Tag Archive | bullying

THE FIRE STAR jewel is missing – will these your courtiers be next? by A. L. Tait (YA book review)

book cover of The Fire Star (Maven & Reeve Mystery, book 1), by A. L. Tait. Kane-Miller Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A wedding almost delayed by goats,
a new squire for the groom,
a reluctant lady’s maid for the bride…

Rennart Castle is swirling with preparations for Sir Garrick’s wedding to Lady Cassandra – and rumors that its Airl will oppose the new King who is using the kingdom’s wealth for himself alone.

Reeve’s training in court etiquette and observing people should help Sir Garrick through this new situation – and is the 16 year old’s final chance to become a knight himself.

Maven now waits upon a young noblewoman displeased to be marrying a lowly knight. Not long ago, Maven also wore fine clothes, but the teen’s family has fallen upon desperately hard times.

The priceless Fire Star gem always goes to the family’s youngest daughter upon her betrothal – never to a son – and that is what Lady Cassandra brings into this marriage. The Airl will soon demand that she gives it to his headstrong daughter.

When the Fire Star is stolen before the wedding, Reeve and Maven find themselves searching for clues in the castle and countryside new to them both.

Is the secret Birch Circle of women involved?
Why is the Airl’s daughter taking so many risks?
Can Maven’s forbidden ability to read and write stay hidden?

Told in alternating chapters by the two teens, The Fire Star takes us to a medieval land where their detecting skills can save the castle household and perhaps the entire kingdom! Followed by The Wolf’s Howl (info here).

What part of courtly life would you like to experience for yourself?
**kmm

Book info: The Fire Star (Maven & Reeve Mystery, book 1) / A. L. Tait. Kane-Miller Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Searching for THE LOST RYU, dragon of his memory, by Emi Watanabe Cohen (YA book review)

book cover of The Lost Ryu, by Emi Watanabe Cohen. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kohei still dreams of being three years old at the last dragon parade, holding his smiling grandfather’s hand as huge winged Western dragons flew overhead and sinuous Japanese ryu dragons strode along Osaka’s streets at the end of World War II.

His maternal grandfather was so angry about Kohei’s father dying soon afterward that he made the boy take his mother’s family name – maybe Ojiisan would be happy if he had a big dragon again, bigger than ryu Yuharu who rides on Kohei’s shoulder.

Isolde moves in downstairs, with her Japanese-American mom, Polish-American dad, and winged dragon Cheshire (very small, Kohei is so disappointed) – imagine starting middle school in a new country and language!

When Ojiisan is suddenly hospitalized, Kohei decides that he must bring a ryu to him. Isolde never knew her grandparents who died in concentration camps in the United States and Poland during the War, so she wants to help.

Venturing into Papa’s study, Kohei finds details about how ryu are hatched, so he and Isolde travel to the faraway New Ryugyu-jo where their dragons will help bring a special ryu into the world.

When the biggest ryu Kohei has ever seen snatches the baby ryu, of course he has to follow and save her!

His memories shift like a kaleidoscope as Kohei learns more about his father’s and grandfather’s pasts.

How far, how far will we go to bring comfort to those we love?
**kmm

Book info: The Lost Ryu / Emi Watanabe Cohen. Levine Querido, 2022. [author site] [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.

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.

At the powwow, hear ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith (YA book review)

book cover of Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids / Cynthia Leitich Smith, editor. Published by Heartdrum/Harper Collins | recommended on BooksYALove.com
Cover art by Nicole Neidhardt

“A powwow is
where our hearts beat as one
to the thump of the drum,
together
so strong
where we belong.”

  • Kim Rogers (pg. 3)

The great Dance for Mother Earth Powwow draws Native American families and friends from all over North America to visit, dance in competitions, sell their wares, and celebrate being together in Michigan.

Smell the frybread cooking, eat the best corn soup, admire the silver bracelets and intricate beadwork, hear the drums – it’s time for the Grand Entry of all the dancers!

Can Jess convince her grandpa to dance in the Veterans’ Dance or will they go back to Oklahoma sad again this year?

Back in New Mexico, Alan and Kevin definitely don’t get along, but at the Powwow the sixth graders need to help each other locate down a certain girl and a certain silver bracelet.

Oh, beaded regalia has gone missing at this powwow too? Shana asks Tokala to help find her floral-beaded Anishinaabe moccasins before the Jingle Dance begins!

Marino’s t-shirt business could use some clever advertising – good thing that “everybody’s dog” Ozzie hitched a ride all the way from the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh to the powwow!

This collection of intertwined stories brings us viewpoints from 16 Native authors from different places and tribes, as Elders, young people, and one very cool rez dog experience Powwow, some for the first time, others returning for their favorite weekend of the year together.

Enjoy these stories and poems during Native American Heritage Month and all year long!

What Native American dances have you seen?
**kmm

Book info: Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids / Cynthia Leitich Smith, editor. Heartdrum/Harper Collins, 2021. [editor site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Can he shoot a deer or not? It’s HUNTER’S CHOICE, by Trent Reedy (MG book review)

book cover of Hunter's Choice, by Trent Reedy. Published by Norton Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Family tradition,
careful practice,
fear of failing!

He has been waiting so long – taking hunter safety classes, getting his deer hunting license, practicing and practicing – because even if this is his very first hunting trip, twelve-year-old Hunter knows you get just one good shot at a deer.

Hunter’s granddad built a lodge on their property in the mountains above their Idaho town, so his family knows the streams where deer like to drink and where a bear might hang out.

His cousin Yumi brings their classmate Annette for the weekend so she can write about hunting for the school newspaper and give Yumi a buffer between her dad and his post-Afghanistan war PTSD.

Hunter might have a little crush on Annette, so his nerves about this important milestone get worse. On their first night, Grandpa, Dad, and Uncle Rick tell stories about past hunts and time here together – reminders that hunting is more than getting venison for the freezer.

“For the time that we’re hunting, everything else, all the frustrations and bull crap from the outside world don’t matter,” (pg.101) Grandpa says as they head out for the evening hunt.

Can Hunter let go of his worries and focus on spotting a deer?
Can Yumi understand what her dad is struggling with?
Will Hunter actually choose to kill a deer?

The author’s experiences fill this book with authentic details, from safe gun handling to field-dressing a deer, as he shares the decisions every hunter must make.

First of three interconnected books set on McCall Mountain – great for fans of Hatchet, hunting, fishing, and the woods.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity with family?
**kmm

Book info: Hunter’s Choice / Trent Reedy. Norton Young Readers, 2021 hardcover, 2022 paperback. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

V is for VIOLETS ARE BLUE, Wren and her makeup are, too, by Barbara Dee (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Violets Are Blue, by Barbara Dee.Published by Aladdin / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New town, new school,
same Mom, new stepmom,
same worries, plus some…

They move the summer after the divorce, after her sixth grade sort-of-friends abandon her, after Wren starts learning to do special effects makeup, after Dad marries pregnant Vanessa in faraway Brooklyn.

Wren hides the high-quality makeup that Vanessa buys so she can create mermaids and super-characters like KatFX videos show. Mom adds a lock to her bedroom door to keep the cat out… huh?

When her skills catch the attention of new friends, Wren is asked to do makeup for the school play – turning snooty Avery into so-green Elphaba might be fun.

Kai is really talented – draws superheroes, runs sound and lights for the play. Wren hopes he doesn’t really have a crush on her.

Mom’s an ER nurse on different shifts, sleeps all the time she’s home, pill bottles under the sink… now she’s missing work.

Why can’t Wren make KatFX’s mermaid instructions work?
How can she keep Kai as just a friend?
Why did Dad say she could call him about anything?

Seventh grade year is full of tension for Wren as she tries to balance two families and navigate too many changes at the same time.

When someone you love is in trouble, how do you know when to help?
**kmm

Book info: Violets Are Blue / Barbara Dee. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Q is for questions & quarrels TANGLED UP IN LUCK, by Merrill Wyatt (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Tangled Up in Luck, by Merrill Wyatt. Published by Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Two weeks till summer break!
Start a special class project?!
Now? Why? Hidden jewels!

Learn to work together, find things that aren’t on the internet – the seventh graders aren’t too happy to have different assignment partners or go through old newspaper articles at the library for this project.

Find the lost jewels hidden in the late 1880s when Jacob Hoal’s partner Thomas dynamited the safe and jumped on a train – the same train that collided with Jacob and Lucretia’s train, killing them and leaving an orphan son!

Volleyball star Sloane gets paired with class eccentric Amelia – arguing in the town library, sneaking around the historical museum – this won’t be easy as old grudges make the girls wary of each other.

A circus gone bankrupt, a Stock Market wizard, explosion at the mansion, a manhunt through Ohio and beyond, then the fatal train crash – newspaper articles tell the story, but what information is missing?

Their classmates are using the same resources (bad luck), so Sloane and Amelia check the museum and find old timers to interview (good luck), getting a little less uncomfortable around each other as they go.

Did Thomas take the jewels on the train with him?
What happened to the orphaned son?
Why are the kids working on this complicated project right now?

As Sloane frets about her widowed father remarrying and Amelia dreads going home to her ultra-competitive family, they don’t yet realize the danger they’ll face if they solve the mystery!

What local historical event still has people talking in your area?
**kmm

Book info: Tangled Up in Luck (Tangled Mysteries, book 1) / Merrill Wyatt. Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D = When it comes to helping people, KARTHIK DELIVERS! by Sheela Chari (MG book review)

book cover of Karthik Delivers, by Sheela Chari. Published by Amulet Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Family dream threatened,
changes coming,
friends will get him through it.

Delivering groceries for the family store isn’t what Karthik had planned for the summer before high school, but during this bad economy in 2008, maybe it will help.

At least he’s not stuck indoors studying for the SAT like big sister. She will be the lawyer, he will be the doctor, his Indian-American parents have decided (Mom’s dream job, not his – Karthik gets woozy at the sight of blood…).

Big orders or small, his bike carries them all – to old Mr. Jain who loves to talk about cricket scores, to the lady who always orders two extra-ripe mangoes, to the college student who’s writing a play and wants Karthik in the role of Leonard Bernstein as a young man!

Who knew that the famous musician and conductor grew up here in their Boston suburb? Shanthi is sure that Karthik’s gift for perfectly remembering long lists will help him memorize the short script; he’s not so sure that his parents will let him perform for her final exam in August.

Between deliveries, he meets his friends Miles and Binh for ice cream (he knows all 50 flavors) while hoping cute classmate Juhi comes in without the bullies she hangs out with now (not likely).

The more he studies the script and Bernstein’s life and music, the more the teen identifies with this son of immigrants who went on to do great things – but what does Karthik want to do with his life?

As he delivers their groceries, Karthik gets to know his customers and helps when they need a hand – what will they do if the store can’t keep going?

Oh no! It’s Juhi’s uncle who owns new chaat restaurant whose fast-fast food is stealing away the little grocery store’s customers – is this West Side Story all over again?

Happy book birthday to Karthik Delivers – let’s hope he tells his family about the play sooner rather than later!

What dream have you put on hold? When will you launch it again?
**kmm

Book info: Karthik Delivers / Sheela Chari. Amulet Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C is for Callie, reinventing herself ACROSS THE POND, by Joy McCullough (MG book review)

book cover of Across the Pond, by Joy McCullough. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Goodbye, not-so-good friends,
hello, new life in a new country!
Now… how to become a new me?

Callie and Jax’s parents have inherited what? A large drafty castle in Scotland that her family will renovate into a tourist destination is a huge change from their small two-bedroom apartment in San Diego where she was bullied at school.

Jax bounds into primary school as happily as he races through the castle’s many chilly rooms where stones fall from fireplaces and mice munch on tapestries.

Callie loves the small village library, but utterly panics at starting mid-term at the high school – please, please, will her parents let her homeschool to finish seventh grade and help them renovate?

They agree, as long as she does an outside activity to make friends… hmm, Lady Whittington-Spence’s childhood journal talks about bird-watching when she was evacuated to the countryside early in World War II.

When Callie unintentionally makes an enemy of their landscape designer’s young teen granddaughter, escaping to the youth birdwatching club (oops, it’s called ‘twitching club’ in Scotland) seems the best idea.

The twitchers are pleased to have access to the castle grounds for the Big Day competition when their club will try to beat teams from neighboring villages by spotting the most birds. Callie has some catching up to do, and Cressida (“just Sid”) forgives her so they can learn all the birds’ favorite nesting spots.

Can she and Sid show the twitching club that girls are great birders?
Can Callie’s family get the castle in shape for visitors soon?
How did their new cat get into the dumbwaiter?

Entries from Pippa Spence’s journal punctuate Callie’s own journey into confidence in her own abilities to learn new things and finally make friends worth having.

Published in paperback this week! By the author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost (I recommend here).

What’s on your “must-see” personal list?
**kmm

Book info: Across the Pond / Joy McCullough. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.