Tag Archive | nature

They must find more LITTLE MONARCHS, butterflies vital for humanity’s survival! by Jonathan Case (Middle Grade graphic novel review)

book cover of Little Monarchs, by Jonathan Case. Published by Margaret Ferguson Books / Holiday House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sun-sickness wiped out mammals,
some humans survive underground,
can any ever see daylight again?

By 2101, only two people on Earth can survive sunshine – young Elvie and scientist Flora who’s caring for the 10 year old while Elvie’s parents travel onward as the team perfects a cure for sun-sickness.

Monarch butterflies carry the needed ingredient on their wings, so Flora and Elvie follow their migration south along what used to be the western USA, scavenging from former cities, foraging wild foods, and avoiding known underground settlements.

Elvie documents nature and schoolwork in her journal, while Flora tests and retests ways to make larger quantities of the monarch wing-scale medicine that prevents sun-sickness.

After an earthquake, they find a small boy near an abandoned settlement, so Flora gives him a dose of medicine and they keep going. Elvie left behind a note and some medicine, in case anyone returns to look for little Sito.

Wow, his family does follow them and wants to travel along – safety in numbers, right? Right?!?

This outstanding graphic novel documents their perilous journey to meet up with Elvie’s parents, as well as the natural wonders and survival skills that she records in her journal.

In our time, monarch numbers are dropping dramatically, so planting native milkweed along their migration route can make up for some habitat loss.

Do monarchs migrate through your region?
**kmm

Book info: Little Monarchs / Jonathan Case. Margaret Ferguson Books / Holiday House, 2022. [author site] [book site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SINGING WITH ELEPHANTS, poetry in her heart breaks free! by Margarita Engle (MG book review)

book cover of Singing With Elephants, by Margarita Engle. Published by Viking Books /PRH  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Home isn’t here.
English is so hard to learn.
Animals always understand her.

Doctors in California after World War II couldn’t cure her grandmother diabetes, but now Oriol’s family is established here, her parents’ veterinary practice thriving, her big sister flirting with elephant handler Surey at the wildlife ranch they serve.

Summer is a release from kids who bully the 11 year old for not speaking English well, for the scents of animal companions that cling to her clothes. Oriol still longs for Cuba, where she and Abuelita cared for whistling birds.

Into their neighborhood comes an older lady whose words ring out with messages of nature and peace and hope. This poet from Chile begins teaching Oriol how to observe the world and bring poetry from her soul onto the page – in Spanish, in English, in both languages at once.

Oriol finally gets to meet wise-eyed Chandra at the ranch and Surey who cares for the pregnant elephant. The wonderful sounds that Chandra makes bring her so much joy, inspiring words and more words!

Can Oriol someday be a poet and a veterinarian, someone who translates animal speech to humans?

The noisy movie star who brought Chandra and Surey from Nepal can’t wait for the baby to be born – is he really the right person to own an elephant?

Big surprise when Chandra gives birth! Then terrible shock – what can Oriol do to help?

This novel-in-verse was inspired by the late 1940s California stay of Gabriela Mistral and her companion Doris Dana, as the educator, writer, and only woman Latin American winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature continued her work as a peace activist.

Another lyrical Cuban-centered story by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here), Your Heart My Sky (more here), Lion Island (here) and more.

What words does nature inspire you to write?
**kmm

Book info: Singing With Elephants / Margarita Engle. Viking Books /PRH, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is for sisters & THE SPLENDOR, hotel of secrets & stolen memories! by Breeana Shields (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Splendor, by Breeana Shields. Published by Page Street Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Glamour, luxury,
delights and dreams,
upheld by secrets, dark secrets!

At the Hotel Splendor, whatever you wish for comes true! This glittering promise has kept hope alive for orphaned sisters Juliette and Clare, now young women struggling to make ends meet.

A year of working extra jobs allowed Juliette to save up enough to give Clare the chance to live out her dreams at The Splendor, but a few weeks later, Clare returns as a stranger instead of Juliette’s dearest friend!

Whatever happened at the Splendor, Juliette must find a way to reclaim her sister’s love, so she takes their rainy-day money and becomes a guest at the dazzling hotel up on the hill.

There, she finds possibilities beyond her dreams – diving beneath the sea, riding on a giant bird, a garden made of sweets – as the staff creates a Signature Experience for each guest using the Splendor’s unique magic.

It is handsome young Henri who makes those Experiences seem more than real, with his mother Stella directing their huge staff of seamstresses, chefs, and concierges at the glittering, luxurious hotel.

How can Henri grant Juliette’s dearest wish when it was the Splendor that took away Clare’s love for her?

Every elegant inch of the Splendor Hotel is enhanced by Henri’s magic, but at what cost?

After Juliette is caught exploring behind the scenes, will the extravagant costume ball be her last dance?

Told in alternating chapters by Juliette and Henri, the dark secrets of the Splendor Hotel are gradually revealed! By the author of The Bone Charmer (recommended here).

What amazing experience would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: The Splendor / Breeana Shields. Page Street Publishing, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Cover image from the author; review copy courtesy of the publisher.

C is for Callie, reinventing herself ACROSS THE POND, by Joy McCullough (MG book review)

book cover of Across the Pond, by Joy McCullough. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Goodbye, not-so-good friends,
hello, new life in a new country!
Now… how to become a new me?

Callie and Jax’s parents have inherited what? A large drafty castle in Scotland that her family will renovate into a tourist destination is a huge change from their small two-bedroom apartment in San Diego where she was bullied at school.

Jax bounds into primary school as happily as he races through the castle’s many chilly rooms where stones fall from fireplaces and mice munch on tapestries.

Callie loves the small village library, but utterly panics at starting mid-term at the high school – please, please, will her parents let her homeschool to finish seventh grade and help them renovate?

They agree, as long as she does an outside activity to make friends… hmm, Lady Whittington-Spence’s childhood journal talks about bird-watching when she was evacuated to the countryside early in World War II.

When Callie unintentionally makes an enemy of their landscape designer’s young teen granddaughter, escaping to the youth birdwatching club (oops, it’s called ‘twitching club’ in Scotland) seems the best idea.

The twitchers are pleased to have access to the castle grounds for the Big Day competition when their club will try to beat teams from neighboring villages by spotting the most birds. Callie has some catching up to do, and Cressida (“just Sid”) forgives her so they can learn all the birds’ favorite nesting spots.

Can she and Sid show the twitching club that girls are great birders?
Can Callie’s family get the castle in shape for visitors soon?
How did their new cat get into the dumbwaiter?

Entries from Pippa Spence’s journal punctuate Callie’s own journey into confidence in her own abilities to learn new things and finally make friends worth having.

Published in paperback this week! By the author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost (I recommend here).

What’s on your “must-see” personal list?
**kmm

Book info: Across the Pond / Joy McCullough. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

This summer could be the best ever for THE ISLANDERS! by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May (MG book review)

Book cover of The Islanders, by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Published by Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No videogames or wi-fi?
Driving a golf cart! Or a boat?!
Maybe summer will be okay…

As a military kid, twelve-year-old Jake knows that staying with his grandma Honey will help Mom as she’s at the Army hospital with Dad, but having no internet or cellphone (don’t ask) will be terrible.

Luckily, two kids his age are on Dewees Island for the summer: Macon, a facts-spouting Black guy from Atlanta, whose mom is on bed rest waiting for her baby to arrive, and nature-fanatic Lovie, who drives her own boat over from Isle of Palms every day to stay with her aunt.

Honey doesn’t seem herself after Jake’s granddad died a while ago, and her house on stilts needs lots of care. Dad grew up here, roaming these woods and beaches, learning to drive a boat, leaving his nature journal and favorite books in the loft bedroom where Jake is staying.

Doing chores for Honey still leaves Jake plenty of time to explore the South Carolina coastal island with Lovie and Macon. Lots of lessons too – driving the golf cart, learning his way around a boat, recognizing loggerhead turtle tracks, avoiding alligators.

An incident gets the three friends assigned to Dawn Patrol, checking the beaches early, early every morning for new turtle nests that the licensed specialists verify and encircle with warning tape.

Jake sketches in his own nature journal, writes illustrated letters to Dad, and listens to the worries that Lovie and Macon confide.

Can Jake earn his boating license before summer ends?
How can they keep predators away from the turtle nests?
How fast can Dad recover from the IED explosion?

Sometimes the island seems like paradise, other times it’s not. For these three friends, this will be a summer to remember! First in a new series, followed by Search for Treasure in June 2022.

What’s your favorite summer-with-friends memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Islanders (Islanders, book 1) / Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She’s leaving. DESTINATION ANYWHERE, anywhere but here, by Sara Barnard (YA book review)

book cover of Destination Anywhere, by Sara Barnard; Christiane Furtges, illustrations. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bullied.
Mocked.
No friends during all her years in secondary school – not. a. single. one.

Even trying to make friends in early college was so disastrous that 17-year-old Peyton just leaves England, flies to Vancouver with her sketchbook and savings, choosing an adventure alone over being so very, very alone at school.

At the Canadian youth hostel, she meets honestly nice people from all over the world. With young adults from Scotland and Russia and beyond, she tours the city, visits the beach and a zipline in the forest – and they’re glad that she’s with them (wow).

Flashbacks to the dreadful night in college that triggered her flight illuminate the chasm of self-doubt caused by years of bullying – can journeying get her over that?

Beasey, Khalil, and friends think that Peyton is traveling to see her grandfather in Alberta (well, she tells everyone that’s why she’s here) and ask if she wants to join them when they rent an RV to visit Banff, which is on her route – why not?

They understand her dreams of becoming an illustrator (her parents don’t), savor nature’s beauty with her, and soon will be on their way to other countries and jobs and such – what next for her?

Maybe actually visiting the grandfather who abandoned her dad and grandma decades ago is the right path…

By the author of A Quiet Kind of Thunder (I recommended it here).

Where would you go on your next journey of self-discovery?
**kmm

Book info: Destination Anywhere / Sara Barnard; Christiane Furtges, illustrations. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

NINE! a Book of Nonet Poems, by Irene Latham & Amy Huntington (picture book review)

book cover of Nine: a Book of Nonet Poems / Irene Latham; art by Amy Huntington. Published by Charlesbridge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rhymes or none,
poems are fun –
you know haiku,
so try something new!

Expressing yourself in verse or song can make everyday life more interesting. That’s what a birthday girl and her little brother and their armadillo pal do, using the nonet form as they celebrate many nines – nine players in baseball, a nonagon-shaped nest, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, being on Cloud Nine.

What’s a nonet? She answers readers in the very first poem, “Nonet”:

Grand
poem
with nine lines –
one syllable
first line builds toward
nine-syllable ninth line
(or the reverse). A staircase
for poets and readers alike!
(Any subject, rhyming optional.)
-page 1

Did you count the syllables as you read down the nonet-staircase?

Some of her nonets start with the nine-syllable line and get shorter line by line, like “Nine-Banded Armadillo” and “Dressed to the Nines” for her big birthday bash!

Flip to the back of the book to learn more about all the nines in the poems and even the dimensions of the book itself.

Celebrate Poetry Break Day today or any day by writing your own nonet!

What’s your favorite nine fact?
**kmm

Book Info: Nine: a Book of Nonet Poems / Irene Latham; art by Amy Huntington. Charlesbridge, 2020. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Staying friends LONG DISTANCE is hard, #MGLit graphic novel by Whitney Gardner – book review

book cover of Long Distance, by Whitney Gardner. Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Moving to Seattle?
Leaving her best friend?
(leaving her only friend…)

Middle-schooler Vega doesn’t care that she’ll have a great window for her star-gazing telescope – leaving Portland is terrible!

Her dads try to help by sending her to Camp Very Best Friend. Their new neighbor guy Qwerty is going too, also with great reluctance. And best friend Halley doesn’t even text back as Vega endures the counselor’s off-key singing on the long ride to camp…

Tent-mate Gemma and twin Isaac both collect rocks (especially thundereggs), Qwerty is a computer whiz (talks non-stop), and George (the kid in all the camp brochure photos) seems to change personality every day.

Where are the squirrels and birds and insects?
Why won’t Qwerty’s satellite phone work at camp?
Why are the counselors are super-happy every single moment?

The multicultural campers find a pine cone with a speaker inside and a secret tunnel to the big telescope promised in the brochure.

Then weird things start happening… truly weird.

Great graphic novel in hardcover, paperback or ebook – worth your gift card!

How do you cope with friends moving away?
**kmm

Long Distance / words and art by Whitney Gardner. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Let’s keep this BETWEEN YOU, ME, AND THE HONEYBEES, by Amelia Dian Coombs (YA book review)

cover image of Between You, Me, and the Honeybees, by Amelia Dian Coombs. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The contented buzz,
orderly and productive –
bees always tell the truth.

Josie finally got through graduation and just wants to work full-time at her family honey business outside their small North California town.

But Mom insists that Josie apply to college (the chance she never got), and her bossy best friend is more than ready for them both to escape Volana for school in LA.

When the grandson of rival beekeepers arrives for the summer, Josie finally meets someone who understands her anxiety and her love for the bees. Ezra is a manga fan too and really wants to draw graphic novels professionally, despite his father’s disdain for the arts.

This summer, Hazeldine Honey will try for its 25th win for best honey in the state, beating the rival Blumsteins yet again… when disaster strikes.

Why can’t Mom understand that caring for their bees is more important than leaving town?
Will her beloved Gran have to move back with them because of her medical and memory issues?
Can Josie and Ezra keep their relationship secret from their feuding families?

Maybe sweetness doesn’t always have to come with a sting – read Josie and Ezra’s summer story to find out!

What’s your dream that’s outside the expected, tried, and true?
**kmm

Book Info: Between You, Me, and the Honeybees / Amelia Dian Coombs. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & 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.