Tag Archive | competition

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.

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.

What is stalking cryptid healer SORCELINE & her classmates? by Sylvia Douye & Paola Antista (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Sorceline, by Sylvia Douye; illustrated by Paola Antista. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Studying mythic creatures,
learning how to heal them,
all she’s ever dreamed of!

Late to her first cryptozoology class because her guide was eaten en route, Sorceline is thrilled to be on the Isle of Voon, but the Professor’s assistant (a vampire who can endure sunlight…) calls the teens outside where a gorgon lies unconscious!

Brooding, quiet Merope knows the correct first response, so he will care for the gorgon who needs unicorn blood to survive.

When Tara goes missing during their night field trip to find a unicorn, everyone is worried; when a pile of shattered glass is found in her place, they’re worried and puzzled – what creature can do this?

Zombie pixies? Everyone knows pixies never come out at night, but one bites Sorceline who yells insults, then watches in horror as it turns into glass!

The Professor said that only one of these six students would become his apprentice – who or what is trying to eliminate some of the competition?

Sorceline’s gift is identifying magical creatures with just one look – can she help the Professor find what he needs to cure those turned into glass? Or is she the cause?

Alcide is smitten with Sorceline, utterly obsessed – is he a real teenager or a mythic creature himself?

Originally published in France as a three-part bande dessinee, Sorceline was just released in the US last month – stunning art with so many mystical creatures on the eerie island!

How do you maintain friendships while competing for the same goal?
**kmm

Book info: Sorceline / Sylvia Douye; illustrated by Paola Antista. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2022. [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

His dream needs THE CEDARVILLE SHOP AND THE WHEELBARROW SWAP! by Bridget Krone (MG book review)

book cover of The Cedarville Shop and the Wheelbarrow Swap, by Bridget Krone; art by Karen Vermeulen. Published by Catalyst Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Too-small house,
big-big dream –
action time is now!

Reading an old magazine aloud to his grandmother, 12-year-old Boipele finds the most interesting story – a man in Canada began with a red paperclip and kept trading until he had a house!

He longs to get his father and grandmother out of this tiny two-room house in their dusty South African village where they have many friends, but no jobs.

Boi and his best friend Potso decide he can start trading with the clay cow they make, so Mrs. Viljoen gives them permission to place their poster outside her Cedarville Shop.

Once folks understand that Boi is trading for something “of greater value” everyone is talking about his swapping dream. For each new trade, Potso draws another clever poster.

As the swapping continues, their classmates prepare for the Talent Show, and little breezes of hope stir through the village, along with a newspaper reporter who wants Boi’s story!

Why are his village’s problems as big as Cedarvale Mountain?
Will lovely, kind Sesi in his grade ever notice Boi?
Can Boi truly swap his way to a house big enough for three?

Come over to Cedarville and meet all of Boi’s neighbors as this young man works to make his dream come true.

What would you trade Boi for his clay cow?
**kmm

Book info: The Cedarville Shop and the Wheelbarrow Swap / Bridget Krone; art by Karen Vermeulen. Catalyst Press, 2022. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

American experiences you may have missed – time to read with your ears!

“The American story” has millions of chapters, each unique. This week (2-8 June 2022), the AudioSYNC program brings us a baseball life you may have missed and a glimpse of America itself gripped by Red scares during the Cold War.

Be sure you’ve registered here so your Sora shelf is ready to download either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks – free! Listen anytime and anywhere over the next 99 years, as long you can access your Sora shelf online.

If you miss any of the featured audiobooks during their free download time, check for them at your local public library or independent bookstore.

Remember – download these fascinating chapters of American history by Wednesday, 8 June 2022!

CD cover of Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke, by Andrew Maraniss, Read by Kevin R. Free. 
Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke (free Sora download 6/2-6/8/22)
by Andrew Maraniss | Read by Kevin R. Free
Published by Listening Library

Baseball fans saw Glenn Burke invent the high-five in 1977, but only those close to the LA Dodgers’ outfielder knew he was gay.

From the World Series to his post-baseball life fighting addiction during the AIDS epidemic, Burke’s life and legacy influenced the athletic and LGBTQIA+ community.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/194493/singled-out-by-andrew-maraniss-read-by-kevin-r-free/

divider clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War, 
by Albert Marrin. Read by Jason Culp.
Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War (free Sora download 6/2-6/8/22)
by Albert Marrin | Read by Jason Culp
Published by Listening Library

During the Cold War, some Americans thought Communist ideals could erase the nation’s deepening economic and social divides. Others saw Communism as an enormous threat to our democracy and would do anything to stop it – including blacklisting, lying, and trying to erase free speech.

This look at the McCarthy era’s strident bellowing against those who thought differently asks us to consider what’s worth fighting for and how far we each would go to protect our freedoms.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/196649/a-time-of-fear-by-albert-marrin-read-by-jason-culp/

What other American life stories would you like to see featured on AudioSYNC?
**kmm

divider clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159

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.

The death of the QUEEN OF THE TILES was no accident?! by Hanna Alkaf (YA book review)

book cover of Queen of the Tiles, by Hanna Alkaf. Published by Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Same tournament,
same competitors,
who wished her dead?

Maybe making her re-entry into the cutthroat world of teen Scrabble competition at this venue was a mistake. But after a lonely year, coming to the last place that Najwa saw her best friend Trina alive seems fitting somehow.

Trina’s gameplay was stunningly brilliant, her popularity off the charts – why the wealthy girl befriended quiet Najwa when she changed schools was a mystery.

Everyone (else) is here at the Malaysian hotel – Trina’s on-and-off boyfriend Mark, socially inept Josh, fidgety Emily (cheating scandal, yah), Singapore Ben and his hover-mother, Yasmin who knew Trina as a child… plus two annoying young players making a tribute documentary about Trina.

Najwa’s roommate this weekend is Puteri, Mark’s ex-girlfriend before Trina – no happy late-night chatfests with her fellow hijabi this weekend!

When Trina’s dormant Instagram account suddenly posts Scrabble tile photos that spell out clues, Najwa and companions begin wondering if Trina’s death during her final game with Josh was really accidental.

Pushing past grief and panic attacks, Najwa wants to win the tournament in memory of her best friend and find answers, even if asking questions puts her in danger, too.

Trina was “easy to love and easy to hate” – which emotion led to her demise?

Peppered with high-scoring Scrabble words, definitions, and anagrams, Najwa’s journey to win this tournament as she recreates Trina’s last moments makes for a high-stakes mystery!

What’s your favorite word game?
**kmm

Book info: Queen of the Tiles / Hanna Alkaf. Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

U is being unhappy with TAKING UP SPACE, by Alyson Gerber (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Taking Up Space, by Alyson Gerber. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Basketball is her favorite thing!
Her changing body isn’t
How to fix this??

Since she’s getting curvier and taller all at once, Sarah feels awkward on the basketball court for the first time ever. Coach says this is normal and that the 7th grader will get used to herself again – but how long will that take!?

As Coach discusses nutrition in health class, Sarah and so-cute Benny decide to be partners for the Chef Junior competition at their Massachusetts school – he cooks such wonderful things for his family!

When Dad’s away, Mom can forget that Sarah needs a good dinner every night. At least she remembered to sign the Chef Junior permission slip.

Mom hides candy from herself, eats only little bits of boring food, forgets to buy Sarah the healthy food she asks for – how will she get back to her best size for basketball?

Will Benny start to really like her as they practice cooking together?
Why can’t Mom remember to keep enough food at home?
When will Sarah feel like herself again on the court?

Big questions during a tumultuous junior high year for her whole friend group.

What advice from health class nutrition do you remember?
**kmm

Book info: Taking Up Space / Alyson Gerber. Scholastic Press, 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.