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.
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.
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.
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.
Endangered bird feathers as a prop,
a social club with no social awareness,
time to stop this nonsense!
Waiting out her parents’ transatlantic divorce arguments, Lane decides to take summer at her wealthy grandmother’s palatial Florida estate from boring to bold by inviting other 12 year old girls to form a secret club.
Ofelia’s overprotective Cuban-American parents want the budding journalist to stay safe, quit being so inquisitive, and certainly not apply for news-writers’ camp in New York City.
Helping her grandfather research connections between their Bahamian roots and local citrus growers leaves Aster plenty of time to cook up new dishes while Mom’s overseas in the Army.
As youngest sister, Cat is her society-conscious mother’s final chance to have a Miss Flora in the family, but she’d rather watch living birds than sit in boring club meetings.
The new friends decide to challenge the tradition of Miss Flora wearing a ceremonial hat with feathers from endangered birds – it should be in a museum!
All their low-key protests – stickers, lawn flamingos at the Flora clubhouse – get taken over by the Flora leader for publicity! How can this eclectic crew make the townspeople understand the importance of protecting local birds in peril?
A hidden lighthouse, a sadistic gym teacher, White Deer Woods where Raul just knows Mom is waiting for him – a little further from the sadness that weighed Dad down to the floor when she was gone, out into the freedom of being his wolf-self again, wondering about the missing Fresnel lens and why the new kid Vincent is nice to him.
Happy book birthday to this self-discovery story! Visit the publisher’s page here and scroll down to read chapter one, as Raul meets the new kid and secrets begin to unfold.
Have you ever felt like two beings at once?
Book info: This Is Not a Werewolf Story / Sandra Evans. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: It’s okay that Dad doesn’t come over from Seattle to pick up Raul for the weekends – more time to explore White Deer Woods near the boarding school and learn more about his mom who disappeared.
Tuffman, the three-time Olympian who now teaches PE at this small school for kids with individual learning needs? He’s not okay, not ever!
There’s a real white deer in the woods, and magic, Raul learns. Magic that lets him become his true wolf-self (no, not a werewolf! that’s movie make-believe) and run with the beautiful wolf who must be his mother.
When a cougar is sighted in the woods, Dean Swift restricts students to the main building – but how can Raul stay away?
The abandoned lighthouse where his change-magic happens – where did its giant lens go?
Mary Anne, Sparrow, new kid Vincent, even Mean Jack are on his side – but can he escape Tuffman’s torment?
A white wolf, secrets that divide and bring together – Raul is a young man trying to unravel a hidden agenda at school as the secret in White Deer Woods might free him or doom him. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Max “the Wolf” has constantly improved his woodcraft skills as a Boy Scout and is a detective at heart, so he and his new companions watch for clues as they travel together in search of answers – and try to stay ahead of the vicious Blue Cutters.
For his first novel for younger readers, Willingham taps the illustrating skills of his Fables graphic novel series collaborator Mark Buckingham for the masterful sketches of each character, from Banderbrock the badger, Walden the black bear, and McTavish the Monster (or perhaps a cat) to their evil pursuers with swords.
Find this mystery/quest/friendship tale today in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore. For a jump into the Fables universe, try Willingham’s Peter & Max novel which I reviewed here.
I do wonder what the animals in our lives would say to us if we could understand them talking…
My Recommendation: Max is lost in an unfamiliar forest, being chased by swordsmen who’d rather kill than talk, meeting up with talking animals – this has never happened to the top-notch Boy Scout before!
Using his woodcraft skills and powers of deduction (the young teen is a detective at heart), Max “the Wolf” decides to head downstream to find a town (and perhaps his memory). Along the way, he encounters Banderbrock the badger, who likewise is perplexed about being in this unknown forest, but remembers many tales of his daring and brave ancestors.
Dodging the Blue Cutter swordsmen who pursue all trespassers in this forest, Max and Banderbrock join forces with the black bear Walden, formerly sheriff in a quiet settlement in another forest, and McTavish the Monster, who looks very much like a battle-scarred tomcat to Max. All can understand one another perfectly, but their memories of time before this forest have unexplainable gaps.
Chased down the Mysterly River (as Walden named it) by the Blue Cutters and their hunting hounds, the friends try to find Prince Aspen (who is said to know many secrets) or anyone else who could help them escape to safety.
For the Blue Cutters remove everything unique about new arrivals in this forest – and what could be more unique than speech in animals or a Boy Scout with no troop nearby…
Why did the boy, badger, bear, and cat all arrive here at the same time?
Can the quartet avoid the Blue Cutters’ vicious blades?
What will they discover at the end of the Mysterly River?
An epic tale with an unexpected twist from Fables graphic novel writer, Bill Willingham, who undoubtedly enjoyed adventurous stories around the campfire as a Scout. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Why would 13-year-old Josh want to be at school when he could be nestled into an almost-cave on the rocky seashore, wondering when his dad will come back again from his cargo ship voyages, when his strange cousin will move out, when anything in his life will make sense?
As his own translator from the Icelandic, Erlings captures this teen boy’s voice and ever-circling worries perfectly. Listen to the first three minutes of the novel here, as Josh wakes up on his thirteenth birthday and finds his long-traveling father’s gift.
What would you do with a stuffed falcon, staring at you from its tree branch perch those black eyes?
Book info: Fish in the Sky / Fridrik Erlings; translated from Icelandic by the author. Candlewick Press, 2012. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My Book Talk: A stuffed falcon? That’s what Dad sent Josh from the ocean freighter for his 13th birthday? Yet another thing that’s not understandable in his universe, like why the girls allow themselves to be chased at recess or how no one stands up to the bullies who throw underwear in the showers after PE or why Mom lets his 17-year-old girl cousin move in with them.
She’s in trouble back home, this Trudy, and Josh is sure that it won’t be better at his house with her here. Mom has transformed his huge walk-in closet into Trudy’s room, so this girl who’s practically a stranger has to walk through his room to get anywhere!
School is even worse than being home: the agony of morning math with the headmaster, the giggling girls who send knowing looks but never walk with him during break time, the torture of PE class and the mean locker-room monitor and the bullies who pick on everyone different than them.
Josh decides that he’s learned enough for now and forges a series of excuse notes to stay away from seventh grade; if Mom weren’t so busy with two jobs, she’d do it, right?
How will Josh and Peter work on their film about falcons with Trudy barging in all the time?
And a growing guy needs his sleep; doesn’t that girl ever turn down her music?
Wait, it’s too quiet in Trudy’s space – has she snuck out after promising mom that she’d behave?
Dad’s calling from shore – why isn’t he on the cargo ships, like always?<
The confusion of becoming a teen and trying to understand other people wanders through Josh’s days and dreams in this coming-of-age novel, translated from the Icelandic by the author.
As volcanic ash fills the Iowa skies, violent earthquakes rattle the cornfields,
booms louder than cannons go on for hours and hours,
it seems like the end of the world is now…
but the end is just beginning.
Yellowstone’s geysers and fumaroles have always hinted at its geothermal potential for destruction. The supervolcano eruption long feared by geologists has come at last, and Alex’s home 900 miles east is under attack from its furies.
The enormous ash plume will spread through the atmosphere, block out sunlight, cause sudden and long-lasting winter weather. No sunshine means no crops growing, no crops means no food, widespread famine and desperation. Imagine the damage that sharp corrosive ash will do to auto engine air intakes, aircraft jet engines, delicate lung tissue of people and animals.
And Alex heads out into this ashfall with meager supplies and no sunrise to guide him eastward, trying to reunite with his family, to survive.
Visiting Yellowstone National Park last September, I smelled the sulfur of its hot spring pools, saw entire forests killed by rising super-scalding water levels, watched Old Faithful geyser jet up hundreds of feet into the sky. Yep, this supervolcano potential is real, and scientists are closely monitoring it – but can’t stop it.
First-time author Mike Mullin describes a perilous apocalyptic world which is all the more frightening because it really could happen at any moment. Book two in the series, Ashen Winter, will be published in October 2012 – pre-order it as soon as possible at your favorite independent bookstore because you won’t want to wait a single extra day to read what happens after Ashfall!
My Book Talk: Alex wants to skip visiting his uncle’s goat farm, and his parents finally agree to let the 16-year-old stay home alone this time, on that September weekend when the whole world changed, when a supervolcano eruption rocked civilization to its core.
It’s not like Alex was planning a wild party in his parents’ absence – just computer games and junk food on the menu. But those teen pleasures are gone now, like clear air and electricity and sunshine and phone service and clean water and trusting other people. Even 900 miles from the Yellowstone supervolcano, earthquakes throw houses around like kids’ blocks in their Iowa hometown. Then the ash begins to fall from the sky…and fall and fall and fall, clogging car engines, making it hard to breathe, getting into every crevice of his clothes.
Determined to get to his family, Alex gathers whatever food and gear he can, then heads east cross-country on Dad’s skis. Driving to Warren takes an hour and a half – how long will it take now? Slogging through ever-deepening ash, running short of water and food, he avoids farmhouses where he can see rifle barrels glinting in the windows, tries to find shelter in this flat farmland it gets colder and colder.
He keeps moving east, encountering very few refugees, some even less-prepared than he is, one much more dangerous than anyone he ever wanted to meet. Wounded, he stumbles into the first farmyard along the road and is taken in by Mrs. Edmunds and her teen daughter. Luckily, Darla has enough veterinary training to sew him up, and there’s corn to feed them for a while. Unluckily, trouble is coming down the road toward them, fast.
Can Alex really get to his uncle’s farm under his own power?
Can he protect Darla and her mom if they go with him?
What’s their biggest danger – the ash searing their lungs, the sudden heavy snowfall, or the viciousness of other people?
Vividly portraying a post-apocalyptic scenario that’s entirely too possible, Ashfall is first in a series, followed by Ashen Winter (book 2). (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
A chance to study far away instead of babysitting all summer…
Maybe go to the university instead of dental hygienist school….
Prove to ex-boyfriend Erik that she’s better off without him.
Myra imagines herself in the Galapagos Islands with its Darwin’s finches and blue-footed boobies, famous tortoises and amazingly blue sea waters, even as her little brothers break things and mud-wrestle, her big sister drops out of college and moves back home pregnant, both parents work long hours, the family’s carpool schedules look like battle plans – no wonder that Myra feels like she’s holding everything together, even when Erik breaks up with her.
Visit Myra’s study group site at Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake in the author’s slideshow, watch for the next little brother disaster, and cross your fingers that Myra wins that scholarship!
My Book Talk: Oh, how Myra feels trapped! Her perfect big sister is suddenly pregnant, her three little brothers are a constant noisy mess, and now Erik wants “some space” – this isn’t how spring of senior year should go!
When their AP Biology teacher announces a scholarship to study birds in the Galapagos Islands, Myra decides to go for it, even if it does require early morning Saturday excursions to Great Salt Lake Marina’s bird observation area and a “high level” scientific study proposal write-up and… $1,000 toward travel costs. Maybe she can scrape together that much money in just 3 months working part-time at the ice cream shop, right?
Saturday 6 a.m. really is early, but the University of Utah graduate assistant who’s leading the bird studies is enthusiastic enough to wake everyone up. Pete is excited that two high school kids from his hometown have a shot at this scholarship, so he helps them all with their project proposals as much as the rules allow.
Erik makes yet another mistake at the ice cream shop and expects Myra to cover for him like she did while they were dating. When she doesn’t and the manager insinuates that she’s irresponsible like her big sister, Myra just quits.
Now she’s got to find another job in this little town. Mom and Dad think she’s saving money to go to dental hygienist school; Myra hasn’t exactly told them that the scholarship requires that $1,000 travel fee, and they don’t seem too optimistic about her winning it anyway, especially when future-dentist Erik is also a competitor.
When the marina secretary quits, the Lake ranger offers Myra the job, part-time till school’s out, then full-time in the busy summer. Alright! A chance to earn the money she needs, do some extra bird-watching for the seminars, and Pete is at the marina whenever he’s not in class.
But can Myra really get away from this town where her family is judged because they don’t go to church like everyone else?
Can she come up with a scientific study idea that’s better than Erik’s so she can win the scholarship?
Can she keep thinking of Pete as only the group’s study leader instead of something more?
Everyone knows that Girls Don’t Fly, but Myra is determined to change all that in this story of family, dreams, life, and longing. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.