Tag Archive | brothers

Come along with SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE, words by R.E.M., illustrated by Paul Hoppe & Shinyeon Moon (Picturebook review)

book cover of Shiny Happy People; song lyrics by R.E.M.; illustrations by Paul Hoppe with Shinyeon Moon. Published by LyricPop / Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A journey, a reunion!

At the train station crowded with animals, a young fox spots his rabbit friend:
“Meet me in the crowd, people, people. Throw your love around, love me, love me”

Biking back to Rabbit’s house, the pair are “Shiny happy people laughing” under blue skies until angry Dad Rabbit points at the “no foxes allowed” sign, and the illustrations grow red and chaotic, even as the lyrics call “Everyone around, love them, love them”…

Fox has brought a gift that Rabbit’s brother likes and the parents try to ignore: “Put it in your heart where tomorrow shines”

When Dad Rabbit yells at him for trying to please them, here come some carnivores to defend Fox – oh no!

But the youngsters take control of the conflict: “WHOA! HERE WE GO!” and calm down both groups.

The lyrics “Shiny happy people holding hands, shiny happy people laughing” repeat for several pages as the grownups begin enjoying their time together, following Fox and Rabbit’s lead.

This well-loved R.E.M. song (with its Tiananmen Square uprising connection) is elevated by the storyline of friendship, acceptance, and joy through illustrations by Paul Hoppe and Shinyeon Moon.

Sing along with this new addition to LyricPop’s story-song picture books, just published on 22 November 2022.

What song should LyricPop turn into a picture book next?
**kmm

Book info: Shiny Happy People / song lyrics by R.E.M.; illustrations by Paul Hoppe with Shinyeon Moon. LyricPop / Akashic Books, 2022. [lyrics info] [artist Paul] [artist Shinyeon] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Here? Now? THE SECRET BATTLE OF EVAN PAO starts at school! by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (MG book review)

book cover of The Secret Battle of Evan Pao / Wendy Wan-Long Shang.  Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bad enough that they have to move across the country to get away from Dad’s financial scams, but in this little Virginia town stuck in its Civil War history, their Chinese family does stand out, even though their uncle has lived here a while.

Evan hopes that sixth grade will be okay, but the class bully lives across the street from their tiny rental house. Brady calls Covid-19 “the China virus” and asks if Evan will bring it to Battlefield Elementary School. Evan can sense that he really believes that – yikes!

Luckily, most kids in his class are nice, including Max who’s assigned as Evan’s buddy and explains Battlefield Day, Mrs. Norwood’s favorite activity, where everyone becomes a Civil War character in costume for an outside learning experience.

Each student in class brings in a family heirloom from the Civil War, except Evan, so Mrs. Norwood suggests that he choose a behind-the-scenes role, like scribe (boring). Evan’s sister says there were no Chinese in the American Civil War, but a little research shows that she’s wrong!

So while Brady can portray his noted sharpshooter ancestor, Evan can be a Chinese soldier in the Army of the Potomac – Mrs. Norwood’s final Battlefield Day before retiring should be quite memorable!

Other things in town are rumbling, like discussions on removing the Confederate soldier statue in front of the courthouse and the cute stray dog that Uncle and Evan find (maybe Mom will change her mind about ‘no dogs’!) and someone shooting at Evan’s house!

Evan tells most of the story, with chapters by his sister Celeste and friend Max, even Julia and Brady from his class providing additional viewpoints.

What’s something that’s “always been this way” about your town that you would change?
**kmm

Book info: The Secret Battle of Evan Pao / Wendy Wan-Long Shang. Scholastic Press, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

In breakdance or yo-yo, FREESTYLE is the coolest! by Gale Galligan (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Freestyle / words & art by Gale Galligan. Published by Scholastic/Graphix | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Team breakdance means cool moves,
perfect choreography,
everyone in sync… everyone!

Their final year of middle school means lots of pressure for Cory and his friends as they get ready for high school admission exams and the big Bronx Kids Battle dance competition.

As captain of Eight Bit breakdance team, Tess is committed to the breakdance choreography she wrote – no improvising, Cory!

In science, Cory gets partnered with loner Sunna instead of Eight Bit pal Asha, then gets grounded for bad grades – no fun, especially when his Filipino parents hire Sunna to tutor him!

Tess is mad that Eight Bit can’t practice every day after school now – this choreography will be her ticket to arts high school!

From a yelling match to using her yo-yo to explain angles in geometry, eventually Sunna and Cory get along, and he learns some yo-yo tricks, too.

Her grades are amazing, but the hijabi’s parents constantly compare her to big brother’s successes – she doesn’t even call Imran at college anymore.

Yo-yo competition – Cory is sure that Sunna will love it!
Getting un-grounded before the dance competition – Cory’s got to do it!
The rest of Eight Bit forgiving Cory’s flaky behavior – well, that’ll take work.

Days race past as the middle schoolers hone their dance moves, worry about the big exams and the Halloween dance, and count down to competition!

This fast-paced graphic novel comes from the same artist who drew the Baby Sitters’ Club graphic novel series – can’t wait to see what they draw next!

When did your friend group have to work through schedule issues?
**kmm

Book info: Freestyle / words & art by Gale Galligan. Scholastic/Graphix, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

He wants to shine! CARLOS GOMEZ FREESTYLES…HEAVY ON THE STYLE, by Chuck Gonzales (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Carlos Gomez Freestyles...Heavy on the Style, written & illustrated by Chuck Gonzales. Published by Reycraft Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Take a chance?
Stay in the background?
Be himself?

Two years after moving to so-white South Dakota for Dad’s job, their Mexican-American family still faces racism at every turn, including the nosy ladies across the street.

For youngest kid Carlos, it’s been disastrous – his lisp got worse, he’s terrible at PE, and his classmates call him queer and tease him for loving art and fashion.

Luckily, RJ arrives in fifth grade and actually talks to Carlos (without spitballs). Her BMX bike team enters the town charity talent show and invites Carlos to ride with them – once he ditches the training wheels (his balance is just so bad….)

They have big competition – his big sister Marie dazzling with her interpretive dance, middle brother Juan’s astonishing magic act, and a chainsaw-wielding stump carver – plus the yummy biscochito cookies that Mom and the nosy ladies make for the bake sale.

Can Carlos’ bike skills catch up in time?
Will his flair for fashion and sparkles win over the judges?
Will that bully Scott ever quit pushing him down?

This graphic novel has its roots in the artist’s own childhood as a lisping, non-athletic Mexican-American gay kid who didn’t fit in with his South Dakota classmates and found his own happier future in another place.

What act would you perform for a talent show?
**kmm

Book info: Carlos Gomez Freestyles…Heavy on the Style / written & illustrated by Chuck Gonzales. Reycraft Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ignoring WOUNDED LITTLE GODS doesn’t mean they’re gone, by Eliza Victoria (book review)

book cover of Wounded Little Gods, by Eliza Victoria. Published in USA by Tuttle Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gods of wind, of death,
spirits of dew and seedlings and soil –
unheeded, unneeded by modern life…

Regina was so glad to escape her hometown in the Philippine countryside, even if her first job out of college isn’t world-changing.

Hanging out in new co-worker Diane’s apartment, waiting for rush hour to subside, Regina notices many books on eugenics and terrible experiments on human beings – what a strange conversation they lead to!

Diane never returns to work, and Regina finds a hand-drawn map in her bag – a map of her hometown in detail, with notes in Diane’s writing, showing buildings that aren’t there and a big X and two persons’ names.

Regina makes a quick trip back to Heridos to ask her parents about it – they say a doctor at the hospital has a similar name, and aren’t there just trees on that part of Ka Edgar’s old farm? A phone call to her much older brother Luciano isn’t any help either. Hmmmm….

Trekking through the summer humidity to the abandoned farm, Regina finds hidden buildings (Center for Heredity and Genetics!?) – and a woman who says that Diane is late in returning. No, Florina can’t leave her little house to help Regina look for her…

Well, the young doctor says he doesn’t know anything about that Center, but a lady in the waiting room sees that map and exclaims that she was detained there as a child! Clara retells nightmarish stories of small bodies under white sheets, but now there are only woods where Regina found the Center recently….

As Luciano hurriedly drives to Heridos, two gods appear in his car, asking about his sister and offering their help – oh, he remembers how that went the last time…

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” said American writer William Faulkner – how very, very true for everyone connected to that Center for Heredity and Genetics!

With its storyline based on too-real human experimentation centers, this Finalist for the National Book Awards in the Philippines is available for the first time in the US now.

Where do you see the older ways amid the busyness of today?
**kmm

Book info: Wounded Little Gods / Eliza Victoria. Tuttle Publishing, 2022 (US), 2015 (Philippines). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Just a little fun for Kenyan boys or PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME? by Patrick Ochieng (MG book review)

book cover of laying a Dangerous Game, by Patrick Ochieng. Published by  Accord Books /Norton Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His baba has been promoted by the Railway, so now 10-year-old Lumush and little sister Awino can attend the Hill School, a big step up from their neighborhood school in 1970s Kenya.

More homework, less time to hang out by that old rusted car with his buddies, playing pata potea or dreaming up stunts to do – Mama is so happy this opportunity has finally come.

But everyone at Hill School except Lillian treats him with suspicion, his friends think he’ll become stuck up, and cute Nijah frets that he’ll get distracted by the Hill girls.

Ripe zambarau fruits tempt the boys to climb the tree at the ghost house; a dare sends them back at night to spy on the ghosts of the white woman and her daughter who died there!

The friends hear all the gossip as they ramble the neighborhood – medicine stolen from the dispensary, bags of coffee beans disappearing from railway cars, a delivery lorry stolen.

What will the thieves target next?
Do ghosts always smell like cigarette smoke?
What’s hiding in the junkyard?

Wander the Railway Estates with Lumush and his friends as they try to solve the ghost house mystery without becoming ghosts themselves!

Lumush tries to be a good Hill School student and also a good friend to his buddies as their manhood ceremonies approach, holding onto good times in the neighborhood even as his parents and teachers insist that his school success now will determine his entire future.

What landmark in your town has ghosts?
**kmm

Book info: Playing a Dangerous Game / Patrick Ochieng. Accord Books /Norton Young Readers, 2021. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

See them in new ways – STRAW INTO GOLD: FAIRY TALES RE-SPUN, by Hilary McKay (MG book review)

book cover of Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun, by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never insult fairy godmothers,
kindness makes the path easier,
curses can flip to blessings…

The fairy tales that we’ve heard over and over can be retold, modernized, role-switched, or set in other lands, yet we recognize their core stories every time.

This collection of “Fairy Tales Re-Spun” charmingly presents a double-handful of familiar tales using non-classic viewpoints, like the new teacher whose writing assignment at a backwoods school results in “What I Did in the Holidays and Why Hansel’s Jacket is So Tight (by Gretel, age 10)” – truth or fiction?

Cinderella finds a friend in Buttons and helps him shine boots for the prince who’s turned away from royal society to tend “The Roses Around the Palace.”

A stuffy bureaucrat is more concerned about keeping his town tidy (and his coffers full) than paying the agreed price to that motley-looking Piper for luring away all those horrid rats… so very quiet now at “The Fountain in the Market Square.”

Enjoy these ten fairy tale retellings, including lesser-known stories “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Swan Brothers” (also the basis for A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth that I recently recommended here).

Which fairy tale is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun / Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [illustrator bio] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY – Japanese-Americans in WWII, by George Takei (Graphic novel review)

Book cover of They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Published by Top Shelf Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Leaving their home and possessions,
not his parents’ choice…
Why? Why!?

His mama’s purse is full of treats for five-year-old George and little Henry as they make the long train trip with her, Daddy, and baby Nancy from their home in Los Angeles to a camp in the woods of rural Arkansas.

Not a vacation place, but an internment camp with barbed wire fences, unfamiliar foods, very little privacy, and their loyalty to the USA constantly in question – boring for kids, disheartening for adults.

Later, George’s family was moved to a facility in the California desert at Tule Lake, another of several concentration camps that housed 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese who were forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II.

At war’s end, they hoped to move back to their homes and businesses, but their properties had been seized and sold to others… time to start all over again.

Will the US government deport George’s family?
How can they live in a country that hates them?
What will the future be like in a world after war?

This is a sobering portrayal of a dreadful time in America’s history, as seen through a child’s eyes and reinforced by decades of subtle and overt racism against Asian Americans.

(One of the white co-authors had worked previously with Takei and pitched the idea of capturing his childhood memories as a graphic novel. The book’s artist is Japanese-American, creator of Himawari House graphic novel that I recommended here.)

The well-known Star Trek actor and social activist continues to speak out against discrimination, racism, and the rights of all to love and be loved.

What young childhood memory would you write or draw?
**kmm

Book info: They Called Us Enemy / George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf Media, 2019. [author site] [co-author site] [co-author interview] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Listen to African Voices this week on AudioSYNC – free!

It’s finally Audiofile SYNC season! Register free here, then you can download two audiobooks into your Sora shelf free every week (Thursday-Wednesday) through the summer.

Keep either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks on your Sora shelf online so you can listen anytime, on any device.

Enjoy this week’s African Stories, African Voices:

CD cover of The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o | Read by Benjamin A.  Onyango. Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Ngugi wa Thiong’o | Read by Benjamin A. Onyango
Published by Brilliance Audio

The origin of the Gikuyu people of Kenya is masterfully narrated in this poetic and stirring creation story adventure.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/188758/the-perfect-nine-by-ngugi-wa-thiongo-read-by-benjamin-a-onyango/

http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of This Book Betrays My Brother, by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit. Published by ECW Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

This Book Betrays My Brother (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit
Published by ECW Press

Thirteen-year-old Naledi stays quiet about her brother’s crime until she realizes years later that the truth must be told in their South African community.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/186126/this-book-betrays-my-brother-by-kagiso-lesego-molope-read-by-jacqui-du-toit/

What other African stories would you recommend?
**kmm

Y is for YOUR HEART, MY SKY, love despite starvation in Cuba, by Margarita Engle (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger, by Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Food is dwindling,
government rule tightens,
can people survive on hope alone?

Words feed your soul, but not the gnawing hunger across the island during el periodico especial en tiempos de paz in 1991, as the Soviet Union collapses and its food shipments to Cuba cease, starting a decade of starvation.

Out in the countryside, Liana is adopted by a brown dog who sings to the sky and helps the 14 year old find things to cook for her family. No, she won’t go to the government’s “summer camp” working in the sugarcane fields and leave her siblings to starve.

Neither will 15-year-old Amado, even though he’ll be an outcast in the village. If they knew his plan to evade military conscription, he’d be in prison with his brother who did the same. Constant hunger makes rebellious thoughts of freedom difficult, but he will persevere.

As the two young people try to fight their growing attraction, the singing dog called Paz does his best to nudge them together, knowing that they’ll be stronger together.

Can they grow any food without the government finding out?
Can hope alone sustain them as the police keep watch on Amado?
Should they also make a raft and try to escape to Miami?

Celebrate Poetry Month with this verse novel in three voices, by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here).

To this day, Cuba imports most of its food – where do your representative and Senator stand on ending the decades-long US trade embargo?
**kmm

Book info: Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger / Margarita Engle. Atheneum / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.