Tag Archive | non-US artist

Z for zap! with LIGHTNING GIRL! by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall (middle grade book review)

book cover of Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall, illustrated by James Lancett. Published by Kane Miller Publishing EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sparks from her fingers!
Light beams from her hands!
Growing pains or superpowers?

Big brother is brilliant with computers, little sister is a genuine genius, and Aurora is in the middle, just average at everything, until the birthmark on her hands starts shooting light when she gets angry!

Mum is a secret superhero? Grandma and Aunt Lucinda too? Aurora has inherited superpowers?

Training sessions with Mum, keeping her secret from best friend Kizzy, Mr. Mercury ready to fail her in science – the British 11 year old is stressing out!

Her parents are arguing a lot now, the class trip to her dad’s exhibit of mysterious gemstones gets wild, and Aunt Lucinda drops by with her ostrich sidekick… what was her superpower exactly?

It’s up to Aurora to solve the gemstone mystery, repair her friendship with Kizzy, and make her parents happy together again…but how?

This illustrated adventure is the first in a series as the biracial middle-schooler meets other superheroes and fights against more villains. Look for all 4 books at your local library or independent bookstorehome delivery is a winner!

What superpower would you want to have?
**kmm

Book info: Lightning Girl (Lightning Girl, book 1) / Alesha Dixon with Katy Birchall; illustrated by James Lancett. Kane Miller EDC Publishers, 2020. [author interview] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy, sample page, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

sample page from Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall

P is THE DISTANCE BETWEEN ME AND THE CHERRY TREE, by Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir (MG book review)

book cover of The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree, by Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir. Published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

First were a few dots in her vision,
then glasses (not so cute),
now clouds cover her view…

Mafalda’s eyesight is failing, and the list of things the Italian girl can do grows shorter by the week – no more having a best friend or counting stars at night.

No more playing soccer, as the black spots widen so she cannot see the ball coming toward the goal, no more walking home from school by herself.

She hates how people have already started treating her differently, hates 11th birthday presents coming many months early while she can still see their colors, hates having to move to a one-story house away from her cat…

Only Estella, the Romanian janitor at school, seems to understand how hard this all is for Mafalda and suggests making a list of things she doesn’t want to forget when she is blind.

As days pass, she must stand ever closer to see her favorite cherry tree… if only Mafalda could live in its branches so no one knew her blindness was happening so fast.

Read an excerpt here (courtesy of the publisher) from this debut novel by an Italian author who was diagnosed as a young teen with the same vision-loss condition as Mafalda.

How do you cope when unhappy changes are inevitable?
**kmm

Book info: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree / Paola Peretti; translated by Denise Muir; illustrated by Carolina Rabei. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author interview] [translator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Do they dare seek the MALAMANDER?! by Thomas Taylor, art by Tom Booth (MG book review)

book cover of Malamander, by Thomas Taylor, art by Tom Booth. Published by Walker Books US/Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Secrets throughout the seaside town,
shoes neatly abandoned on the shore,
a man with a boat hook for a hand!

Winter winds moan across the shipwreck just off the pier and whip snow through Eerie-On-Sea’s cobbled streets, as Violet bursts into Herbie’s office and demands to no longer be lost.

The young Lost-and-Founder of the Grand Nautilus Hotel hides the girl from his ever-angry hotel manager and a sea captain who stabs his boat-hook hand through wooden trunks seeking her!

Her parents vanished from this hotel and left infant Violet behind 12 years ago – will Herbie help her find them?

An Eerie Book Dispensary postcard is her main clue – will its mechanical monkey prescribe a book for Violet with more information?

A writer in town says that her father’s research on the Malamander was inaccurate – why is he trying to find the unpublished manuscript?

Someone (or something) is attacking those who dare ask questions about the legendary Malamander fish-man, and the two orphaned young teens must connect all the story-threads before they are the next victims!

Just published in the US yesterday, Malamander is first in a series set in this creepy English town filled with memorable characters.

What local legends do your friends tell stories about?
**kmm

Book info: Malamander (Legends of Eerie-On-Sea, book 1) / Thomas Taylor; illustrated by Tom Booth. Walker Books US/Candlewick, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [book series site] [publisher site] Review copy, display pages, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

2 pages: end of chapter 28 showing Herbie leaping to another rooftop as harpoon speeds toward him and Violet, and start of chapter 29 "Silver-Tipped"

Making friends or Papa’s best cakes – PIE IN THE SKY dreams? by Remy Lai (book review)

book cover of Pie in the Sky, by Remy Lai. Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.

Extraordinary life stories – listen up! #audiobooks for all

Most of us would say that we lead unexceptional lives. That’s why we’re so intrigued by celebrities and folks whose lives are anything but ordinary.

This week, we get to listen in on the lifestories of superstars in the world of sport and the world of art, with two free audiobooks from AudioSYNC (thanks again, publishers!).

Click on a title below by Wednesday 17 July 2019, follow the easy directions at the AudioSYNC page, and you can keep the downloaded free audiobook on your device as long as you wish.

CD cover of Becoming Kareem,  by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Becoming Kareem, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Published by Hachette Audio

US basketball legend recounts his life from boyhood in New York through his professional career and onward as an activist for social change, sharing the many lessons learned from his mentors.

CD cover of Vincent and Theo,  by Deborah Heiligman | Read by Philip Fox Published by Dreamscape Media  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Vincent and Theo, by Deborah Heiligman

Read by Philip Fox

Published by Dreamscape Media

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.

What other biographies would you recommend?
**kmm

With her math journal & new friends, she’s SOLVING FOR M – #MGlit by Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Jennifer Naalgichar (book review)

book cover of Solving for M, by Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Jennifer Naalgichar, published by Crown Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.

B is for BOY BAND OF THE APOCALYPSE! by Tom Nicoll, art by David O’Connell (YA book review)

book cover of Boy Band of the Apocalypse by Tom Nicoll, published by Kane Miller EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The band everyone loves!
Lead singer leaves? Oh, no!
Now the world is doomed… really.

Music reaches into our very souls at times, and this boy band will use their songs to control as many teen souls as they can – unless rather unmusical Sam can infiltrate Apocalips and stop them!

At least that’s what the prophecy says…

Another fun British import brought to the US by Kane Miller Publishing – and yes, the second book is available now: Boy Band of the Apocalypse: Washed Up.

Prophecy, destiny, or free will?
**kmm

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!

Where is her brother who loves the Scarlet Ibis? by Gill Lewis (book review)

book cover of Scarlet Ibis, by Gill Lewis. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.

Authors & illustrators share their childhood works in Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissman (book review)

book cover of Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissnman. Published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.


Treasure and dragons, Scales & Scoundrels! by Sebastian Girner & Galaad (book review)

book cover of Into the Dragon's Maw (Scales & Scoundrels v. 1) by Sebastian Girner & Galaad. Published by Image Comics | recommended on BooksYALove.com Magic, mystery, peril,
bandits, allies, dwarfs,
elves, dragons, mermaids…

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?
**kmm

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.
book cover of Treasurehearts (Scales & Scoundrels v. 2) by Sebastian Girner & Galaad. Published by Image Comics | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.