When has your community come together in response to crisis?
Book info: Amina’s Voice / Hena Khan. Salaam Reads/ Simon & Schuster, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Middle school is so confusing for Amina, as her best friend Soojin starts hanging out with the popular girls (they’ve always been so mean!) and her parents expect that she and big brother will excel at the Quran recitation contest (so difficult for her to pronounce Arabic properly).
Add to all this stress one chorus concert (her voice teacher wants her to sing a solo, but Amina is too shy), two times the trouble with fidgety Bradley and mean Emily in their group Oregon Trail project, and three months that her strict uncle from Pakistan will be staying in their suburban Milwaukee home!
When terrible things happen to their beautiful Islamic Center, Amina and her family wonder how their community can recover.
What can one girl do to help?
How brave can she be?
Only Korean kid in town,
Mom and Dad won’t talk about family history.
Chloe will uncover her heritage, no matter what!
On Multicultural Kids’ Books Day, let’s travel to Chloe’s boring town where the middle-schooler’s parents won’t discuss whatever made them move from Korea to the US, and everyone assumes she’s good at math and music because “she’s Asian” since no one there knows the difference between Japanese, Chinese, and Korean!
If you’ve ever felt like a fish in the wrong school, like this book cover shows, you understand Chloe’s wish to know her family’s history.
Books as mirrors, books as windows – thank you to the organizers and supporters of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (see the list below)!
What did you do when you felt out of place?
Book info: Unidentified Suburban Object / Mike Jung. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Chloe is so frustrated with her parents’ silence about Korea and her classmates saying she gets good math grades and first chair violin in orchestra “because she’s Asian” that the thirteen year old is ready to pop!
Her new social studies teacher is Korean-American!? Chloe is so happy.
Ms. Lee assigns a family history project – Chloe is delighted!
Her parents are horrified – are they secret illegal aliens or something?
While her best friend is as obsessed with Korean culture as she is, Chloe really wants to know her family’s connection with their homeland – is that really so much to ask?
+++++ Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth 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 on 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.
Census data shows that 37% of the US population consists of people of color, yet only 10% of children’s books published have diverse characters and content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
Going blind or singing solo?
Confronting Mom or DJing solo?
Lists of true fears, open to true friends?
As Hailey faces encroaching blindness and Kyle faces up to his failure to protect best buddy Pavel, they meet at school and begin inching toward the uncertainties of their futures as they mark items off their personal lists of fears.
Lots of bumps along this relationship road, especially as Kyle kicks himself for allowing anyone else to help Hailey jump into intimacy.
This book in two voices is written by C. Desir (I recommended her Other Broken Thingshere) and Jolene Perry (check out my recommendation of Stronger Than You Know here) whose characters in difficult situations are real, heartfelt, and honest.
Meet mostly-fearless Hailey and so-shy Kyle in this free excerpt, courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: As her eyesight deteriorates, Hailey starts a list of fears to conquer and urges new friend Kyle to do the same. While the Chicago teens start facing their fears head-on, other emotions begin to color their relationship.
When Kyle’s dad left, all the warmth at home did also. Kyle couldn’t protect best friend Pavel from horrific bullying. How can he help Hailey with her fears list… when he’s falling in love with her?
Her guitar and her music – at least those will be left for Hailey when glaucoma takes all her sight. But how can she face a future where she’ll never see the faces of her moms or be able to truly see Kyle?
Told in alternating chapters by two authors known for their strong characters in difficult situations, Love Blind explores friendship, love, and getting beyond reasonable fears to tackle the truest ones.
He’s white, she’s black, Foo Fighters fans, first love delights!
Their friends and family? not so happy…
Until scintillating Naomi comes into Walter’s very dull urban life, he hadn’t really worried about girls before. Complicates things a bit, that she’s little sister of his pal for all things comic books and rap.
Shouldn’t be a big issue that they’re an interracial couple in these days, but then his cop dad is reprimanded for racial profiling and decides to present his side of the case on social media…
Read chapter one here (without the artwork, alas) courtesy of the publisher, then check out the story in all its duality – black and white, love and anger, words and art, urban smooth and suburban entrenchment, personal responsibility and anonymous attacks – at your local library or independent bookstore, as hardcover or new August 2016 paperback.
When to stand together in the face of society’s obstacles?
Book info: Bright Lights, Dark Nights / Stephen Emond. Roaring Brook, 2015 (hardcover); 2016, Square Fish (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A racial profiling scandal gone viral imperils the new relationship between Walter and Naomi, as his white cop dad ‘tries too hard’ to solve vandalism in their grim urban neighborhood.
Why can’t they just enjoy the Foo Fighters’ music and start falling toward being in love?
Shouldn’t being an interracial couple just be normal now?
How does the old news of his parents’ divorce become a new crisis?
Dealing with guys who think Naomi should stay with her old friends, with his family’s ingrained racism louder than ever, and with Dad’s sudden insistence on clearing his name on social media, Walter isn’t sure of himself or of Naomi’s affection, then things really get tough.
Bright Lights, Dark Nights is an illustrated story of first love, music, self-respect, classic movies, and finding your place in the world.
Kyle can’t unsee the Twin Towers falling on 9/11, can’t unrescue the ash-covered girl with costume wings and no memory, can’t unwish that she would stay with him as he cares for paralyzed Uncle Matt while Mom is stuck in LA with his little sister and Dad is at Ground Zero with his police squad and other rescue workers.
What things have the most weight in your own memories?
Book info: The Memory of Things / Gae Polisner. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Rushing across the Brooklyn Bridge on 9/11, Kyle spots a girl wearing wings, covered with ashes, poised to jump?
Safely home, the 16-year-old finds that the girl can’t remember her name, he can’t get his dad in downtown New York City on the phone, his mom and sister can’t get home from LA, and paralyzed Uncle Matt’s caregiver can’t get to his family’s apartment.
What can Kyle do but help Uncle Matt, keep trying to contact Dad, and wonder if the girl will get her memory back?
He longs for Uncle Matt to recover faster from the wreck that ended his police career (all Donohue men are cops, says his granddad, but Kyle loves music so), for his family to be together, for the girl to stay…
A love story in the wake of disaster, a family story that endures, a possibility of happy endings. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Before Alzheimer’s takes everything away from his grandfather, Ted promises to get him back East, to where Gpa and Gma were married – even though the teen poet can’t drive and Gpa must stay at Calypso. Enter guitar-playing Corrina yearning to escape her adoptive parents’ demands to conform – road trip time!
(Today, I’m at a funeral for yet another person whose time with children and grandchildren was stolen away by this terrible disease, despite all their love and excellent care… )
What’s your favorite road trip story?
Book info: The Last True Love Story / Brendan Kiely. Margaret McElderry Books, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Teddy would do anything for the grandfather who raised him, but a roadtrip to the church back east where Gpa and Gma were married is impossible, until Corrina says road trip and the teen poet says yes.
Of course, they can get to Ithaca from Los Angeles before Alzheimer’s takes away Gpa’s memories of Gma his true love, with the help of Ted’s hard-rocking classmate Corrina (who can drive) and Mom’s car (she can’t use it when overseas for business all the time) and the magic of GPS.
Some days on the road are good, like when Corrina plays the music that Gpa and Gma loved when he was a Marine in Vietnam or when she opens up to him about being adopted from Guatemala and not meeting her white parents’ career expectations.
Other days aren’t so good, like when Gpa thinks Teddy is not his grandson, but his son who died in a car crash near Ithaca, leaving behind his California wife, child, and bitterness.
Can Teddy capture this last story in the Hendrix Family Book so he can tell it to Gpa again and again?
Will Corrina’s guitar or Teddy’s poetry keep them safe?
Can they really get to Ithaca before a Silver Alert gets them?
Love and family, truth and half-truths, a road trip worth every bump and mile. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Millie is too loud,
Alice is too strong,
If their families only understood them…
The woods outside Standish hide the Yare beings from no-fur humans, until an experiential school moves in just across the lake, close enough that Millie can hear young teen voices, ones that the tiniest Bigfoot would love to meet and sing with…
Read an excerpt from The Littlest Bigfoot at USA Todayhere to see why Alice is sure that her eighth school in 8 years will be not-so-good – of course, she doesn’t know that she’ll meet Millie soon!
Be sure to visit the book’s wonderful website to explore the world that Millie, Alice, and Bigfoot-hunting Jeremy share.
Share your unexpected friendship in the comments, please!
Book info: The Littlest Bigfoot (Littlest Bigfoot, book 1) / Jennifer Weiner. Aladdin, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Sent away to untraditional school, Alice just wants to make a friend, but the 13 year old New Yorker never imagined that she’d meet petite Millie, a little Bigfoot with a big singing voice, or be chased by Bigfoot-hunting Jeremy from the nearby middle school, or find a way to stand up to bullying once and for all.
Dad is remarrying in Paris,
new French stepsister hates her,
No way she will find love in the City of Light!
Sophie is so mad at Dad for leaving them behind, for not following through on promised piano, for… everything!
More complex than the usual ‘summer romance in a romantic city’ story, Sophie has to work through her feelings of abandonment, apprehension about auditions and college costs, and misunderstandings with her own brother (and all the French teens in Camille’s group, all of them!) as she decides if a summer love is worth potential heartbreak.
Paris – alone or with a special someone?
Book info: One Paris Summer / Denise Grover Swank. Blink, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Meeting him was the best part of her summer in Paris, but since Matthieu is friends with the new stepsister who hates Sophie, even the prospect of using his mom’s piano to practice for upcoming auditions loses its luster.
And with her former crush traveling over to stay with her brother Eric for a few weeks (Dad is trying to make peace after leaving them behind in South Carolina after the divorce), it’s all going to get complicated… really, really complicated!
Is it okay to like Matthieu when he was Camille’s friend first?
When will Dad understand that abandoning his kids for a fancy French wife is unforgivable?
Why can’t she clear her mind and just practice, practice, practice for music scholarships?
Mixed messages from Matthieu may be more than errors in translation when Sophie’s emotions swing wildly during One Paris Summer as first love may be just around the corner.
Happy book birthday to Dumplin’ as Willowdean decides that the size of her heart matters more than the size of her thighs when pageant season arrives.
Glad that the author finally made it to Texas herself, although breaking the name of our state flower into two piece for the pageant title is dang near treasonous.
Today is also “Sing It Out Day” – how appropriate! Dolly Parton‘s 40 albums and self-acceptance inspire Willowdean to “go big or go home” – what inspires you?
Book info: Dumplin’ / Julie Murphy. Balzer + Bray, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A small Texas town beauty pageant gets a big shake-up as non-traditional contestants enter, led by sizeable and sassy Willowdean who’s ready for new things and her share of love.
Mom relives her Miss Texas Blue Bonnet days each year, helping slim cheerleaders prepare for the pageant as her own daughter enjoys being fat and almost happy.
Dumplin’ (oh, Mom, drop that nickname, please!) moons over handsome Bo at work and wonders if she’ll get stuck in this small town like recently deceased young Aunt Lucy whose size finally kept her housebound.
Willowdean and Lucy loved Dolly Parton’s songs and self-acceptance, so when classmates say the pageant isn’t for her, the teen decides it’s time to challenge the system – and so do other not-gorgeous girls from school!
Hone your talent? Time for a roadtrip to Aunt Lucy’s favorite music venue!
Find the perfect dress? Hello, vintage stores!
Get an escort for the pageant? Oh… maybe Bo?
She’s not entering the pageant to piss off Mom, but this sassy sweetheart and her new friends have read all the rules and know it’s their right to try – in front of the whole town. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
A singer with no more voice,
a young mermaid expert ignored,
a dutiful son without a plan B…
No surgical procedure can ever restore Elyse’s voice, but time spent with the funny (cousin and her outspoken BFF), the darling (mermaid-obsessed young Sebastian), and the heartbreaker (Christian does what??) may start the healing of her musical soul.
Ockler writes of another summer of enormous changes in The Book of Broken Hearts (my recommendation here).
If your greatest talent/gift/strength were taken away forever, how would you cope?
Book info: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids / Sarah Ockler. Simon Pulse, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: After a boat accident robs Elyse of her singing voice, she lands in her aunt’s tiny Oregon town where the Trinidadian teen finds herself falling for the wrong guy and caring too much about the shady mayor’s big plans.
Leaving her twin sister in Tobago was so hard, but staying to watch Natalie continue the singing career which had been theirs together was impossible.
The warm Caribbean stole her voice; perhaps the chilly Pacific currents can heal her soul. But if Elyse ignores her cousin’s warnings about heart-breaker Christian or helps the summer guy’s little brother search for mermaids, the sea may try to claim her forever.
A bet between the mayor and Christian’s dad puts Aunt Lemon’s home and gallery in jeopardy, as whichever son wins the Pirate’s Regatta will win the property it stands on.
Will the mayor’s desire for money turn off-the-beaten-path Atargatis Cove into just another tourist town?
Can Christian and Elyse rebuild his sailboat in time for the regatta?
Can Elyse face down her fear of being on the water again and help him win?
Of course, sweet little Sebastian should be able march in the Mermaid Parade, and the property developers must be stopped, and Elyse should decide if she can afford to lose her heart… (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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