Tag Archive | bullying

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.

SOMEBODY GIVE THIS HEART A PEN, a poet speaks up, shouts out – by Sophia Thakur (YA book review)

book cover of Somebody Give This Heart a Pen, by Sophia Thakur. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Being seen,
seeing others truly,
acknowledging support and pain.

In her poetry, Sophia Thakur captures life-moments low and high, reveals bone-deep concerns, speaks of youth, for youth, to youth.

“To you, the silence in this stillness is to be endured
not experienced.
It scratches at every anxious bone that you own…”
begins the poem “Fidgeting” (pg. 66), one of several whose unflinching observations resolve with grace and advice.

Section headers composed of proverbs and sayings – Grow, Wait, Speak, Grow Again – present themselves as concrete poems of wisdom, slashed white against a dark page.

Honed through her performance poetry and TED talks (like this one), the Black British poet’s style radiates on the page, like the opening lines of “When to Write”:

“When your fists are ready to paint faces
When there is nowhere to confide
When your skin lingers high above your bones
and you’re so out of touch with self.
Write…” (pg. 98)

Check out her first volume of powerful and empathetic poems today at your local library or independent bookstore, and be inspired to let your heart speak.

“…I swore to my lips
never to send up anything that would compromise
anyone’s perception of me.
I have a vision of how I wish to be seen
and I fear that that image will be challenged
if ever they know more of me.” –from “Secrets” (pg. 57)

Your favorite contemporary poem?
**kmm

Book info: Somebody Give This Heart a Pen / Sophia Thakur. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She’s leaving. DESTINATION ANYWHERE, anywhere but here, by Sara Barnard (YA book review)

book cover of Destination Anywhere, by Sara Barnard; Christiane Furtges, illustrations. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bullied.
Mocked.
No friends during all her years in secondary school – not. a. single. one.

Even trying to make friends in early college was so disastrous that 17-year-old Peyton just leaves England, flies to Vancouver with her sketchbook and savings, choosing an adventure alone over being so very, very alone at school.

At the Canadian youth hostel, she meets honestly nice people from all over the world. With young adults from Scotland and Russia and beyond, she tours the city, visits the beach and a zipline in the forest – and they’re glad that she’s with them (wow).

Flashbacks to the dreadful night in college that triggered her flight illuminate the chasm of self-doubt caused by years of bullying – can journeying get her over that?

Beasey, Khalil, and friends think that Peyton is traveling to see her grandfather in Alberta (well, she tells everyone that’s why she’s here) and ask if she wants to join them when they rent an RV to visit Banff, which is on her route – why not?

They understand her dreams of becoming an illustrator (her parents don’t), savor nature’s beauty with her, and soon will be on their way to other countries and jobs and such – what next for her?

Maybe actually visiting the grandfather who abandoned her dad and grandma decades ago is the right path…

By the author of A Quiet Kind of Thunder (I recommended it here).

Where would you go on your next journey of self-discovery?
**kmm

Book info: Destination Anywhere / Sara Barnard; Christiane Furtges, illustrations. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Parents fighting, STUNTBOY, IN THE MEANTIME tries to cope, by Jason Reynolds, art by Raul the Third (MG book review)

book cover of Stuntboy, In the Meantime, by  Jason Reynolds; drawings by Raul the Third. Published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bully stops him after school,
Mom and Dad splitting up,
it’s giving him the Frets!!

Portico loves living in his city apartment building where the Black fen year old knows everyone, with GranGran just down the hall and their cat called A New Name Every Day.

He loves watching Super Space Warriors on TV with best friend Zola and can’t stand trash-talking mean kid Herbert who picks on them every day after school.

His Frets get worse when his folks start arguing about who gets what when they move (Mom up 1 floor, Dad down 1) that they shoo Portico out “in the mean time” to do something with Zola.

She helps Portico get over those anxiety Frets by meditating, so he chooses to be the superhero of his own life – Stuntboy in the MeanTime!

His superpower is keeping other superheroes safe so they can save the world, using special moves like Plaster Blaster, Truck Wheel, and Untied Glide; he practices by helping his neighbors (except Herbert).

Will Mom and Dad ever stop fighting about stuff?
Why does Herbert try to spoil everything?
What would the Super Space Warriors do?

Don’t miss this epic illustrated collaboration by the author of many books for teens and tweens including Look Both Ways (my recommendation here) and the illustrator of Lowriders in Space (recommended here).

When have family troubles made you feel pulled in two directions?
**kmm

Book info: Stuntboy, In the Meantime / Jason Reynolds; drawings by Raul the Third; color by Elaine Bay. Caitlyn Dlouhy/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Follow the PIPER, they must! Graphic novel by Jay Asher & Jessica Freeburg; art by Jeff Stokely (book review)

book cover of Piper, by Jay Asher & Jessica Freeburg; illustrated by Jeff Stokely; inks by Gideon Kendall; colors by Triona Farrell; lettering by Ed Dukeshire. Published by Razorbill | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Overrun by rats!
Leaders at wits’ end!
Help, help!

Made deaf as a child by bullies, Maggie tries to avoid Hameln town. The young woman is content to stay in Agathe’s cottage and write far-fetched tales with the older woman for their own amusement.

But the leaders of Hameln aren’t smiling as the rat population thrives, eating their stored grain and biting people (especially after the ratcatcher’s poison kills all the cats instead).

Along comes a piper in mismatched clothes who promises to rid the town of rats… for a price.

Maggie is a bit enchanted by the piper, even if she cannot hear him playing. She shares with him the story of her family’s downfall at the hands of powerful locals whose evildoings are always hushed up.

Can the piper really save Hameln?
What if the town leaders renege on their deal?
Skilled this piper is, so very skilled…

A well-imagined and wonderfully drawn graphic novel retelling of the Pied Piper story! (yes, by that Jay Asher)

What other retellings of favorite tales do you recommend?
**kmm

Book info: Piper / Jay Asher & Jessica Freeburg; illustrated by Jeff Stokely; inks by Gideon Kendall; colors by Triona Farrell; lettering by Ed Dukeshire. Razorbill, 2017. [Jay’s site] [Jessica’s site] [Jeff’s site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

How can life’s rarities outlast everyday reality? Audiobooks show us more!

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Remember to save these complete audiobooks to your Sora shelf (FAQs here) from Thursday through Wednesday so you can access them any time on your phone or device.

If you missed the free download of earlier AudioSYNC recommendations, be sure to check through your local public library!

CD cover of audiobook Crescendo:The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town,
by Allen Cheney, Julie Cantrell [Contributor].Read by Allen Cheney. Published by Thomas Nelson | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Crescendo: The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town (free download on Sora 10-16 June 2021)
by Allen Cheney, Julie Cantrell [Contributor]
Read by Allen Cheney
Published by Thomas Nelson

Bullied in his small Georgia hometown, musical genius Fred Allen escapes to New York City where his talent is appreciated and applauded.

The musician’s wife and family support his dreams, even when the long-term effects of childhood trauma darken his outlook. This biography is written and narrated by Allen’s grandson with love and hope.

CD cover of audiobook Extinction,
by Hannie Rayson. Read by Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Darren Richardson, Joanne Whalley. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Extinction (free download on Sora 10-16 June 2021)
by Hannie Rayson
Read by Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Darren Richardson, Joanne Whalley
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

Spotting a tiger-quoll in the wild means the endangered Australian carnivorous marsupial could be saved from extinction… if the American zoologist who finds it can convince a greedy timber baron to spare its habitat.

How can the rare and wonderful be saved from everyday life’s brutality and greed?
**kmm

X is excitement & mystery of THE INKBERG ENIGMA, by Jonathan King (Graphic novel review)

book cover of The Inkberg Enigma, by Jonathan King. Published by Gecko Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Strange activity in the bay,
the Castle looms above town,
so many secrets and so much danger!

In a new town for dad’s museum job, Miro satisfies his old book habit by selling old diving gear and things that he finds in the attic.

Glimpsing a deep-sea fisherman wrapped by a giant tentacle puts Miro and schoolmate Zia at odds with the Works fish-processing plant manager who threatens to tell Miss Danforth, owner of their town… and employer of their parents.

Digging into the town’s history reveals a tragic last-century Antarctic expedition, eerie creatures discovered on that voyage, and enduring links that may endanger their New Zealand coastal town even now!

What really happens inside the Works?
Will Zia’s photos expose dire secrets?
Would reclusive Miss Danforth help the teens?

A pitch-black iceberg and a perilous journey – the expedition journal is a book of secrets within this graphic novel of mystery and discovery!

What local historical fact has taken you by surprise?
**kmm

Book info: The Inkberg Enigma / Jonathan King. Gecko Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.