Tag Archive | growing up

Will she SHINE as K-pop star? by Jessica Jung (book review)

book cover of Shine, by Jessica Jung. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not Korean enough in Seoul,
not American enough in New York City –
does she have enough to make it as a star?

Her family’s support of Rachel’s quest to become a K-pop performer is both a comfort and a cage.

Umma, Appa, and her little sister left behind their lives in New York City six years ago when they moved to Seoul so she could train with DB Studios.

But the 17 year old must live at home instead at DB’s trainee house, attending school full-time, then cramming all rehearsals and lessons into the weekends…and doing her homework.

No boys, no social media, weekly weigh-ins – competition is fierce as DB plans to announce its new girl group soon.

Amid mounting pressures to excel in singing, dancing, interviewing skills, and poise, snooty heiress Mina leads her crew in harassing Rachel as a camera-shy American princess.

Rachel’s chance encounter with Jason Lee, internationally famous Korean-Canadian star of DB’s hit boy group, leads to an opportunity to perform with him – can she beat out Mina?

Romantic relationships are forbidden by DB Studios – is her friendship with Jason okay?

One poor decision makes Rachel’s mother furious and disappointed – will the huge disruption of her family’s lives be for nothing?

Written by former K-pop star Jessica Jung, this debut novel takes us behind the glitz of costumes, choreography, and luxury travel to the grind, sweat, and tears of the K-pop studios’ trainee system.

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Rachel, Mina, and the DB trainees striving for the chance to Shine on the international music scene.

How far would you travel to pursue your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Shine / Jessica Jung. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher through Edelweiss.

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.

Avenging his death? It’s up to ELATSOE & her gifts, by Darcie Little Badger (book review)

of Elatsoe, by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her dreams carry truth,
Every animal, dead or alive, knows her,
Cousin’s death was no accident!

During their dream conversation, Trevor revealed his killer’s name, so Ellie’s sacred duty is justice for her cousin whose Anglo widow Lenore doesn’t fully understand Lipan Apache ways or traditions.

Down the length of Texas go Ellie and her parents for his funeral, to a town that’s shown only on paper maps, with lush green lawns during drought, New England colonial-style buildings, and a strong dislike for newcomers.

The person named by Trevor is rich Dr. Allerton known for his miraculous cures – how did he and a young grade-school teacher ever cross paths?

Like her many-generations-ago grandmother Great-Six, Ellie can raise animals from the dead and has powers against supernatural creatures – will this be enough to stop whatever is keeping her cousin from his final rest?

Vampires, monsters, fairy-ring transport stations, greed and deception – asexual Ellie, her ghost dog Kirby, and best friend Jay try to piece together the mystery to protect her cousin’s son and widow before it’s too late.

Happy book birthday to this debut #ownvoices novel bringing the stories of Great-Six back to the land and waters of south Texas as her descendent Elatsoe lives into her heritage to battle against evil.

How do you support family in difficult times?
**kmm

Book info: Elatsoe / Darcie Little Badger; illustrated by Ravina Cai. Levine Querido, 2020. [author Twitter] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Squirrels, hidden money, wandering grandpa – what next?! JOSIE BLOOM & THE EMERGENCY OF LIFE, by Susan Hill Long (book review)

book cover of Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life, by Susan Hill Long. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Money in the fridge,
water in a saucepan for dinner,
Another emergency, Grandpa?

Josie and Grandpa have done okay since her mom died, but the 11 year old is sure tired of making sure the bills are paid and getting teased at school for her old clothes and worrying about Grandpa’s late-night rambles.

Her best friend Winky loves baseball, but being legally blind keeps him on the sidelines as water boy. If only he could play ball…

Money goes in and out of Grandpa’s bank account strangely, and his outbursts and actions get stranger. If only Josie could find a way to make some money herself…

When Winky’s baseball idol is sent down to their small Maine town’s minor league team, Josie recognizes him from the framed photo on Mom’s nightstand. But Joe Viola doesn’t pitch like he did in the big leagues and doesn’t act like a hero anymore either.

Can Joe Viola break his jinx?
Will Winky ever get the chance to play baseball?
Could Joe be Josie’s long-lost father?

Grandpa’s behavior gets more erratic, Josie redoubles her efforts to keep their home, and her teacher starts getting nosy about their situation. Emergency!

How can you help a friend when things get tough?
**kmm

Book info: Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life / Susan Hill Long. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SAY YES SUMMER to everything! by Lindsey Roth Culli (book review)

book cover of Say Yes Summer, by Lindsey Roth Culli. Published by Delacorte Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rachel is brilliant, dependable, and boring-on-purpose. Saying no to everything but her grades in high school kept the Michigan teen at the top of her class, working at her family’s Italian restaurant, and totally safe from heartbreak.

Sorting stuff instead of going to a graduation party, Rachel finds an old advice book and decides to “say yes” to opportunities this summer before college.

Yes – to finally attending a party and even jumping in the pool! Oops, social media caught that.

Yes – to reconnecting with Carrie who left Rachel and Ruoxi for the popular crowd when the trio hit ninth grade. Oops, who left out who?

Yes – to a road trip with her long-time crush, soccer star Clayton! Oops, forgot to let folks know she’d be gone.

Yes – to going out with her buddy-since-birth Miles! Oops, how is her snarky gelato cart co-worker suddenly so charming?

Rachel’s mom and stepdad aren’t sure about her new persona, her grandmother tries to advise her, and other people’s secrets start blurring the lines between okay and oh no.

First stamp in her passport, first kisses, first time to disappoint everyone at once?

Find this May 2020 release at your local library (ebooks available 24/7) or favorite independent bookstore.

What was the best Yes decision you ever made?
**kmm

Book info: Say Yes Summer / Lindsey Roth Culli. Delacorte – Random House Children’s Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Netgalley.

When WAR IS OVER – what next? by David Almond (book review)

book cover of War Is Over, by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield. Published in US by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mam working at the munitions factory,
Dad away, fighting overseas,
the Great War goes on and on.

John writes to Buckingham Palace in 1918, asking when the terrible war will be over, but neither King nor teachers nor mothers can answer the boy’s question.

As his class walks to tour the gigantic weapons factory, they encounter a man who refused to fight, a conscientious objector against war who knows that German and British children are more alike than different.

After the police beat the man and take him away for speaking unpatriotic thoughts in public, one photo of a German boy is left behind.

Soon the boy Jan appears in John’s dreams, and though they speak different languages, their wish for peace is the same. “I am just a child. How can I be at war?” (pg 20)

Among the extensive black and white illustrations, the reader’s mind can imagine the red of homemade rosehip jam and of the tiny scars on Mam’s cheeks left by faulty shrapnel in the factory and of sunsets preceding John’s dreams of children spreading seeds of peace instead of hate.

Published in the UK in 2018 to mark the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I, this child’s eye view of war is a May 2020 US release.

Can we love our country and hate war?
**kmm

Book info: War is Over / David Almond; illustrated by David Litchfield. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Statistics show OPTIMISTS DIE FIRST, right? by Susin Nielsen (book review)

book cover of Optimists Die First, by Susin Nielsen. Published by Tundra Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sister’s death wasn’t her fault-
Everyone says so,
but she can’t accept that…

Everyday life in Vancouver is filled with deadly risks, so 16-year-old Petula takes every precaution now (but nothing can bring back her little sister or her best friend).

The new guy with the prosthetic arm witnesses her panic attack in class and is in her youth art therapy class and thinks Petula is nice (but doesn’t know how Maxine died).

Ack! Petula and Jacob have to do a project together for English?! His movie-making skills and her recently abandoned crafting supplies plus her mom’s rescue cats should be perfect (but Dad doesn’t agree about having so many cats, not one bit).

As they work together, Jacob reveals his struggles with surviving the crash that killed his best friends back in Toronto, Petula begins to look forward to spending time with him, and life becomes brighter for both of them (but hopefully kissing is less germ-filled than she thought).

When the art therapy class rebels against their teacher’s little-kid ideas, she challenges them to find creative ways to face their issues – parental rejection, grief, survivor’s guilt, addictive behaviors – and they begin working together (but don’t call them friends quite yet).

But when one secret comes to light, Petula’s new happiness and the art therapy group’s progress are all threatened.

From the author of We Are All Made of Molecules (recommended here).

How do you know when it’s time to let old problems go?
**kmm

Book info: Optimists Die First / Susin Nielsen. Tundra Books, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; 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.

STEPPING STONES, from city to farm life – graphic novel by Lucy Knisley (book review)

book cover of Stepping Stones, by Lucy Knisley. Published by RH Graphic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

From bustling city to quiet farm,
from only child to a trio of girls,
chores, chickens, snakes? (please, no snakes!)

Jen’s mom and her boyfriend are the ones who dreamed of living on a farm and selling their produce at the summer market, not Jen who would rather spend summer with Dad (who’s too busy in the city to talk on the phone).

The pre-teen gets flustered trying to make change at their market stand, is annoyed with chicken-keeping chores (twice. every. day), enjoys time alone in the hayloft to sketch, read comics, and play with the barn kitties.

Then Walter’s daughters come to Peapod Farm for the summer – younger Reese is okay, but same-age Andy is a smartypants, pointing out Jen’s problems with math and changing things at their market stand.

Can Mom and Walter make Peapod Farm a success?
How can Jen’s sketching talent compete with Andy’s intelligence and Reese’s utter cuteness?
Will the nearly-sisters ever get along?

Jen’s summer on the farm begins getting better, one step at a time, in this graphic novel sprouting from Knisley’s own experiences growing up. Find this first book in the Peapod Farm series at your local public library or indie bookstore.

What “oh no!” experience turned into “okay” for you?
**kmm

Book info: Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm, book 1) / Lucy Knisley; colored by Whitney Cogar. RH Graphic, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; 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.