Tag Archive | African American

They must find more LITTLE MONARCHS, butterflies vital for humanity’s survival! by Jonathan Case (Middle Grade graphic novel review)

book cover of Little Monarchs, by Jonathan Case. Published by Margaret Ferguson Books / Holiday House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sun-sickness wiped out mammals,
some humans survive underground,
can any ever see daylight again?

By 2101, only two people on Earth can survive sunshine – young Elvie and scientist Flora who’s caring for the 10 year old while Elvie’s parents travel onward as the team perfects a cure for sun-sickness.

Monarch butterflies carry the needed ingredient on their wings, so Flora and Elvie follow their migration south along what used to be the western USA, scavenging from former cities, foraging wild foods, and avoiding known underground settlements.

Elvie documents nature and schoolwork in her journal, while Flora tests and retests ways to make larger quantities of the monarch wing-scale medicine that prevents sun-sickness.

After an earthquake, they find a small boy near an abandoned settlement, so Flora gives him a dose of medicine and they keep going. Elvie left behind a note and some medicine, in case anyone returns to look for little Sito.

Wow, his family does follow them and wants to travel along – safety in numbers, right? Right?!?

This outstanding graphic novel documents their perilous journey to meet up with Elvie’s parents, as well as the natural wonders and survival skills that she records in her journal.

In our time, monarch numbers are dropping dramatically, so planting native milkweed along their migration route can make up for some habitat loss.

Do monarchs migrate through your region?
**kmm

Book info: Little Monarchs / Jonathan Case. Margaret Ferguson Books / Holiday House, 2022. [author site] [book site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Classic tales retold – read with your ears!

Get ready for week 3 of Audiofile SYNC season by registering free here.

Every Thursday through Wednesday this summer you can download either or both featured audiobooks onto your Sora shelf and listen to them online whenever you like.

If you miss any AudioSYNC titles during their free download time, just check your local public library or independent bookstore.

This week: classics retold take us back to vital roots of relationships:

CD cover of Never Look Back, by Lilliam Rivera | Read by Almarie Guerra, Samuel Maria Gomez. 
Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never Look Back (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Lilliam Rivera | Read by Almarie Guerra, Samuel Maria Gomez
Published by Recorded Books

This retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth centers Afro-Latinx characters in the Bronx today: upbeat, suave Pheus who serenades all the girls and Eury who’s troubled by the spirits that haunt her after she survived Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

swirled lines divider lipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of When Morning Comes, by Arushi Raina | Read by Jamie Bloch, John Fleming, Patience Mpumiwana, Tony Ofori. Published by ECW | recommended on BooksYALove.com

When Morning Comes (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Arushi Raina | Read by Jamie Bloch, John Fleming, Patience Mpumiwana, Tony Ofori
Published by ECW

Romeo and Juliet set in the apartheid struggles of 1976 South Africa: a white boy from the best school in Johannesburg falls in love with a black girl from the poor side of the city in the time leading up to the bloody Soweto Youth Uprising for racial justice.

What other classic retellings would make great audiobooks?
**kmm

divider clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159

Z is for ZERO O’CLOCK in Covid-19’s early days, by C. J. Farley (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Zero O'Clock, by C. J. Farley. Published by Black Sheep/ Akashic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mysterious plague,
not fiction, not science fiction,
how will it end?

Geth’s hometown, New Rochelle, New York, is ground-zero for the Covid-19 pandemic in USA, as the entire world hits the pause button in March 2020.

The sixteen year old and her best friends are unhappier to miss next weekend’s Broadway show than about school being closed for two weeks (more teleteaching, more homework… ugh). Diego is the star quarterback, so that’s his ticket to college. Tovah is tiny and mighty and a math genius; Geth is sure that they’ll both be accepted to Columbia soon.

Two weeks’ closure keeps stretching out, stores in ‘the containment zone’ are running out of essentials, and the neighborhood foxes are scavenging boldly as trash pickup is delayed and delayed again. After each face-touch, the Black teen washes her hands for safety (her OCD compulsions are getting companions now).

Worrying about her mom working at the hospital, the Native American teen who’ll be isolating with them in their little house (Mom’s boyfriend’s stepson?), whether prom will be cancelled – Geth gets more stressed by the day, clinging to her friends’ text messages and BTS songs as a lifeline.

Neighbors dying of Covid at home, friends hospitalized on ventilators, the President saying there’s nothing to be concerned about… .

Why are they still reading The Plague for English class?
Who’s trying to sabotage Diego’s football scholarship?
What advice would her late father have?

Three months, a million emotions, thousands upon thousands of deaths – then 8 minutes 32 seconds of video that sparked a movement.

How do you look back on the early days of the pandemic?
**kmm

Book info: Zero O’Clock / C. J. Farley. Black Sheep/ Akashic, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

This summer could be the best ever for THE ISLANDERS! by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May (MG book review)

Book cover of The Islanders, by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Published by Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No videogames or wi-fi?
Driving a golf cart! Or a boat?!
Maybe summer will be okay…

As a military kid, twelve-year-old Jake knows that staying with his grandma Honey will help Mom as she’s at the Army hospital with Dad, but having no internet or cellphone (don’t ask) will be terrible.

Luckily, two kids his age are on Dewees Island for the summer: Macon, a facts-spouting Black guy from Atlanta, whose mom is on bed rest waiting for her baby to arrive, and nature-fanatic Lovie, who drives her own boat over from Isle of Palms every day to stay with her aunt.

Honey doesn’t seem herself after Jake’s granddad died a while ago, and her house on stilts needs lots of care. Dad grew up here, roaming these woods and beaches, learning to drive a boat, leaving his nature journal and favorite books in the loft bedroom where Jake is staying.

Doing chores for Honey still leaves Jake plenty of time to explore the South Carolina coastal island with Lovie and Macon. Lots of lessons too – driving the golf cart, learning his way around a boat, recognizing loggerhead turtle tracks, avoiding alligators.

An incident gets the three friends assigned to Dawn Patrol, checking the beaches early, early every morning for new turtle nests that the licensed specialists verify and encircle with warning tape.

Jake sketches in his own nature journal, writes illustrated letters to Dad, and listens to the worries that Lovie and Macon confide.

Can Jake earn his boating license before summer ends?
How can they keep predators away from the turtle nests?
How fast can Dad recover from the IED explosion?

Sometimes the island seems like paradise, other times it’s not. For these three friends, this will be a summer to remember! First in a new series, followed by Search for Treasure in June 2022.

What’s your favorite summer-with-friends memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Islanders (Islanders, book 1) / Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

BLACK BALLERINAS: My Journey to Our Legacy, by Misty Copeland & Salena Barnes (picture book review)

book cover of Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy, byMisty Copeland; illustrated by Salena Barnes. Published by Aladdin S&S | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Every child needs role models who strive to improve life,
who work hard,
who look like them…

Misty Copeland saw very few Black ballet dancers as she grew up, cherishing each one that she met on her path to become the first African American female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater in 2015.

They told of being denied lessons as children and positions with dance companies because of their race. It was worse in earlier times, so the accomplishments of Black ballet dancers were overlooked or erased from dance history books.

Copeland began searching for the stories of those talented women who had preceded her. Mostly American, some were forced by prejudice to dance outside the US, others trained for years and were denied their turn on the stage.

Now this book highlights 27 outstanding Black ballerinas of the past and present: Lauren Anderson, Aesha Ash, Debra Austin, Joan Myers Brown, Delores Browne, Janet Collins, Marion Cuyjet, Stephanie Dabney, Frances Taylor Davis, Michaela DePrince, Nikisha Fogo, Robyn Gardenhire, Celine Gittens, Alicia Graf Mack, Lorraine Graves, Francesca Hayward, Tai Jimenez, Christina Johnson, Virginia Johnson, Nora Kimball-Mentzos, Erica Lall, Andrea Long-Naidu, Ashley Murphy-Wilson, Victoria Rowell, Anne Benna Simms, Raven Wilkinson, and Ebony Williams.

Copeland’s retellings of their dance experiences – good and bad – and signature roles include the too-common theme of “not fitting in” with majority white dance troupes. She acknowledges that colorism still impacts darker-skinned performers more than mixed race women like herself.

Barnes’ elegant and energetic illustrations capture each woman’s vibrant grace – en pointe, pirouette, leaping, in the spotlight.

This outstanding picture book is indeed an ‘everybody book’ – get it at your local library or independent bookstore today!

Who’s your career role model?
**kmm

Book info: Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy / Misty Copeland; illustrated by Salena Barnes. Aladdin, 2021. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Uh oh… THE MEET-CUTE PROJECT when she hates rom-coms? by Rhiannon Richardson (YA book review)

book cover of The Meet-Cute Project / Rhiannon Richardson. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Big sister back home to wedding-plan,
School stress, swim team stress,
Now this!?

Preparing for the championship swim meet is grueling, but it’s much, much easier for Mia than finding a date for her sister Sam’s wedding will be!

For the Black teen, fact is better than fiction, and the rom-coms that her friends love are just ridiculous.

But just maybe they have the right idea – analyzing the best meet-cutes in rom-com movies can help the high school junior find the right guy. If she fails, Mia will be stuck with the groom’s spoiled 12-year-old brother for the rehearsal dinner and wedding and reception… ick.

So the math team whiz gets to work, listing eligible guys at school, arranging meet-cute opportunities, and even getting outside her comfort zone by volunteering at the community garden with Mom (gotta have all the accomplishments if she wants to be elected NHS president next year like Mom and Sam were…sigh).

How can the days be passing so fast?
Can she find a nice guy that Sam will approve of?
Does she really want the future that her family has scripted?

Sam becomes more like Bridezilla as her wedding approaches, while Mia keeps trying to meet the right guy amid all her school responsibilities.

What’s your favorite meet-cute scenario?
**kmm

Book info: The Meet-Cute Project / Rhiannon Richardson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Parents fighting, STUNTBOY, IN THE MEANTIME tries to cope, by Jason Reynolds, art by Raul the Third (MG book review)

book cover of Stuntboy, In the Meantime, by  Jason Reynolds; drawings by Raul the Third. Published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bully stops him after school,
Mom and Dad splitting up,
it’s giving him the Frets!!

Portico loves living in his city apartment building where the Black fen year old knows everyone, with GranGran just down the hall and their cat called A New Name Every Day.

He loves watching Super Space Warriors on TV with best friend Zola and can’t stand trash-talking mean kid Herbert who picks on them every day after school.

His Frets get worse when his folks start arguing about who gets what when they move (Mom up 1 floor, Dad down 1) that they shoo Portico out “in the mean time” to do something with Zola.

She helps Portico get over those anxiety Frets by meditating, so he chooses to be the superhero of his own life – Stuntboy in the MeanTime!

His superpower is keeping other superheroes safe so they can save the world, using special moves like Plaster Blaster, Truck Wheel, and Untied Glide; he practices by helping his neighbors (except Herbert).

Will Mom and Dad ever stop fighting about stuff?
Why does Herbert try to spoil everything?
What would the Super Space Warriors do?

Don’t miss this epic illustrated collaboration by the author of many books for teens and tweens including Look Both Ways (my recommendation here) and the illustrator of Lowriders in Space (recommended here).

When have family troubles made you feel pulled in two directions?
**kmm

Book info: Stuntboy, In the Meantime / Jason Reynolds; drawings by Raul the Third; color by Elaine Bay. Caitlyn Dlouhy/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Beyond THE SOUND OF STARS, is there life here? by Alechia Dow (YA book review)

book cover of The Sound of Stars, by Alechia Dow. Published by Inkyard Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Music – illegal.
Books – illegal.
Emotion – forbidden!

Two years after the alien invasion, 17-year-old Ellie’s favorite song by The Starry Eyed still motivates her, presses her to keep a secret library in their New York City apartment basement, to risk execution so a tiny bit of hope stays alive.

The Ilori believe that humans are untrustworthy because of their emotions. Books, music, and art are forbidden, as are outbursts of anger or joy.

In Ellie’s quadrant, M0Rr15 is ready to test the behavior-muting vaccine he was ordered to develop – only controllable humans will be kept alive when the planet is reconfigured as a habitation for the true Ilori by the armored lab-made Ilori on Earth now.

M0Rr15 finds Ellie with a book, but instead of neutralizing the Black teen, he borrows the book, listens to music (his favorite thing about this odd planet) with her, and tries to save her family from the vaccine.

Hiding their meetings from the all-encompassing Ilori in-brain communication network does drain M0Rr15’s electrical charge, but is vital as their friendship grows – no wonder the Ilori say feelings are so dangerous!

Ilori command sends M0Rr15 westward across America to fix a vaccine production glitch – and he smuggles Ellie with him!

Can he trust her with his secret plans to save humanity?
Will her parents be safe after she’s left?
How long until the Ilori officials catch up with them?

Told alternately by Ellie and M0Rr15 – “If I fail, what is the point of my life?” (p. 59) – this near-future story of hope versus destiny reaches for the stars and tugs at our heartstrings.

Ask for this debut novel at your local library or independent bookstore as we celebrate the work of Black creators this month and always.

If you could share only one song, what would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: The Sound of Stars / Alechia Dow. Inkyard Press, 2020 (hardcover), 2021 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Bad news AIN’T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT, by Jason Reynolds & Jason Griffin (YA book review)

book cover of Ain't Burned All the Bright, by Jason Reynolds; artwork by Jason Griffin. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Three long sentences,
Two Jasons collaborating again,
One vibrant book, willing us to breathe…

His father coughing and coughing in the bedroom, his mother glued to the all-bad-news television. Brother won’t stop playing his video game, sister chatting about what to bring for a protest during a pandemic.

Stuck at home together – will it ever be safe to leave?
After George Floyd’s murder – who wants to be away from home?
TV locked on the same channel – is there better news anywhere?

A Black young man feels like he’s the only family member who realizes how bad things really are, how “worry is worn like a knit sweater in summer” suffocating them all, yet maybe hope can get them through all this.

Jason Reynolds (I’ve recommended his books Boy in the Black Suit; Ghost; Look Both Ways) wrote the story of a young man and his family during that first year of pandemic and protests as three very, very long sentences.

His former roommate Jason Griffin journaled his impressions of 2020 via paint, colored pencil, and collage in his moleskin notebook, then cut out and taped Reynolds’ words onto his artwork whose textures leap off the satin-surfaced pages of this book.

Happy book birthday to this stunning reflection on events of 2020 when so many of us wished we could change the TV channel from its harsh realities to something brighter.

What do you remember most about 2020?
**kmm

Book info: Ain’t Burned All the Bright / Jason Reynolds; artwork by Jason Griffin. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Atheneum, 2022. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Staying friends LONG DISTANCE is hard, #MGLit graphic novel by Whitney Gardner – book review

book cover of Long Distance, by Whitney Gardner. Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Moving to Seattle?
Leaving her best friend?
(leaving her only friend…)

Middle-schooler Vega doesn’t care that she’ll have a great window for her star-gazing telescope – leaving Portland is terrible!

Her dads try to help by sending her to Camp Very Best Friend. Their new neighbor guy Qwerty is going too, also with great reluctance. And best friend Halley doesn’t even text back as Vega endures the counselor’s off-key singing on the long ride to camp…

Tent-mate Gemma and twin Isaac both collect rocks (especially thundereggs), Qwerty is a computer whiz (talks non-stop), and George (the kid in all the camp brochure photos) seems to change personality every day.

Where are the squirrels and birds and insects?
Why won’t Qwerty’s satellite phone work at camp?
Why are the counselors are super-happy every single moment?

The multicultural campers find a pine cone with a speaker inside and a secret tunnel to the big telescope promised in the brochure.

Then weird things start happening… truly weird.

Great graphic novel in hardcover, paperback or ebook – worth your gift card!

How do you cope with friends moving away?
**kmm

Long Distance / words and art by Whitney Gardner. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.