Tag Archive | growing up

H is HOUSE OF ONE THOUSAND EYES, every neighbor a spy, by Michelle Barker (book review)

book cover of The House of One Thousand Eyes, by Michelle Barker. Published by Annick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Beloved storytelling uncle,
Vanished without a trace,
will the Stasi erase Lena, too?

Visiting Uncle Erich is the high point of Lena’s week, as the 17 year old trudges through nights cleaning the Stasi secret police headquarters in East Berlin, but then he’s gone.

Again her brain feels like buzzing wasps, as it did after both parents died in a factory explosion, and Lena finally emerged from the psychiatric hospital and was sent to live with a distant aunt in the city.

Aunt now denies that her own brother even existed, but Lena is certain that she can find information in the Stasi offices, if she can just stay clear of the groping officer who always works late.

In 1980s East Germany, the walls have ears and every neighbor is a spy reporting to the House of One Thousand Eyes so the Stasi can keep their Better Germany safe.

Maybe Uncle’s actor friends from the cafe know where he was taken?
Maybe they can’t trust her because she works for the Stasi!
Maybe they can help her go somewhere safer, past the Wall, to the West?

Step back into Lena’s grey world where the Communist Party punishes original thought, truth cannot be trusted, and yet sometimes the tiniest sprout of hope may stay alive.

Read an excerpt free here, courtesy of the publisher, then check your local library or independent bookseller for the eBook or print copy delivered to you.

What freedoms do we take for granted today?
**kmm

Book info: The House of One Thousand Eyes / Michelle Barker. Annick Press, hardcover 2018, paperback 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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.

D Deaf and THE SILENCE BETWEEN US, by Alison Gervais (book review)

book cover of The Silence Between Us, by Alison Gervais. Published by Blink YA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lost her hearing at 13,
learned ASL at a school for the Deaf,
now…halfway across the country at a hearing high school?

Maya knows they had to move to Colorado for Mom’s job, but jumping into her senior year at a new school, needing an interpreter to understand lectures, lip-reading at lunch – exhausting.

Add her little brother’s cystic fibrosis relapses, Mom’s demanding work schedule, and trying to get a part-time job – everyone is stressed.

Not sure she’s interested in a relationship with a hearing guy, but Beau is nice and learning sign language to communicate better with her.

Why can’t he understand why Maya doesn’t want a cochlear implant?
Why can’t Beau’s wealthy father accept his college choice?
What if Maya’s best college option doesn’t choose her?

The author is Hard of Hearing, working with individuals of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community as each chooses how they interact with the hearing world amid misunderstandings, discrimination, and victories.

How are medical services near you prepared to assist Deaf patients during the pandemic?
**kmm

Book info: The Silence Between Us / Alison Gervais. Blink YA, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C is CHICKASAW ADVENTURES, history graphic novel by Tom Lyles (book review)

book cover of Chickasaw Adventures: the Complete Collection. Published by White Dog Press/Chickasaw Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

History suppressed,
achievements ignored,
yet the stories told can be remembered.

To showcase their Native American heritage for a new generation, the Chickasaw Nation released several history comic books some years ago.

Johnny is puzzled by Grandfather’s strong pride in being Chickasaw until encounters with significant cultural objects send the teen back in time to take part in pivotal events in their history.

Trade with the British in the 1740s led the Chickasaws to protect the Mississippi River against Spanish and French incursions during the Revolutionary War. They stood with the Natchez people when former allies the Choctaw chose to support the French.

The Chickasaw people were pushed ever-westward from their traditional homelands in the southeastern USA by Spanish, French, British, and American colonizers and are now headquartered in Oklahoma.

The original comics drawn by Marvel and DC comic veteran Tom Lyle plus additional episodes by other artists have just been published in a single volume. Be sure to watch the great book trailer here!

Order Chickasaw Adventures for delivery directly from the publisher or through bookshop.org to support your local independent bookstore as we #StayHomeStaySafeSaveLives.

What other stories have been made invisible by the dominant culture?
**kmm

Book info: Chickasaw Adventures: The Complete Collection. Words by Jen Marvin Edwards, art by Tom Lyle, et al. White Dog Press/ Chickasaw Press, 2019. [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.

Demon-fed magics & the SORCERY OF THORNS! by Margaret Rogerson (book review)

book cover of Sorcery of Thorns, by Margaret Rogerson. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Can a book be evil or good if no one reads it?

Elisabeth knows only life in the Great Library where the most evil grimoires are caged and triple-locked, hoping to someday earn the rank of Warden and ever keep these sorcerous books from harming her land.

Now someone begins releasing the demons from these dread tomes to wreak havoc – but who and why?

Fantasy, horror, mystery… could you resist the whispers of promised power and keep the grimoires locked up?
**kmm

Book info: Sorcery of Thorns / Margaret Rogerson. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Deeply dangerous Grimoires imprisoned in the Great Libraries are being set loose upon the land of Austermeer – the Wardens suspect high sorcerers, the sorcerers know better.

Raised in a Great Library, Elisabeth hears the beings trapped within the bindings and pages of every grimoire.

Unable to prove that someone else freed the horror at Summershall, the teen is taken by sorcerer Thorn to the capital for trial.

Demon-fed magics, paper-whispered madnesses, treachery, loyalty, love, and the fate of the world!

REVENGE OF THE RED CLUB! #PeriodPower in middle school! by Kim Harrington

book cover of Revenge of the Red Club, by Kim Harrington. Published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Riley is so glad that girls started the Red Club at her Massachusetts middle school before she got her first period and is happy to help lead the group supporting one another through menstruation’s ups and downs.

She is beyond mad when the school administration shuts down the club due to “parent complaints,” removes the emergency supplies from the Red Club’s locker, and suddenly starts enforcing an antiquated dress code that only impacts girls.

Time for the eighth grader to use her school newspaper investigative reporting skills to find out who complained about the Red Club and how to update that dress code!

Co-leader Cee puts together an action plan, and the “Revenge of the Red Club” begins – normalizing period talk, boys wearing clothes out of dress code as allies, and more.

But can the Red Club control the way that the rest of the school reacts?

Is Cole interested in Riley or in the developing news story?

Why is Riley’s best friend Ava acting so weird?

The world would be a better place if every school had a Red Club support group, and the Hawking Middle School girls are determined to get theirs back!

Want more information about menstruation issues? Check out Period Power, by Nadya Okamoto here.

How is your school supporting this part of adolescence and everyday life?
**kmm

Book info: Revenge of the Red Club / Kim Harrington. Aladdin, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Like all EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS, she must fly! by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (book review)

book cover of Extraordinary Birds, by Sandy Stark-McGinnis. Published by Bloomsbury Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sure that she is truly a bird and that wings will soon burst out from the scars on her back, 11-year-old December is placed in yet another foster home, leaving everything behind except her secret journal.

She does find Eleanor nicer than most foster parents and is intrigued by her work rehabilitating injured birds (but not the taxidermy hobby…ew).

At her new school, she’s welcomed by Cheryllynn who loves the brightest dresses and snobby Jenny who says that’s really Charlie.

If December climbs a high enough tree, will she be able to fly away from unhappy memories?

Can she really help Eleanor teach a wounded hawk to fly free again?

Will Eleanor give up on December like everyone else has?

Her vast knowledge of birds hasn’t prepared December very well for dealing with humans, but Eleanor and Cheryllynn seem better than most people.

Who has given you hope when storms kept you from soaring?
**kmm

Book info: Extraordinary Birds / Sandy Stark McGinnis. Bloomsbury Kids, 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.