Tag Archive | LGBTQ

YOU CAN’T SAY THAT! yes, authors can! #BannedBooksWeek (nonfiction book review)

book cover of You Can't Say That! Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell, edited by Leonard S. Marcus. Published by Candlewick Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Too rude! too scary!
Not in our school, our town,
we don’t talk about such things…

Name a ‘controversial topic’ and you can find a list of books for kids and teens that someone, somewhere in the US has tried to censor or ban from class or remove from library shelves.

That’s why this is Banned Books Week and why noted children’s books expert Leonard Marcus decided to talk with authors whose books have challenged by people who think their viewpoint is the only one.

Marcus sets the stage in each chapter by noting the author’s books, the censorship they faced, and how he knows them, so the interviews are conversations between friends as well as explorations of how their depictions of real life often clash with adults trying to protect kids from unpleasant things.

Authors interviewed include: Matt de la Peña, Robie H. Harris, Susan Kuklin, David Levithan, Meg Medina, Lesléa Newman, Katherine Paterson, Dav Pilkey, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, Sonya Sones, R. L. Stine, and Angie Thomas.

You’ll recognize challenged titles from Captain Underpants to the Goosebumps series to Heather Has Two Mommies that have been stolen, challenged, and even publicly burned, but might not have heard about authors being ‘disinvited’ from speaking at schools because their books include gay characters or children in families with alcoholism.

Meg Medina expresses the balance between would-be censors and the author’s right to tell their stories freely: “When it comes to formal challenges to books, the problem is not that parents don’t have the right to be involved in deciding what their children read. The problem is that they don’t have the right to make that determination for other people’s children.” (p. 96)

What are your experiences with book banning or censorship at your school?
**kmm

Book Info: You Can’t Say That! Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell / Leonard S. Marcus, editor. Candlewick Books, 2021. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She stays BRUISED to mask her bone-deep anguish, by Tanya Boteju (YA book review)

book cover of Bruised, by Tanya Boteju. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Block the mental pain
with physical pain,
repeat, repeat, repeat…

Daya bruises herself to keep from feeling the guilt and sorrow of surviving the car crash that killed her parents. Keeps her distance from everyone at school, from the well-meaning artsy aunt and uncle she lives with now, from the therapist trying to coax out feelings that must stay boxed in.

But the Sri Lankan-Canadian teen finds a better escape when skateboarding pal Fee introduces her to roller derby. Strong women, sweating and pushing and falling and getting up to skate and hit some more!

Can Daya up her skating skills enough to get onto the rink where the bashing starts?
Was Fee right when they said she could really do this?
Is Daya willing to let veteran skaters help her improve?

When she starts falling for Shanti, the derby team captain says Daya’s interest in her sister shows weakness, threatens to bench the former youth boxing champ for not being tough enough…

Stellar complex story from the author of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens (recommended here).

Ever try the right thing for the wrong reasons?
**kmm

Book Info: Bruised / Tanya Boteju. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Romance & relationships – listen in with free audiobooks!

Time to download this week’s love-filled free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Save these complete audiobooks to your Sora shelf (FAQs here) free! from Thursday through Wednesday, then listen to them at your leisure – the loan period is 99 years!

The Henna Wars (free Sora download 8-13 July 2021)
By Adiba Jaigirdar
Read by Priya Ayyar
Published by Listening Library

When Flavia comes back into Nishat’s life, the Irish-Bangladeshi teen is smitten with her.
But for their high school business competition, both young women decide to showcase their henna skills.
Can they get past the competition to see if their relationship will bloom? Will Nishat hide her feelings for Flavia to keep her family happy?

Saints and Misfits (free Sora download 8-13 July 2021)
By S.K. Ali
Read by Ariana Delawari
Published by Listening Library

Janna can cope with being considered a nerd because she studies or different because she wears the hijab at public school, which her remarried dad says is “too religious”.
But when the guy who assaulted her keeps her in sight at every mosque activity and is welcomed at friends’ homes, her fear grows – and she doesn’t want to be afraid anymore!

(Recommended on BooksYALove: https://booksyalove.com/?p=8819 as well as the sequel, Misfit in Love, just published in May! https://booksyalove.com/?p=12109)

More love stories, please?
**kmm

Pride and identity – audiobooks bring stories to life

Quick, quick! Put these outstanding free audiobooks from SYNC on your Sora shelf right now, before the selection changes on Wednesday night (30 June 2021)!

Once they’re saved on your free Sora shelf (FAQs here), you have 99 years (yes, really) to read them with your ears!

CD cover of audiobook Sasha Masha, by Agnes Borinsky. Read by Agnes Borinsky. Published by Tantor Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sasha Masha (free download 24-30 June 2021 on Sora)
by Agnes Borinsky
read by Agnes Borinsky
published by Tantor Media

Alex struggles with their identity, trying to live up to expectations of being a boy in Baltimore. A photo sent by faraway best friend revives suppressed memories, leading Alex to find a supportive social club for queer youth amid awkward interactions at home and school.

Read by the transgender author who invites us on Alex’s journey of personal truth.

CD cover of audiobook Stay Gold, by Tobly McSmith. Read by Theo Germaine, Phoebe Strole Published by Harper Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Stay Gold (free download 24-30 June 2021 on Sora)
by Tobly McSmith
Read by Theo Germaine, Phoebe Strole
Published by Harper Audio

At his new Texas high school, Pony isn’t announcing that he’s transgender, just wanting to make some friends, including cute cheerleader Georgia.

Georgia just wants to finish high school and get over a bad breakup, not expecting to fall for Pony.

What other affirming stories would you recommend for Pride Month and all year long?
**kmm

Z for ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE, so deal with it! by Sabina Khan (YA book review)

book cover of Zara Hossain is Here, by Sabina Khan, Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The only home she’s ever known,
her city, her beach, her neighborhood,
now a threat, hostility around each corner…

Zara’s college plans are in limbo as the high school senior impatiently waits for her family’s green card status to be approved in Corpus Christi where her father’s medical practice has thrived for years.

The devout Muslims here say her Pakistani family is too secular, while white bullies at school are ratcheting up their harassment of brown people.

Meeting Chloe is like a beautiful seabreeze, and the two young women begin a relationship, despite the disapproval of Chloe’s conservative religious parents.

When her gentle father angrily reacts to a hate crime against their family, Zara’s life shatters into disarray.

What’s their green card application status now?
Why are immigrants hated here so much?
What’s next?

Living next door to the Garcias since she and best friend Nick were toddlers, Zara knows only Texas as home, but maybe this land of opportunity doesn’t want to know her.

New this month and a fitting AtoZ Challenge finale on the 25th anniversary of Dia de los ninos/Children’s Book Day which celebrates connecting the deep, wide, and wonderful range of books to all kids of all backgrounds.

When to stand firm and when to bend?
**kmm

Book Info: Zara Hossain Is Here / Sabina Khan. Scholastic Press, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

R is for RURAL VOICES: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America (YA book review)

book cover of Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Everyone drives a truck and wears muddy boots,
talks slow and walks even slower –
today’s teens outside big cities go way beyond those tired old ideas.

An aspiring rodeo queen in Utah draws strength from her Puerto Rican roots.

A Michigan queer girl’s 4-H showmanship in swine competition might draw her crush closer.

Forced up a tree by an angry bull, best friends finally talk about whether Alina’s stories identify with her home state or strive to distance her from West Virginia.

This collection of viewpoints and vistas includes stories by David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Veeda Bybee, Nora Shalaway Carpenter, Shae Carys, S. A. Cosby, Rob Costello, Randy DuBurke, David Macinnis Gill, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Estelle Laure, Yamile Saied Méndez, Ashley Hope Pérez, Tirzah Price, and Monica Roe.

I live outside a very small town where FFA and AP classes are on the same schedule, and young people can pursue big dreams with or without moving to the big city.

What rural voices have you heard lately?
**kmm

Book Info: Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America / Nora Shalway Carpenter, ed. Candlewick Press, 2020. [editor interview] [publisher site]

Q for a queer COMPLICATED LOVE STORY SET IN SPACE aboard Qriosity, by Shaun David Hutchinson (YA book review)

book cover of A Complicated Love Story Set in Space, by Shaun David Hutchinson. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A message he can trust,
new friends in this adventure,
why can’t they remember how they got here?

It’s disorienting to wake up in a spacesuit floating outside a spaceship amid flashing warnings of imminent explosion – and to have another 16 year old inside Qirosity trying to shut down the faulty reactor and help Noa get to the airlock at the same time!

Noa stumbles out of the resuscitator (first death is the hardest), meeting Jenny on his way to find DJ – who abducted them from all over the US?

Just the three teens on this spaceship… and a grown-up kid actor’s hologram with unhelpful messages, and a murdered girl, and the kid actor’s entire mystery series to watch, and more than a lifetime supply of Nutreesh bars in the galley.

DJ and Noa are falling for each other, Jenny is plotting revenge on the aliens/kidnappers, and strange events keep them hopping as one day seems to repeat itself, repeat itself.

Steered automatically to a high school on an asteroid, they find cliques and yucky PE class and teachers who stop all the fun and the murdered girl from Qriosity who doesn’t remember being on the spaceship at all…

Why is there a high school in space?
Why does Jenny prefer Nutreesh to what Noa cooks?
Is DJ and Noa’s love real?

The three teens must rely on each other to survive months in space, a monster or two, crisis after crisis, and a school dance as they keep trying hack into Qriosity’s navigation system and get back to Earth.

Another tale of strange happenings and learning to love from the author of The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza (I recommended here) and At the Edge of the Universe (more here).

Aliens – yes or no?
**kmm

Book Info: A Complicated Love Story Set in Space / Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site]

A is for ANA ON THE EDGE, by A.J. Sass (MG book review)

book cover of Ana on the Edge, by A. J. Sass. Published by Little, Brown | BooksYALove.com

Figure skating competition = rules and regimens.
Chinese-American home = expectations and routine roles.
Can time on the ice become Ana’s freedom and focus?

Age 12 means moving up to the next figure skating competition level for Ana and also following her coach to a new Bay Area rink, with new choreography and music and routine.

Ana likes her short hair, sleek skating leggings, and bold Juvenile national championship choreography. But Intermediate ladies will be skating to a princess theme, and Ana doesn’t like the quiet music or boring moves that famous Miss Lydia has chosen or having to wear a skirt to practice or the huge bill that her single mom must pay!

As a skating rink assistant this summer, Ana can earn free practice hours – too bad she has to miss being with her best friend at her old rink and at their synagogue. Awesome that she meets new student Hayden, who just moved here and is now publicly identifying as a boy.

Hayden assumed Ana was a boy too, and she didn’t correct him. Will he get mad when he finds out?

Ana feels very in-between about girl or boy – what does that all mean?

And this new choreography and music… how can Ana make it more Ana?

Discovering who you are takes time and work – Ana may have the people nearby who will help!
**kmm

Book info: Ana On the Edge / A. J. Sass. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Rivalry or romance? TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW, by Rachel Lynn Solomon (book review)

book cover of Today Tonight Tomorrow, by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

For four years, every morning began with their snarky texts, and every school event was completely Rowan vs. Neil.

After four years, everything comes down to now… now what?

At their Seattle high school, Rowan and Neil have competed for the top spot in everything from student council to recycling, all to earn the honor of valedictorian.

Concentrating on competition this last semester has kept Rowan from spending time with her best friends, even as Keely and Mara became a couple – they’ll have all summer to catch up, right?

Howl is her last chance to one-up Neil, as the senior class scavenger hunt ranges across the city, tagging-out classmates until only one remains.

Near-tags and crazy coincidences cause Rowan and Neil to partner up, hoping to split the cash prize for college costs.

Can Rowan and Neil overcome their rivalry to win Howl?
Why didn’t they know each other was Jewish?
Might they actually like each other…really like each other?

As Howl continues, the pair shares secret plans (a name change?) and secret worries (is romance writing a real career?) while keeping watch for other students – 24 hours, so many plot twists and turns!

Read an excerpt here from this love story in Seattle that’s a love story to Seattle, courtesy of the publisher. From the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (recommended here).

What’s your favorite Happily Ever After?
**kmm

Book info: Today Tonight Tomorrow / Rachel Lynn Solomon. Simon Pulse, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via NetGalley.

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.