Tag Archive | diversity

With music, THE KIDS OF WIDNEY JUNIOR HIGH TAKE OVER THE WORLD! by Mathew Klickstein (book review)

book cover of The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! by Mathew Klickstein. Published by Schiffer Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bullied his first week at junior high, 11 year old Robbie is rescued by big Peewee who invites him to band practice where the autistic eighth grader is a singer.

Led by their special ed teacher (and former rock musician), the six-member Kids of Widney Junior High rock band has written many original songs as they prepare for their first big public concert.

Robbie quickly learns that his new friends’ lives aren’t like media stereotypes – Daniel and Cain live with blindness but don’t want to feel his face, and Tanesa zings through life with cerebral palsy.

As the concert date nears, longtime couple Peewee and Elisa have a big argument during rehearsal, overwhelming Cain who says he’s quitting the band!

Does Peewee understand the true power of his words now?
Can the Kids get Elisa and Cain back to rehearsals?
Will the record company exec really attend their show?

This fictional account of the real band members’ struggles in junior high echoes the experiences of many young people that the world sees as ‘different’ on the outside.

The Kids of Widney High are still performing as adults today, opening for established bands, have produced four albums, and were featured in ‘The Ringer’ movie. Real-life Peewee says “Don’t let anything, even your disabilities, cloud your dreams. Just go for it!” (pg. 141).

Happy book birthday to The Kids of Widney Junior High!

Where will your dreams take you?
**kmm

Book info: The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! / Mathew Klickstein; illustrated by Michael S. Bracco. Schiffer Kids, 2020. [author site] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

No way! LUPE WONG WON’T DANCE, by Donna Barba Higuera (book review)

book cover of Lupe Wong Won't Dance, by Donna Barba Higuera. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

PE equals sports.
How is square dancing a sport?!

Lupe wants to become a major league pitcher, so meeting the MLB’s first Asian/Latino pitcher in Seattle will be a dream come true – IF she can ace all her middle school classes.

Getting an A in PE should be easy for the Chinese-Mexican athlete, until Coach announces square dancing and a public performance!

Unhygenic hand-holding, only boys can choose their partner, questionable song lyrics – every objection that Lupe brings up to the principal is met with modifications to their lessons, meaning less time to learn the dance and be chosen to perform and earn that A… her classmates aren’t happy with her.

Advice from her Mexican-American grandmother and Chinese-American grandparents, the voice of experience from big brother, the memory of her late father… she’s just gotta try.

Doctor Who nights with autistic best friend Niles get cancelled, best friend Andy’s mom adds soccer to her overloaded schedule, and Lupe even gets the cold shoulder from her baseball team.

When her assigned partner is injured, Lupe has to dance alone! Now how can she be chosen for the performance and earn her A in PE?

Happy book birthday this week to this strong young woman and her cadre of friends!

When have you bucked tradition for what is right?
**kmm

Book info: Lupe Wong Won’t Dance / Donna Barba Higuera. Levine Querido, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Different stories, different viewpoints? Audiobooks bring us both

It’s past time to pro-actively seek out viewpoints beyond our own, to strive to understand where others are placed in the world – let this week’s free audiobooks get you started on this journey!

First, grab the free Sora app on your phone or tablet. Next, register free at AudioSYNC, then use either or both of the links below to download this week’s audiobooks, free through Wed, July 1, 2020.

CD cover of Mexican Whiteboy, by Matt de la Peña | Read by Henry Leyva
Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mexican Whiteboy (download here free, 25 June -1 July 2020)

by Matt de la Peña. Read by Henry Leyva. Published by Brilliance Audio

Half-Mexican, half-White, all mixed up – Danny doesn’t fit in at his San Diego private school where his talented but erratic pitching can’t save him from being too brown.

He doesn’t speak Spanish, so it’s awkward staying with his dad’s family when his divorced mom goes north. Is he the reason Dad went back to Mexico?

The Silence Between Us (download here free, 25 June -1 July 2020)

Since becoming Deaf a few years ago, Maya has learned ASL at a special school. Then Mom’s job moves them across the country, and the teen must attend a hearing high school…

I recommended this #ownvoices story on BooksYALove earlier this year – no-spoiler details here.

How are you working to truly see and understand the culture of other people?
**kmm

Soul calls to soul, WILLA AND THE WHALE, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown (middle grade book review)

book cover of Willa and the Whale, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

She observes and learns,
listens and writes,
are her own answers in the sea?

Same island town in Washington that Willa left as a nine year old when she and Mom moved to Japan after the divorce, but now her horizons are wider and her grief is deep.

On a whale-watching trip with Dad just a month after Mom’s death, Willa films a gigantic female humpback whale breaching and calls out to her and the whale Meg talks back!

Too much can change in three years – best friend in a different house, too many people in Willa’s old house (step-siblings, half-sibling, too much noise!), no Mom to help her study the creatures of the ocean.

When Willa calls to Meg from the island beach, the whale answers from the distant deeps.

When friend Marc is secretive, Meg gives Willa good advice. When something dreadful happens on the beach, Willa tells Meg about it first.

Missing her Mom – will it ever get easier?
Being herself – will her island classmates ever understand?

In this tale of grief and loss and love, Willa’s journal entries from then and now reveal her deep appreciation of the sea’s inhabitants and her struggle toward living less-alone on the land.

When have you heard a call from afar?
**kmm

Book info: Willa and the Whale / Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [Chad’s site] [Shelly’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Nine years of #books… did it!

logo of 10th April Blogging A to Z Challenge

Yesterday, I wrapped up my 9th April A to Z Blog Challenge – 26 new books reviewed in a month. Nine years in a row!

Thank you to the A2Z organizers for providing annual graphics, badges, sign-ups, and promotion for free. During this pandemic, having a scheduled daily task was especially welcome.

Every year, I wonder if I should push myself to post every April day but Sundays, forcing books to fit into that A to Z progression (X, I am looking at you), and every year I am glad that I did it so y’all have 26 more books worth seeking out.

And today marks the beginning of my TENTH year of blogging about books beyond the bestsellers as BooksYALove!

Big thanks to Michele Rafter, whose Blogathon caught my attention in late April 2011 so I could start my very first blog on May 1st and learn the ins and outs of blogging during that May and several to follow.

Huge thanks to Barb Langridge, who asked me in 2010 to join other librarians in writing reviews for her book discovery site for kids www.abookandahug.com. Building up a digital folder of no-spoiler Young Adult and middle grade book reviews to post on my new blog was a true gift.

Much appreciation to the publishers who provide review copies and who have begun bringing us more books by #ownvoices authors, people of color, underrepresented populations – still a long, long way to go, but it’s a start.

All the love to my daughter Emily who designed the BooksYALove logo, helped me move this blog to self-hosting several years ago, and is the best kind of tech support always – mwah!

Will I post every day from now on?
Probably not.

Will I seek out books that are #ownvoices or beyond bestsellers, always worth your attention?
You bet!

Will I promote libraries and independent booksellers over other options?
Always, always, always!

What’s new in your book-reading world?
**kmm

Z for zap! with LIGHTNING GIRL! by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall (middle grade book review)

book cover of Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall, illustrated by James Lancett. Published by Kane Miller Publishing EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sparks from her fingers!
Light beams from her hands!
Growing pains or superpowers?

Big brother is brilliant with computers, little sister is a genuine genius, and Aurora is in the middle, just average at everything, until the birthmark on her hands starts shooting light when she gets angry!

Mum is a secret superhero? Grandma and Aunt Lucinda too? Aurora has inherited superpowers?

Training sessions with Mum, keeping her secret from best friend Kizzy, Mr. Mercury ready to fail her in science – the British 11 year old is stressing out!

Her parents are arguing a lot now, the class trip to her dad’s exhibit of mysterious gemstones gets wild, and Aunt Lucinda drops by with her ostrich sidekick… what was her superpower exactly?

It’s up to Aurora to solve the gemstone mystery, repair her friendship with Kizzy, and make her parents happy together again…but how?

This illustrated adventure is the first in a series as the biracial middle-schooler meets other superheroes and fights against more villains. Look for all 4 books at your local library or independent bookstorehome delivery is a winner!

What superpower would you want to have?
**kmm

Book info: Lightning Girl (Lightning Girl, book 1) / Alesha Dixon with Katy Birchall; illustrated by James Lancett. Kane Miller EDC Publishers, 2020. [author interview] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy, sample page, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

sample page from Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall

Summer of Sloane, by Erin L. Schneider (book review) – no more us, now who is she?

book cover of Summer Of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider published by Disney-Hyperion  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSloane’s best friend is pregnant!
By Sloane’s boyfriend!
Oh, leaving town is definitely an excellent idea!!

Even with a broken hand from punching Tyler in the nose, she can enjoy the beach with her twin brother at Mom’s house in Hawai’i, pretend she doesn’t care about her former friends (girl- and boy-) in Seattle (if they would please quit texting and calling and emailing with excuses for why it happened!), and start over as just Sloane, instead of eternally being half of a duo.

She didn’t plan on an attraction to Finn that maybe might be more than a summer fling… on the beach, you’ve got to watch out for the biggest waves.

Have you ever re-invented yourself when moving to a new place?
**kmm

Book info:  Summer of Sloane / Erin L. Schneider. Disney Hyperion, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Sloane’s best friend Mick gets pregnant by Sloane’s boyfriend, the Seattle teen is more than ready to head to Mom’s Hawai’i home and try to find her true self with no summer romance! Swim lessons for scared-of-water young Luce are doable, even with her wrist cast, but staying away from her big brother Finn is nearly impossible.

Punching Tyler in the nose? Satisfying, if hand-breaking.
Ignoring texts from him and Mick? Difficult, but necessary.
Falling for Finn? Uh-oh…

As her Hawai’i pal Mia declares it “the summer of Sloane” to reinvent herself as single and happy, she tries to shut out the past, even as Finn is reminded of it always by his aloof father. And the days of summer count down, one by one…

Multicultural Children’s Book Day – windows & mirrors for us all

Yes, books can be windows to other worlds, other lives.
Also they should be mirrors where we can see ourselves, yet the majority of kids’ and young adult books published in the US don’t reflect that. (see my June 2014 post here for statistics)

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day which aims to open eyes, spark discussion, provide resources, and spread the word about the available books with main characters who are not white, middle-class, and straight.

Visit the site to find myriad book lists by category, from Asian American Books for Kids of All Ages to Diverse Biography Picture Books, as well as book lists by geographic region and holidays.

You know that I recommend books outside bestsellers (where, let’s face it, the leads are most often white, hetero, economically comfortable), so I find wonderful diverse titles that lots of folks will enjoy. BookRiot’s recent article on “How to Read Diversely” highlights more ways to find good reads with diverse characters.

#ReadYourWorld or someone else’s with these recent books (click title for my no-spoilers recommendation):

book cover of If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth published by Arthur A Levine BooksIf I Ever Get Out of Here, by Eric Gansworth – Rez life, seeing into others’ lives, the Beatles

Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, by Joel Christian Gill – graphic novel featuring African Americans not shown in history books

Shelter, by Patricia Aust – trying to be a man without resorting to Dad’s violence

Orleans, by Sherri L. Smith – deadly Delta Fever is least of Fen’s worries in post-apocalyptic Gulf Coast

The Chaos, by Nalo Hopkinson – Jamaican-Canadian teen seeks her brother in city overtaken by mythic, storybook, nightmare beings

Riding Invisible, by Sandra Alonzo – escaping on horseback from violence at home

Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew – graphic novel of first Asian American superhero

Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, by Diana Lopez – Mom’s cancer, Chia’s promesas, answers not always clear

Need more? Watch for Diverse Books as Genre in column on the right (under all the tags) – updating in progress.

What diverse books are your favorites?
**kmm

How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon (book review) – gunshots, expectations, elusive truth

book cover of How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon published by Henry Holt BFYRKilled while running an errand for mom,
is Tarik a statistic, a symbol,
a symptom of our problems?
#Blacklivesmatter

In single-person chapters, every person shows how their version of How It Went Down is right, but the details just don’t match up. Was Tarik in the Kings gang or not? Was he as good as little sister Tina believed or as cruel as Kimberly experienced?

And how could the police release the white guy who shot Tarik, who was in the neighborhood just to borrow a car, who claimed self-defense against a teen who had no gun? (Tarik didn’t, did he?)

Written and edited well before the troubles of later 2014, this thought-provoking book was published in October, so you should be able to find it at your local library or independent bookstore.

Where does the violence end?
**kmm

Book info: How It Went Down / Kekla Magoon. Henry Holt Books For Young Readers, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Blam-blam! Black teen shot dead by a white man’s gun – but that’s all that the eyewitnesses can agree on.

Who started it – the kid edging into gang life or the guy just passing through the neighborhood?

Was Tarik holding a gun or a candy bar? Was Jack a good citizen breaking up a gang scuffle or a vigilante doing what the cops wouldn’t?

Did senatorial candidate Rev. Sloan come to Underhill to help the community mourn and heal or to advance his campaign?

Can the late teen’s best pal Tyrell escape to college without Tarik standing between him and the Kings’ insistence that he join the gang and earn his knife?

Each friend, family member, street acquaintance, and bystander tells How It Went Down, their many voices threading throughout the book to weave a most complex picture of perceptions, assumptions, and misunderstandings. Many questions, no easy answers, a conversation which must continue.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Book of Broken Hearts, by Sarah Ockler (book review) – memory is fickle; is love any different?

book cover of Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler published by Simon PulseEl Demonio stealing Papi’s memories,
Family duty stealing Jude’s theater dreams,
Memories stealing Emilio’s happiness.
Can thieves be banished by hard work  – and love?

Jude is sure that Papi’s memory bank will refill if he can just ride once more on the Harley that took him up the Argentine mountains  read more here