Tag Archive | disaster

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.

BEYOND ME, the earth shakes and trembles, by Annie Donworth-Chikamatsu (MG book review)

book cover of Beyond Me, by Annie Donworth-Chikamatsu. Published by Caitlyn Dlouhy Books /Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Fifth grade almost done,
cramming for junior high entrance exams,
wait… what’s happening under our feet?!

Buildings and trains and children in Japan are well-prepared for earthquakes because small tremors happen all the time.

But on March 11, 2010, the earth shook and shook, halting choir practice for 11-year-old Maya and her classmates, sending them home with worried parents and grandparents.

Maya’s American mother works from home, her great-grandparents are next door, best friend Yuka lives just down the lane.

The epicenter was far away in Japan’s north, followed by a massive tsunami that struck a nuclear electricity plant – oh, the devastation! Maya is heart-sick, feeling dizzy even when the earth isn’t moving – what can she do to help the people of the northeast?

There are aftershocks even down here and continuing worries about losing electricity, damage to railroads, having enough drinking water. Father finally reaches them after walking 20 miles from his office in Tokyo!

Maya’s mother begins organizing relief efforts for the northeast, working on her computer at home under the big table during tremors.

She shows Maya the paper crane project started by American students who are sending messages of support. Together, Maya and Yuka decide to fold 1000 paper cranes for hope, like Sadako.

As end-of-school events are postponed again and again, Maya and Father work with Great-grandfather in the vegetable field, glad to be outdoors as summer begins, to grow food for their neighbors, to be together as tremors continue.

Will her sixth-grade year begin on time?
What if the Big Earthquake hits here?
Why is this strange cat coming into her house?

This novel in verse uses unique typesetting patterns to show Maya’s fright and confusion during the quake and its many aftershocks, large and small.

Today marks 12 years since this event – have you ever experienced an earthquake?
**kmm

Book info: Beyond Me / Annie Donworth-Chikamatsu. Caitlyn Dlouhy/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020, paperback 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Lost daughter or just a HOMEWRECKER? by Deanna Cameron (book review)

book cover of Homewrecker, by Deanna Cameron. Published by Wattpad Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Stormy life,
grown up too fast,
Tornado! Where’s Mom?

When her druggie mom is swept away from their trailer park by a tornado, Brownyn is taken in by the family of her long-estranged father, now a rich and powerful senator.

The 17 year old always knew that her birth after David’s short separation from his wife was an accident, hushed up as he rose from young lawyer to the Senate – only once as a kid did she meet his family.

She’s stunned now by their casual wealth, the summer home on the lake, and being accepted by her stepmom and four half-siblings. They’ve always known about her?

Mom’s body is finally found, but she was strangled before the tornado hit! David’s influence keeps the investigation going, even as the media blares out Bronwyn as his secret love-child.

So she’ll get out and meet people, she now works with half-sister Andi (one grade older, YouTube makeup guru deluxe) at the drive-in movie theater. Teenager Ethan next door takes care of their garden, and Bronwyn shares her plant knowledge with him.

But she misses her friends at home, doesn’t think the detectives are really trying to solve Mom’s murder, and decides it’s time to go do some sleuthing herself – Ethan’s more than willing to roadtrip with her.

Was Mom killed over drug money or something else?
How will Bronwyn fit in at a new rich-kid school?
Why is David’s family so nice to her…really?

Secrets old and new collide as the teen struggles to become part of a real family instead of the only responsible person at home.

What long-lost kid story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book Info: Homewrecker / Deanna Cameron. Wattpad Books, 2021. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Bad news AIN’T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT, by Jason Reynolds & Jason Griffin (YA book review)

book cover of Ain't Burned All the Bright, by Jason Reynolds; artwork by Jason Griffin. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Three long sentences,
Two Jasons collaborating again,
One vibrant book, willing us to breathe…

His father coughing and coughing in the bedroom, his mother glued to the all-bad-news television. Brother won’t stop playing his video game, sister chatting about what to bring for a protest during a pandemic.

Stuck at home together – will it ever be safe to leave?
After George Floyd’s murder – who wants to be away from home?
TV locked on the same channel – is there better news anywhere?

A Black young man feels like he’s the only family member who realizes how bad things really are, how “worry is worn like a knit sweater in summer” suffocating them all, yet maybe hope can get them through all this.

Jason Reynolds (I’ve recommended his books Boy in the Black Suit; Ghost; Look Both Ways) wrote the story of a young man and his family during that first year of pandemic and protests as three very, very long sentences.

His former roommate Jason Griffin journaled his impressions of 2020 via paint, colored pencil, and collage in his moleskin notebook, then cut out and taped Reynolds’ words onto his artwork whose textures leap off the satin-surfaced pages of this book.

Happy book birthday to this stunning reflection on events of 2020 when so many of us wished we could change the TV channel from its harsh realities to something brighter.

What do you remember most about 2020?
**kmm

Book info: Ain’t Burned All the Bright / Jason Reynolds; artwork by Jason Griffin. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Atheneum, 2022. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Statistics show OPTIMISTS DIE FIRST, right? by Susin Nielsen (book review)

book cover of Optimists Die First, by Susin Nielsen. Published by Tundra Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sister’s death wasn’t her fault-
Everyone says so,
but she can’t accept that…

Everyday life in Vancouver is filled with deadly risks, so 16-year-old Petula takes every precaution now (but nothing can bring back her little sister or her best friend).

The new guy with the prosthetic arm witnesses her panic attack in class and is in her youth art therapy class and thinks Petula is nice (but doesn’t know how Maxine died).

Ack! Petula and Jacob have to do a project together for English?! His movie-making skills and her recently abandoned crafting supplies plus her mom’s rescue cats should be perfect (but Dad doesn’t agree about having so many cats, not one bit).

As they work together, Jacob reveals his struggles with surviving the crash that killed his best friends back in Toronto, Petula begins to look forward to spending time with him, and life becomes brighter for both of them (but hopefully kissing is less germ-filled than she thought).

When the art therapy class rebels against their teacher’s little-kid ideas, she challenges them to find creative ways to face their issues – parental rejection, grief, survivor’s guilt, addictive behaviors – and they begin working together (but don’t call them friends quite yet).

But when one secret comes to light, Petula’s new happiness and the art therapy group’s progress are all threatened.

From the author of We Are All Made of Molecules (recommended here).

How do you know when it’s time to let old problems go?
**kmm

Book info: Optimists Die First / Susin Nielsen. Tundra Books, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

CATASTROPHES & HEROES of man-made disasters, by Jerry Borrowman (book review)

book cover of Catastrophes & Heroes, by Jerry Borrowman. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Boats and trains,
Dams and bridges,
Engineered to work…or fail.

An overloaded Mississippi River steamboat explodes, killing 1169 Union prisoners heading home from notorious Andersonville Prison, making barely a ripple in the newspapers during the closing weeks of the Civil War.

Flawed designs by self-proclaimed experts caused the horrific 1879 Tay railway bridge collapse and costly 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge failure.

Ignoring local geological conditions led to terrible loss of life and property as the St. Francis Dam burst in California in 1928, as did Italy’s Vajont Dam in 1963.

A hurricane killed many workers building the railroad to Key West in 1935, then sabotage derailed a new Streamliner train into a desert river in 1939, far from the nearest town.

Each of these harrowing stories includes fateful choices made and their unintended consequences, victims and first responder heroes, and the professional heroes who analyzed the catastrophe and recommended ways to prevent future disasters.

Reaction to these tragedies resulted in stronger safety requirements for the modern marvels of public works and transportation that we now take for granted.

From the author of Compassionate Soldier (recommended here) and Invisible Heroes of World War II (see here) who so ably centers the human factor amid history’s facts and lists.

How can you be more ready to respond to disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Catastrophes and Heroes: True Stories of Man-Made Disasters / Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Among P.T. Barnum’s wonders, WE ARE ALL HIS CREATURES, by Deborah Noyes (book review)

Book cover of We Are All His Creatures, by Deborah Noyes. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The greatest showman!
Spotlight on him!
Overshadowing all others to reach his dreams…

Barnum’s museum of wonders captivates New York in 1842, yet his daughters feel he cares about the mermaid more than he loves them, would rather transform a little person into General Tom Thumb than tell them stories.

Jo is the decoy, drawing away mobs of fans so that famed opera singer Jenny Lind can safely make her way to each performance hall on Barnum’s 1851 tour, ever in her best friend’s shadow.

At home on her father’s lavish estate in Connecticut, only twelve year old Helen and the Barnum menagerie sense the presence of little sister Frances’ ghost who’s angry enough to wreak havoc as big sister Caroline’s 1852 wedding day approaches.

In 1868, no one can know that the Bearded Lady has a son! Mr. Barnum runs a most respectable establishment, and news of her illegitimate child would doom them both. Luckily, the American Museum is so crowded that Jack can sketch the animals with no one the wiser.

This double-handful of tales re-imagines the lives, dreams, and worries of people locked into their orbits around the self-created brilliance of “there’s a sucker born every minute” Barnum.

Is it ever right for the difference of others to be a show for the rest?
**kmm

Book info: We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman / Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W for HOW WE BECAME WICKED, by Alexander Yates (YA book review)

book cover of How We Became Wicked, by Alexander Yates. Published by Caitlyn Dloughy/Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Safe in their domed towns,
from the zing-sting of plague-bringer Singers,
but not from the secrets, deadly secrets!

Turned into a Wicked cannibal by an insect’s sting! No wonder rich investors fled to this remote resort on the rocky Atlantic coast, fortified it with domes and tunnels and walls and supplies aplenty.

Those turned Wicked by sting or breath or blood look human and are so polite, asking first if they may rip off your arm to eat it – only their inability to answer a certain question unmasks them as no longer True.

Natalie’s grandfather is Wicked, and there are only so many places to lock up a clever cannibal on small Puffin Island – how long can she and her parents keep him at bay?

Years pass and children become few in Goldsport, as the radio voice reminds True families that on a certain night a youngster may be stung by Singers and become immune to the Vex, but no guarantees…

The island lighthouse starts working after years of darkness, a Wicked woman at the Goldsport gate knows Astrid’s father, and the town archives reveal things that teens Astrid and Hank aren’t supposed to see.

Can anyone really become Vexed, infected yet remaining True?
What happened in the little town near Goldsport as the Wickedness advanced?
What happens when the blue spray doesn’t chase the Singers away anymore?

Trying to wall out what you don’t want…has that ever worked?
**kmm

Book info: How We Became Wicked / Alexander Yates. Caitlyn Dloughy Books/ Atheneum, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is THE ORACLE CODE graphic novel mystery, by Marieke Nijkamp & Manuel Preitano (book review)

book cover of The Oracle Code: a Graphic Novel, by Marieke Nijkamp & Manuel Preitano. Published by DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Brilliant hacker,
devoted friend,
her life shattered by one shot.

A bullet meant for someone else puts Babs in the Arkham Center for Independence, where the Gotham City teen will learn everything about being a wheelchair users – or so says the Director.

She’d rather be in her own Gotham City bedroom, wondering what case her police commissioner father is on now, gaming with Ben to earn her own hacker name.

This mansion was modernized for ACI and its residents of differing physical abilities, but old secrets and shadows linger in its halls and walls – secrets that Babs and new friend Jena will puzzle out.

Where did Jena’s brother Michael go?
Why does the Director insist he was never at ACI?
Can Babs hack the Center’s computers to get the truth?

When Jena is released from ACI but doesn’t say goodbye to anyone, Babs knows she’s been “disappeared” like other kids… now to discover where Jena really is and rescue her!

When life puts limits on you, what’s next?
**kmm

Book info: The Oracle Code: a Graphic Novel / Marieke Nijkamp (author), Manuel Preitano (illustrator, colorist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer). DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults, 2020. [author site] [illustrator Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

FOUR THREE TWO ONE…survivor’s guilt may explode, by Courtney Stevens (YA book review)

book cover of Four Three Two One, by Courtney Stevens. Published by Harper Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

An art installation,
recreating the NYC bus bombing
where they almost died with the others…
almost.
Is almost enough or too much?

A year after an angry white boy explodes himself on a sightseeing bus, the four teen survivors are still trying to piece their lives together:

Golden and Chan – young sweethearts from the same Kentucky commune,
Caroline – from New York wine country, unable to escape vicious Simon,
Rudy – former athlete, now wheelchair-bound in Florida.

A medic who helped them away from the burning bus has spent the past year honoring the victims online and will soon unveil the rebuilt bus with their families’ memories – on the very street where it happened.

He asks people who can’t attend to donate scholarship money for the survivors and invites Golden, Chan, Caroline, and Rudy to be there.

Can they really face that bus where 19 others died?
Can they undo their connections to the bomber’s choice to bomb that bus at that moment?
Can they move forward, alone or together, ever?

Golden’s tennis partner Becky arranges the road trip that will get them all to NYC for the ceremony…ready to remember or not.

How have you worked through being a survivor?
**kmm

Book info: Four Three Two One / Courtney Stevens. Harper Teen, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.