Tag Archive | nature

G is for GODDESS: 50 Goddesses, Spirits, Saints…by Dr. Janina Ramirez & Sarah Walsh (MG nonfiction book review) #A2Z

book cover of Goddess: 50 Goddesses, Spirits, Saints, and Other Female Figures Who Have Shaped Belief / written by Dr. Janina Ramirez, illustrated by Sarah Walsh. Published by Nosy Crow

We’re familiar with Greek and Roman goddesses like Athena and Diana, but many others around the world have escaped our notice and regard.

This large-format book, published in collaboration with the British Museum, introduces and expands our knowledge of female deities and spiritual beings, ten exemplars in each of five categories: Ruling and Guiding, New Life, War and Death, Love and Wisdom, and Animals and Nature.

Meet rulers and guides like Mami Wati, African water spirit and bringer of riches, and Rhiannon, Welsh queen of horses and courage.

Honored as bringers and protectors of new life are Pattini, Sri Lankan goddess of purity and fighter against injustice, and Mokosh, mother of the earth and Slavic goddess of spinning and fate.

Presiding over war and death, we find Sekhmet, Egyptian lioness and bringer of destruction, and Anat, Middle Eastern goddess of war and peace.

Revered for their gifts of love and wisdom are Tara, Buddhist mother of compassion and wisdom, and Pte San Win, sacred prophet of the Lakota people.

Related to animals and nature are Papatuanuku, Maori earth goddess, and Sedna, Inuit mother of the sea and all its creatures.

You’ll find female saints and goddesses who hold power over contrasting ideas (Izanami, Japanese goddess of death and new life) and those who concentrate their attention on just one thing (Chang’e, Chinese goddess of the Moon).

Browse through this compendium of fifty faith figures or read it straight through, as you appreciate vibrant painted illustrations by Sarah Walsh, photos of items from the Museum’s collections, and a useful glossary.

Which goddess would you like to encounter?
**kmm

Book info: Goddess: 50 Goddesses, Spirits, Saints, and Other Female Figures Who Have Shaped Belief / written by Dr. Janina Ramirez, illustrated by Sarah Walsh. Nosy Crow, 2023. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

PAUL BUNYAN! Invention of an American Legend?! by Noah Van Sciver (Graphic Novel review)

book cover of Paul Bunyan: the Invention of an American Legend / by Noah Van Sciver, with Marlena Myles, Lee Francis IV, Deondre Smiles. Toon Graphics

Babe the Blue Ox!
Paul Bunyan, the mighty lumberjack!
Made up by an advertising guy??

We’ve all heard the legend of enormously tall Paul Bunyan who conquered the northern woods and his gigantic companion Babe the Blue Ox, but… they were just part of an advertising campaign, not true folk-heroes!

America’s huge appetite for timber removed complete forests as settlers moved westward, overrunning the traditional lands of Native Americans while destroying cultures and ecosystems.

In 1914, the advertising department of Red River Lumber Company began promoting the “legend of Paul Bunyan” to gloss over their clear-cutting of old-growth woodlands, as they abandoned Minnesota and headed for the untouched forests of the West Coast.

Lumberjacks had always exaggerated stories of strong men at work like Saginaw Joe and Paul Bon Jean, but this newly-invented Paul Bunyan fellow beat them all!

From how his floating cradle created the huge tides in the Bay of Fundy to making the Finger Lakes when his hand hit the ground in New York to felling a tree with one axe stroke, Paul’s story was bigger and better than any other.

And heroic Paul worked for…Red River Lumber Company, at least in their pamphlets. He and Babe could clear and haul away 100 acres of big trees in one day and created the Mississippi River when their water wagon sprang a leak! No one in Minnesota believed those tall tales because they knew what the greedy lumber companies had actually done.

But the stories were in newspapers, then kids’ books and finally animation, obscuring the truth about why the mighty forests were reduced to small patches of woodland and how indigenous peoples were taken away from those valuable forestlands to reservations.

This fascinating graphic novel includes introduction and postscript by Native American scholars, as well as the Tree-Dwelling Little People story and a richly illustrated map of the Dakota homelands where Bunyan’s adventures were set.

Which American legend would you like to know more about?
**kmm

Book info: Paul Bunyan: the Invention of an American Legend / by Noah Van Sciver, with Marlena Myles, Lee Francis IV, Deondre Smiles. Toon Graphics, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Siku and the Zambezi River, connected forever, until the KARIBA dam! by Daniel & James Clarke (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Kariba, by Daniel & James Clarke. Published by Catalyst Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Great river spirit Nyaminyami dies and is reborn every epoch; this rebalancing time of Rumuko is near.

But Zimbabwe’s cities need electricity, so the giant Kariba Dam will block the Zambezi River soon. That is, if the Italian engineer and her team can get past the problems created as a greedy British manager tries secretly to trap Nyaminyami!

Siku lives with her father and auntie on the river and feels at home under its waters. Her dreams of flood and disaster and a giant snake get stronger – Baba says she must resist them, especially as he goes to work at Kariba.

The 11 year old doesn’t know that when she was a baby, Baba found her in an ancient place behind a waterfall and has continued to ignore the supernatural beings calling for Siku’s help with Rumuko.

River pirates attack Siku’s home just as a floatplane taking the engineer’s son to Kariba stops for fuel! The two young people escape in the plane, following Siku’s beloved river toward the dam, and her visions increase.

Of course, the pirates pursue – even on land! What do they want with Siku?

Evidence of Nyaminyami’s presence behind the near-complete dam is undeniable – can it truly be captured?

The Shonga people will be displaced when the lake begins rising behind the completed dam – can Siku help them stay in their homeland?

Happy book birthday this week to Kariba, another stellar addition to Catalyst Press’ catalog of African books published for North American readers.

What stories are told of the river spirits near you?
**kmm

Book info: Kariba / Daniel & James Clarke. Catalyst Press, 2023 [author & illustrator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

In the sky, in the air, I AM SMOKE, by Henry Herz and Mercè López (Picturebook review)

book cover of I Am Smoke, by Henry Herz; illustrated by Mercè López. Tilbury House Publishers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rising from flames,
Controlled or untamed –
we see and smell smoke.

This picturebook ably shows the many ways that people use smoke: to preserve foods, to banish pests, in religious ceremonies, for healing.

Interestingly, smoke narrates its own story, saying “I lack a mouth, but I can speak” as it reminds us that smoke signals were used in China as well as by Native Americans of the Plains and Southwest.

Smoke explains that it is part of a cycle – it adds its water vapor to rain, its carbon dioxide nourishes leaves that can transform smoke into wood, which someday may again become smoke.

For the earth-toned artwork, the artist held paper over smoky candles, then added details with watercolors and digital enhancements – another way to use smoke!

Fascinating back notes tell more about each page-spread’s short, lyrical text.

What is your happiest memory of smoke?
**kmm

Book info: I Am Smoke / Henry Herz; illustrated by Merce Lopez. Tilbury House Publishers, 2021. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I’m determined, strong, anxious – DON’T CALL ME A HURRICANE, by Ellen Hagan (YA book review)

book cover of Don't Call Me a Hurricane, by Ellen Hagan. Published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Five years since the hurricane,
end of childhood bliss,
more changes ahead…

Eliza’s Italian-American family rebuilt shore-side, but most year-rounders on their New Jersey island sold to developers and moved inland.

Summer before their senior year, Eliza and best friend Isa are lifeguards watching over families and surfers, worrying about the nature preserve being sold, doing what they can as climate activists (maybe going a little too far sometimes).

She usually steers clear of the summer people, but grudgingly agrees to teach city boy Milo how to surf since he’ll be here with dad and stepmom all summer.

Her therapist is trying to help the 17 year old unravel her anxiety about hurricane season, to quiet the litany of climate disaster that keeps Eliza up all night.

Milo wants to help the climate justice group – is he sincere or just trying to get closer to Eliza?

What can they do to save the nature preserve from developers with money, money, money?

Flashbacks to the hurricane’s wrath punctuate this stunning novel-in-verse examining changes and challenges.

How has climate change affected your community?
**kmm

Book info: Don’t Call Me a Hurricane / Ellen Hagan. Bloomsbury, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Are they cursed by THE GHOST OF SPRUCE POINT? by Nancy Tandon (MG book review)

book cover of The Ghost of Spruce Point, by Nancy Tendon. Published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Keeping track of the moon in his journal – check.
Learning to moderate his anxious tendencies – sort of check.

June in their remote Maine coastal village means two things to 12-year-old Parker: best friend Frankie arrives from the city to spend her summer, and tourists come to his family’s inn for relaxation and Mom’s incredible cooking.

Frankie is finally here, but the tourists aren’t. Only grumpy neighbor Mrs. Gruvlig would be pleased to have fewer people on Spruce Point – has she reawakened the curse that brought the sailing ship Westward to wreck upon its rocks long ago?

The whole Kids Confidential Meeting – Parker, little sister Bailey, their cousins from across the bay, and Frankie – brainstorm ways to save the inn, like more advertising and Mom leading cooking classes.

Unceasing rain in usually bright June, dangerous-to-touch moths eating all the oak leaves, road to the inn flooding – it must be a curse!

What are those floating green blobs of light in the cove?
Who (or what) is leaving things in the kids’ treehouse?
Why is there a ghost in Mrs. Gruvlig’s yard?

Maybe the sailors who died in the wreck of the Westward are causing the troubles or maybe it’s closer to home!

What’s your favorite ghost story?
**kmm

Book info: The Ghost of Spruce Point / Nancy Tendon. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is PEARL OF THE SEA, fighting poachers & monsters! by Silverston, Della Donne & Samuel (YA Graphic novel review) #A2Z

book cover of Pearl of the Sea, by Anthony Silverton, Raffaella Della Donne, Willem Samuel. Published by Catalyst Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The ocean is more home for Pearl and her one-eyed doggy than the rundown house that she and Dad share in their struggling South African coastal town.

In fact, the teen is often late for school because she’s diving for sea creatures to sell for rent money.

Pearl spots something interesting through the restricted offshore area’s fence near the sunken trawler, just before the poachers overfishing the abalone beds spot her – and the police boat spots all of them!

Dad says they have to move inland to the city so he can find work, but how can Pearl leave the sea?

Reluctantly helping the poachers find more abalone, she ventures into the fenced-off area and finds an amazing creature!

Now, to keep her new friend Otto safe from everyone, responsibly harvest enough shellfish to pay back the poachers, and stay awake in class…

Easier said than done, as her school friend Naomi worries about Pearl, the poachers spy on her, and Dad says it’s time to move – now!

A stunning graphic novel from creators at Triggerfish Animation Station in South Africa, coming to North America through Catalyst Press.

How have you helped a friend through difficult times?
**kmm

Book info: Pearl of the Sea / Anthony Silverton, Raffaella Della Donne, Willem Samuel. Catalyst Press, 2023. [creators’ site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

J is Jade and growing up and WHAT THE JAGUAR TOLD HER, by Alexandra V. Mendez (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of What the Jaguar Told Her, by Alexandra V. Mendez. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Jade didn’t want to leave Chicago and her friends and her abuela, but Mom’s new job with TV news in Atlanta is a big deal.

Thankfully, the first person she meets at private school is Chloe who explains things and introduces her to other 8th graders.

Little sister Katerina favors their Mexican-American mom, while Jade got her blonde hair and freckles from Dad, the professional gardener.

Walking the woodland path home from school, Jade meets an old man who tells stories like Abuela, about the early people of Mexico. Itztli’s tales fuel Jade’s drawings, moving her beyond pencil and notebook paper to vivid colors and deepest shadows that reflect their history and drama.

Chloe encourages her to practice with the cross-country runners, and Jade is thrilled to qualify for the team! If only the young woman could be confident about flirting and wearing makeup like her friends…

When Abuela must come stay with them, Jade learns more of their family history, painting the stories like Itztli does. Did her grandmother see animals in the obsidian mirror like Mom did? What will Jade glimpse there now?

Did Itztli look like a jaguar when she first saw him?
Will she see Chloe’s cute big brother at the high school during cross-country practice?
Wait, Mom is on TV reporting from New York City, where planes just flew into the Twin Towers…

This novel of magical realism starts in 2001, yet goes far back into ancient history with Itztli’s vivid stories as strong as oak trees, as nourishing as corn.

What story from your family starts furthest from where you are now?
**kmm

Book info: What the Jaguar Told Her / Alexandra V. Mendez. Levine Querido, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

H is Hayley & horror & HOW TO MAKE A MOVIE IN 12 DAYS, by Fiona Hardy (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of How to Make a Movie in 12 Days, by Fiona Hardy.  Published by Kane Miller/EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A movie script by Hayley and Grandma,
a new video camera,
three weeks of summer break –
it’s time to make this horror movie!

An evil rosebush that eats people and a clever woman who solves the mystery – as tribute to her recently deceased movie-loving grandmother, Hayley will now use her new video camera to make their planned horror movie, to show at Grandma’s memorial celebration in a few weeks.

Location, location – wow, that old house in their Australian town with the giant rosebush is perfect! And the nice old man there with the country accent is happy for the preteen crew to film there.

Henry has great ideas about the people-eating rosebush, Samson is brilliant with the boom microphone he borrowed (gulp…), and the shooting schedule has time built in for retakes and more retakes.

If Pilar won’t play Grandma’s role, can Hayley convince ultra-snobby classmate Rissa to do it?
When will her cello teacher Clay finish the soundtrack so she can edit it into the film?
The video camera SD card is where??

Fighting sabotage and the calendar, the film team works around problems (like her little sister and big brother) and finds alternate solutions as time speeds toward the evening when the film will be screened for Grandma’s friends and movie-fanatic family!

Check in again with these school buddies in the companion book, How to Make a Soundtrack in 12 Days here.

What’s the best group project you’ve ever done for fun?
**kmm

Book info: How to Make a Movie in 12 Days / Fiona Hardy. Kane Miller/EDC, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

G is for Graham, seeking RARE BIRDS, friendship, and answers, by Jeff Miller (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Rare Birds, by Jeff Miller. Published by Union Square Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

In Mom’s Florida hometown for the summer, waiting…

She and 11-year-old Graham have gone from hospital to hospital as doctors try to fix her heart condition – this is the final stop, the last chance, waiting for a transplant.

They’ll stay with Mom’s long-time friend Dom who stored her keepsakes, like her birding journal, even though his son Nick isn’t keen on sharing a room with Graham.

Graham does make a friend his age in the hospital – Lou knows its ins and outs as she’s there with her dad.

Lou lives near Dom’s house, so during their non-hospital time, they learn to handle a canoe and explore the waterways, looking for the birds in Mom’s journal, finding the places that Mom and his late father went during high school.

Can they sight the rare Snail Kite and win the youth birdspotters’ contest?
Why doesn’t Nick want to help with his dad’s house painting business?
Will Mom’s time in this hospital turn out okay?

Friendship and family, learning new things and making new goals – a summer to make memories.

What’s the most unusual creature you’ve ever seen in the wild?
**kmm

Book info: Rare Birds / Jeff Miller. Union Square Kids, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.