Today is Free Comic Book Day, so find your nearest participating comics store here and get there fast, before the excellent selection of free comic books runs out!
It’s also Star Wars Day – a good opportunity to point you to another volume in Ian Doescher’s Shakespearean retellings of the Star Wars movies… read ye now the Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge (movie episode three).
Yes, our valiant Chewbacca appears in this volume (farewell too soon, actor Peter Mayhew), as do many characters good and evil from the episodes in this series before and after this one:
And as I wrote in 2015:
Why speak just now of this most-worthy tome,
Why note it not upon its natal day?
Mark well today’s harmonious date, kind one,
And may the Force be with us all, I pray!
Book info: William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge (Star Wars Part the Third) / Ian Doescher. Quirk Books, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Assassinations – dreams denied. Protests and retaliation – hope swings forward, then back. War in our living rooms – who can look away?
This collection of non-fiction essays and memoirs by stellar YA and middle grade authors does go chronologically through 1968, but is vivid and nuanced and anguished – no dry parade of factoids on a timeline!
In “The Death of the Dream,” Kekla Magoon recounts the assasinations of Dr. King and RFK, while Laban Carrick Hill remembers those same days as a young child in a very racist Southern family “On the Wrong Side of History.”
What do you know about the 1968 student riots in Paris and Mexico City? – the small freedoms gained in Czechoslovakia during “Prague Spring” before the USSR Communist leaders cracked down? – the protests against Columbia University’s attempt to build a gym by razing a black neighborhood? – the Red Guard in China during the Cultural Revolution?
Police brutality against protesters in Chicago was viewed by 90 million people on live television in 1968, research on genetics and computing raced forward in laboratories, while the Olympics and Presidential election and space race dominated the headlines.
The authors relay their personal connection or outlook to the event they chronicle, with each quarter of the year headed by Elizabeth Partridge’s recap of the Nightly News including Vietnam war fatalities – military and civilian – night after night after night.
Be sure to read the contributors’ biographies at the end: Jennifer Anthony, Marc Aronson, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Loree Griffin Burns, Omar Figueroas, Paul Fleischman, Laban Carrick Hill, Mark Kurlansky, Lenore Look, David Lubar, Kate MacMillan, Kekla Magoon, Jim Murphy, Elizabeth Partridge.
Get it today at your favorite indie bookstore for Independent Bookstore Day!
What historic moment during your lifetime would you write about? **kmm
Book info: 1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press, 2018. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Life aboard an old space station alternates between boring and emergency, even for its kids. (Please say that school won’t be same old routine in the future!)
With something loose in the maintenance tunnels disrupting power and other essential services, our genius middle-schoolers are on the search team, trying to locate Princess Sparkle before anyone else finds their three-headed kitten – or anything else goes wrong!
What’s your favorite cute/oops pet story? **kmm
Book info: Sanity & Tallulah / written & illustrated by Molly Brooks. Disney/Hyperion, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My Book Talk: When her lab-engineered (cute, but very illegal) pet escapes, preteen genius Sanity and best friend Tallulah must find the three-headed kitten before it causes any more critical outages in the space station!
Sanity used only outdated (very unstable) tech and her own energy allowance to create Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds, but the Wilnick’s lab director (Tallulah’s mom) still confiscates the cute carnivore. Three heads are smarter than one – Princess quickly gets out of confinement and into the station’s maintenance tunnels.
Sudden power disruptions all over Wilnick! Something has been chewing on the coolant lines.
Weird noises on the supply shuttle! Tallulah’s dad and little brother can track that down.
Power outage locks their class in the chemistry lab! Sanity can find a way to get them out safely.
Everyone’s on alert so they can eliminate the “huge beast” threatening this old space station’s life support systems – Sanity and Tallulah must find the kitten first in this futuristic graphic novel!
Preparing to flee dying Earth,
only the wealthy 1% may go,
but lowerworld 99% has other ideas!
This dystopian novel begins with privileged Cam’s stealthy views of Lowerworld economic protests (he must find that golden-eyed girl!) leading up to the corporation-run Upperworld’s elite space migration program launch (slated only for the wealthiest, naturally).
Sofie’s eloquence convinces Cam to help her make the case for allowing some Lowerworld people to go on the Otherworld colonization ships.
But the thousand-year space journey ends elsewhere than mission designers planned! Sabotage?
Can there truly be One World on the new less-hospitable planet when money and propaganda had divided Earth into Two?
When your best friend moves away, what next?
Book info: Love, Ish / Karen Rivers. Algonquin Young Readers, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Certain that she will someday be selected for a Mars mission, 12 year old Ish lists everything that she’ll miss about Earth, like former best friend Tig and the island on their drying-up California lake, and what she won’t miss, like how Tig never calls from Oregon and the cancer that started hurting her brain and how her sister hates her.
No denying that starting seventh grade is terrible without Tig here, or that Ish was surely adopted with cute older sister Elliott because they were a package deal.
No good reason that Mars Now has rejected Mischa Love’s application 47 times, or that new friend Gavriel can’t be a girl if he wants to be.
A brain tumor the size of a brussels sprout – not Ish’s favorite vegetable.
Radiation treatments – Ish doesn’t like her red hair, but she doesn’t like it falling out either.
Dreams of Mars, all the dreams – never let them stop!
Maybe it will finally rain here in Lake Ochoa again, and maybe Ish can squash that tumor, and maybe she can get to Mars with Tig…
Just ‘on loan’ from Moscow University,
till JPL can divert the asteroid…
is ‘forever’ a reasonable loan length?
Russian physics prodigy Yuri is intent on winning the Nobel Prize, but working with NASA to prevent an asteroid from wiping out the Pacific Rim will keep him busy in California for a few weeks – not his last weeks on earth, he hopes! And then he meets Dovie…
Find this funny and fierce July 2016 hardback release at your local library or pre-order the July 2017 paperback from your favorite independent bookstore (no affiliate links here – indie booksellers deserve all our business).
If the end of our world was approaching, what would you do?
Book info: Learning to Swear in America / Katie Kennedy. Bloomsbury USA Childrens,’s Books 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Yuri will just return to Russia to continue his antimatter research after helping NASA prevent an asteroid from obliterating the US West Coast, but when the 17 year old physics prodigy discovers that they might not let him leave California…
Eighteen days to impact – Yuri meets the asteroid team he will work with…and a lovely mysterious girl.
Yes, he will take Dovie to her prom (such a strange American high school custom) and visit her odd hippie family (more strange customs) and find a way to stop the asteroid (if only his team would listen to him).
No, the young PhD won’t let anyone at Moscow University steal his research toward the Nobel Prize or be forced to stay in California against his will!
Counting down the days to impact – the math, the physics, the public doesn’t know true danger… as Yuri falls in love.
Six years to prepare,
Two ships to Mars,
One pair of broken hearts…
Of course, falling in love was an inconsiderate choice on his part, but how could Tristan’s teen self keep away from charming, lovely, phenomenal Izzy – even when he knew that he’d leave the planet forever at age 16?
In this near-future Earth’s desperate gamble to find more room by settling on Mars, not everyone agrees. Despite years of planning and training and built-in safeguards, small disasters begin on the Mars One spaceships – how?
Should humankind keep reaching for the stars?
Book info: Mars One / Jonathan Maberry. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: As part of Earth’s first colony crew to Mars, 16 year old Tristan is elated, fully trained, and ready to launch… except that part about leaving girlfriend Izzy forever and worrying about anti-Mars violence coming to their Wisconsin hometown.
Intense preparations for launch of Mars One’s first two ships have taken years, bypassed national borders, and been documented on all media. Even Izzy’s and Tristan’s “doomed romance” is a reality TV show (paying for her college, that’s why). And the Neo-Luddites have protested every step of the way, now bombing sites related to the mission.
One of four teens on Mars One, Tristan has faith in his mom’s rigorous engineering safety checks – why are systems having problems in space?
These families have been training together for so long – can they keep finding solutions?
Psychological testing over and over – no one aboard either ship wants the mission to fail, right?
The further the two ships travel from Earth, the longer the communications delay becomes – goodbye, Izzy. Goodbye, everything?
Evil ogres attacking Tokyo.
Ninja colleague not yet recovered.
Hero has to wonder who wins this time!
Second in the Kuromori Chronicles, raising the stakes even higher for prophesied warrior Kenny, as the teen soccer player starts learning new sword skills and how to ID evil beings in the supernatural line-up just as the bad guys try to remove him from the picture entirely!
I like that Kane-Miller asks folks to buy their books at a local independent bookstore rather than selling through their own website. Of course, you should ask for it at your local library also, so that more readers can enjoy this exciting series! (my recommendation of Book 1 here, with no spoilers)
After experiencing typhoon rains in Tokyo during my first week there, then an earthquake while waiting at the airport to leave, I can well imagine supernatural creatures below the earth or warring gods among the clouds!
Still wondering… any yokai (evil or benign) where you live?
Book info: Shield of Kuromori (Kuromori Chronicles, book 2) / Jason Rohan. Kane Miller, 2016. [series Facebook page] [publisher site] [distributor site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A new threat to his adoptive land and his ninja partner’s growing anger keep Kenny jumping as the young hero foretold in Japanese prophecy strives to master supernatural warfare, stay away from school bullies, and keep Kiyomi calm enough to fight by his side.
With Kiyomi’s behavior becoming more erratic, Kenny must decide whether to search for a way to cure her or to pursue the mysterious threat just uncovered by Japanese gods.
Who is so unleashing so many evil yokai at once?
Can two teenagers really save Japan from slow death?
A mirror or a shield?
Ancient Japanese stories, modern technology, and ages-old greed of man – all collide as Kiyomi and Kenny must unpuzzle this devious plot before evil wins the day. Follows The Sword of Kuromori in the series.
Finally heading for Earth Force Academy,
in space at age 12!
Away from the bullies, at last…
Bred especially to be Bounders, Jasper and other 12-year-olds find themselves grudgingly assisted at Earth Force Academy and challenged to master the alien-shared tech needed to bound, but why exactly the military Earth Force decided that young teens with ‘unusual neurodiversity‘ were the best pilots for this alien world-jumping is rather… suspect.
In future America,
Book info: Bounders / Monica Tesler. Aladdin, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Genetically specialized for interstellar ship bounding, 12-year-old Jasper is glad to escape earth-school bullies and learn to use alien quantum tech at the Academy in space, but he and his pod-mates start wondering why they were bred to become quantum pilots for the military….
Book info: William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace (Star Wars, Part the First) / Ian Doescher. Quirk Books, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: In the very style of Shakespeare comes this peril-laden tale of Star Wars’ early days as The Phantom of Menace relays the fall of the Republic, the rise of Anakin, and much swordplay, speeder racing, and treachery.
R2-D2’s bleeps and boops become clear through the droid’s asides, and finally, Jar-Jar Binks’ pidgin and pratfalls are nearly tolerable, as Doescher reveals Jar-Jar’s hidden political agenda of uniting Naboo’s humans and Gungans, using trenchant inner dialogue:
“Such thoughts as these were reprehensible
To all the bosses; thus my banishment.
Yet this is not the story I’ll relate. [to Obi-Wan:] O issa longa tale you seeuh” (p. 31)
The young queen’s masquerade as her own maid, the fortuitious finding of Anakin Skywalker and arguments among the Jedi about training him (Yoda speaks in haiku), romance cut short, and enemies growing stronger – it’s all here.
While awaiting the newest Star Wars movie, refresh your memories of the history leading to it – The Phantom of Menace will soon be followed by The Clone Army Attacketh (part 2) and Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge (part 3), while William Shakespeare’s Star Wars (part 4), The Empire Striketh Back (part 5), and The Jedi Doth Return (part 6) are available now. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
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