Tag Archive | art

V is Vân Ước, wishing hard for love in Cloudwish, by Fiona Wood (book review)

book cover of Cloudwish by Fiona Wood published by Poppy  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWish for love, wish for happiness,
wish to stand out as an artist,
wish to fit in at her new school…

Vân Ước worries about so many things – her mother’s deepening depression as the anniversary of her parents’ escape from Vietnam nears and how to fit in correctly as a scholarship student at her Australian private high school.

And her wishes – becoming an artist instead of a doctor (her parents’ dream), being with handsome rower Billy (her craziest dream) – seem to be coming true after that creative writing class…

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, then search for Cloudwish at your local library or independent bookstore.

What’s your highest wish?
**kmm

Book info: Cloudwish / Fiona Wood. Poppy, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [podcast with author] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Dreams of being with handsome Billy are fruitless; dreams of making her living as an artist get Vân Ước through tough days. But the Vietnamese Australian teen may have a chance at both, if the guest creative writing teacher is right!

The transition from her Sydney immigrant neighborhood where she shares strong coffee with her lesbian-in-waiting best friend to the private school where she’s a scholarship student is jarring, as is Billy’s transformation from popular prankster to nice guy in their International Baccalaureate classes.

When a tiny bottle marked ‘wish’ just vanishes into her skin during a creative writing seminar, odd things begin to happen to Vân Ước – like Billy really paying attention to her – in a good way!

Will she be able to magically change her parents’ expectations for her future?
Can Mama’s depression be cured, years after that traumatic journey from Vietnam?
What would Jane Austen do in all these strange, changed situations?

Her name means ‘cloudwish’ – and maybe, just maybe, her dearest wishes and dreams could come true.

L is Laurent Linn’s novel about art & self, Draw the Line (book review)

book cover of Draw the Line by Laurent Linn published by Margaret K McElderry Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comStay quiet.
Avoid the bullies.
If it’s only words…

Adrian cannot escape reality with video games and his graphic novel art any longer! He must stand up to Doug and the other thugs whose gay-bashing has gone from talk to violence or he won’t be able to live with himself…if he survives their wrath, that is.

Visit the book’s website here to meet all the characters who’ve moved from Adrian’s real world into the graphic novel that he’d rather live in.

The paperback of Draw the Line releases in May 2017, but grab it now to see how this epic superhero battle on paper turns out in real life.

Standing up for what’s right – who’s next?
**kmm

Book info: Draw the Line / Laurent Linn; illustrations by Laurent Linn. Margaret K McElderry Books, 2016. [book website] [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Adrian escapes from his homophobic rural Texas high school by creating the detailed Renaissance world of gay superhero Graphite in graphic novel art, until violence demands action.

He finally has a date with super-sweet Lev (‘Teen Drag Queen Bingo’ in Dallas – who knew?), when a hate crime shocks their town, and Adrian knows that he must finally speak out and come out – at home and at school – regardless of the consequences.

Can the support of best friends Audrey and Trent keep him strong?
How can the school and town turn a blind eye to Doug’s attacks?
When will Adrian being himself be good enough for everyone else?

Chapters of his graphic novel with Graphite, Sultry, Willow, Oasis, and villainous Thug punctuate this story of becoming true to yourself and standing up for everyone’s rights.

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.

Black River Falls, by Jeff Hirsch (book review) – epidemic memory loss (almost)

book cover of Black River Falls by Jeff Hirsch published by Clarion | recommended on BooksYALove.comSchool, family, changes.
New places, familiar faces –
Who are we without our memories?

He remembers, after the virus slammed all memories out of everyone else in Black Falls.

Now a paramilitary force has taken control of the quarantined town… not good at all.

Start at the beginning, with this free sample of the first chapters here, courtesy of the author, whose post-apocalyptic The Eleventh Plague I recommended here (no spoilers. ever).

Which memory would you never ever want to lose?
**kmm

Book info: Black River Falls / Jeff Hirsch. [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The only person to keep his memories, Cardinal discovers startling secrets as private police roll into his quarantined town six months after the virus sweeps through Black Falls.

High above the New York town, Cardinal and former bully Greer are sheltering kids whose parents forgot them (and everything else) in the woods, venturing down only when supply drops are scheduled.

So eerie and sad to visit his own house and know he’s the only one who remembers living there as a family – at least his brother was away at college when the virus hit… 10 hours after exposure, and all your memories are gone.

When Cardinal spots a new girl in town after its borders have been sealed for months, the teen knows something is wrong.

When private forces take over from the National Guard, he knows that things are going to get worse.

What caused this weird virus that only affects memory?
How can he bear seeing his mom fall in love with someone?
Why is remembering his comic book creator dad so hard?

Scary, possible, unsettling – there is no reset button on the the human brain…

Bright Lights, Dark Nights, by Stephen Emond (book review) – challenging times for first love

book cover of Bright Lights Dark Nights by Stephen Emond published by Roaring Brook | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe’s white, she’s black,
Foo Fighters fans, first love delights!
Their friends and family? not so happy…

Until scintillating Naomi comes into Walter’s very dull urban life, he hadn’t really worried about girls before. Complicates things a bit, that she’s little sister of his pal for all things comic books and rap.

Shouldn’t be a big issue that they’re an interracial couple in these days, but then his cop dad is reprimanded for racial profiling and decides to present his side of the case on social media…

Read chapter one here (without the artwork, alas) courtesy of the publisher, then check out the story in all its duality – black and white, love and anger, words and art, urban smooth and suburban entrenchment, personal responsibility and anonymous attacks – at your local library or independent bookstore, as hardcover or new August 2016 paperback.

When to stand together in the face of society’s obstacles?
**kmm

Book info:  Bright Lights, Dark Nights / Stephen Emond. Roaring Brook, 2015 (hardcover); 2016, Square Fish (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A racial profiling scandal gone viral imperils the new relationship between Walter and Naomi, as his white cop dad ‘tries too hard’ to solve vandalism in their grim urban neighborhood.

Why can’t they just enjoy the Foo Fighters’ music and start falling toward being in love?
Shouldn’t being an interracial couple just be normal now?
How does the old news of his parents’ divorce become a new crisis?

Dealing with guys who think Naomi should stay with her old friends, with his family’s ingrained racism louder than ever, and with Dad’s sudden insistence on clearing his name on social media, Walter isn’t sure of himself or of Naomi’s affection, then things really get tough.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights is an illustrated story of first love, music, self-respect, classic movies, and finding your place in the world.

Still Life With Tornado, by A.S. King (book review) – artist’s block, memory overload

book cover of Still Life With Tornado by AS King, published by Dutton Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn artist who can no longer draw,
A fractured household that never heals,
Memories buried and unearthed.

All Sarah wants to do is make art, until something stays her hand, blocks her power to create, and keeps the 16 year old wandering Philadelphia on a hunt for something (anything!) original instead of finishing school.

Then her 10-year-old self arrives, followed by her 23-year-old self…

Fall into the middle of Sarah’s existential crisis with this free excerpt of chapter one here on the publisher’s site.

Happy book birthday to Still Life With Tornado ! Mighty stoked that I get to hear author A.S. King as keynote speaker at KidLitCon 2016 (aka paradise for kids’ and young adult book bloggers) in Wichita, Kansas, this weekend.

Family stories dis-remembered? Share, please.
**kmm

Book info: Still Life With Tornado / A.S. King. Dutton Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a teen artist stops going to school because she suddenly can’t create, her 10 year old self appears in her Philadelphia neighborhood, prompting Sarah to relocate memories that she’s hidden and consider if anything is original in the world.

As she wanders familiar and distant parts of town, Sarah wonders why big brother Bruce transferred to college in Oregon right after their not-so-good family vacation in Mexico six years ago and has never contacted her.

Ten-year-old Sarah goes with her to the museum, 23-year-old Sarah tells her that 16 is a popular age for existential crisis (even this isn’t original?!), and Dad is still yelling at night nurse Mom all the time.

Is Sarah going crazy?
Why can’t she remember what happened in Mexico?
What is truly original in life?

Whatever happened at school might be the reason Sarah won’t return, but she will have to bring back some memories – old and new – if she wants to be able to draw and create again. Chapters from Mom’s viewpoint and 10-year-old Sarah’s memories of Mexico sketch out the fragile framework of their family life, together yet distant.

All We Have Left, by Wendy Mills (book review) – 9/11 threads past & present

book cover of All We Have Left by Wendy Mills published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comBrother died in the Twin Towers.
Family fractured ever since.
Time to find some answers.

On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, this split-narrative story is anchored in that terror-filled day in the World Trade Center, linking Muslim teen Alia’s experiences as she tried to escape from the North Tower with Travis and today’s aching void felt by his 16-year-old sister Jesse who’s tired of playing it safe to avoid her father’s grief-fueled alcoholism and hatred of Islam.

What are your family’s memories of 9/11?
**kmm

Book info: All We Have Left / Wendy Mills. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Repercussions of 9/11 echo in 2016 as Jesse’s father rages about Muslims causing her brother’s death in the Twin Towers and are narrated by Muslim teen Alia in 2001 as a visit to her father’s office in the World Trade Center that day becomes a race to escape death, as she and Travis try to help others amid the terror.

2001: Alia’s parents don’t trust her, won’t let her attend the special art training, don’t think that creating comic books is suitable for a young Muslim girl. She goes to father’s office in the WTC to ask him one more time… the permission slip is due tomorrow, on Sept. 12th.

2016: Jesse’s parents ‘coped’ differently when big brother Travis was killed in the WTC on 9/11, Dad retreating into the bottle and violent hatred of Muslims, Mom volunteering for everything so she’s away from the apartment above their climbing supplies store. The 16 year old is mouse-quiet, until she starts going out with tagger Nick – big mistake.

On an elevator together when the plane hits their tower, Alia and Travis work together to escape, she worrying about her parents, he gradually telling why he came from his upstate New York town on this specific day…

Trying to redeem herself from deeds done with Nick’s graffiti crew, Jesse learns more about her new climbing partner Adam as they both work at the Peace Center and decides that she needs to know why Travis was in the Twin Towers on the day of their grandfather’s memorial service here.
(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, by Sarvenaz Tash (book review) – Romance or reality at ComicCon?

book cover of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comPlanning the best day ever at New York ComicCon!
Telling her how he truly feels about her!
Getting cut off by a random guy…

Next-door neighbors and comic creators together, Roxy and Graham enjoy fan fiction based on the Althena universe, keep their grades up, and can’t wait to go to ComicCon! (p.s. That’s where he will tell her how much he cares for her – until Devin crashes their group!)

Don’t wait till BookCon at NYCC to pick up this June 2016 release! Visit at your favorite local library or independent bookstore today to see if Roxy and Graham get any tips from famous cartoonists and if she ever figures out how he feels about her!

Been to a Con?
**kmm

Book info:  The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love / Sarvenaz Tash. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Graham realizes that he’s fallen for girl next door/ best friend /comic co-creator Roxy, but his plans to tell her on the perfect New York ComicCon day are foiled by a handsome British student.

It’s a miracle that famously reclusive artist-author Zinc is scheduled to appear at NYCC, years after his legendary Althena comic went dark. It’s a tragedy that a cool Brit runs into their group and decides to tag along while flirting with Roxy!

Graham and Casey can grab those limited-seating tickets for Zinc, right?
How can Graham convince Roxy to sneak past her conservative parents and skip school for another day of ComicCon?
Is there any way to get her away from Devin without looking like a jerk?

Somehow, this real-life relationship stuff is so much more complicated than the ones that he and Roxy write and draw in their comic series or any of the romantic comedy movies that Graham’s late mother loved so much. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Museum of Heartbreak, by Meg Leder (book review) – why can’t it all stay the same?

book cover of Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe perfect trio of friends,
all that she needs in life,
but not all that they need…

Pen seems such a clinging friend, sure that a romance from her favorite classic books will magically appear. But when she finally realizes that life changes, despite all her efforts to make time stand still, she discovers that you usually have to create happy endings yourself.

Ask for this new release at your local library or favorite independent bookstore to see if carefully cataloging significant items makes heartbreak any easier to bear.

Mementos of broken relationship – save or toss?
**kmm

Book info: The Museum of Heartbreak / Meg Leder. Simon Pulse, 2016. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her best friends Audrey and Eph embrace other relationships, Penelope cowers in familiar routines until she ventures to handsome Keats’ party and finds herself heartbroken more than once.

Pen stumbles across their New York City high school’s literary magazine club after Audrey starts hanging out with snobby Cherisse after French Club.

Eph’s dad works with Pen’s at the Museum of Natural History; the dinosaur skulls may wait in that attic, even as dinos hide in all Eph’s amazing cityscape sketches.

Beautiful boy Keats actually talks to Pen! (how can he be bad, Audrey?) Junior year might be okay after all … maybe.

Why do her best friends need other friends?
How do they know Keats isn’t a nice guy?
Why is change so difficult for her?

As Pen reflects on new guy and old friends, she must come to terms with the impermanence of things and the depths of her own feelings.

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Positivity Kit, by Lisa Currie (book review) – better your life, better yourself!

book cover of The Positivity Kit by Lisa Currie published by TarcherPerigee | recommended on BooksYALove.comGood times,
great memories,
just waiting to uplift you!

Seize the happy moments, large and small, that have made you chuckle and nearly snort milk out your nose.

Map out what you’re looking forward to most in the future.

Memorialize your favorite snack foods and Good Choices Made in Life So Far.

Happy book birthday to The Positivity Kit! Ask for it today at your favorite independent bookstore so that you can list, doodle, and chronicle your way to a happier and more positive you.

Share a “recent moment of pure joy” in the comments, please!
**kmm

Book info: The Positivity Kit: Instant Happiness on Every Page / Lisa Currie. TarcherPerigee, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Create “instant happiness on every page” of The Positivity Kit as you record wonderful experiences, thoughts, and joys using its interactive and intriguing prompts to look past boring days and bad moods.

Capture perfect moments – Favorite quotes from favorite movies, Top 20 countdown of the Best Moments of My Life So Far, wish list & got list – with your favorite pen and colored pencils, so that you can page back through this witty do-it-yourself book whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Whether it’s the 7 New Holidays that you’re introducing this week, the Ongoing List of Things I Like About Myself, or your illustrated packing list for an Escape to Paradise, every happy thing that you doodle, jot down, color, and list will contribute to your future positive outlook on life and your current grin as you remember and celebrate.

Keep The Positivity Kit on your bedside table to end your day in gratitude for the good things you’ve experienced, to derail negative thoughts on sleepless nights, or to start your day on an uplifting note – all experienced and documented by you yourself!