Tag Archive | belonging

Why now? Karma Khullar’s Mustache, by Kristi Wientge (book review)

bok cover of Karma Khullar's Mustache, by Kristi Wiengte, published by Simon Schuster Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

17 dark hairs on her upper lip?
Middle school starts Monday!
What to do!?!?

Her big brother wants a mustache, not 11 year old Karma, but it looks like she is taking after her Punjabi father instead of her blonde mother – and the boys in her grade won’t stop teasing her about it!

The author grew up in an Ohio neighborhood like Karma’s before traveling the world and now lives with her Sikh husband and their children in Singapore.

What can we do as individuals to keep teasing from becoming bullying?
**kmm

Book info: Karma Khullar’s Mustache / Kristi Wientge. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:

My book talk: Karma is the only girl at middle school with dark hairs on her upper lip, the only person who brings dal and chappatis for lunch, the only one with a stay-at-home PhD dad – and now her best friend has moved into the popular crowd… so alone with her problems, her worries about the mustache, her sadness after grandmother’s death.

Her blonde mother won’t have advice about getting rid of this mustache, even if she weren’t so busy with her new job.

Her big brother is too busy arguing with Daddy about not becoming a doctor to ever see Karma’s problems.

Half-Sikh, half-Methodist, all confused when her teacher asks Karma to tutor the new girl who stole away her best friend!



Authors & illustrators share their childhood works in Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissman (book review)

book cover of Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissnman. Published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Looking forward to a new year,
looking back over the past –
writers and artists do this, too!

You’ll recognize so many of your favorite authors and illustrators of works for kids and young adults in the “About the Author” section at the publisher’s webpage for this book!

So think about the stories you wrote in earlier years, the comic strips you drew, the plays that you put on for your family, the news reports that you made as a kid.

A new year, new opportunities, what will you begin?
**kmm

Book info: Our Story Begins: Children’s Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids / edited by Elissa Brent Weissman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: “When did you start drawing? When did you know that you wanted to write books?” These frequent questions from young readers are answered by 25 of our favorite authors and illustrators – with examples of their very early works – in this anthology which will inspire a new generation of creators.

A grade-school photo from each author and illustrator begins their chapter which includes reproductions of their childhood stories or drawings in crayon, pencil, pen, or typing.

There’s a photo of author Elissa Brent Weissman as a kid with Gordon Korman at his book signing, then turn to Korman’s chapter to read his fifth-grade speech “How to Handle Your Parents”.

Kwame Alexander’s mom still has his first-ever poem (to her on Mother’s Day) framed in her living room. Thanhha Lai and her family fled Vietnam during her childhood, but she can still recite the story-poem “A Bird in a Cage” that she told her mother over and over.

Illustrators’ talents as kids ranged from polished (Grace Lin) to rudimentary (Jarrett J. Krosoczka – graphic novels), and several authors say that they copied their favorite writers’ styles in early stories – all continued to work at their craft and work to be published.


Too many changes for Trudy, by Jessica Lee Anderson (book review)

book cover of Trudy, by Jessica Lee Anderson, published by Milkweed Editions | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A late-life blessing to her parents,
slightly terrified about starting middle school,
now her dad is acting oddly

If only her Pop would work in his garden again or dance with her in the living room like he used to!

A parent’s illness is lots to handle for kids and teens, Trudy included.

This is the first book by Jessica Lee Anderson who later wrote Border Crossing (my recommendation here) and Calli (recommended here).

How have you dealt with family changes and school changes at the same time?
**kmm

Book info: Trudy / Jessica Lee Anderson. Milkweed Editions, 2005. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lockers, changing classes, tests with not-so-good grades – middle school isn’t fun for Trudy, especially when her elderly father starts acting odd and best friend Ashley gets popular.

Born when Ma was 53, Trudy now has to correct people who think her grandparents are raising her in their small Austin home.

Math is easier when Roshanda explains it, and the sixth graders quickly become friends – so great to laugh together!

Pop is just digging in his garden now, not planting, and he’s tired all the time – so strange.

Jerome is really cute, and being partnered for a class project will be perfect for Trudy, right?

Canned goods in the bathroom, calling their car a train…it’s Alzheimer’s, says the doctor – what will Pops do next?

This fall semester is more eventful than Trudy ever dreamed.

Syria, Turkey, Iraq – refugees & Rolling Blackouts: graphic novel by Sarah Glidden (book review)

book cover of Rolling Blackouts, by Sarah Glidden. Published by Drawn & Quarterly | recommended on BooksYALove.com

War hurts the innocents the most,
Refugees fleeing or staying in bombed-out homes,
True now as it was in 2016…

So much of what the Seattle Globalist journalists and ’embedded artist’ Sarah Glidden experienced as they traveled in this strife-filled area of the Middle East is repeating in the news today.

Look for this nonfiction graphic novel at your local library or independent bookstore to see what happened and is still happening in Syria and neighboring Turkey and Iraq.

Where can you go when home is no longer safe… or even there?
**kmm

Book info: Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq / Sarah Glidden. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As part of an independent US journalism team examining conflict in the Middle East, cartoonist Sarah Glidden shows actions and interactions resulting when people in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq are asked “Who are you?” including the young veteran of the Iraq War accompanying them as a civilian.

The Seattle Globalist team has to leave for Turkey without visas for Syria (the Syrian ambassador in DC said yes to reporting on youth culture, but no to covering drought and refugees), but they’re looking forward to interviewing many different people on their two-month journey in 2010.

“Who are you?” they ask Iraqi refugees in Syria, their Kurdish driver in Iraq who won’t go to the Arab cities, an Iranian blogger, an American couple helping students get into college, a man deported from the US, their veteran friend who returned to Iraq for perspective.

This visual chronicle of their encounters and challenges brings glimpses of understanding about the continuing conflicts resulting from modern national boundaries intersecting with long-established cultural groups’ traditional territories.


Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson (book review)

book cover of The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His earbuds are filled with opera,
His neighbors are druggies and the jobless,
Just like any middle-school boy, right?

Bart does love his mum and is sure that someday she’ll be able to keep a job so they can move out of their slum apartment… not so sure about keeping away from the bullies at school.

What advice would you give Bart as he searches for his long-gone dad?

**kmm

Book info: The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson / Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Maybe 13-year-old Bart’s opera singing talent comes from the American father he’s never seen.
Who in his Norwegian town knew that John Jones was such a common name in the world?

Maybe his mom will finally keep a job so they can move out of the slum apartments.
Why is it so hard for her to stay sober?

Maybe learning to box will keep the bullies away or impress Ada.
What made her volunteer Bart to sing at the school show?

Maybe he’ll shake his stage fright… anything can happen, right?

Middle school years are different for each person, but this translated novel shows how common some things are.


Piper in NYC! Can she be an Art Boss? by Kayla Cagan (book review)

book cover of Art Boss, by Kayla Cagan. Published by Chronicle Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comIn the Big Apple at last!
Big artistic vision, short time to work.
Pricey place, small paycheck, next steps?

The story begun in Piper Perish opens a new chapter for the teen artist as she arrives in New York City, far from family demands in Houston (= why I prefer this book to #1).

No need to read the first book to get caught up in Piper’s explorations of NYC’s art scene and her own artistic ideas.

Head for your local library or independent bookstore to dive into NYC with Piper.

Away from home and family – what’s your first move?
**kmm

Book info:  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:
In New York City at last, Piper works for a famous artist with a “new vision” but the Houston native also wants time for her own creative desires as she learns to navigate the city in a whirlwind season before starting art school.

Hired by Carlyle Campbell based on photos of her big senior project in Texas, now Piper must replicate that piece and several others for Fashion Week – fast!

Can she keep her own artistic focus while working to reflect what Carlyle wants the world to see?

The intense connection she felt online with her student mentor Silas seems erratic when they’re together in person – hmmm.

Her small salary from Carlyle doesn’t go far in the city – time to find another job, and find a place to paint, and go out with Silas and new friend Grace, and apply for financial aid so she can start next semester…

It’s Piper Perish in the big city as she leaps into the next chapter of her life – as long as she can find a way to stay here!

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean – tales of young women & daring, edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, Anita Roy (book review)

book cover of Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, edited by Murray, Dhar & Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books| recommended on BooksYALove.comNo longer victims,
many choices to be made,
young women leap, tiptoe, and march onward!

A cooking show that time-travels back to the days when food was real.

The procession of elders leads young women to the sea where their true names will be revealed.

As authors and artists in Australia and India worked together on stories (in words and/or images) to show the range of experiences that teen girls are facing and have endured and can overcome, a common thread of ‘connections’ emerged in the finished compilation.

What new connections will you make to move forward?
**kmm

Book info:  Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean: Stories of Imagination and Daring / edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, and Anita Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In response to rapes and attacks on young women, writers and artists from India and Australia created this anthology of stories (several with art) reflecting the possibilities beyond powerlessness.

“Little Red Suit” in future Australia battles to reach Grandmother before the voice snarling unauthorized through her shield-suit radio does.

A young woman travels from India to “Arctic Light” on a ship to protest oil drilling and climate change, despite the loss of her mother, despite the threat of imprisonment.

Kavya wavers between remaining a low-society cleaner who removes magical problems (pixies in the toilet again…) or becoming standardized which would make “The Wednesday Room” with its removed zombies and poker-playing mermaids vanish forever.

Collaborators of different cultures and countries were asked to work together on this theme, resulting in graphic-novel short stories, single-act plays, tales of now and tales of lands imagined.

Surgery to get The Fold or not? by An Na (book review)

book cover of The Fold by An Na, published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com“Western” eyes!
Korean eyelids just aren’t the same.
Plastic surgery to get “the fold” or not?

Read the first chapter here (free, courtesy of the publisher) to discover the depth of Joyce’s crush on John Ford Kang, then check out The Fold in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore to see how far she’ll go to make him really notice her!

Ever considered plastic surgery?
**kmm

Book info: The Fold / An Na. Atheneum, 2008 hardcover, 2017 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When her aunt offers to pay for plastic surgery, pain-averse Joyce must decide how far she’ll go to get her crush’s attention and win his heart.

Adding the eyelid “fold” is a routine procedure for Korean-American women, but everyone can see how Auntie Gomo is addicted to plastic surgery.

Not as smart or pretty as older sister Helen, not as funny as younger brother Andy, Joyce feels like a nobody as her junior year ends and adorable John Paul Kang signs her yearbook with the wrong name.

Work in their parents’ restaurant all summer while Helen does a prestigious internship at college? Not fair.

John Paul comes to the restaurant when her eyes are swollen from chili powder accident? Oh no!

Dr. Reiner says the eyelid surgery is her decision, but how can Joyce disappoint her aunt? Oh my…

Maybe it’ll all be worth it if John Paul notices her enough at church and school to remember her name. Her best friend Gina agrees, her new friend Sam isn’t so sure…

She must learn Rules for Thieves to survive! by Alexandra Ott (book review)

book cover of Rules for Thieves, by Alexandra Ott. Published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.comEscape or be a servant?
Starve or steal?
Trust someone or be captured?

Alli has very few choices when Beck arrives on the scene, but taking his help will involve her in a dangerous guild – only way she can stop the curse from killing her, though!

Read chapter 1 free on publisher’s website, then scurry to your local library or independent bookstore for the first part of Alli and Beck’s adventure – book two, The Shadow Thieves, was published in June 2018!

What’s your moral compass when survival is at stake?
**kmm

Book info: Rules for Thieves (Rules for Thieves, book 1) / Alexandra Ott. Aladdin Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As the curse moves toward her heart, 12-year-old orphan Alli must decide if she can sacrifice her principles to join the Thieves’ Guild for a chance to buy the cure.

Escaping from the orphanage is easy; not being caught by the city Protectors (again) is more difficult, so Alli accepts a strange boy’s offer to help – what a mistake!

A glancing blow of magic lodges a deadly curse under her skin; Beck knows how she can get money for the cure, so they head for his country – such a journey!

Of course he didn’t tell her the whole truth… entering the Thieves’ Guild is near-impossible for outsiders, but as the curse’s dark tendrils wind ever-nearer to her heart, she’s got to try!

When her initiation quest goes terrible wrong, Alli balances on a knife’s edge – her life or the lives of many?

In a foreign city, on a desperate mission – follow the Guild rules or what she knows is right?

Book one in the series, followed by The Shadow Thieves.

The merest Touch of Gold endangers all, by Annie Sullivan (book review)

book cover of A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.comGold calls to her,
like the Sirens call sailors on her ship,
like a friendly voice finally calls her from the castle…

Dangerous waters ahead for the golden-hued daughter of King Midas, restored from entrapment as a living gold statue to human form by a sacrifice that ages her father and keeps her locked away.

Only she can retrieve his stolen treasure trove and save his life – but at what cost to herself and superstitious companions?

This retelling of the King Midas story sails the seas, bringing Kora closer and closer to the stolen gold which could trap her once again.

What have you wished for and ultimately were glad not to get?
**kmm

Book info: A Touch of Gold / Annie Sullivan. BlinkYA, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked away for years after sacrifice saved her from being a statue forever, golden-skinned Kora must travel foreign seas to save her father Midas’s kingdom.

Her uncle will gladly marry Kora off in an alliance to bolster the kingdom, if anyone is brave enough to see if she’s inherited her father’s Touch.

King Midas is slipping deeper into madness after his Touch-made treasures are stolen – can Kora bring them back before it’s too late?

The gold hoard’s call to her is as alluring as the Sirens’ song is to sailors – can she resist keeping it for herself?

Every person hides secrets – are any as dangerous as Kora’s glittering abilities?

As long as her gloves keep gold from touching her skin,
as long as Duke Royce can help her find her father’s treasures,
as long as her best friend and cousin Hettie believes in her…
perhaps the Touch won’t consume Kora after all.