Tag Archive | fathers

F for FREEING FINCH to be herself, by Ginny Rorby (middle grade book review)

cover of Freeing Finch, by Ginny Rorby. Published by Starscape (Macmillan) | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Old neighbor, new friend,
her body is a boy’s, but she is herself,
who else understands?

Momma taken by cancer and Dad who knows where, now all the family that Finch has is her unemployed stepfather and his new wife.

Most folks in their small northern California town think of her as a boy, but “you’re what you are in your head and heart, Finch, not what it says on your birth certificate,” Maddy assures the nearly 12-year-old as they care for rehabilitating wildlife together (p. 16).

Wondering if the scared yellow dog will ever come nearer than the food bowl at the edge of the woods, if Finch can locate her father again, if her new friend Sherri will stay friends….

Then her stepfather’s pastor suggests sending Finch to camp that will ‘cure’ her to match her birth body, Maddy is injured, and Animal Control traps the yellow dog!

Finch has to stay strong, stay true to herself, and find a way to get both Maddy and the dog Ben home.

How can we support trans friends and others whose families pressure them to conform?
**kmm

Book info: Freeing Finch / Ginny Rorby. Starscape (Macmillan), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is WITH A STAR IN MY HAND, by Margarita Engle (book review)

book cover of With a Star In My Hand, by Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Trading his poems for circus tickets,
Poems as ticket to university education,
Poems as true as love and as dangerous as truth…

Abandoned by his parents as a young boy, celebrated for his poetry as a young teen, exiled from his homeland of Nicaragua as a young man, Ruben Dario moved from traditional poetic forms to creating his own and spreading Modernism throughout Central and South America.

As a storytelling poet of mestizo heritage, Dario blended Spanish and indio tales with those learned from books and travel, showcasing the world’s wideness in the decades prior to World War I rather than merely his own emotions.

Margarita Engle (Jazz Owls recommended here, Lion Island here & Mountain Dog here) brings us another biography in verse, echoing the styles which Dario embraced during different stages of his life.

“Poets must speak, no matter the punishment.
We are observers with musical voices, testifying
in the courtrooms
of nature
and human life.” – Disappointment (page 70)

How is your true voice testifying to the truth you see?
**kmm

Book info: With a Star In My Hand: Ruben Dario, Poetry Hero / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books, 2020. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Not him for her Matrimony! THE VIRTUE OF SIN, by Shannon Schuren (book review)

book cover of Virtue of Sin, by Shannon Schuren, published by Penguin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Their prophet Daniel leads them all,
keeps them safe from the evil world Outside,
…if only what he said were true.

Imagine growing up in an isolated religious community, self-reliant, protected, safe in the desert away from an entire world of unbelievers.

Finally old enough to be paired in Matrimony by the leader who knows everything, absolutely everything, about you.

Except this prophet is a conman and every youth in the community is in grave danger.

How far will we follow those who promise safety from everyone not like us?
**kmm

Book info: The Virtue of Sin / Shannon Schuren. Penguin Teen, hardcover 2019, paperback June 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Safe in New Jerusalem from the outside world’s sins, Miriam and other teens are excited for the first marriage ceremonies of their generation.

But it’s not Caleb who chooses her, despite the dreams she reported to leader Daniel for years.

New husband Aaron isn’t who she thought, and neither is Daniel.

Who knows the truth here?

Cult or community in the California desert, its secrets are deep… told alternately by Miriam and Caleb.

Can CHICKEN GIRL ever be herself again? #yalit by Heather Smith (book review)

book cover of Chicken Girl, by Heather Smith. Published by Penguin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.

Will QUEEN OF THE SEA watch over them all? #GraphicNovel by Dylan Meconis (book review)

book cover of Queen of the Sea, by Dylan Meconis, Published by Walker Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Taken to a remote island as a baby, Margaret lives with the exiled nuns whose life-work is praying for travelers on the treacherous seas.

When Albion’s king dies years later, one of his daughters reigns and one is sent to the island convent as prisoner for life.

Margaret is the only witness to a shipwreck after royal Eleanor’s arrival on the island and finds a survivor in the sea cave – someone who wants to rescue the would-be-queen!

Secrets thread through this full-color graphic novel based on the youth of Elizabeth I. Check out sample pages here free, courtesy of the publisher.

I read and wrote about Queen of the Sea some months ago, but didn’t publish the post till now.

Happy to learn that others love it as much as I do – shortlisted for the 2020 Pacific Northwest Book Awards and appearing on several Best Graphic Novels of 2019 lists!!

Secrets and not-so-secrets – what’s your favorite recent graphic novel?
**kmm

Book info: Queen of the Sea / story & art by Dylan Meconis. Walker Books US (Candlewick), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Do they dare seek the MALAMANDER?! by Thomas Taylor, art by Tom Booth (MG book review)

book cover of Malamander, by Thomas Taylor, art by Tom Booth. Published by Walker Books US/Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Secrets throughout the seaside town,
shoes neatly abandoned on the shore,
a man with a boat hook for a hand!

Winter winds moan across the shipwreck just off the pier and whip snow through Eerie-On-Sea’s cobbled streets, as Violet bursts into Herbie’s office and demands to no longer be lost.

The young Lost-and-Founder of the Grand Nautilus Hotel hides the girl from his ever-angry hotel manager and a sea captain who stabs his boat-hook hand through wooden trunks seeking her!

Her parents vanished from this hotel and left infant Violet behind 12 years ago – will Herbie help her find them?

An Eerie Book Dispensary postcard is her main clue – will its mechanical monkey prescribe a book for Violet with more information?

A writer in town says that her father’s research on the Malamander was inaccurate – why is he trying to find the unpublished manuscript?

Someone (or something) is attacking those who dare ask questions about the legendary Malamander fish-man, and the two orphaned young teens must connect all the story-threads before they are the next victims!

Just published in the US yesterday, Malamander is first in a series set in this creepy English town filled with memorable characters.

What local legends do your friends tell stories about?
**kmm

Book info: Malamander (Legends of Eerie-On-Sea, book 1) / Thomas Taylor; illustrated by Tom Booth. Walker Books US/Candlewick, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [book series site] [publisher site] Review copy, display pages, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

2 pages: end of chapter 28 showing Herbie leaping to another rooftop as harpoon speeds toward him and Violet, and start of chapter 29 "Silver-Tipped"

Hard-hitting football CRACKING THE BELL, by Geoff Herbach (YA book review)

book cover of Cracking the Bell, by Geoff Herbach. Published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Running plays, making big hits,
workouts, routines, football team captain…
now with agonizing brain distress.

Football saved Isaiah when the alternative was reform school. But it can’t bring back his dead sister or his easy relationship with Grace or his swagger on the field, knowing that any tackle could bring another concussion that puts him lights-out for good.

But if Isaiah stops playing football, what’s left for him?
If he doesn’t, will he have any future to work for?

His divorced parents are sure he’ll go to college in their small Minnesota town…but other college scouts have seen his hard-hitting defensive play and want to talk.

Odd-jobs guy Joey says journaling will help the high school senior process his past problems and present dilemmas…can it make the headaches and screeching sounds in his head go away?

Grandma Gin tells him to stay away from Grace who’s finally getting her act together…but how can he?

Happy book birthday to Cracking the Bell , as Isaiah tries to hide his symptoms from Coach even while he knows that the decision to keep playing is all on him.

One hit can knock out a player forever – youth football, yes or no?
**kmm

Book info: Cracking the Bell / Geoff Herbach. Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Foster home safe for HOME GIRL Naomi? by Alex Wheatle (YA book review)

book cover of Home Girl, by Alex Wheatle. Published by Black Sheep/Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not half-bad foster family, for once,
iccle bro and sis looking up to her –
why are they so nice?

After Mum died, Naomi took care of alcoholic Dad for years. Now the UK foster care system thinks the 14-year-old needs watching over…

Naomi’s hostility to foster families quickly exhausts her social worker’s options, and the white teen is placed temporarily with a black family.

Colleen and Tony are nice enough, their kids like Naomi, too – but Tony’s parents aren’t keen on a white girl taking space where a black foster kid could be safe.

Alternative school kids are quick with their fists and loud with slangy curses. The black girls there aren’t liking Naomi’s new cornrow braids…

When Colleen discovers Naomi’s love of urban dance, she arranges lessons at a real studio! Now isn’t the time for social services to place her with a suburban white family.

Just published in the US by Black Sheep/Akashic, Home Girl is the latest in Wheatle’s YA books set in working class British towns, examining personal identity, racial relations, and finding one’s place in the world.

When do we become ‘grown up enough’ to take on all of life’s responsibilities?
**kmm

Book info: Home Girl / Alex Wheatle. Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

They rejoice in being STRANGE BIRDS together! by Celia C. Perez (MG book review)

book cover of Strange Birds, by Celia C. Perez. Published by Kokila Books PRH. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Endangered bird feathers as a prop,
a social club with no social awareness,
time to stop this nonsense!

Waiting out her parents’ transatlantic divorce arguments, Lane decides to take summer at her wealthy grandmother’s palatial Florida estate from boring to bold by inviting other 12 year old girls to form a secret club.

Ofelia’s overprotective Cuban-American parents want the budding journalist to stay safe, quit being so inquisitive, and certainly not apply for news-writers’ camp in New York City.

Helping her grandfather research connections between their Bahamian roots and local citrus growers leaves Aster plenty of time to cook up new dishes while Mom’s overseas in the Army.

As youngest sister, Cat is her society-conscious mother’s final chance to have a Miss Flora in the family, but she’d rather watch living birds than sit in boring club meetings.

The new friends decide to challenge the tradition of Miss Flora wearing a ceremonial hat with feathers from endangered birds – it should be in a museum!

All their low-key protests – stickers, lawn flamingos at the Flora clubhouse – get taken over by the Flora leader for publicity! How can this eclectic crew make the townspeople understand the importance of protecting local birds in peril?

Happy book birthday to Strange Birds, now available at your local library or independent bookstore.

**kmm

Book info: Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers / Celia C. Perez. Kokila Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

THE TROUBLE WITH SHOOTING STARS & scars & moondust & memories, by Meg Cannistra (MG book review)

book cover of The Trouble With Shooting Stars, by Meg Cannistra. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The car wreck changed everything,
healing is so slow –
can fractured relationships be mended too?

More operations ahead for Luna after the accident that left Dad in a wheelchair and the 12 year old with big facial scars under a treatment mask.

Her new neighbors are truly magical, as young Alessandro and Chiara ignore Luna’s scars and take her up with them in their zeppelin to brush the dust from the Moon and stars, as all spazzatrici do.

Only Uncle Mike understands how she needs to keep drawing every night when the pain won’t let her sleep – and that the spazzatrici are real.

She can’t stand to see the pity in Tailee’s eyes, stops returning her best friend’s phone calls, wants things to just be normal again.

Would stardust make Dad less sad about not working in their Italian-American family deli?

Could a shooting star grant Luna’s wish for healing if she caught one?

Sail up from Staten Island to help place new stars in their constellations and enjoy the drawings that Luna delivers to other neighbors in this magical tale – happy book birthday to The Trouble With Shooting Stars!
**kmm

Book info: The Trouble With Shooting Stars / Meg Cannistra, art by Dana Wulfekotte. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.