Tag Archive | African American

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.

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