Tag Archive | friendship

Solve his life by DOWN AND ACROSS? by Arvin Ahmadi (book review)

cover image of Down and Across, by Arvin Ahmadi. Published by Penguin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His life needs focus, purpose.
Consult an expert?
Yes! Go now!

Almost 17, Saaket (call him Scott) has bumbled his way through school and life, much to the dismay of his doting Persian parents. Surely he can stick with this lab internship for a month while they are away…

On a whim, he travels to DC instead so he can ask an expert how to get grit, that ability to follow through with things. He’ll be back in Philadelphia long before his parents get back from Iran…

Meeting Fiora on the bus as she goes back to Georgetown University is a stroke of luck since that’s where Professor Mallard works! Fiora is a crossword fanatic and a daredevil who introduces him to Trent and a crazy bar, dares Saaket to get out of his comfort zone…

Professor Mallard has a project for him – great!
Fiora has a plan to connect Trent with a mentor – fantastic!
Saaket is running out of time and money – where’s that grit?!

Family expectations can be a balloon or an anchor – Saaket and his new friends are deciding how the answers of their pasts will fill their personal crossword puzzle of future possibilities.

How far can grit take you in life?
**kmm

Book info: Down and Across / Arvin Ahmadi. Viking, 2018, Penguin paperback, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

48 HOURS to find THE VANISHING! by Gabrielle Lord (book review)

book cover of 48 Hours: The Vanishing, by Gabrielle Lord. Published by Kane Miller EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her best friend kidnapped!
She’s being watched, too –
a ‘cold case’ getting hot again?

Anika has been publishing those old diary entries on her blog. Was there a murder 20 years ago in the spooky mansion in their Australian neighborhood?

“No police!” the kidnapper tells Anika’s parents, so her best friend Jazz quietly starts gathering clues and enlists the help of tech whiz Phoenix to help analyze them in his mum’s lab.

Collecting hair samples, footprints, and other observations in their CrimeSeen app, Jazz and Phoenix race to identify the kidnapper.

Jazz knows the first 48 hours of a case are the most important – and Anika’s life is at stake!

The kidnapper is searching for them, too…

Followed by 48 Hours: The Medusa Curse, as Jazz and Phoenix work to retrieve a stolen supercomputer and prove their friend Mack’s father had no part in the museum heist.

When something goes missing, what’s your first step?
**kmm

Book info: 48 Hours: The Vanishing (48 Hours series, book 1) / Gabrielle Lord. Kane Miller EDC Publishing, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ailey longs for THE MAGIC IN CHANGING YOUR STARS, by Leah Henderson (middle grade book review)

book cover of The Magic in Changing Your Stars, by Leah Henderson. Published by Sterling Children's Books| recommended on BooksYALove.com

Frozen on the stage,
no voice, no dance steps!
His tryout is disastrous…

Ailey knew, absolutely without a doubt, that he’d be the perfect Scarecrow in The Wiz – but during tryouts at school, the Black 11 year old just blanked out, couldn’t dance or sing.

Moping around the family hardware store, Ailey learns that his grandfather was a phenomenal tap dancer as a kid and the great Bojangles Robinson gave him a special pair of tap shoes – but Grampa stopped dancing soon after.

In case there’s a bit of special left in those shoes and somehow Ailey gets to the next round of tryouts, he stealthily tries them on – and is transported to 1939 Harlem, near the theater where Bojangles himself is about to perform!

Can he find Grampa in this unfamiliar neighborhood?
Can Ailey keep secret that he’s from the future?
Can he get his grandfather on that stage so Bojangles can see his talent?

The same stars here as in Ailey’s Pennsylvania home town – maybe wishing and working will get things the way they’re supposed to be (and send Ailey back home)!

What wish are you willing to work to make come true?
**kmm

Book info: The Magic in Changing Your Stars / Leah Henderson. Sterling Children’s Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Heading home from school? LOOK BOTH WAYS, by Jason Reynolds (book review)

book cover of Look Both Ways, by Jason Reynolds. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Who’s smart or not,
friendly, sneaky, silly –
at school, you know who’s who…

Last class of the day, then off they go in all directions – friends and bullies, foster kids and only kids, thinking about homework, thinking of anything but school.

In your neighborhood, everybody knows whose mama is fighting cancer again and where the mean dog lives.

Things that folks don’t know: why Cynthia tells jokes on Cinder’s Stage every day at 3:33, how loud the anxiety roars in Ty’s head, what Pia is thinking as she skateboards everywhere.

This “tale told in ten blocks” by Black kids interweaves friendship, family histories, new attraction, and old memories.

Work on your own story with help from the author; Jason Reynolds has started the “Write, Right, Rite” project as National Ambassador for Children’s Literature.

What do you think about on the way home from school?
**kmm

Book info: Look Both Ways: a Tale Told in Ten Blocks / Jason Reynolds; illustrations by Alexander Nabaum. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ready, set, go deliver DRAGONS IN A BAG! by Zetta Elliott (kids’ book review)

Book cover of Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott, art by Geneva B. Published by Yearling-Random House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Follow the rules to stay safe,
avoid trouble,
keep your eyes open!

Jax doesn’t need a babysitter! The Black 9 year old isn’t happy that he has to stay with old Ma while Mom is in court to fight being evicted.

Hmm…he is intrigued when a squirrel zips into Ma’s apartment and tries to feed whatever is in Ma’s big handbag, the thing that came from Madagascar, something that Ma needs to deliver elsewhere – very special lizards!

There’s a transporter in Prospect Park?
The lizards are really dragons?
Ma is a witch?!

Maybe Jax can help Ma as her apprentice, if he follows the rules: keep the dragons in their case and never feed them.

When a problem with the transporter lands Jax and the baby dragons back in Brooklyn without Ma, he enlists the help of his best friend Vik to get the dragons safely to their new home in another dimension.

First in a series, followed by The Dragon Thief !

What mythic creature would you like to see in your town?
**kmm

Book info: Dragons in a Bag / Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Geneva B. Yearling/ Random House, 2018. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Secrets abound at A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS! by Kathleen Baldwin (book review)

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Torture or merely draconian discipline?
Surely her parents won’t make her stay…

High society frowns on girls who prefer chemistry to needlepoint or whose frequent migraines are really visions of disaster – shutting them far, far away from the cotillions and balls of Regency London.

Yet the science experiment that burned down Father’s stable may be a blessing in disguise for Georgiana as the teen finds herself not in a reform school for rebellious girls, but a secret spy school!

Under the direction of Miss Stranje and Madame Cho, several young ladies with highly unusual talents are honing their skills in self-defense and espionage in the fight against Napoleon.

Georgie’s secret ink may give England the upper hand, if she can perfect its formula, if she can keep her heart safe from young Lord Wyatt, if they can keep French agents from stealing it!

Set in an alternate 1814 where Napoleon successfully returns from exile, this first book in the Stranje House series is followed by the equally adventurous and properly romantic Exile for Dreamers (centered on Tess), Refuge for Masterminds (Jane’s story), and Harbor for the Nightingale (Maya’s tale).

Where might your unusual talents take you?
**kmm

Book info: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, book 1) / Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; 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

New situation? A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST, by Joy McCullough (middle grade book review)

book cover of A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Joy McCullough. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her mom is a penguin researcher,
his Guatemalan dad was an artist –
what on earth could they have in common?

Sutton thrives on order, routines, things going precisely according to plan. She is not happy about her robot still stuck in its maze, or Dad starting to go on dates, or Mom not getting home from Antarctica in time for her tenth birthday, not happy at all.

Kids are heroes in the fantasy stories Luis writes, but in real life his many serious allergies have made his widowed mom super-protective. Hiking in a Seattle park with Sutton and her dad sounds a bit risky – maybe dating is making Mom less focused on Luis’s health.

Could Sutton and Luis learn to get along as well as Mr. Wong’s cat and Mrs. Banjeree’s dog, apartment best friends?

Can their different problem-solving styles get them out of a perilous situation?

Told in alternating voices, this Field Guide to Getting Lost might actually be a way that Sutton and Luis can find themselves. Read chapter 1 here free, courtesy of the publisher.

When has a occasion you’ve dreaded turned out to be not so bad after all?
**kmm

Book info: Field Guide to Getting Lost / Joy McCullough. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Who’s trying to kill over THE TRUTH APP? by Jack Heath (book review)

book cover of The Truth App, by Jack Heath. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A little programming,
a car crash,
a lot of trouble!

Begun as a lie-detector coding experiment, Jarli’s “truth app” becomes an overnight international sensation, and the Australian high schooler immediately receives acclaim, criticism, and death threats.

From the source code Jarli uploaded to an obscure site to get help testing it, someone has created a commercial app that gives an “honesty score” – very unpopular with teens.

Jarli’s best friend Beth and new student Anya are on his side at least. Then the guy who purposely crashed into Dad’s car comes after them – time to run!

“Did it not occur to you,” Mom said, “that almost everyone has secrets?” (p. 56). Some very powerful people will apparently do anything – legal or otherwise – to keep theirs from the public.

Is Dad’s security company job at risk?
Will the bad guy go after Jarli’s sister too?
Who is behind these attacks?

Just why did Jarli want a lie detector? You’ll have to read the first book in this Australian series to find out.

How would a “truth app” affect your life?
**kmm

Book info: The Truth App (Liars, book 1) / Jack Heath. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020 US. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Signs, connections, love – ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER KNEW, by Liara Tamani (book review)

book cover of All the Things We Never Knew, by Liara Tamani. Published by Greenwillow Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ready for his free throw,
he blew a kiss –
straight to her heart, falling, falling…

Actually Rex blows a kiss to his late mother before every free throw, and Carli fell courtside before her game because of a gallbladder attack, but their hearts connect as social media helps the upper-class Black teens find each other across Houston.

Numbers record their basketball success, map out his geometry of perfect landscape design, show her patterns that reveal truths and paths in art.

But numbers don’t tell everything like Rex’s guilt because his birth caused mom’s death, Carli’s pain as a family truth is revealed to be a lie, or the cataclysmic ups and downs of first love.

Will Rex’s dad ever come to a game or keep ignoring his only child forever?
Will Daddy ever tell Carli and Cole why Mom is suddenly divorcing him?
How can Carli tell her championship teammates that she hates playing basketball?

Happy book birthday to this tale in two voices, showering sparks and raining tears as Rex and Carli try to find themselves and hopefully find each other, too. From the author of Calling My Name (recommended here).

When have you met someone and felt like you’ve known them forever?
**kmm

Book info: All the Things We Never Knew / Liara Tamani. Greenwillow Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.