Tag Archive | belonging

Her luck foretold by Three Pennies? by Melanie Crowder (book review)

book cover of Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comAsk the pennies, get the answer.
Always 3 pennies, always Mom’s pocket book of I Ching,
Mom should be her answer, but where?

So-quiet Marin has bounced around the foster care system so long.
Young owl’s injury has kept him in city, away from big trees for so long.
Earth beneath their city has stayed in tension for so long… too long.

All children need loving homes – too much to ask?
**kmm

Book info: Three Pennies / Melanie Crowder. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Foggy San Francisco – where any moment can bring an earthquake or the right home or a loving family – young Marin searches for her birth mother, and a wounded owl feels the faraway forest calling him…small beings trying to find their right place in the big city.

From foster home to foster home, quiet 11-year-old Marin seeks answers daily from the I Ching book of changes left behind by her mother seven years ago.

Silently gliding in the night sky, a young owl feels his wounded wing become stronger and soon may leave this not-forest place.

How can Dr. Lucy become her parent when Marin knows she must find her birth mother?
Will young owl go to the giant trees of his ancestors or stay here to watch the small girl?
When will the slowly moving rocks under the city finally slide too far?

Many voices – Marin, the owl, lonely Dr. Lucy, social worker Gilda, the earth beneath the city – tell this story of loss, love, and hope.

Strange Fire! technology is forbidden here – by Tommy Wallach (book review)

book cover of Strange Fire, by Tommy Wallach published by Simon Schuster BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comTechnology destroyed the world,
never repeat the sins of the past!
But ignoring knowledge that could save lives??

Remnants of humankind survived the asteroid hitting Earth, rebuilt their world over thousands of years without the evils of technology, yet some people are seeking out and using forbidden knowledge!

After their parents are killed, older brother Clive vows that the heretic attackers must die.
Studying at the seat of all wisdom, younger brother Clover sees that technology is not purely evil.
The precarious power balance between church and military is shifting, but both want technology-users wiped out!

Look for Strange Fire at your local library or independent bookstore, and also check for Wallach’s earlier book, We All Looked Up , about a community waiting for the asteroid heading for Earth…very soon.

How do we balance technology overload with being truly alive?
**kmm

Book info: Strange Fire (The Anchor & Sophia, book 1) / Tommy Wallach. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Their family attacked by heretical rebels, teen brothers Clive and Clover must decide how – or whether – to fight back in their technology-averse society.

After sky-filling lightning devastated the world, its few survivors vowed to erase technology and never repeat the past’s mistakes, for their safety and their future.

Preaching this Descendancy gospel has been the Hamill family’s life work – and may destroy them when they discover a remote settlement purposely experimenting with forbidden science.

Clive knows technology is blasphemy and that long-adored Gemma will help soldiers from the Anchor find the rebels.

Clover wants to learn everything and begins to question the Descendancy’s stranglehold on knowledge.

When technology is blasphemy, can new ideas ever be accepted?
Is it right to keep the people of the Descendancy in ignorance?
What is truth? What is right? Who gets to decide?

This first book in The Anchor and Sophia series pits the power of the status quo against the struggle of knowledge to be free.

Hurricane Boy, separated from family after Katrina! by Laura Roach Dragon (book review)

book cover of Hurricane Boy by Laura Roach Dragon, published by Pelican Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandma scoffs at weather warnings,
Hurricane Katrina proves her unwise!
Rescue! Safety? Separated!!

This fictional account of one family’s struggles to survive Katrina’s fury, then be reunited after their rescue has been heralded as true-to-life and as frightening as reality by people in the Ninth Ward who were also there during the devastating hurricane.

Recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria spread similar destruction and disruption – be ready for more hurricanes hitting unusual locations.

But have we really learned from these disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Hurricane Boy / Laura Roach Dragon. Pelican Publishing, 2014. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When their Ninth Ward home is swept away by Hurricane Katrina, Hollis and his younger siblings are separated from big brother Jonas and grandma Gee during the evacuation – will they be able to find each other and get back to New Orleans?

Good thing that Gee had an axe in the attic so they could escape through the roof when the levee broke and flooded the house.

Lucky that rescuers could read ‘insulin’ painted on the roof and save her after the long first days with no drinking water.

Most unfortunate that Jonas had swum over to help others when Hollis, Leta, and Augie are finally taken to safety – far, far from home!

As Augie refuses unfamiliar food at the shelter, Hollis deals with people trying to take advantage of the three siblings and other kids separated from their parents, all the while wondering why his dad abandoned the family as mom died of cancer and whether he even survived the hurricane.

Mystery wind again for Pablo and Birdy, by Alison McGhee & Ana Juan (book review)

book cover of Pablo and Birdy, by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Ana Juan. Published by Atheneum  | recommended on BooksYALove.comA boy who arrived from nowhere,
a parrot who won’t talk or fly,
a shadow lurking in their town.

An unusual tropical wind brought baby Pablo to Isla, securely netted into an inflatable swimming pool and accompanied by Birdy who took care of him.

Ten years later, the wind is predicted again, but Pablo wants only to know where he came from – and why his parents abandoned him to the sea.

Ask for this August 2017 release at your local library or independent bookstore to find out how the “winds of change” affect Isla and its residents.

Is knowing the past more important than living in the present?
**kmm

Book info: Pablo and Birdy / Alison McGhee; illustrated by Ana Juan. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [illustrator site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Washed onto the island as a baby, Pablo wonders where he came from, wonders why parrot Birdy never talks, wonders why this flightless friend arrived on the raft with him in the storm ten years ago (well, an inflated kiddie pool, not a real raft).

With storm season coming soon, his adoptive dad Emmanuel and the town of Isla prepare to celebrate Pablo’s tenth birthday (well, his tenth arrival-here-day), the many wondrous birds of the tropical island continue to show off for tourists, and the annual rumors about a Seafaring Parrot who flies thousands of miles begin again.

Why is lavender-feathered Birdy suddenly fluttering about?
Who is stealing food from Pierre’s bakery and other shops?
Will the television reporter stop at Isla to search for the Seafaring Parrot?

As he hears a loud voice repeating conversations in the night and sees a shadow lurking on the streets, Pablo worries about the predicted “winds of change” and the future for constant companion Birdy and their past clouded in mystery.

Poetry? I’m Just No Good at Rhyming, says Chris Harris (book review)

book cover of I'm Just No Good at Rhyming, by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith, published by Little Brown | recommended on BooksYALove.comPoems must rhyme?
Poems may rhyme?
To the poet, does it matter?

If you want your funny bone tickled, your visual imagination charmed, and that soft part of your heart bumped a bit, this is the poetry book for you!

Happy book birthday to I’m No Good at Rhyming!

Hope to see more versified silliness (with a bit of seriousness) from debut poet (longtime TV writer) Chris Harris (who is pretty good at rhyming after all) and well-known illustrator Lane Smith (he wrote It’s a Book; he draws humorous pictures; he argues with the author!) in the future.

Which style of poetry is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: I’m Just No Good at Rhyming, and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Adults / by Chris Harris; illustrated by Lane Smith. Little, Brown: 2017.  [illustrator site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lengthy poems, short poems, serious ones, and silly ones (lots of silly ones) fill this collection aimed at kids and grownups so they can read and smile together.

Enjoy the wise words in “The Valleys Shape the Mountains”, good advice in “Just Be Yourself”, and utter(ed) nonsense in “Yes Means No and No Means Yes…”

Illustrations by Lane Smith add to the fun of “Alphabet Book (by the laziest artist in the world)” and sideways-across-the-pages short verse about “The Hungry Giraffe”

You should never laugh at a hungry giraffe;
It takes him so long to swallow,
He may have eaten yesterday —
But he won’t feel full till tomallow. (pp. 44-45)

Debut author Harris may claim that he’s “no good at rhyming” but readers won’t believe it, just as they won’t believe how many poems he can make from one entitled “The Door” or the way that “L-O-V-E” winds up spelled in its poem or why some page numbers are missing in this fun volume (even “without William Shakespeare”) as the author and illustrator banter throughout.

Who is spying on her & The Watcher in wartime? by Joan Hiatt Harlow (book review)

book cover of The Watcher by Joan Hiatt Harlow published by McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com From Maine to Berlin,
from suspected to suspicious,
and someone is watching her…

Nothing that this young American teen thought she knew about her family is true – Mom and Dad aren’t her parents, glamorous Aunt Adrie is her mother… and a German spy! And what a terrible truth she discovers about the Lebensborn nursery where she is required to volunteer.

Find this 2015 paperback (or 2014 hardcover) at your local library or independent bookstore.  Be sure to also grab the companion book Shadows on the Sea (my no-spoiler review here) to discover how Wendy finds herself in this perilous situation in the first place.

How far would you go to stand up for your beliefs?
**kmm

Book info: The Watcher / Joan Hiatt Harlow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, 2015).  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kidnapped from America by her German spy ‘aunt’ and taken to Berlin, Wendy learns of her real parentage, encounters the people spying on her, and must decide which path to follow during World War II.

After rescuing a puppy who failed SS police dog school, Wendy walks in the park near Adrie’s house, where she and Watcher meet Barret and his seeing-eye dog – at last, someone who speaks English and doesn’t scorn her for living in America!

The young man’s grandfather says Wendy’s father wasn’t a German officer, as Adrie claims…
Frau Messner says the children at the Lebensborn nursery are orphans; Johanna says they were stolen from parents in occupied countries because they look so Aryan…
Oh, no! Was that White Rose anti-Nazi pamphlet still in Wendy’s coat pocket when she fell terribly ill??

Wendy becomes convinced that she must escape from Nazi Germany in this suspenseful tale which follows the events in Shadows on the Sea.

She’s no saguaro – Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti_Bowling (book review)

book cover of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti Bowling. Published by Sterling Children's Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com Arm count = zero,
Nose for mysteries and secrets = keen,
Sense of humor = boundless!

Moving to a new school can be nerve-wracking, especially in junior high when you don’t know anyone and you don’t have any arms to wave hello or shake hands… but Aven will carry on regardless of the stares.

Just released this week, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus showcases Aven’s curiosity, self-sufficient attitude (thanks to her parents), and witty storytelling as she leaps (or tiptoes) into new situations in her new town and school.

How do you treat new folks who are different from you?
**kmm

Book info: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus / Dusti Bowling. Sterling Children’s Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Moving across the country, 13-year-old Aven wonders whether living in Arizona will be more difficult because she has such fair skin or because she has no arms.

Her adoptive parents have encouraged Aven to do everything for herself – button her jeans, brush her teeth, play the guitar – and she can.

Dad really needs a job, so off they go to Arizona where he and Mom will manage an Old West theme park, and Aven will start 8th grade without the longtime friends who are used to her crazy stories about where her arms went, knowing she was born that way.

Eating with her feet (of course she washes them first!) in front of new kids? Yikes! Better after meeting Connor, who never eats in front of anyone because of his Tourette’s tics, and Zion, who eats by himself so kids don’t tease him about being big.

Uncovering the mystery of the missing Cavanaugh photo and the secrets in the locked shed? Just takes persistence and clue-gathering by Aven, Connor, and Zion. And a crowbar. And the right key.

Making sure that Stagecoach Pass park stays open? She’ll have to think on that a while.

Ancient saguaro cacti that guard the hilltops near the park, tarantula photos on the ice cream parlor walls, upcoming soccer tryouts – interesting opportunities for Aven, whose blog posts shout and whisper the happy and challenging parts of her new life.

Isn’t family The Whole Thing Together, really? by Ann Brashares (book review)

book cover of The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares published by Delacorte  | recommended on BooksYALove.comHis mom, her dad,
Once a couple, now a feud,
Sharing their divisions…

Imagine knowing (about) someone for your entire childhood and never meeting, ever! “Shared custody” of a beloved vacation home means that Ray (Mom’s kid) and Sasha (Dad’s kid) often see their half-sisters (kids of Mom & Dad), but have never laid eyes on one another till this summer, this fateful summer…

Ask for The Whole Thing Together at your local library or independent bookstore – hardcover or audiobook – and see how Sasha and Ray learn to interact with each other during dire family troubles.

Stepfamily and shared sibling stories?
**kmm

Book info: The Whole Thing Together / Ann Brashares. Delacorte Press, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As later-born children of divorced and remarried parents with joint ownership of a Long Island beach house, Sasha and Ray have never met one another, despite years of alternately sharing a bedroom there, until the summer before their senior year when a crisis with their half-sisters brings their family together.

Why does Ray dream at the beach house and have nightmares back in the city?
Can he and Sasha really hold the same job on alternating weeks of summer (half-sister Mattie’s idea)?
What secret has Emma unearthed about her ever-feuding parents, Ray’s mom and Sasha’s dad?

This band of siblings must work out how love can keep going when family stories collide with facts, parental bonds are stretched again, and their futures are no longer boringly predictable.

Survive his own Bloodline of violence? by Joe Jimenez (book review)

cover of Bloodline by Joe Jimenez published by Arte Publico Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comOphelia wants him to stop fighting at school,
Uncle wants him to start really fighting, for money –
Hope and despair are always fighting within him…

Ask for this powerful #ownvoices story at your local library or independent bookstore as Abram thinks lyrically of his embattled present while trying to avoid remembering his family’s past or dreaming too much about a future beyond it.

Can we fight destiny, our DNA, our desires?
**kmm

Book info: Bloodline / Joe Jimenez. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Calls to fight ring louder than any teacher’s voice, as 17-year-old Abram struggles to be worthy of Ophelia’s love, to live beyond his family history, to make it past junior year.

“Not all boys need fathers. Better to have no man around than to have a bad one, don’t you think?” says Becky (p.2)- so why did his grandmother invite Uncle Claudio, her son with the long police record, back into their lives again, despite her girlfriend’s advice?

“Be a man!” – what does that mean in their worn-down San Antonio neighborhood? In the dank boxing gym with Uncle? In the world?

“Blood is thicker…” – will Ophelia know if Afghanistan swallows her deployed mother? Is Abram doomed by his parents’ DNA?

Abram forcibly remains in the present moment, as his past brings overwhelming fears and the future beyond tomorrow is too hazy to see, as the cold November rains pelt down and days grow shorter, so much shorter.

Civil War dangers remain in Crossing Ebenezer Creek, by Tonya Bolden (book review)

book cover of Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comFreed by Yankee soldiers!
Not all believe in emancipation.
What does the future hold for former slaves?

Read this book – for the joy that freedom brings.
Read it – for the sorrow that war brings.
Read it – for our shared humanness, as Mariah and Caleb fall in love, despite all.

Every time I see Ebenezer in a church name, I will surely remember this story.

Can hope remain when trust runs thin?
**kmm

Book info: Crossing Ebenezer Creek / Tonya Bolden. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Freed by the Yankees, Mariah and her fellow enslaved persons travel along with the Union Army, but not all soldiers believe they should be free.

The young teen girl rejoices when Capt. Galloway says “You now own yourselves” and promises to keep them free on their journey – away from Miss Callie’s strident commands and slave-driver Nero’s brutal whip.

Caleb lived through the Burning of Atlanta and now forages for Sherman’s Army. Meeting Mariah and little Zeke strains his “no attachments” resolution (and the young man is secretly glad).

How can Mariah keep her simple little brother safe?
Why are some men in the Union Army if they think slavery is right?
Mariah dares to dream of a future, not alone – but what secret does Caleb hide?

Told in alternating chapters by Mariah and Caleb is the story of past slavery and longing for full freedom, but first they must survive the upcoming showdown between Union and Confederate forces.