Tag Archive | friendship

On their Lion Island, young people of Cuba dream and rebel, by Margarita Engle (book review)

book cover of Lion Island, by Margarita Engle, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comSongs for freedom,
words as power –
freedom from Spain, from slavery?

Did you know about Chinese immigrants who fled to Cuba, escaping racist attacks in America? They struggled for freedom from unfair indenture alongside enslaved Africans during the days when Cuba sought its independence from Spain – so many stories forgotten, lost, found, retold.

Look for this historical novel-in-verse at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

Could you leave your homeland for safety, then leave again?

Book info: Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At the confluence of Cuban, Chinese, and African cultures, poetic voices of three young people tell the stories of arrival and broken promises, despair and hope, love and the future during their island home’s early years as a nation.

To learn the proper Spanish that his Chinese mother never knew, Antonio’s African father sends him to school in La Habana city.

As he runs errands within the Chinese community for wealthy men displaced from California by anti-Asian prejudice in the post-Gold Rush years, the 12 year old meets twin sister and brother Fan and Wing.

Antonio hears stories of unfairness and change, falls in love with words, wonders if they have true power.

Fan runs away from the sugarcane fields, from forced marriage – to sing and write songs and sing true.

Wing remembers being forced from their California home, wants to help the rebels in Cuba’s mountains.

Months roll into years as the three young people help hide escaped slaves, read letters of protest sent to China and Madrid, long for power over their own lives.

Lyrically, poetically, alternating voices relate the struggles of indentured Chinese workers and enslaved African people fighting for their freedom in the 1870s as Cuba strives for independence from Spain.

Choose his/her Remake or escape? by Ilima Todd (book review)

Male or female?book cover of Remake by Ilima Todd, published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com
Freedom Province gives the choice,
but it’s the only choice they’ll ever get to make!

Imagine being raised with a batch of non-related siblings by a rotating crew of caretakers, medically kept from reaching puberty until age 17 when you decide all your adult physical characteristics including gender…

Visit the book’s site here, then find Remake and its sequel, Resist, at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

Which cover do you prefer – the misty hardcover or the mix-and-match paperback?

Book info: Remake (Remake, book 1) / Ilima Todd. paperback book cover of Remake, by Ilima Todd, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comShadow Mountain, 2014 (hardcover); Simon Pulse, 2016 (paperback).  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover images courtesy of the publishers.

My book talk: Perhaps “Uncertain” would be a better name for Nine, who wants to run away on Remake Day instead of deciding whether to remain female or become male. The other 17 year olds in her Batch know exactly who they want to be as adults, unconcerned about the Prime Maker’s master plan for total control over Freedom Province.

When an accident rocks the Remake shuttle, Nine washes ashore on an island with people who aren’t perfectly formed, who don’t live in identical highrise buildings, who nurture the tropical land and each other.

Pregancy? Illness? Disability? What are those things?
How does being a “family” make those worries easier?
Can Nine adapt when Freedom’s medications leave her system?

Decisions that Nine must make on the island may have even greater consequences than her Remake Day choice, as she discovers Freedom Province’s deepest secrets.

Computer game, deadly peril – what are The Lost Tribes? by C. Taylor-Butler (book review)

book cover of Lost Tribes, by C. Taylor-Butler, published by Move Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe dreams of NBA fame,
not math or astronomy,
but suddenly, he must use every skill…to stay alive!

When an explosion hits their neighborhood, young teens must get over old disagreements and pool their talents so they can escape the danger and find their parents, using a new computer game that calls into question everything they ‘know’ about their families and themselves.

Ask for this 2015 release and its sequel, The Lost Tribes: Safe Harbor, at your local library or favorite independent bookstore for Multicultural Children’s Book Day (I’m participating for my fifth year) or any day, as you #readyourworld.

Would you run for safety or stay to find your family?

Book info: The Lost Tribes (Lost Tribes, book 1) / C. Taylor-Butler; illustrated by Patrick Arrasmith. Move Books, 2015. [author site]  [illustrator site] [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy from author for MultiCultural Children’s Book Day 2018; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Life on their boring California street explodes into adventure as Ben and his friends work together on an amazing quest computer game, just before all their parents go missing!

Ben and younger sister April seize Uncle Henry’s challenge to solve the game in one week, bringing in neighbors Carlos (great at programming, bad at basketball), Grace (best friend since kindergarten, even if she’s a girl), and Serise (codebreaker deluxe, super snob) as the 3D interactive missions invite them to “find 8 keys” all over the world.

The five encounter puzzles and codes and stinky bird poop (almost as bad as the goopy smoothies Mom makes Ben and April drink) in Egypt, Easter Island, China – it’s so real!

But their parents are acting weirder than usual, a huge satellite dish appears near Carlos’ house then vanishes, and a nighttime attack sends all the families fleeing, kids separated from the adults!

Can the game help the teens get to the “harbor of safety” in reality?
Who would target their easy-going scientist and doctor parents with bombs?
What did Uncle Henry mean about “introducing them to the family business”?

This first book in the Lost Tribes series takes readers on a wide-ranging adventure as the five youths of different cultural backgrounds must use their individual talents together to keep the universe in balance.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day (27 Jan 2018) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom.

Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. View our 2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/mcbd2018-medallion-level-sponsors/ View our 2018 MCBD Author Sponsors here: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/2106-sponsors/2018-author-sponsors/

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/about/co-hosts/

Can he leave his medical Bubble somehow, really? by Stewart Foster (book review)

book cover of Bubble by Stewart Foster, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comConfined to sealed, sterile room.
no chance to ever leave the hospital – ever!
or is there??

The world knows Joe through the reality tv show that has filmed his battle with SCID since he was little, but the immunodeficiency disease means that he’ll never get to see the world beyond the view through his hospital window.

Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

Four walls, one window – this book was first published in the UK as The Bubble Boy – which title is better?

Book info: Bubble / Stewart Foster. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017.  [author Facebook]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Forever trapped in his London hospital room, Joe dreams of leaving this sterile zone of safety, like fellow no-immunities ‘bubble boy’ Henry in the US will soon do with NASA’s help – perhaps the 11 year old has his own superhero, just waiting to take him out!

Not fair than any common germ could kill him, that big sister Beth must go away to university, that the car wreck left them orphaned.

But Joe does talk to Henry on the computer every day (between school lessons) and watches movies and waits for the next visit by the TV crew who’s been documenting his life in the bubble since he was a baby.

This new nurse Amir might be a little crazy, talking about aliens and getting 607 channels of satellite TV into Joe’s hospital room somehow… and making a spacesuit for Joe, like the one NASA built for Henry.

What’s making Joe’s white blood cell count go wonky now?
Will Beth choose a medical school far from London?
Can Amir really help Joe get beyond the airlock door of his hospital room?

Joe hasn’t breathed outside air since he was a tiny infant, but perhaps he actually can venture out and look up into the entire sky….

Away to Mars, maybe – Love, Ish, by Karen Rivers (book review)

book cover of Love, Ish,  by Karen Rivers, published by Workman | recommended on BooksYALove.comPreparations for Mars mission – ongoing.
Hoping for rain – always.
Missing her best friend – must cut that memory off. Entirely.

Everything was easier before Tig moved away! Now Ish has to cope with a brain tumor and seventh grade without him…

Find this March 2017 release at your local library or favorite independent bookstore to see how Ish’s applications to the Mars Now program are received.

When your best friend moves away, what next?

Book info: Love, Ish / Karen Rivers. Algonquin Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Certain that she will someday be selected for a Mars mission, 12 year old Ish lists everything that she’ll miss about Earth, like former best friend Tig and the island on their drying-up California lake, and what she won’t miss, like how Tig never calls from Oregon and the cancer that started hurting her brain and how her sister hates her.

No denying that starting seventh grade is terrible without Tig here, or that Ish was surely adopted with cute older sister Elliott because they were a package deal.

No good reason that Mars Now has rejected Mischa Love’s application 47 times, or that new friend Gavriel can’t be a girl if he wants to be.

A brain tumor the size of a brussels sprout – not Ish’s favorite vegetable.
Radiation treatments – Ish doesn’t like her red hair, but she doesn’t like it falling out either.
Dreams of Mars, all the dreams – never let them stop!

Maybe it will finally rain here in Lake Ochoa again, and maybe Ish can squash that tumor, and maybe she can get to Mars with Tig…

Her soul dangerously called by Song of the Current, by Sarah Tolcser (book review)

book cover of Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser, published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comAs the river-gods sing, boats are safe on the river,
but they aren’t singing to her yet…
will they deny her?

Following in her father’s footsteps should be easy, but Caro hasn’t been Gifted yet, months and months past time. She will have to captain their boat anyway, and the dangers are more than just sandbars and river pirates now!

What has come to you later than you expected?

Book info: Song of the Current / Sarah Tolcser. Bloomsbury, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: By carrying a secret cargo aboard her family’s river wherry to a seaport, Caro hopes to save her father from unjust imprisonment, but the teen soon finds the crate in her boat’s hold is worth more than mere gold and may cost her life!

Soon, the river gods will sing in Caro’s blood, as they’ve done in all the Oresteia wherry captains in her family’s long history… long overdue, but perhaps soon.

The country’s ruler demands that a heavy crate go now to a sea island, and it falls to Caro and crewmember Fee to take it, out of the safe bends of the river, away from the pirates also seeking it, onto the too-deep ocean waters.

Forbidden to open the crate, Caro does…
Seeking assistance from her mother’s family, Caro dares…
Believing this strange young man’s outlandish story, Caro risks…

The fates of two nations collide on a quiet riverbank, as a young woman who wants only to captain her wherry must travel further than she ever dreamed and face dangers she never imagined in order to save her father’s life and find justice amid webs of political intrigue and glimmers of love. (followed by Whisper of the Tide, May 2018)

Chaos of Standing Still, grief-numbed as life moves on, by Jessica Brody (book review)

book cover of The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comSurvivor’s guilt
Constantly seeking answers on her phone –
Will Ryn stay stuck on what happened last year forever?

A year ago, a month ago, even a day ago, Ryn couldn’t have imagined that she’d be smiling (okay, be made to smile by guy who’s also hiding pain) on the anniversary of such trauma.

How do two teens stranded in an airport by New Year’s Eve blizzard make one another’s lives better in such a short time? Read the first chapter here free (courtesy of publisher) as Ryn and Xander meet, very much by accident.

Advice on moving on after stunning events?

Book info: The Chaos of Standing Still / Jessica Brody. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Stranded in an airport on New Year’s Eve, she worries for the millionth time about that unread text message from her best friend, but Ryn can’t open it, can’t move past losing Lottie 364 days ago, doesn’t want to be alone or with anyone for that terrible anniversary. Xander would rather be blizzard-bound in the Denver airport than be with his famous child-expert parents or stay at the faraway school where they sent him.

Maybe not so random that Ryn and Xander get their identical Dr. Who phones mixed up. Or that he’s the first person she really begins to tell about how lovely, zany Lottie made Ryn’s boring, predictable life so much more. Or that she is the one person who might see Xander for himself instead of as a biracial extension of his celebrity parents.

That flight attendant looks just like Lottie, grown-up… the last career wish of her ever-changing list.

Ryn’s parents moved to different cities after the divorce…like leaving Portland would erase tragedy.

When the runways are cleared for departure, what future will Ryn and Xander be flying toward?

Geology trek with Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, by Raul the Third & Cathy Camper (book review)

book cover of Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper, art by Raul the Third, published by Chronicle Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comEarthquake! ¡Terremoto!
It’s all shaking!
…and their cat is missing!

Time to travel again with Lupe, Elirio, Flappy, as the Lowriders follow their friend Genie deep into the earth, down into the realm of Mictlantehcutli, Lord of the Dead.

The same author-artist team brought us Lowriders in Space, which I recommended here. Check out the book trailer videos for both books, too!

How far have you traveled to help a friend?

Book info: Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (Lowriders, book 2) / Cathy Camper; illustrated by Raul the Third. Chronicle Books, 2016. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When an earthquake frightens Genie cat away from the garage, the Lowriders race to find him, right into a volcano filled with mythic creatures of Central America!

Trickster Coyote tries to keep the friends trapped in a corn maze with his outrageous puns, but they follow Genie’s terrified meows toward territory of legends.

Can impala master mechanic Lupe steer the lowrider safely through Earth’s Outer Core?
How can octopus Flappy distract La Llorona so they can sneak into the Realm of the Dead?
Will Mictlan’s love of bones keep them there forever?

This graphic novel is the Southwest itself, with Spanish words jumping into every sentence like Elirio the mosquito zings around every danger, footnotes and endnotes explaining all like Lupe keeps the Lowriders team working together, and Raul the Third’s art bringing details from the oldest of stories to today’s wrestling and dip-drop lowrider cars.

K/drama-inspired, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, by Maurene Goo (book review)

book cover of I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo, published by Margaret Ferguson Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrades = stellar!
Extracurriculars = outstanding!
Romance = zero, zip, zilch.

Once she sees Luca, Desi is ready to make him fall in love with her – and she has the perfect step-by-step plan in her dad’s extensive K Drama series video collection!

Read the first chapter here (thanks to publisher!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore for this 2017 novel and its many, many kinds of drama.

Any dating ‘flailures’ on your love-life list?

Book info: I Believe in a Thing Called Love / Maurene Goo. Margaret Ferguson Books, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: With a plan, she can do anything – so Desi decides that cute new guy Luca will become her first-ever boyfriend, through the tried-and-true steps from the Korean dramas that her father loves so much – what could possibly go wrong?

Super-student, soccer star Desi is determined to get into Stanford, honoring her late mother and making her dad proud. But in the romance department, she’s had zero success.

Moody artist Luca’s arrival at her California high school makes Desi willing to risk yet another possibly humiliating try at flirting and relationships.

But wait! What if she simply used the steps that every Korean drama romance follows?

Despite warnings from her best friends (who’ve seen too many of her flirting ‘flailures’), Desi outlines her “K Drama Steps to True Love” and goes after Luca!

Flat tire blowout, romantic boat ride turned rescue, graffiti-enhancement missions… what?!

First kiss, yes! First boyfriend, likely! (as long as Luca doesn’t find out that Desi is directing their every move toward love…)

Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow in 1909 London, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, published by Kane Miller Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSuch a fancy new department store!
How lucky that Sophie landed a job there in Ladies’ Hats!
How dreadful that the prized Clockwork Sparrow was stolen…and that Sophie is a suspect!

And how very fortunate that orphaned Sophie finds allies in the store who help her solve the mystery and are willing to risk crossing paths with the evil Baron of 1900s London’s crime underworld!

The author introduces her Sinclair’s Mysteries in this video (love listening to her British accent!) and takes us to real-life London locales which inspired them.

How do you stand by your friends in difficult times?

Book info: Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 1) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked-room mystery, mysterious strangers, and even stranger deliveries make Sinclair’s Department Store of London an intriguing place to work in the early 1900s, but teens Sophie (Ladies’ Hats, recently orphaned) and Lillian (dress model, between acting jobs) discover that a missing clockwork bird holds dangerous secrets within its jeweled feathers.

How can apprentice porter Billy help the police?
Is the Clockwork Sparrow more than a beautiful music box?
Why is underworld crime boss The Baron involved?

First in the series featuring our determined young ladies and their friends in high places and low neighborhoods as they deal with ciphers, codes, churlish villains, and social class.