An art installation,
recreating the NYC bus bombing
where they almost died with the others…
Is almost enough or too much?
A year after an angry white boy explodes himself on a sightseeing bus, the four teen survivors are still trying to piece their lives together:
Golden and Chan – young sweethearts from the same Kentucky commune, Caroline – from New York wine country, unable to escape vicious Simon, Rudy – former athlete, now wheelchair-bound in Florida.
A medic who helped them away from the burning bus has spent the past year honoring the victims online and will soon unveil the rebuilt bus with their families’ memories – on the very street where it happened.
He asks people who can’t attend to donate scholarship money for the survivors and invites Golden, Chan, Caroline, and Rudy to be there.
Can they really face that bus where 19 others died?
Can they undo their connections to the bomber’s choice to bomb that bus at that moment?
Can they move forward, alone or together, ever?
Golden’s tennis partner Becky arranges the road trip that will get them all to NYC for the ceremony…ready to remember or not.
How have you worked through being a survivor? **kmm
Book info: Four Three Two One / Courtney Stevens. Harper Teen, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Be a dancer? No, go to college! Who will get the lead role? Watch your back! Play it safe with her heart? Take a chance, Tilly!
It may be her last opportunity to dance, so she’s working hard with the troupe, refining her technique, hoping her mother will relent and allow Tilly to keep dancing, instead of immediately attending Mama’s dream college.
A backstabbing troupe member, an old friend who may become a new love, late-night stress baking, all of New York City to explore in this too-short summer!
You might have met Tilly earlier in her stepsister Tatum’s story, It Started With Goodbye (I recommended it here), and their abuela and Paolo, too.
And check out Tilly’s guide to New York on the publisher’s website here.
When do you know which dreams are uniquely yours? **kmm
Book info: Everywhere You Want to Be / Christina June. Blink YA, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: From her quiet DC suburb to New York City’s clamor, Tilly is thrilled to be with a summer dance troupe, but competition for roles gets vicious!
Their choreographer/director is a genius, telling them that ‘slaying the dragon’ will center their dance in a stunning performance space to end the summer.
What a summer! Grueling and rewarding rehearsals, exploring the city with her roommate, increasingly irksome pranks, and trying to undo the way she ended things at home with musician Paolo.
Scouts from major ballet companies will be at their performance. Their families and friends will be there. Will the saboteur strike there, too?
One final summer to dance, to pray that Mama won’t force her to attend college, to dream that her future is all dance (and some Paolo, too) – too much to ask?
Looking forward to a new year, looking back over the past – writers and artists do this, too!
You’ll recognize so many of your favorite authors and illustrators of works for kids and young adults in the “About the Author” section at the publisher’s webpage for this book!
So think about the stories you wrote in earlier years, the comic strips you drew, the plays that you put on for your family, the news reports that you made as a kid.
A new year, new opportunities, what will you begin? **kmm
Book info: Our Story Begins: Children’s Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids / edited by Elissa Brent Weissman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: “When did you start drawing? When did you know that you wanted to write books?” These frequent questions from young readers are answered by 25 of our favorite authors and illustrators – with examples of their very early works – in this anthology which will inspire a new generation of creators.
A grade-school photo from each author and illustrator begins their chapter which includes reproductions of their childhood stories or drawings in crayon, pencil, pen, or typing.
There’s a photo of author Elissa Brent Weissman as a kid with Gordon Korman at his book signing, then turn to Korman’s chapter to read his fifth-grade speech “How to Handle Your Parents”.
Kwame Alexander’s mom still has his first-ever poem (to her on Mother’s Day) framed in her living room. Thanhha Lai and her family fled Vietnam during her childhood, but she can still recite the story-poem “A Bird in a Cage” that she told her mother over and over.
Illustrators’ talents as kids ranged from polished (Grace Lin) to rudimentary (Jarrett J. Krosoczka – graphic novels), and several authors say that they copied their favorite writers’ styles in early stories – all continued to work at their craft and work to be published.
Unsolved deaths of teen girls!
BFF didn’t commit suicide, Mila knows…
Now, to find the right spell to bring her back…
But of course, things don’t go the way that the teen Wiccan planned, and soon there are three zombie-like girls in their small town (two of whom she and Riley really couldn’t stand when they were alive), trying to figure out who killed them before they die for good in a week!
And the undead girls – whether they like each other or not – must stay close to Mila or their bodies go back to eewww…
Any other not-quite-zombie books to recommend?
Book info: Undead Girl Gang / Lily Anderson. Razorbill, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Bringing back her best friend Riley from the dead was a little easier than Mila expected, but when her spell also calls back two classmates they can’t stand, the California teen finds herself with three undead teen girls who won’t stay out of sight during the seven days they have back on earth find out who killed them all.
What if their families see them?
What if they can’t solve the mystery?
What if Mila’s coven is right about this spell being wrong?
He 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.
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.
But he hadn’t considered that his radio talk-show dad would be jailed for running over the Mexican-American cop who crossed him a while back…
Or his long-gone big brother would come back to keep Braden out of foster care…
Or that he could be called as a witness in Dad’s trial…
Or having to face the cop’s nephew on the ballfield…
Go to the publisher’s website here and click on ‘Sneak Peek’ for a free pdf download of the book’s first chapters, then grab this compelling book at your local library or independent bookstore.
Prayers or promises?
Book info: Conviction / Kelly Loy Gilbert. Hyperion Teen, 2015. [author’s Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Braden was in the car when his dad ran over the cop, but the high school junior can’t imagine being called to testify in the religious talk show host’s trial or having his big brother back home 10 years after Trey left their small California town or trying to calmly pitch to the cop’s nephew in the most important game of the season.
How can Dad say he loves God and then hate people just for being different?
Why doesn’t anyone talk about Braden’s mom leaving when he was a baby?
Can Dad’s lawyer really suggest what he should say at Dad’s trial?
Convolutions of baseball practices and worried prayers and trying to ignore the media and wondering what really drove Trey away from his best friend Kevin (the pastor’s son) … as the trial and baseball playoffs loom just ahead.
Vandalism in the theater props?
Call in the 7th Grade Sleuths!
Time to update your image?
Let a fashionista help!
Unlock a family mystery?
Justina (pronounced HoosTEEnah) is intrigued by the school drama queen’s request that the Sleuths find out who carved her name on the backstage scenery (although fellow Sleuth and best friend Ig isn’t so charmed).
The 7th grade genetics research project requires family interviews to “discover” your personal DNA… maybe the mystery of Ju’s frizzy blond hair and hazel eyes among the dark browns of her Puerto Rican family can be solved! So who is Ju??
Enjoy this first book in the 7th Grade Sleuths series for Multicultural Children’s Book Day or any day – there’s much more to this Blueprint of Life Project than Ju expects.
Book info: Who’s Ju? (7th Grade Sleuths, book 1) / Dania Ramos. Northampton House Publishing, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy from the author for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2016; cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When blond middle schooler Ju finds a mysterious letter while researching her personal DNA project for school, she hopes to fit into her Puerto Rican family better, but the amateur investigator discovers questions far bigger than the 7th Grade Sleuths’ current drama club vandalism case.
Sara’s name is carved into drama club scenery, so the young actress asks Justina, Ig, and Gunther to find out who did it – before the theater teacher does.
As the Sleuths check on suspects and alibis during school hours, Ju tries to interview her parents for the Blueprint of Life Project (major science grade), but they evade her questions. Searching family keepsakes in the attic, Ju locates a photo of herself that she’s never seen and some strange correspondence.
Ju tries dyeing her hair brown to match her parents and sister, then allows stylish Sara to update her wardrobe (goodbye, funky handmade sweaters from Mami and Auntie’s craft shop) and hair (hello, flatiron) to fit in at school.
Will Mami and Papi finally answer her questions about the letter and photo?
Will little sister Delilah ever stop pestering her?
Will best friend Ig finally start talking to the new Ju?
Family mystery and school drama keep Ju most busy in this first book of the 7th Grade Sleuths series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Three young people whose lives are terribly disrupted in the turbulent years leading into World War II find comfort in playing a harmonica with magical music and unknowingly fulfill a pleasing prophecy.
Find this wonderful spring 2015 release at your favorite local library or independent bookstore so that you can discover the intricate music this wonderful harmonica threads through lives that need it most.
Have a story of an object that connects you to history? Please share in the comments below.
Book info: Echo / Pam Munoz Ryan. Scholastic Press, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A harmonica crafted through magic and mystery links three young people in different countries and times as they use their musical talents to overcome terrible odds.
In 1933 Germany, Friedrich apprentices in the harmonica factory with his father and uncle, away from those who mock his facial birthmark and conducting of the music he’s heard. As the tide of Nazi fervor overtakes his sister, threatens free-thinkers like his father, and condemns the harmonica as uncivilized, the melodies that 12 year old Friedrich plays are a small consolation.
At a Pennsylvania orphanage in 1935, Mike and little Frankie are determined to stay together. When a lawyer requests ‘musical children’ specifically, the brothers find themselves in a grand mansion whose owner wants to adopt one daughter! Tragedy took music out of Mrs. Sturbridge’s life years ago – perhaps 11 year old Mike’s practice for Hoxie’s Harmonica Band auditions can make her smile again.
Ivy plays harmonica concerts for her brother Fernando before he joins the army in 1942, before Papa is hired to care for a Japanese family’s California orange groves while they are detained in internment camp. The bigger cottage is nice, but not the rundown Americanization school for Mexican children – will the fifth grader be allowed to play in the new orchestra at the main school?
“Your fate is not yet sealed.
Even in the darkest night, a star will shine,
a bell will chime, a path will be revealed.”
Bracketed by the prophecy and promise fairy tale of the harmonica’s creation, the stories of Friedrich, Michael, and Ivy playing this fabulous instrument Echo with hope, joy, and longing to ensure their families’ well-being. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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