Leonard (My Life as a Cat) / Carlie Sorosiak. Walker Books US, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Consequences of injustice – audiobooks to ponder

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your phone or tablet, using the free Sora app to listen.

CD cover of They Went Left, by Monica Hesse, read by Caitlin Davies. Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

They Went Left (download on Sora free 6-12 May 2021)
by Monica Hesse | Read by Caitlin Davies
Published by Hachette Audio

Liberated from the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in 1945, Zofia is desperate to find her younger brother Abek, the only other family member who wasn’t sent the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

But how will the 18 year old locate him among the sea of refugees in the displaced persons’ camps of Germany and Poland?

CD cover of Trell, by Dick Lehr, read by Bahni Turpin, published by Brilliance Audio Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Trell (download on Sora free 6-12 May 2021)
by Dick Lehr | Read by Bahni Turpin
Published by Brilliance Audio/Candlewick

Trell is certain that her father was wrongfully convicted of murder and convinces a disillusioned Boston investigative reporter to go back to witnesses and uncover the truth.

Can the teen and reporter track down the real killer?

What other stories of confronting injustice would you recommend?
**kmm

K is THE COST OF KNOWING the future, past & pain, by Brittney Morris (YA book review)

book cover of The Cost of Knowing, by Brittney Morris. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Accidents happen,
life goes on in sorrow,
the future is a mystery… right?

Orphaned by a car wreck, 16 year old Alex and little brother Isaiah now live with Aunt Mackie in a ‘very nice’ Chicago subdivision where a white neighbor rants in the Black family’s kitchen about requiring background checks for renters during a rap mega-star’s concert nearby.

She doesn’t know, no one knows that after the accident Alex began seeing the future of every object – and every person – that his fingers touch. Future of an ice cream dipper at Scoops is no big deal. But the longer he touches, the more of the future he sees, so touching the people he cares about is too much to bear.

When exactly will girlfriend Talia walk away from their future together?
How long can Alex endure the future invading his every breath?
Why is 12-year-old Izzy wearing headphones every single moment of summer?

Braving Izzy’s anger to find common ground before any future happens, Alex bets everything on them going to the Shiv concert together, wishing this curse would vanish… Brand-new speculative fiction from the author of Slay.

Would you want to see the future… really?
**kmm

Book Info: The Cost of Knowing / Brittney Morris. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Meet 3 BLACK HEROES OF THE WILD WEST! Graphic novel by James Otis Smith

book cover of Black Heroes of the Wild West, by James Otis Smith. Published by Toon Books | BooksYALove.com

Wild mustangs accepted Bob as a herd member.
Mary’s stagecoach always got through, always.
Bass outsmarted and arrested many outlaws.

Perhaps you’ve heard of lawman Bass Reeves, the first Black Deputy U.S. Marshall west of the Mississippi River, but did you know that his dedication to justice inspired the adventures of the fictional Lone Ranger?

Like Reeves, Mary Fields was born into slavery and found freedom in the West working at a mission school, opening her own business, and becoming “Stagecoach Mary,” the most successful stagecoach driver in Montana – a cigar-chomping, punch-throwing, gambling real-life legend.

Bob Lemmons’ patience and tracking skills allowed him to gradually be accepted into a herd of wild Texas mustangs where he challenged the stallion for leadership, then led the mares and colts into his corral. This formerly enslaved man died a respected rancher at age 99 in 1947!

Illustrator Kadir Nelson‘s introduction sets the tone for this new look at American history of the West.

Smith’s art and words bring us along on these heroes’ adventures, with interesting back matter about African Americans on the frontier, how Black and Native Americans interacted, cowboys, railroads, and homesteading.

Which of these heroes would you want on your side on the frontier?
**kmm

Book Info: Black Heroes of the Wild West / written & illustrated by James Otis Smith. Toon Books, 2020. (author video interview) (publisher site)

With music, THE KIDS OF WIDNEY JUNIOR HIGH TAKE OVER THE WORLD! by Mathew Klickstein (book review)

book cover of The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! by Mathew Klickstein. Published by Schiffer Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bullied his first week at junior high, 11 year old Robbie is rescued by big Peewee who invites him to band practice where the autistic eighth grader is a singer.

Led by their special ed teacher (and former rock musician), the six-member Kids of Widney Junior High rock band has written many original songs as they prepare for their first big public concert.

Robbie quickly learns that his new friends’ lives aren’t like media stereotypes – Daniel and Cain live with blindness but don’t want to feel his face, and Tanesa zings through life with cerebral palsy.

As the concert date nears, longtime couple Peewee and Elisa have a big argument during rehearsal, overwhelming Cain who says he’s quitting the band!

Does Peewee understand the true power of his words now?
Can the Kids get Elisa and Cain back to rehearsals?
Will the record company exec really attend their show?

This fictional account of the real band members’ struggles in junior high echoes the experiences of many young people that the world sees as ‘different’ on the outside.

The Kids of Widney High are still performing as adults today, opening for established bands, have produced four albums, and were featured in ‘The Ringer’ movie. Real-life Peewee says “Don’t let anything, even your disabilities, cloud your dreams. Just go for it!” (pg. 141).

Happy book birthday to The Kids of Widney Junior High!

Where will your dreams take you?
**kmm

Book info: The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! / Mathew Klickstein; illustrated by Michael S. Bracco. Schiffer Kids, 2020. [author site] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Oh, such joy! ONCE UPON AN EID, edited by S.K. Ali & Aisha Saeed (book review)

book cover of Once Upon an Eid, edited by S.K. Ali & Aisha Saeed. Published by Amulet Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Watching for the new moon to appear,
Special foods enjoyed for generations,
Gifts and love and faith and joy!

Muslims observe the two Eid holidays with celebratory traditions as varied as the world is wide.

New clothes can be a hallmark of Eid – even as cousins Hawa and Fanta disagree about which style of dress is “Perfect” during the African community’s Eid parties in New York City or Makayla worries that friends will make fun of her new-ish abaya from the second-hand store in “Creative Fixes.”

Gifts” make Eid special for Idrees who begins understanding that giving is more important than getting, and a young man saving up for a new bike is repeatedly reminded by his grandmother that his name “Kareem means ‘generous’. “

The same foods every year are family traditions, so when big sister is busy, it’s just “Yusuf and the Big Brownie Mishap”, and Nadia quietly goes to the bakery for their favorite pastries while Mama sleeps after chemo in “Don’ut Break Tradition.”

Despair lifts when a kind Greek villager helps Bassem “Searching for Blue” bring the taste of Eid love to his refugee camp, and a grieving father helps his daughter try to make the “Taste” of Mama’s special lontong, always cooked by heart in their Malaysian apartment instead of written down.

Going high above the City of Boundless Light, “Seraj Captures the Moon” marking the end of Ramadan in a graphic novel illustrated by the same artist who sketched the chapter headings and book cover showing young people preparing for Eid from Canada to the US to Australia.

Fifteen Muslim authors bring us stories that reflect the wide range of community and family traditions for celebrating Eid – all with food, all with love, all with renewed hope.

What says home and hope to you?
**kmm

Book info: Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices / edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed; illustrated by Sara Alfageeh. Amulet Books, 2020. [S. K. site] [Aisha site] [Sara site] [publisher site] Personal copy; video and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Victory over violence? Stunning stories to read with your ears!

Our final pair of free audiobooks for 2020 take us back and back in history as young women of color fight the odds to live and move on.

Have the Sora app ready on your phone or tablet, then use the download links to grab these titles for your shelf.

Thanks again to the AudioSYNC program and all the publishers for sharing 26 professionally produced audiobooks this summer so we can read with our ears all year.

CD cover of Burn, Baby, Burn, by Meg Medina. Read by Marisol Ramirez.
Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Burn Baby Burn (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Meg Medina.Read by Marisol Ramirez. Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

During the sweltering summer of 1977, a massive blackout, arson, and the Son of Sam’s murder spree put New York City on edge, especially in Nora’s neighborhood.

The Cuban-American teen wants to get away from her bullying brother, but their mother can’t navigate life without her help. As Hector’s violence grows, Nora wonders if she’ll make it to 18 or not.

CD cover of Kindred by Octavia Butler, read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kindred (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Octavia E. Butler. Read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books

Transported from 1976 California to antebellum Maryland, 26 year old Dana saves a white boy from drowning and suddenly is returned to the present before being shot.

As the young Black woman gets pulled back and forth in time, always encountering the same white man, she begins to realize that she must keep him alive so the family line continues down to her!

How can you stand strong against changes that threaten your very existence?
**kmm

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.

Heading home from school? LOOK BOTH WAYS, by Jason Reynolds (book review)

book cover of Look Both Ways, by Jason Reynolds. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Who’s smart or not,
friendly, sneaky, silly –
at school, you know who’s who…

Last class of the day, then off they go in all directions – friends and bullies, foster kids and only kids, thinking about homework, thinking of anything but school.

In your neighborhood, everybody knows whose mama is fighting cancer again and where the mean dog lives.

Things that folks don’t know: why Cynthia tells jokes on Cinder’s Stage every day at 3:33, how loud the anxiety roars in Ty’s head, what Pia is thinking as she skateboards everywhere.

This “tale told in ten blocks” by Black kids interweaves friendship, family histories, new attraction, and old memories.

Work on your own story with help from the author; Jason Reynolds has started the “Write, Right, Rite” project as National Ambassador for Children’s Literature.

What do you think about on the way home from school?
**kmm

Book info: Look Both Ways: a Tale Told in Ten Blocks / Jason Reynolds; illustrations by Alexander Nabaum. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [artist 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.