When her Rosie the Riveter tribute photo is altered and mocked online, 1940s culture fan Poppy withdraws from her friends and family.
The Canadian teen’s twin brother is happily out, her roller derby team will just have to do without her.
At least she’s hidden from the world as she wears a chicken suit to advertise for a local restaurant.
Introduced to a group of homeless-by-choice friends by a lively little girl, Poppy looks forward to evenings with them under the bridge – Thumper with his Bible, Lewis saving money for transition surgery, Buck photographing absolutely everything.
Poppy’s now becomes bearable, but what of the future?
Will social services take little Miracle from her struggling mom?
Is her twin Cam really happy at his new summer job?
Chicken Girl is puns and poses, exploration and misunderstanding, community and much more. Read an excerpt here for free, courtesy of the publisher.
Who’s in your friend-family? **kmm
Book info: Chicken Girl / Heather Smith. Penguin Teen, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
A house full of children, being second or twelfth wife… not her dream, not her future!
Gentry’s mother is Father’s second wife, her love of music blooming in her children – an unhealthy practice from the outside say the other wives who also sniff that food is wasted on her sister Amy because the Prophet will never allow a disabled person to be a wife.
If Gentry could only play the violin instead of worrying about outsiders attacking the polygamist compound or becoming a wife as a young teen or hearing the Prophet calling out punishments…
When do you say that your elders don’t know what’s best? **kmm
Book info: The Prophet Calls / Melanie Sumrow. Yellow Jacket/ Bonnier Publishing USA, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Playing the violin is Gentry’s dream, not becoming a wife and mother, but how far will the young teen go to make music in defiance of their polygamist cult’s Prophet?
Bad luck for Gentry that her 13th birthday comes just as the Prophet declares in a phone call from prison that no women may leave the Watchful compound, days before she and Tanner are due to play at the folk music festival in Santa Fe!
Father’s other wives have long said that her Mother’s love for music is too worldly, but surely Gentry’s talent is a blessing…
Can Tanner find a way for them to perform at the festival?
Can Gentry stay clear of the Prophet’s eldest nephew and his grabby hands?
Can she keep little Amy safe from those who can’t see past her disabilities?
Every call from the Prophet brings new fears and restrictions as he decides what is taught at their school, which devout men get to marry more wives, and who is banished to the outside where crazy people think men walked on the moon.
Famous musicians! Her chance to perform… and get out of town for good.
Easy doesn’t fit in – a half-Black girl in this Canadian prairie city, raised on zydeco music and working in her dad’s garage.
Then Janis Joplin‘s tour train stops nearby, and Easy’s future path becomes clear… to a certain extent of uncertainty.
Questions, secrets, and such a 1970 roadtrip!
How far have you gone to see someone perform? **kmm
Book info: Freedom’s Just Another Word / Caroline Stellings. Second Story Press, 2016. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My Book Talk: Easy absolutely must find a way to get from Saskatoon to Texas so she can sing with Janis Joplin!
The Canadian prairie is as far from the segregated South as her black parents could get after the war, then a scandalous affair produced biracial Louisiana who’s done with high school and past ready to get out of town.
Between 1970 concerts, Janis Joplin’s train will stop here, and Easy is determined to sing the blues for her idol.
Through her drunken haze, Joplin recognizes Easy’s talent and invites her to Texas so they can sing together!
Hmmm…on the way to Austin, Easy can return some WWII medals to the mother of the man who was injured saving her father’s life at Pearl Harbor…
A road trip with two nuns, a stopover on Route 66, secrets whispered, secrets unleashed.
Hoping to lose herself in Sault Ste Marie, away from her parents never-ending grief, away from memories of her late twin brother, Christina thought the voyage across gigantic Georgian Bay would be summer-smooth like the last time.
Daniel hopes that he’ll be able to escape the illegal schemes that his uncle tricked him into, his heart as troubled as the storm-roiled lake waters.
No chaperones, no supplies, just their own wits and strength will get these young people to safety!
The dangerously overloaded Asia remains at the bottom of the “sixth Great Lake” and only a few bodies were recovered in the days following the 1882 disaster.
What new survival skills are on your list to learn in 2019?
Book info: Big Water / Andrea Curtis. Orca Book Publishers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Running away from her parents’ unrelenting grief over the death of her twin brother, 17-year-old Christina is shipwrecked after a Great Lakes steamer capsizes and must work with a mysterious young man if they hope to survive.
Her parents mourn anew every time they see her instead of Jonathan, but she won’t let them pack her off to be a nursemaid or country schoolmarm.
An overheard argument on the Asia between two men – a family quarrel or criminal betrayal?
The massively overloaded steamship cannot survive this storm – how can Christina swim to a lifeboat in these heavy skirts?
She and Daniel of the argument struggle to find other survivors, a safe place to land – are any nearby islands inhabited?
Based on the true story of an 1882 shipwreck in huge Georgian Bay on Lake Huron where only two teenagers survived, Christina and Daniel’s harrowing adventures on the Big Water reveal how strong they really are.
Trying to close our small town’s school?
Why should we spend hours on a bus to another school?
Why won’t adults listen to what the students have to say?
Bilan, Arn, Lettie, Grant, and Barlow each have their own reasons for wanting St. Isaac’s School to stay open.
But the Gang of Five can’t agree on what to do – a sit-in? messages to the media? more “extreme” actions?
Sidestreets is one of Canadian publisher Lorimer’s quick-read series with diverse characters and relatable situations and current topics like immigration and sexual identity in small towns and big cities.
How to decide which injustice to fight against?
Book info: Riot School (Sidestreets series) / Robert Rayner. Lorimer, 2017. [author bio] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
That painting is so real,
she can smell the salt air
and step into its lighthouse?!?
The girl who calls her sister, the girl’s mother who cannot see Annie… or can she?
This lighthouse on a rocky Newfoundland cliff may hold more than a lonely girl and her worries – but how can Annie of today also be back in the past?
You can listen to the author read the opening of this spooky tale at her website here.
Would you believe a specter who shared secrets with you?
Book info: The Painting / Charis Cotter. Tundra Books, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When Annie suddenly can step into a painting after her mother’s car wreck, the girl in its lighthouse calls her ‘sister’ and insists that their artist mother must never show those paintings with hidden meanings.
Two sisters, separated by death. Claire knows it was her fault.
One lighthouse, one artist, one almost-ghost. Annie isn’t sure why Maisie can almost see her.
Why did Annie’s own mother say she’d never, ever return to Newfoundland?
What if she never comes out of the coma?
Who is Claire of the lighthouse?
Storms battering the Newfoundland coast, cold wind blowing through Claire’s lonely life, Toronto hospital room lights that never sleep – perhaps artistic Annie has fallen down the rabbit hole from the girls’ beloved Alice in Wonderland. A two-voices tale of now and then, connections that blink and fade like the lighthouse’s rotating beam, warning of dangerous currents and cliffs.
Want to become an illustrator?
Ready to step up your drawing style?
Elise says “let out all the ideas” in your sketchbook!
Monsters and microbes and funny mushrooms are some of the “complete nonsense” that this Quebecoise author/illustrator allows herself to draw in her plain black notebook, only later revising them or adding funny stories or spinning them off into her many books for kids.
Her top advice for illustrators-in-training? “Draw all the time!”
Book info: If Found, Please Return to Elise Gravel / Elise Gravel, translated by Shira Adriance. Drawn & Quarterly, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Creatures large, small, and all whimsical fill this notebook by Canadian illustrator and children’s author Elise Gravel, as inspiration for us to draw, draw, draw!
Draw in spare moments, like Elise does – practice and more practice is the way to improve, as you find your own drawing style.
You can imitate illustrations for practice or create crazy ideas and doodles. Some may inspire a story, so write it.
Look at her Floofs and foxes, bunnies dressed in punk rock t-shirts, and “the Incredible Hulk presents his favourite recipes for a romantic dinner” – mashing up ideas can make really funny pictures!
To become a better illustrator, just grab your notebook (any color, says Elise) and keep on drawing!
Finally having a sister will be nice, Stewart thinks.
No, getting a nerdy stepbrother is awful, Ashley thinks.
How is this blended family thing going to work?
A genius with digestive issues and a so-so student who’s a social climber now have to share a house and a high school – not easy. Add in the new guy on the basketball team with a mysterious past (Ashley’s secret crush!) who attacks Stewart in phys ed, plus Ashley trying to keep the truth about her parents’ divorce a secret – not easy at all.
This laugh-aloud look at serious issues will be released in paperback on May 10, 2016 – if you can wait that long to read it!
Must moving forward mean leaving the best of your past behind?
Book info: We Are All Made of Molecules / Susin Nielsen. Wendy Lamb Books, 2015 (hardcover); 2016, Ember (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Stewart understands why his dad wants to remarry after Mom’s death, but the gifted 13-year-old is uncertain about his new stepsister’s popularity and academic problems when he transfers to her Vancouver high school, despite her wishes.
Adding Stewart’s favorite quirky possessions to his 14 year old stepsister’s sleek modern house is a balancing act, as is his nerdy presence at Ashley’s school where she’d rather study celebrity gossip than her textbooks.
A handsome new guy on the basketball team, the chance to become school mascot and a Mathlete, not-so-subtle mean girl comments – so much change in high school!
Can Stewart hold onto some of his mom’s molecules among so many new things?
Can Ashley keep the whole school from knowing that her dad is gay?
Why do parents have silly rules about no parties while they’re gone?
Told in alternating chapters by Stewart and Ashley, this Canadian family story brings humor to the often-tricky worlds of high school, stepfamilies, and identity. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Mr. R knows every kid at school by name, crafts the most interesting lessons ever, and wants to rewrite a particular part of history in their minds. Eventually, Andy questions his favorite teacher’s views, but is it too late?
When it comes to teachers, where’s the line between sharing beliefs and recruiting to a cause?
Book info: Numbers / David A. Poulsen. Dundurn, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Wondering if he’ll ever fit in at his Canadian high school, Andy basks in the attention of his history teacher, but must decide how far to follow as Mr. R strays far from the textbook during their Holocaust project.
Andy started off on the wrong foot the first day of freshman year, isn’t doing well at this dating thing, and is just tolerated by The Six misfits who aren’t exactly fans of being in school.
As year 10 students, they’re finally in Mr. R’s modern history class where every lesson is interesting. But Mr. Retzlaf’s ideas about the Holocaust don’t agree with what’s usually taught, and only Patti stands up to him.
How can someone as cool as Mr. R be wrong?
Why aren’t problems with girls and his alcoholic uncle and history as simple to fix as old cars?
Can ex-girlfriend Diana really hate him enough to carry out the ultimate revenge?
As some of The Six plan a terrible crime to gain Mr. R’s approval, Andy must decide what he believes and what to do about it. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
To keep the peace,
no price is too high –
if children are the hostages.
Four hundred years from now, the artificial intelligence Talis ensures world peace by holding rulers’ heirs as hostages – attack another country for its water, and your heir is executed on the spot.
A new alliance brings a new boy to the remote Canadian prairie where princess Greta has spent a decade lived for years as schoolchild hostage, and he doesn’t plan on staying there quietly…
Happy book birthday to The Scorpion Rules – fittingly, yesterday (21 Sept.) was International Peace Day.
Erin Bow also wrote mystical Plain Kate (my no-spoilers review here), and her tale-spinning of a former time works well in this too-possible future narrative.
A bitter and breathtaking view of world peace at great cost.
Book info: The Scorpion Rules / Erin Bow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Hostage princess Greta prays that her country stays at peace so she stays alive, but a new Child of Peace is ready to gamble away his life in this water-poor future where omniscient AI Talis holds all the cards.
Humanity can no longer wage war from a distance, 400 years after nearly nuking itself extinct, as Talis holds rulers’ heirs hostage throughout childhood, executing any whose home country attacks another.
Yet newly arrived teen Elian doesn’t care to follow Talis’ strict rules, and Greta gradually begins to question the generations-old method of peacekeeping too.
She’s spent years at this remote Canadian location with other royal youth, learning from AI tutors and working to raise their own food – how can Elian become part of their group so quickly?
Her roommate and first love Xie counsels patience as Elian’s foolish remarks (and threats to Talis) earn him terrible scorpion shocks from their proctors and raise new feelings in Greta.
Surely Greta will survive these last few months until her 18th birthday and return to the palace in Halifax – unless the new confederacy that sent Elian as hostage is a threat to her mother’s kingdom…
Elian’s favorite historical person is Spartacus, Talis decides to communicate directly with Greta, and long-quiet concerns suddenly flare to life – nothing for the Children of Peace will never be the same. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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