Tag Archive | non-US author

And she sings… Freedom’s Just Another Word, by Carolyn Stellings (book review)

book cover of Freedom's Just Another Word, by Caroline Stellings. Published by Second Story Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Famous musicians!
Her chance to perform…
and get out of town for good.

Easy doesn’t fit in – a half-Black girl in this Canadian prairie city, raised on zydeco music and working in her dad’s garage.

Then Janis Joplin‘s tour train stops nearby, and Easy’s future path becomes clear… to a certain extent of uncertainty.

Questions, secrets, and such a 1970 roadtrip!

How far have you gone to see someone perform?
**kmm

Book info: Freedom’s Just Another Word / Caroline Stellings. Second Story Press, 2016. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Easy absolutely must find a way to get from Saskatoon to Texas so she can sing with Janis Joplin!

The Canadian prairie is as far from the segregated South as her black parents could get after the war, then a scandalous affair produced biracial Louisiana who’s done with high school and past ready to get out of town.

Between 1970 concerts, Janis Joplin’s train will stop here, and Easy is determined to sing the blues for her idol.

Through her drunken haze, Joplin recognizes Easy’s talent and invites her to Texas so they can sing together!

Hmmm…on the way to Austin, Easy can return some WWII medals to the mother of the man who was injured saving her father’s life at Pearl Harbor…

A road trip with two nuns, a stopover on Route 66, secrets whispered, secrets unleashed.

In wartime, she finds A WHALE IN PARIS! by Daniel Presley & Claire Polders (book review)

book cover of A Whale in Paris, by Daniel Presley & Claire Polders. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Running through the heart of Paris,
the smooth river in the City of Light –
is that a submarine or a whale?

We don’t have reported whale sightings in Paris during World War II, but young ones definitely can become separated from their pod when disoriented by percussive noises like bomb blasts.

Hope, determination, and Mama’s ukelele – that’s all that Chantal and Franklin have to aid them during the long and perilous trip back to the sea.

What is the hope that you cling to during terrible times?
**kmm

Book info: A Whale in Paris: How It Happened That Chantal Duprey Befriended a Whale During the Second World War and Helped Liberate France / Daniel Presley & Claire Polders; illustrated by Erin McGuire. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [Daniel’s author site] [Claire’s author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Miraculously, despite German soldiers swarming through Chantal’s beloved Paris, a whale appears in the Seine River!

Such hope it brings to the war-weary citizens! So angry are the Germans that it won’t obey their orders! The 12 year old names him “Franklin” after the American president who has promised to liberate France.

But food is so scarce in 1944, and some Parisians say that Franklin is eating all the river fish, that perhaps he should be feeding them instead!

Why did this wonderful sea beast come so far up the river?

Can Chantal convince Franklin to go away to safety?

Can she overcome her fear of the water that claimed her mother and go with him?

In the darkest days of World War II for Paris, a young whale and a young woman race to rescue Papa and Aunt Sophie from prison.

Marauding AI? It’s Only the End of the World! by J.A. Henderson (book review)

book cover of It's Only the End of the World, by J. A. Henderson. Published by Kelpies Edge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Robots to do our chores
and fight our wars
Who’s giving the orders here?

His dad took all their savings and disappeared – now he expects Charlie and this girl with the odd name to break a serial killer out of prison to help them save the world…hmmm. Adventure and moral dilemmas!

Read an excerpt from the book here, free courtesy of the Scotland-based publisher.

Artificial intelligence is more than robots or household answer-giving devices – as AI keeps evolving, will pesky high-maintenance, environment-spoiling humans be worth keeping around?
**kmm

Book info: It’s Only the End of the World / J. A. Henderson. Kelpies Edge/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: The girl hiding in his closet has a message from Dad who left last month – Charlie must stop an evil corporation from ending the world!

Charlie’s boring parents were radical computer hackers before he was born, exposing corporate crimes – now Dad is back at it and has uncovered terrible things about Manticorps, including a serum giving superhuman strength to soldiers (and accidentally to Charlie).

Problematic that Daffodil can’t remember anything about her past and didn’t know that ‘Frankie’ giving her info was an artificial intelligence created by Manticorps.

The two Scots teens have to trust that Dad and Frankie are working for the good guys now, on the run as Manticorps’ hired assassins close in – because Frankie has been implanted in Daffodil’s neck!

If AI has advanced this far, perhaps it’s only the end of the world for humans… what has money-hungry Manticorps invented?

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.

Reader response to Kat, Incorrigible, by Stephanie Burgis! TBT book review

book cover of Katt Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis. Published by Simon Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Would a proper young lady in 1803 raise her voice?
Dress like a boy? Use magic? Never!
But of course, Kat would!

I love to hear from readers, especially when they’ve just read a great book I recommended some years ago – and it’s still in print! Happy #throwbackThursday!

Bethany recently found my recommendation of Kat, Incorrigible (here) while doing homework research about fashion during the Regency period in England.

She suggests visiting this website to learn more about Regency fashion – no wonder Kat wanted to escape all those petticoats and wear trousers (shocking!) to walk outdoors for secret magic practice!

All three volumes of this magical series are available in paperback.

Thanks for adding to our resource list, Bethany!
**kmm

Ship capsizing! Can she survive the Big Water? by Andrea Curtis (book review)

book cover of Big Water, by Andrea Curtis, published by Orca Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Storm! Shipwreck!
Are they the only survivors?
Scan for land, for rescue!

Hoping to lose herself in Sault Ste Marie, away from her parents never-ending grief, away from memories of her late twin brother, Christina thought the voyage across gigantic Georgian Bay would be summer-smooth like the last time.

Daniel hopes that he’ll be able to escape the illegal schemes that his uncle tricked him into, his heart as troubled as the storm-roiled lake waters.

No chaperones, no supplies, just their own wits and strength will get these young people to safety!

The dangerously overloaded Asia remains at the bottom of the “sixth Great Lake” and only a few bodies were recovered in the days following the 1882 disaster.

What new survival skills are on your list to learn in 2019?
**kmm

Book info: Big Water / Andrea Curtis. Orca Book Publishers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Running away from her parents’ unrelenting grief over the death of her twin brother, 17-year-old Christina is shipwrecked after a Great Lakes steamer capsizes and must work with a mysterious young man if they hope to survive.

Her parents mourn anew every time they see her instead of Jonathan, but she won’t let them pack her off to be a nursemaid or country schoolmarm.

An overheard argument on the Asia between two men – a family quarrel or criminal betrayal?

The massively overloaded steamship cannot survive this storm – how can Christina swim to a lifeboat in these heavy skirts?

She and Daniel of the argument struggle to find other survivors, a safe place to land – are any nearby islands inhabited?

Based on the true story of an 1882 shipwreck in huge Georgian Bay on Lake Huron where only two teenagers survived, Christina and Daniel’s harrowing adventures on the Big Water reveal how strong they really are.

Can Fox Girl and the White Gazelle become friends? by Victoria Williamson (book review)

book cover of Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, by Victoria Williamson. Published by Floris Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A wounded wild animal,
Two sad-at-heart girls –
What can heal them?

“Immersion” into school when her Syrian family arrives in Glasgow is more like drowning for Reema – new words, new accent, new dangers to face.

Fighting keeps everyone from getting close to Cailyn or discovering her mom’s problems – being a bully is better than being in foster care.

Cautiously, Reema and Cailyn might edge toward friendship as they care for a wounded fox and her babies in this story from Scotland that puts human faces on headline news.

How are refugees welcomed and assisted in your community?
**kmm

Book info: Fox Girl and the White Gazelle / Victoria Williamson. Kelpies/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Reema and her family have run away from the bombings and gas attacks, away from their home in Syria to far-off Scotland, separated from big brother Jamal.

Fox limped away from the metal monster that hurt her, away from the no-longer-safe woods, too close to the tall boxes where the beasts dwell, her babies come now.

Caylin won’t run from anything after Grandad’s death, covering up as Mum mourns in the bottle, stealing to keep them fed, bullying any who mock her lisp or shabby clothes.

Reema and Cailyn find the wounded fox and her small pups, both vowing to keep them safe and hidden from the nosiest neighbor in their small Glasgow apartment block.

Running – like she and Jamal did in the souk of Aleppo, Reema can run school races as fast as the white gazelle she is named for – if Baba and Mama will allow it.

Running – pups will grow and explore, the beasts in the box nearby will find them – mother fox must heal to lead them to safety.

Running – Gran was a national champion and Cailyn could be, too – but if Mum is wrong, kids would make fun of her even more.

This story of risk and safety is told from all three viewpoints as the two junior high girls discover that their differences need not separate them when important things are at stake.

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.


Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson (book review)

book cover of The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His earbuds are filled with opera,
His neighbors are druggies and the jobless,
Just like any middle-school boy, right?

Bart does love his mum and is sure that someday she’ll be able to keep a job so they can move out of their slum apartment… not so sure about keeping away from the bullies at school.

What advice would you give Bart as he searches for his long-gone dad?

**kmm

Book info: The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson / Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Maybe 13-year-old Bart’s opera singing talent comes from the American father he’s never seen.
Who in his Norwegian town knew that John Jones was such a common name in the world?

Maybe his mom will finally keep a job so they can move out of the slum apartments.
Why is it so hard for her to stay sober?

Maybe learning to box will keep the bullies away or impress Ada.
What made her volunteer Bart to sing at the school show?

Maybe he’ll shake his stage fright… anything can happen, right?

Middle school years are different for each person, but this translated novel shows how common some things are.


Running with Cosmos Flowers, after Hiroshima bombing, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall (book review)

book cover of Running With Cosmos Flowers: The Children of Hiroshima, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comAfter the A-bomb hits,
surviving winter in Hiroshima is so hard,
then flowers bloom in spring – and perhaps hope also?

Among the packages of desperately needed clothes and food sent to these Japanese schoolchildren when World War II ended were simple gifts of paper, pencils, and crayons from a church in the USA.

So they drew their thank-yous, sent back to the church which displayed and preserved them until today.

Ask for this story of war’s aftermath as seen through children’s eyes and art at your local library or independent bookstore.

The author’s documentary film “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard” includes the restored children’s drawings sent to All Souls’ Church in D.C. as well as archival footage showing life in Hiroshima in the days and months after the bombing.

War…
**kmm

Book info: Running with Cosmos Flowers: the Children of Hiroshima / Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing, 2014.  [book website] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Now her turn to evacuate in summer 1945, Hana-chan arrives at her aunt’s country village shortly before her mother departs with students going home… to Hiroshima.

Struggling to travel from the mountains into the city after the A-bomb strikes, Hana and her aunt are aghast at the devastation, yet try to help where they can.

Back at school in one of the few buildings remaining upright, 7 year old Hana and her young classmates worry about whether radiation sickness is contagious and how they will cope with oncoming winter weather.

Then packages arrive from America – with clothes and food and paper and pencils.

Can small gifts of paper and crayons begin to heal these broken lives?

And their thank-you drawings are sent to the USA, seen by thousands and remembered over the decades.

Based on the author’s experiences as a young girl born in Hiroshima just after World War II ended, hearing survivors’ stories and becoming part of a rebuilding nation. As usual in Japanese fiction, quotation marks aren’t used in the dialogue, but readers will soon be caught up in the story without need of this punctuation.