Tag Archive | bullying

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!



Can Fox Girl and the White Gazelle become friends? by Victoria Williamson (book review)

book cover of Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, by Victoria Williamson. Published by Floris Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A wounded wild animal,
Two sad-at-heart girls –
What can heal them?

“Immersion” into school when her Syrian family arrives in Glasgow is more like drowning for Reema – new words, new accent, new dangers to face.

Fighting keeps everyone from getting close to Cailyn or discovering her mom’s problems – being a bully is better than being in foster care.

Cautiously, Reema and Cailyn might edge toward friendship as they care for a wounded fox and her babies in this story from Scotland that puts human faces on headline news.

How are refugees welcomed and assisted in your community?
**kmm

Book info: Fox Girl and the White Gazelle / Victoria Williamson. Kelpies/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Reema and her family have run away from the bombings and gas attacks, away from their home in Syria to far-off Scotland, separated from big brother Jamal.

Fox limped away from the metal monster that hurt her, away from the no-longer-safe woods, too close to the tall boxes where the beasts dwell, her babies come now.

Caylin won’t run from anything after Grandad’s death, covering up as Mum mourns in the bottle, stealing to keep them fed, bullying any who mock her lisp or shabby clothes.

Reema and Cailyn find the wounded fox and her small pups, both vowing to keep them safe and hidden from the nosiest neighbor in their small Glasgow apartment block.

Running – like she and Jamal did in the souk of Aleppo, Reema can run school races as fast as the white gazelle she is named for – if Baba and Mama will allow it.

Running – pups will grow and explore, the beasts in the box nearby will find them – mother fox must heal to lead them to safety.

Running – Gran was a national champion and Cailyn could be, too – but if Mum is wrong, kids would make fun of her even more.

This story of risk and safety is told from all three viewpoints as the two junior high girls discover that their differences need not separate them when important things are at stake.

Trapped in A World Below! by Wesley King (book review)

book cover of A World Below, by Wesley King. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Field trip into a cavern?

Last year’s class attended a play and went to a nice restaurant in the city!

But…what if someone doesn’t like tight spaces or the dark or their classmates?

This is really not what quiet Eric or popular Silvia envisioned when their gifted class graduation trip was announced – and then comes the earthquake!

What’s your ‘worst field trip ever’ story?

**kmm

Book info: A World Below / Wesley King. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk:  Trapped in Carlsbad Caverns by an earthquake, a group of eighth graders encounters people living its depths as the young teens struggle against obstacles and their own fears to reach the surface.

Routine field trip a few hours from their New Mexico town, bring some water and a snack for the short tour, simple – until the rumbles begin and the kids are separated from their teacher and chaperones!

Silvia tries to keep them together after an icy river carries them far from the Big Room, but these passageways make her claustrophobia flare up.

Quiet Eric finds himself alone in a forest of glowing mushrooms, crossing paths with a giant rat and wondering about the carved M in this “unmapped” part of the Caverns.

Trespassers in the Midnight King’s realm! And not the renegade Worms who have rejected one hundred years of tradition…

Can the classmates find their way to safety?

Why would anyone choose to live deep in the earth?

This unexpected adventure is recounted from the viewpoints of three different young people far below the surface, as well as the rescue personnel and anxious parents above ground.

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.


Orphaned now, One Shadow on the Wall to guide him, by Leah Henderson (book review)

book cover of One Shadow on the Wall, by Leah Henderson. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com His late father’s voice lends advice,
His late mother’s spirit appears in silence.
Can he honor his promise to keep the family together?

No social safety nets in Mor’s Senegal village, just fishing nets, small boats, and the gang of bullies who ran away from home and threaten to steal any food he is given or money the 11-year-old can earn for his sisters’ schooling.

To meet Mor and his sisters just after their father’s burial, read chapter 1 on the publisher’s website free.

Look for this as 2017 hardcover or June 2018 paperback at your local library or independent bookstore.

When resources are scarce, how can you be resourceful?
**kmm

Book info: One Shadow on the Wall / Leah Henderson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Guided by his parents’ spirits, eleven-year-old Mor strives to keep his family together, braving bullies, the sea’s perils, and well-meaning neighbors in their Senegalese fishing village – will it be enough?

So little food left when they are orphaned – how to feed his sisters?
Men also seek work – who will hire a young boy?
His brilliant sister’s school fees are due – can he stop the bully gang from stealing what he can earn?

When his former best friend tells Mor that joining the gang is the only way to keep his sisters safe, he must make a hard choice and live with its consequences.

Teen tales of Love & Profanity, bullying, friendship, and more (book review)

hardback book cover of Love & Profanity, edited by Nick Healy et al. Published by Switch Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comTeen angst and adoration,
family, friends, love, work –
40 true stories from authors you know and authors you’ll want to meet.

The book’s subtitle explains it all: “a Collection of True, Tortured, Wild, Hilarious, Concise, and Intense Tales of Teenage Life” and its subject index includes Stories about… Authority Figures, Being Sneaky, Friends-Bad, Friends-Good, and much more.

You can find this eclectic book at your local library or independent bookstore as the 2015 hardcover or 2016 paperback (2 different covers).

What personal story would you be bold enough to share?
**kmm

Book info: Love and Profanity: a Collection of True, Tortured, Wild, Hilarious, Concise, and Intense Tales of Teenage Life / edited by Nick Healy, with Kristen Mohn, Nate LeBoutillier, and Lindsy O’Brien. Switch Press, 2015 (hardcover), 2016 (paperback) [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Writers share vignettes from their teen years in this collection of autobiographical short stories, ranging from mild to wild, mundane to life-altering, divided into four “Love and” sections – profanity, physics, madness, and apologies.

By including YA authors we recognize like Kwame Alexander, Carrie Mesrobian, and Jon Scieszka alongside new-to-us writers like essayist Joey Franklin and science writer Esther Porter, we see a wide range of teen experiences from different genders and sexualities, regions of the US, economic and social conditions, and family configurations.

The subject index itself portrays teenage life, noting Stories About… Being Helpful (or Not), Bullying, Cars, Crushes, Romance Gone Wrong, Siblings, Struggling to Fit In, Working, and much more.

Baseball (and bullies) and The Rhino in Right Field, by Susan DeKeyser (book review)

book cover of Rhino in Right Field, by Susan DeKeyser, published by Margaret K McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comBaseball practice needs a flat open space,
so the city park is a great place!
But sharing the outfield with the zoo can be beastly!

Nick and his buddies love baseball, practicing whenever and wherever they can (no Little League yet in Wisconsin in 1948). They’re thrilled when the new owner of the town’s pro team promises a chance for kids to be on the field for opening day! (or is it just for boys?)

Read the first chapter here to meet Nick and the rhino (free, courtesy of the publisher), then head to your local library or independent bookstore for the rest of the story.

Your close encounter with unusual animals and/or minor league baseball?
**kmm

Book info: The Rhino in Right Field / Susan DeKeyser. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2018.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: For the chance to be Mudpuppy batboy for day, 12-year-old Nick will do anything – work harder in Pop’s shoe repair shop, help uncle Spiro with mysterious errands – as the baseball team’s new owner plans an extravaganza for Opening Day.

That bully Pete thinks he’ll be chosen batboy, but Nick can win this contest based on essay-writing and baseball skills – if only his Pop would sign the permission slip… hmmm

He and Ace practice fielding with Penny (wow, can she throw!), hoping Nick’s baseball won’t wind up in the rhino enclosure (again).

His Greek immigrant father is sure that working hard in the family shop is Nick’s destiny, but Uncle Spiro wants to make his own way in post-World War II Wisconsin.

Where will Nick be on Opening Day – in the Mudpuppy dugout or listening on the radio in the shoe shop?

Doing good? The Unlikelies will try… by Carrie Firestone (book review)

book cover of The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone, published by Little Brown BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comDeclared “hometown heroes”
Just a photo op
Or a chance to actually make a difference?

She never dreamed that working again at the farmstand would lead to her saving a baby’s life or becoming part of a diverse teen group who find ways to stealthily help those being bullied or trying to right decades-old wrongs!

Look for this not-just-another-boring-summer novel in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore.

When does positive action become heroism?
**kmm

Book info: The Unlikelies / Carrie Firestone. Little Brown BFYR, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Hailed as a hometown hero, 17 year old Sadie copes with nightmares about rescuing the baby as she and new friends band together to push back against bullying online and in person.

Summer before senior year was supposed to be supposed to be boring with her best friend working far away, but meeting other teens on Long Island noted for their positive deeds takes Sadie in directions she never anticipated.

Gordie runs a day program for developmentally-delayed adults, Jean-Pierre teaches young artists, Alice does glamour photo-shoots for shelter dogs, and Valeria coordinates a massive school supply drive – how does her single brave (or impulsive) act to keep a drunk dad from driving away with a crying baby measure up to all that?

On his death bed, longtime farmstand customer Mr. Upton sends Sadie on a mission to erase his father’s bad acts – this is way more than the positivity that ‘the Unlikelies’ are unleashing against internet trolls and bullies…

And her crush on Gordie from junior high? The more that the Unlikelies are together – working with each other’s projects, figuring out how to honor Mr. Upton’s request, helping Alice find Izzy as heroin takes her down – the more that flame rekindles.

Time’s running short to Get It Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough (book review)

US book cover of Get It Together Delilah, by Erin Gough, published by Chronicle Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comCan’t let Dad worry about the cafe,
can’t keep up with her schoolwork,
can’t stop dreaming about flamenco dancer Rosa.

Delilah’s senior year in Sydney is stress overload – mean girls, family cafe difficulties, and falling in love with the girl she can’t have.

What else could happen? Funny you should ask…
**kmm

Book info: Get It Together, Delilah / Erin Gough. Chronicle Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:
As Dad’s short vacation grows longer and longer, 17-year-old Delilah juggles schoolwork, her best friends’ expectations, and unfair business competition so she can keep her family cafe going, but is dreaming of dancing Rosa across the street of their Sydney suburb.

She refuses to ruin Dad’s trip (first since Mum ran off with another man) by telling him of their cafe manager’s arrest; she’ll just run The Flywheel till he’s back in a few weeks…

Being short-handed at the cafe means she’s falling behind on her classwork.

Helping Charlie with his wild plans to make his (older) tutor fall in love with him aren’t helping, either.

Best friend Lauren is completely ignoring Del’s coming-out, but the bullies at their school aren’t.

The underhanded tricks of a new restaurant nearby are cutting into The Flywheel’s business, Del actually talks to beautiful Rosa (and doesn’t faint) – and Dad extends his vacation – uh, oh.

Why so candid? Because You’ll Never Meet Me, by Leah Thomas (book review)

book cover of Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas published by Bloomsbury Teen  | recommended on BooksYALove.comElectricity flares in rainbow colors – and will kill Ollie.
Moritz has no eyes, yet is not blind.
And a doctor suggests that they correspond…hmmm

Find this penpal story like no other in hardcover or paperback at your local library or favorite independent bookstore. And there’s a sequel!
**kmm

Book info: Because You’ll Never Meet Me / Leah Thomas. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, hardcover 2015, paperback 2017.   [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: One is allergic to electricity, the other is kept alive by a pacemaker – two very different teen boys become more than brothers or best friends through postal mail, uncovering a secret past that endangers them both.

Ollie must stay in a forest cabin, far from any US city because the tiniest bit of electricity sends him into life-threatening seizures, and says that being 14 and alone is extremely boring.

Moritz, seeing with his ears only, lives with his adoptive father in a busy German city, has a pacemaker for his fluttering heart, and at 16 is beyond bored with his schoolmates.

A doctor sets them up as penpals, so the guys begin telling one another their life stories through trans-Atlantic letters.

Their childhoods were quite strange, with parents gone missing and medical lab mishaps, and real-life friendships today are very difficult. Ollie misses Liz, who’s given up hiking in their woods for the normalcy of high school. Moritz finds a tenuous connection with Owen and his sister Fieke as bullies target all three of them.

These letters exchanged by Ollie and Moritz start encouraging each other to dare to live a little, even if it’s dangerous – as dangerous as the secret past that their shared memories begin to reveal.

Followed by Nowhere Near You.