Tag Archive | African American

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.

Life beyond the cult for AGNES AT THE END OF THE WORLD? by Kelly McWilliams (book review)

book cover of Agnes at the End of the World, by Kelly McWilliams. Published by Little Brown | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Keeping her brother healthy is sin.
Thinking for herself is sin.
Is saving their lives sinful, too?

Suffering is God’s will says the Prophet, but Agnes refused to let Ben die like so many children here, sneaking away to get her little brother’s insulin from an outside nurse who warns of the new plague affecting people, birds, and animals.

As the Prophet orders everyone into the mountain bunker to wait out the Apocalypse, the 16 year old knows it’s time to run, to escape the Arizona mountain settlement with her siblings, to risk the Outside world’s depravity and oncoming pandemic…

It’s Beth who always wanted to leave – does she truly want to take her big sister’s place as a sixth wife?
The nurse’s son Danny is smart and kind – can she trust an outsider with their lives and her heart?
Agnes heard God’s voice as a child – will it lead them now to safety?

Red Creek’s menfolk and their multiple wives believe that the outside world is all sin, but this Arizona mountain settlement hides much wickedness, too.

Told in alternating chapters by Agnes and Beth, this tale of apocalypse, pandemic, and faith was just released in June 2020. Read the Prologue here on the author’s website to meet Agnes before…

What hope are you finding during pandemic times?
**kmm

Book info: Agnes at the End of the World / Kelly McWilliams. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Outward change or inner transformation? Audiobooks for our times!

Books can be timely, timeless, both.

When the weekly AudioSYNC pairings were decided many months ago, no one knew we’d be shouting about systemic racial inequalities during a pandemic, yet these stories to read with your ears really hit home right now.

Remember to download either or both by using the links with each title before late night Wednesday 10 June 2020.

The Sora app is your key for listening to these free audiobooks on your phone or tablet as long as you keep them on your Sora shelf – more details here.

CD cover of Into White, by Randi Pink. Read by Adenrele Ojo. 
Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Into White (download free 4-10 June 2020)

by Randi Pink. Read by Adenrele Ojo. Published by Listening Library

Bullied by other Black students at their mostly white high school in Alabama, LaToya prays to become white, pretty, and popular.

When her wish is granted, life changes for now-blonde and beautiful Toya in ways she couldn’t imagine…

Like No Other, by Una LaMarche. Read by Phoebe Strole, Leslie Odom, Jr. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Like No Other (download free 4-10 June 2020)

A northeast hurricane traps a devout Hasidic Jewish girl Devorah and a nerdy West Indian guy Jaxon in an elevator for a long time – long enough for the teens to get to know each other, to really really like each other…

When the elevator doors finally open, what now?

How are you educating yourself in response to current events?
**kmm

It calls them all – A SONG BELOW WATER, by Bethany C. Morrow (book review)

book cover of A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Every Siren is a Black woman,
her magical Call irresistible,
a danger that the majority wants to contain…or silence.

Tavia and Effie share secrets and worries as the Black almost-sisters navigate high school while growing into their individual powers.

To Portland, Effie is ‘the girl from the park’ who survived when sprites turned her playmates into stone statues years ago.

Trying to strangle the siren-voice out of herself at age 11 didn’t work, but coming here from California gave Tavia a chance to start over, away from her grandmother’s revealed Siren legacy.

When Effie moved up the hill from her grandparents to stay with Tavia for school, a gargoyle arrived too, perching on the roof whenever the teens are home.

Tavia stays quiet except in choir, for her siren-voice is too powerful and compelling for everyday people to deny. But when she’s stopped for driving while Black – did the other cop hear her Call to be released?

It’s almost Ren Faire time, where Effie is the mermaid Euphemia, so she practices her underwater dance at the pool, missing her late mom and their shared love of Faire performing more than ever.

Does Effie’s constantly itching skin mean she’s becoming a mer for real?
Is an electronic silencing collar in Tavia’s near future?

They know that attending the community protest of a young Black man’s death at the hands of police could quickly turn dangerous, especially when a celebrity who just revealed she’s a Siren arrives…

Effie’s hair has a mind of its own, Tavia seeks her grandmother’s counsel through water, family secrets begin to unravel.

Happy book birthday to this story of self-discovery and speaking to power! Request A Song Below Water now at your local library or buy from an independent bookstore directly or through bookshop.org for home delivery.

Where can you use your voice for good, right now?
**kmm

Book info: A Song Below Water / Bethany C. Morrow. Tor Teen, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Summer reading time – 13 weeks of FREE audiobooks…starting now!

Happy May, happy AudioSYNC summertime!

Whatever your weather, it is now officially summer reading season because our free weekly audiobooks are here!

This year, the AudiobookSYNC program uses the Sora app for listening through a dedicated ‘public library’ that hosts one pair of free audiobooks weekly. Read more about the 13 week program here.

For every pair of audiobooks, your time to download either or both titles begins at 12 midnight (EDT) Thursday, running through late night Wednesday. For 2020, listeners worldwide can download all books! All you need to register is an email address.

CD cover of Monday's Not Coming, by Tiffany D. Jackson, Read by Imani Parks. Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Monday’s Not Coming (download)

by Tiffany D. Jackson | Read by Imani Parks Published by HarperAudio

How can learning-challenged Claudia start the school year without BFF Monday? Why can’t anyone remember the last time they saw the African American teen? How can a girl just disappear? Claudia wants answers, wants Monday back!

CD cover of The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater, Read by Robin Miles. Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The 57 Bus (download)

by Dashka Slater | Read by Robin Miles Published by Recorded Books

Just 8 minutes in the same bus, day after day – but enough for differences in class, race, and gender perceptions to lead one teen to set another on fire, literally.

A true account of the horrific action that made international news – what punishment could fit this dreadful crime? How did the race of each person affect the daily bus ride, the attack, the trial?

Remember to download either or both mysterious titles before Wednesday night, May 6th. As long as they’re on your Sora app shelf, they’re yours to enjoy!

What mysteries – fictional or factual – do you recommend?
**kmm

Q for KINGS, QUEENS, AND IN-BETWEENS, by Tanya Boteju (book review)

book cover of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, by Tanya Boteju. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Nima’s boring summer takes a twist when the 17 year old visits a drag show at the local arts festival and meets the incomparable diva Deidre and drag king Winnow.

Her white dad moves through life in slow motion since Mom left last year, best friend Charles keeps her from total despair, but when surprisingly straight Ginny crushes her heart, awkward Nima feels completely adrift.

Discovering an amazing drag scene in the next town – that welcomes teens – Nima decides to let her true self shine, with Deidre helping her debut as a drag prince.

Will Mom ever drift back into their lives?
Can Nima and Winnow truly connect?
Why is bully Gordon hanging around the edges of Nima’s new circle?

Love, acceptance, risk, friendship – Nima wants to find her self and her place as a person in this debut novel of change and discovery. Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

How much do we let outside adornments interfere with true personal connections?
**kmm

Book info: Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens / Tanya Boteju. Simon Pulse, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

J is for Jo, THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL, listening, learning, yearning, by Stacey Lee (book review)

book cover of The Downstairs Girl, by Stacey Lee. Published by G. P. Putnam & Sons | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A new advice column to save the newspaper,
a new job to feed them,
a horse race to save them from a criminal!

Living secretly in a forgotten basement, 17-year-old Jo and her grandfather frugally manage on their small income while conversations drift down from the newspaper office above. Being Chinese means daily discrimination, even when carefully staying in society’s shadows.

Her grandfather is a legendary horse trainer, but when he’s injured, Jo must become lady’s maid to cruel debutante Caroline whose wealthy father controls much of 1880s Atlanta.

Like her black friends, Jo is expected to be neither seen nor heard, forced to the back of the horse-drawn trolley, shut out of most jobs.

But Jo must become bold to get medical treatment for her grandfather, to seize the role of advice columnist Miss Sweetie for the newspaper, to discover the tiniest clue about her parents and why they left her.

How many times can Caroline sneak away before the teen’s mother suspects and fires Jo for obeying her orders?

How often can Jo appear at the newspaper office as veiled Miss Sweetie before its young editor recognizes her voice?

How can she get grandfather’s cure from a notorious criminal with so little money in hand?

If Jo can dare to give advice to white society, perhaps she can dare to ride in a horse race as no woman ever has!

+++++
Before reading The Downstairs Girl, I didn’t know that Chinese workers were brought into the South during Reconstruction to replace slaves. No surprise that so many ran away from plantations to cities like Atlanta and Augusta.

What other under-told stories are you finding as you read these days?
**kmm

Book info: The Downstairs Girl / Stacey Lee. G.P. Putnam & Sons, 2019. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

REVENGE OF THE RED CLUB! #PeriodPower in middle school! by Kim Harrington

book cover of Revenge of the Red Club, by Kim Harrington. Published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Riley is so glad that girls started the Red Club at her Massachusetts middle school before she got her first period and is happy to help lead the group supporting one another through menstruation’s ups and downs.

She is beyond mad when the school administration shuts down the club due to “parent complaints,” removes the emergency supplies from the Red Club’s locker, and suddenly starts enforcing an antiquated dress code that only impacts girls.

Time for the eighth grader to use her school newspaper investigative reporting skills to find out who complained about the Red Club and how to update that dress code!

Co-leader Cee puts together an action plan, and the “Revenge of the Red Club” begins – normalizing period talk, boys wearing clothes out of dress code as allies, and more.

But can the Red Club control the way that the rest of the school reacts?

Is Cole interested in Riley or in the developing news story?

Why is Riley’s best friend Ava acting so weird?

The world would be a better place if every school had a Red Club support group, and the Hawking Middle School girls are determined to get theirs back!

Want more information about menstruation issues? Check out Period Power, by Nadya Okamoto here.

How is your school supporting this part of adolescence and everyday life?
**kmm

Book info: Revenge of the Red Club / Kim Harrington. Aladdin, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Extraordinary life stories – listen up! #audiobooks for all

Most of us would say that we lead unexceptional lives. That’s why we’re so intrigued by celebrities and folks whose lives are anything but ordinary.

This week, we get to listen in on the lifestories of superstars in the world of sport and the world of art, with two free audiobooks from AudioSYNC (thanks again, publishers!).

Click on a title below by Wednesday 17 July 2019, follow the easy directions at the AudioSYNC page, and you can keep the downloaded free audiobook on your device as long as you wish.

CD cover of Becoming Kareem,  by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Becoming Kareem, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Published by Hachette Audio

US basketball legend recounts his life from boyhood in New York through his professional career and onward as an activist for social change, sharing the many lessons learned from his mentors.

CD cover of Vincent and Theo,  by Deborah Heiligman | Read by Philip Fox Published by Dreamscape Media  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Vincent and Theo, by Deborah Heiligman

Read by Philip Fox

Published by Dreamscape Media

The Van Gogh brothers shared dreams and heartaches throughout their lives, with Vincent leaving their family home to pursue his art and Theo later giving him a place to stay and work in Paris. Based on their lifetime of correspondence.

What other biographies would you recommend?
**kmm