Tag Archive | memories

Authors & illustrators share their childhood works in Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissman (book review)

book cover of Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissnman. Published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.


Too many changes for Trudy, by Jessica Lee Anderson (book review)

book cover of Trudy, by Jessica Lee Anderson, published by Milkweed Editions | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A late-life blessing to her parents,
slightly terrified about starting middle school,
now her dad is acting oddly

If only her Pop would work in his garden again or dance with her in the living room like he used to!

A parent’s illness is lots to handle for kids and teens, Trudy included.

This is the first book by Jessica Lee Anderson who later wrote Border Crossing (my recommendation here) and Calli (recommended here).

How have you dealt with family changes and school changes at the same time?
**kmm

Book info: Trudy / Jessica Lee Anderson. Milkweed Editions, 2005. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lockers, changing classes, tests with not-so-good grades – middle school isn’t fun for Trudy, especially when her elderly father starts acting odd and best friend Ashley gets popular.

Born when Ma was 53, Trudy now has to correct people who think her grandparents are raising her in their small Austin home.

Math is easier when Roshanda explains it, and the sixth graders quickly become friends – so great to laugh together!

Pop is just digging in his garden now, not planting, and he’s tired all the time – so strange.

Jerome is really cute, and being partnered for a class project will be perfect for Trudy, right?

Canned goods in the bathroom, calling their car a train…it’s Alzheimer’s, says the doctor – what will Pops do next?

This fall semester is more eventful than Trudy ever dreamed.

Accidents, loss, Phantom Limbs – hope? by Paula Garner (book review)

book cover of Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner, published by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe lost his brother,
she lost her Olympic chances…
is there hope, if they work together?

Dara is a no-nonsense taskmaster as she tries to coach Otis into the Olympic Trials for swimming (now one-armed, she can’t swim out her own dreams).

But if Meg returns, how can he keep his focus? Or keep the reality of little brother Mason’s last day locked away safely?

Is what you can do the same as your identity?
**kmm

Book info: Phantom Limbs / Paula Garner. Candlewick Press, hardcover 2016, paperback 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Two different tragedies have left Dara and Otis with missing parts, but as she pushes him through grueling swim practices this summer, another piece of his past returns and may shatter all their hopes.

Dara’s missing arm has become her aggressive swim coaching to put Otis in the Olympic Trials where she should have been.
Otis’s family has become fragile with just memory where little brother Mason should be.
Meg’s silence after she moved three years ago has become a void where Otis’s heart should be.

Dara just graduated from their Ohio high school, but can she move on?
Otis loved – loves – Meg, but does she still care for him?
Meg tried moving away, moving on, but will anywhere feel like home again?

As Otis tries to balance Dara’s demands (swim practice, phantom limb pains, more swim practice, maybe new girlfriend) and his expectations for Meg’s visit (her scent, her voice, her eyes, her not being on the phone with her jock boyfriend back in California), he struggles to stay out of the dark place that swallowed him when little Mason died.

Piper in NYC! Can she be an Art Boss? by Kayla Cagan (book review)

book cover of Art Boss, by Kayla Cagan. Published by Chronicle Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comIn the Big Apple at last!
Big artistic vision, short time to work.
Pricey place, small paycheck, next steps?

The story begun in Piper Perish opens a new chapter for the teen artist as she arrives in New York City, far from family demands in Houston (= why I prefer this book to #1).

No need to read the first book to get caught up in Piper’s explorations of NYC’s art scene and her own artistic ideas.

Head for your local library or independent bookstore to dive into NYC with Piper.

Away from home and family – what’s your first move?
**kmm

Book info:  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:
In New York City at last, Piper works for a famous artist with a “new vision” but the Houston native also wants time for her own creative desires as she learns to navigate the city in a whirlwind season before starting art school.

Hired by Carlyle Campbell based on photos of her big senior project in Texas, now Piper must replicate that piece and several others for Fashion Week – fast!

Can she keep her own artistic focus while working to reflect what Carlyle wants the world to see?

The intense connection she felt online with her student mentor Silas seems erratic when they’re together in person – hmmm.

Her small salary from Carlyle doesn’t go far in the city – time to find another job, and find a place to paint, and go out with Silas and new friend Grace, and apply for financial aid so she can start next semester…

It’s Piper Perish in the big city as she leaps into the next chapter of her life – as long as she can find a way to stay here!

Running with Cosmos Flowers, after Hiroshima bombing, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall (book review)

book cover of Running With Cosmos Flowers: The Children of Hiroshima, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comAfter the A-bomb hits,
surviving winter in Hiroshima is so hard,
then flowers bloom in spring – and perhaps hope also?

Among the packages of desperately needed clothes and food sent to these Japanese schoolchildren when World War II ended were simple gifts of paper, pencils, and crayons from a church in the USA.

So they drew their thank-yous, sent back to the church which displayed and preserved them until today.

Ask for this story of war’s aftermath as seen through children’s eyes and art at your local library or independent bookstore.

The author’s documentary film “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard” includes the restored children’s drawings sent to All Souls’ Church in D.C. as well as archival footage showing life in Hiroshima in the days and months after the bombing.

War…
**kmm

Book info: Running with Cosmos Flowers: the Children of Hiroshima / Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing, 2014.  [book website] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Now her turn to evacuate in summer 1945, Hana-chan arrives at her aunt’s country village shortly before her mother departs with students going home… to Hiroshima.

Struggling to travel from the mountains into the city after the A-bomb strikes, Hana and her aunt are aghast at the devastation, yet try to help where they can.

Back at school in one of the few buildings remaining upright, 7 year old Hana and her young classmates worry about whether radiation sickness is contagious and how they will cope with oncoming winter weather.

Then packages arrive from America – with clothes and food and paper and pencils.

Can small gifts of paper and crayons begin to heal these broken lives?

And their thank-you drawings are sent to the USA, seen by thousands and remembered over the decades.

Based on the author’s experiences as a young girl born in Hiroshima just after World War II ended, hearing survivors’ stories and becoming part of a rebuilding nation. As usual in Japanese fiction, quotation marks aren’t used in the dialogue, but readers will soon be caught up in the story without need of this punctuation.

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean – tales of young women & daring, edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, Anita Roy (book review)

book cover of Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, edited by Murray, Dhar & Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books| recommended on BooksYALove.comNo longer victims,
many choices to be made,
young women leap, tiptoe, and march onward!

A cooking show that time-travels back to the days when food was real.

The procession of elders leads young women to the sea where their true names will be revealed.

As authors and artists in Australia and India worked together on stories (in words and/or images) to show the range of experiences that teen girls are facing and have endured and can overcome, a common thread of ‘connections’ emerged in the finished compilation.

What new connections will you make to move forward?
**kmm

Book info:  Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean: Stories of Imagination and Daring / edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, and Anita Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In response to rapes and attacks on young women, writers and artists from India and Australia created this anthology of stories (several with art) reflecting the possibilities beyond powerlessness.

“Little Red Suit” in future Australia battles to reach Grandmother before the voice snarling unauthorized through her shield-suit radio does.

A young woman travels from India to “Arctic Light” on a ship to protest oil drilling and climate change, despite the loss of her mother, despite the threat of imprisonment.

Kavya wavers between remaining a low-society cleaner who removes magical problems (pixies in the toilet again…) or becoming standardized which would make “The Wednesday Room” with its removed zombies and poker-playing mermaids vanish forever.

Collaborators of different cultures and countries were asked to work together on this theme, resulting in graphic-novel short stories, single-act plays, tales of now and tales of lands imagined.

She must learn Rules for Thieves to survive! by Alexandra Ott (book review)

book cover of Rules for Thieves, by Alexandra Ott. Published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.comEscape or be a servant?
Starve or steal?
Trust someone or be captured?

Alli has very few choices when Beck arrives on the scene, but taking his help will involve her in a dangerous guild – only way she can stop the curse from killing her, though!

Read chapter 1 free on publisher’s website, then scurry to your local library or independent bookstore for the first part of Alli and Beck’s adventure – book two, The Shadow Thieves, was published in June 2018!

What’s your moral compass when survival is at stake?
**kmm

Book info: Rules for Thieves (Rules for Thieves, book 1) / Alexandra Ott. Aladdin Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As the curse moves toward her heart, 12-year-old orphan Alli must decide if she can sacrifice her principles to join the Thieves’ Guild for a chance to buy the cure.

Escaping from the orphanage is easy; not being caught by the city Protectors (again) is more difficult, so Alli accepts a strange boy’s offer to help – what a mistake!

A glancing blow of magic lodges a deadly curse under her skin; Beck knows how she can get money for the cure, so they head for his country – such a journey!

Of course he didn’t tell her the whole truth… entering the Thieves’ Guild is near-impossible for outsiders, but as the curse’s dark tendrils wind ever-nearer to her heart, she’s got to try!

When her initiation quest goes terrible wrong, Alli balances on a knife’s edge – her life or the lives of many?

In a foreign city, on a desperate mission – follow the Guild rules or what she knows is right?

Book one in the series, followed by The Shadow Thieves.

Women, witchcraft, tales of TOIL & TROUBLE, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe (book review)

book cover of Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe. Published by Harlequin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.comAll witches are old” – no.
“and evil” – not necessarily.
“and far away from here” = nope!

The stories in this teen-witch-centered anthology run from today to far-yesterday, from just around the corner to not-quite-sure-where, with love and pain and healing throughout.

Do you use the abilities that you’ve been entrusted with?
**kmm

Book info: Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft / edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe. Harlequin Teen, 2018. [editor site] [editor site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: If one only had the power to create inspiration where none exists, to release the dead from their last earthly bond, to cast a spell to bring love, peace, vengeance – these young women do!

“The Gherin Girls” channel their magic into food and plants, but it’s harder work to heal your own heart.

How can “The Well Witch” escape desperadoes invading her high desert homestead far from the river?

Releasing souls after their “Death in the Sawtooths” is Mattie’s job, but now she must stop whoever is capturing souls against their will by perverting The Lady’s powers.

Los Angeles today with skateboarders, a difficult birth in 1650 New England, the ones ever-waiting by a woodland campfire for another girl to join them – then and now, the witches are.

Moving far beyond the cliche of witch equals black-hatted, cackling old crone, this short story collection by 15 authors features many different young women who eagerly or reluctantly use the magic abilities they’ve been gifted.

The merest Touch of Gold endangers all, by Annie Sullivan (book review)

book cover of A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.comGold calls to her,
like the Sirens call sailors on her ship,
like a friendly voice finally calls her from the castle…

Dangerous waters ahead for the golden-hued daughter of King Midas, restored from entrapment as a living gold statue to human form by a sacrifice that ages her father and keeps her locked away.

Only she can retrieve his stolen treasure trove and save his life – but at what cost to herself and superstitious companions?

This retelling of the King Midas story sails the seas, bringing Kora closer and closer to the stolen gold which could trap her once again.

What have you wished for and ultimately were glad not to get?
**kmm

Book info: A Touch of Gold / Annie Sullivan. BlinkYA, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked away for years after sacrifice saved her from being a statue forever, golden-skinned Kora must travel foreign seas to save her father Midas’s kingdom.

Her uncle will gladly marry Kora off in an alliance to bolster the kingdom, if anyone is brave enough to see if she’s inherited her father’s Touch.

King Midas is slipping deeper into madness after his Touch-made treasures are stolen – can Kora bring them back before it’s too late?

The gold hoard’s call to her is as alluring as the Sirens’ song is to sailors – can she resist keeping it for herself?

Every person hides secrets – are any as dangerous as Kora’s glittering abilities?

As long as her gloves keep gold from touching her skin,
as long as Duke Royce can help her find her father’s treasures,
as long as her best friend and cousin Hettie believes in her…
perhaps the Touch won’t consume Kora after all.

As her ancestors did, she will fight – R For Rebel, by J. Anderson Coats (book review)

book cover of R Is For Rebel, by J. Anderson Coats. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comParents banished forever,
a life of servitude ahead for her,
acquiesce to the invaders’ plans or fight back?

Taking children from their families, reducing persons devoted to the land’s health for generations to become merely indentured workers, erasing any and every hint of the native language and traditions – typical actions of invading forces…

Read the first chapter as Malley is dragged away to the invaders’ school (preparing her to be a house servant, if she toes the line) here free, courtesy of the publisher, then visit your local library or independent bookstore to see how she deals with its restrictions as she looks for ways to escape.

This historical fiction playing out in a country which doesn’t exist in our history is as satisfying as the author’s The Wicked and the Just (recommended here) set in 12th century Wales, both featuring strong young women who fight against conquerors who invaded their homelands.

How do you rebel against injustice without endangering others?
**kmm

Book info: R is for Rebel / J. Anderson Coats. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Imprisoned at the conquerors’ brainwashing school, Malley seeks ways to fight back like her Melian grandparents did without endangering her chambermates or being sent to the workhouse – small errors equal demerits, rebellion means death… but she feels so dead locked indoors, away from the fields and forests and honest work.

The Wealdan Empire forbids every tradition that made Malley’s life good – hair braided by family pattern, songs celebrating resistance fighters by name and deed, the very names that connect her to her history – but the young woman finds secret picture messages showing that another rebel is here.

How can Malley find others willing to risk rebellion, when every girl is urged to report the tiniest infraction made by another?

Why was she given the part of that butchering General Cur in the play that the girls must perform for Wealdan officials?

Hearing whispered encouragement from her storied name-kin Mallianne in dreams during the darkest nights, perhaps Malley can find an opportunity for rebellion, redemption, escape!