Everything is different,
no one understands –
moving to a new country is so hard!
Jingwen feels like like an alien when Mom moves him and little brother to Australia, especially when Yanghao picks up English so much faster than he can. Or maybe a ghost, since his classmates hardly include him in anything because he’s so quiet.
Only remembering Papa’s special cakes makes him happy (and sad), so he decides to bake each one, just as Papa taught him back in the family bakery after all the plain, inexpensive ones were done.
Why did Mama decide to emigrate, even after Papa died?
Why can’t Jingwen understand English better? Why?
Will he be held back at school to be in little brother’s class next year!?
Illustrated middle grade novel with so much heart! (and fantastically yummy descriptions of Papa’s cakes)
How can we understand others when words don’t connect us? **kmm
Book info: Pie in the Sky, by Remy Lai. Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
The Van Gogh brothers shared dreams and heartaches throughout their lives, with Vincent leaving their family home to pursue his art and Theo later giving him a place to stay and work in Paris. Based on their lifetime of correspondence.
Mom rushes to doctor appointment not on their calendar, The fifth grade art teacher thinks drawing isn’t important, Mika isn’t in any classes at all with her BFF!
But Mr. Vann’s math class turns out to be more fun than she could imagine -“One to a customer! Bonus points! Show your work, thinkers!” Mika really likes sketching her artistic math journal entries and makes new friends who love science puns and ballet.
Uh-oh…that small mole on Mom’s leg isn’t a small problem after all – how many cancer treatments until everything is okay?
Why does the principal always come by Mr. Vann’s class when they’re loud and moving around to demonstrate a math problem?
Why is their school advertising for a new fifth grade math teacher?
Grab this debut novel now and see Mika’s math journal as she works out problems numeric and otherwise. Read a sample chapter free here at the publisher’s website = one of my favorite 2019 titles!
If old friends don’t equal now-friends, how do you solve for new friends? **kmm
Book info: Solving for M / Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Jennifer Naalgichar. Crown Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Book info: Boy Band of the Apocalypse (Boy Band of the Apocalypse, book 1) / Tom Nicoll, illustrated by David O’Connell. Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, 2019. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Witnessing the world’s most popular boy band secretly murder their lead singer puts Sam in a tough spot as the British thirteen year old is tapped to stop Apocalips from destroying the world!
After reluctantly attending the concert with her best friend, Sam’s feisty little sister is suddenly a total Apocalips fan, like those bullying Heatherstone quadruplets in Sam’s class… very out of character.
Now that Sam knows Apocalips is intent on conquering the world with a new lead singer, he is forced to audition despite his shaky voice and bad dancing. Genius pal Milo’s invention will help with the singing, and Sam’s boring accountant parents will help with the dancing – really?!
Fame and fortune are his – if Sam can survive the weirdest audition ever and find the secret of Apocalips’ mind-control before it’s too late for everyone!
When a parent can’t parent, when interventions don’t work, when “what’s best for you” isn’t…
Only Scarlet understands how Red’s mind works, how his systematic collecting of birds’ feathers satisfies a deep-seated need for her younger half-brother with autism.
In a brief calm moment with Red in the zoo aviary where she actually can escape into a book without worrying about him, Scarlet notes “I close my book, imagining the characters frozen in their own time until I open the pages and start reading again. I wonder if our own lives are written down, unchangeable. I wonder what would be written down for me” (p. 42).
Their mother just sits in their London flat, so Scarlet takes care of shopping, laundry, and everything else – until it’s wrested from her control.
How do you cope with sudden changes? **kmm
Book info: Scarlet Ibis / Gill Lewis, illustrated by Susan Meyer. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When a disaster separates Scarlet from Red, the twelve year old is ready to search all of London so she can help her little half-brother with autism.
Scarlet and Red share the same mother (who’s not functioning well right now) – would the social worker have kept them together if they looked more alike?
Observing birds is the only thing that calms her autistic brother – where might Red go to find them (and Scarlet find him)?
Being called “my little cousin” by foster brother Jez gives Scarlet a safe identity – but what if her new schoolmates discover the truth?
Family bonds, racial identity, labeling others who are different, the haves and have-nots – life has just become even more complex for this young woman trying to do everything for those she loves.
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.
Luvander reluctantly joins forces with three other adventurers also heading for the fabled treasure hidden deep within the Dragon’s Maw caverns.
Hmm… why does she love roast meat and riddles so much?
Who’s the guy stalking them, with that Wanted Dead or Alive poster in hand?
Elves in battle, creatures of water, and beings of fire – time and again, Luvander is asked “Who are you?”
We join her story in volume 1 as the team journeys “Into the Dragon’s Maw,” then go further afield on land and sea with “Treasurehearts” (each volume collects 5 issues of the continuing comic).
Any adventurous blood singing in your veins?
Book info: Into the Dragon’s Maw (Scales & Scoundrels, vol.1), Treasurehearts (Scales & Scoundrels, vol. 2) / Sebastian Girner, art by Galaad, lettering by Jeff Powell. Image Comics, 2018. [author site] [artist Tumblr] [publisher site] Review copies and cover images courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Meet one who hunts treasure, another seeking a lost brother, a prince looking for adventure, and the bodyguard sworn to protect him on the quest in this graphic novel series set in a medieval world of magic and no little mayhem.
Luvander bows to no one during her ongoing treasure hunt, Dorma brings her dwarven guiding talents to the team, the prince wants to see beyond his kingdom while completing his adulthood challenge, and Koro must stand between him and excessive folly to get him home in one piece.
They traverse a land where dragons fiercely guard their treasure, misfortune takes many a peasant from their family, and bandits eagerly take hostage any well-to-do travelers crossing their territory.
Finding the legendary hidden treasure cave called The Dragon’s Maw is much easier than successfully avoiding its traps and perils – not even a bespelled dragon gives up one bit of its hoard without a fight!
Can Dorma find her brother who also sought to go “Into the Dragon’s Maw”?
What is the strange language Luvander speaks to statues down there?
If they escape with treasures, what curse might the team set loose on the world?
Surprises and secrets continue in volume 2 “Treasurehearts” as more of Luvander’s true self is revealed, the treasure hunters are hunted, and fire battles against the balance of power.
Snatched from his fishing waters by a factory-fishing-ship,
Adrift on the wide ocean in such a small boat,
the old man sees land ahead – but which land?
When he doesn’t return that night to their small coastal town, the fisherman’s wife goes searching for him, consulting the marine authorities, a soothsayer, and her own heart.
Join them on this wordless adventure/voyage/love story with scary and hilarious sidetrips!
Are you ready to travel to recover someone or something that you love?
Book info: The Sea of Love / Wilfrid Lupano; illustrated by Gregory Panaccione. Lion Forge, 2018. [artist site] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A Breton fisherman’s daily routine goes awry when his small boat is entangled by a mega-trawler, sending him on a trans-oceanic adventure far beyond his familiar French coastal waters in this near-wordless graphic novel.
Paddling the life raft to their village, the first mate tells the fisherman’s distraught wife that the huge ship Goldfish has taken the old man away!
How will he survive stormy seas and angry seagulls?
Can she get word to the captain of Goldfish to help her husband?
If the vision in the pancake is correct, he is safe, but how to get there?
Love and devotion, Brittany’s traditional lacemaking, tropical island and revolution, cans of sardines (oh, how he loathes sardines…) – over 200 pages of mishaps, persistence, and waves for miles make this story a keeper.
When Glinda was a schoolgirl
and the Brick Road didn’t shine brightly,
Oz existed, long-historied already…
Every well-known story has a “before” – before the crisis threatens, before the heroes awaken, before the epic battle.
Gabriel Gale’s Ages of Oz series brings us the “before” for Glinda the Good and other citizens of Oz, before Dorothy and Toto followed that familiar yellow brick road, as “the Royal Historian of Oz” allows another to be called “author” so these stories can be published in our world.
Look for book 2, A Dark Descent, in May 2018 as A Fiery Friendship comes out in paperback.
How do you know when a convenient alliance becomes a friendship worth fighting for?
Book info: A Fiery Friendship (Gabriel Gale’s Ages of Oz, book 1) / Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino. Margaret McElderry Books, 2017. [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: On her Declaration Day, Glinda’s future becomes less certain, as the Scroll doesn’t reveal her foretold occupation, her mother is imprisoned for magic by the Witch of the South, and the young teen is contacted by a secret society intent on reclaiming Oz from its four wicked rulers.
The yellow-hued land of Quadling under Asphidina is only golden for those favored by the Harvester queen, who forbids magic use by most.
Glinda can rescue her mother from Asphidina’s floristic prison – if the magic cards briefly seen have seeped into her very being.
Locasta from purple Gillikin land and Sam from another world entirely – youth joining her to fight ancient Wickedness.
Secrets uncovered will free the four lands of Oz from their bondage – if these friends survive long enough!
First in a series recounting the long-ago history of Oz, Glinda’s new friendships mingle with old prophecies, setting the stage for the Yellow Brick Road story so well-known to us. Followed by A Dark Descent.
Is knowing the past more important than living in the present?
Book info: Pablo and Birdy / Alison McGhee; illustrated by Ana Juan. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Washed onto the island as a baby, Pablo wonders where he came from, wonders why parrot Birdy never talks, wonders why this flightless friend arrived on the raft with him in the storm ten years ago (well, an inflated kiddie pool, not a real raft).
With storm season coming soon, his adoptive dad Emmanuel and the town of Isla prepare to celebrate Pablo’s tenth birthday (well, his tenth arrival-here-day), the many wondrous birds of the tropical island continue to show off for tourists, and the annual rumors about a Seafaring Parrot who flies thousands of miles begin again.
Why is lavender-feathered Birdy suddenly fluttering about?
Who is stealing food from Pierre’s bakery and other shops?
Will the television reporter stop at Isla to search for the Seafaring Parrot?
As he hears a loud voice repeating conversations in the night and sees a shadow lurking on the streets, Pablo worries about the predicted “winds of change” and the future for constant companion Birdy and their past clouded in mystery.
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