Tag Archive | personal finance

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.

WITH GREAT POWER: THE MARVELOUS STAN LEE! by Annie Hunter Erickson & Lee Gatlin (Picturebook review)

book cover of With Great Power: The Marvelous Stan Lee: An Unauthorized Biography, by Annie Hunter Erickson; illustrated by Lee Gatlin. Published by Page Street Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Growing up poor in New York City, Stanley Lieber escaped by reading adventure stories and dreamed of writing his own.

He began working at age 16 as an errand boy for Timely Comics magazine and got to write a Captain America story. But he signed it as Stan Lee, saving his real name for the day he would be a “real” writer.

When veteran writers quit Timely, Stan moved up to full-time writer and editor – as a teenager!

For two decades, he wrote story after story of predictable, perfect heroes as the company grew and became Marvel Comics. So boring.

His wife suggested that he write the superhero story that he’d want to read. So Stan teamed up with artist Jack Kirby, and they created the flawed yet Fantastic Four – a huge hit with comics readers!

What next? Reflecting on his own childhood, Stan invented a lonely, geeky, science-loving hero – the Amazing Spider-Man, drawn by Steve Ditko – an even bigger hit with readers!

Finally, the Marvel Comics’ bosses decided that Stan should make a series of unconventional superheroes, and the Marvel Comics Universe was born.

Continuing with Stan’s move to Hollywood as his superheroes became movie stars, this lively picturebook includes great background information. You can find free activity sheets here, courtesy of the publisher.

Who’s your favorite Marvel superhero?
**kmm

Book info: With Great Power: The Marvelous Stan Lee: An Unauthorized Biography / Annie Hunter Erickson; illustrated by Lee Gatlin. Page Street Kids, 2021. [author interview] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Z is for Zahra and THE LOVE MATCH: who to choose? by Priyanka Taslim (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Love Match, by Priyanka Taslim. Published by Salaam Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Zahra, her widowed mother, grandmother, and little sister and brother are squeezed into a tiny city apartment, thankfully in the largest Bangladeshi community in the US.

Every Muslim deshi auntie in Paterson joins her mom in trying to set up Zahra with the right young man. Everyone knows that marrying into a rich family will solve every problem, as the popular Bengali natok dramas show through music and extravagant dances.

But the recent grad wants true love, like a Jane Austen novel – someone who adores her for herself, not for her auspicious social connections to Bangladeshi royalty or her mother’s amazing dressmaking skills.

Enough that Zahra has to work for a year to support her family while her besties head away to college. For now, she’ll keep drafting her novel, and someday she’ll finally study creative writing at Columbia University, someday…

Oh dear! Amma agrees with the wealthy Emon family that their son Harun and Zahra are a perfect match!! The 18 year olds decide quickly that they’re not suited for each other, but will go on several dates (with chaperones) to make their parents happy.

Meanwhile, every shift working together at the Pakistani chai shop brings Zahra and cute Nayim closer. He’s just arrived here in New Jersey, is staying with the imam, and loves music (more fun than Harun’s model-building and bearded dragon).

It is nice to be friends with Harun, even if there’s no spark between them. It’s lovely to be with Nayim at the deshi community picnic, even though he won’t discuss his family back home. It’s hard to watch her best friends excitedly prepare to move away for college, so hard.

Nayim or Harun?
Fairy tale or practicality?
Secrets?! More secrets?!

Trying to balance family expectations with her own dreams makes Zahra wonder if this summer will be a happy Dhallywood natok or a tragic one!

What’s your favorite literary love match?
**kmm

Book info: The Love Match / Priyanka Taslim. Salaam Reads/ Simon & Schuster, 2023. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

V is for very mean, very short APPRENTICE LORD OF DARKNESS, by CED & Jean-Philippe Morin (Graphic novel review) #A2Z

book cover of Apprentice Lord of Darkness, by CED; illustrated by Jean-Philippe Morin. Published by Yellow Jacket / Little Bee | recommended on BooksYALove.com

It’s peaceful in Alkyll these days, no famine or pestilence in the medieval land.

Bah! Time for the so-short Apprentice Lord of Darkness to become all-powerful and rule this kingdom!

The Master of Evil shall be released from his 200-year imprisonment!

All the Apprentice Lord of Darkness needs is a secret hideout, some henchmen to do his bidding (and reach things on high shelves), a lot of money, and a plan…

After acquiring bumbling henchmen Gonzag (goblin scared of everything) and Slurp (huge, slimy, silly), the very mean anti-hero eventually finds a semi-suitable meeting place, a book of spells, and a little bit of money.

Next, they must hatch and train a dragon, then find a fearsome relic of evil power. What’s this? A princess bored with castle life wants to join their evil gang, too?!

Can the Apprentice Lord of Darkness complete this quest?
Does the land of Alkyll have a hero prepared to stop this pint-sized meanie?
Why is the A.L.D. so intent on world domination?

Surprises abound in this witty and clever graphic novel about finding one’s place in the world through barbarian battles, extra slime, dragons with attitude, and lots of determination.

What part of medieval life would you like to experience (temporarily)?
**kmm

Book info: Apprentice Lord of Darkness / CED (Cedric Asna); illustrated by Jean-Philippe Morin. Yellow Jacket / Little Bee, 2022. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

U is UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN AFTERLIFE, by Bastet the Cat & Laura Winstone (Nonfiction book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Unofficial Guide to the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife, by Sophie Berger & Laura Winstone. Published by Cicada Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mummies and pyramids – we modern-day people know some things about ancient Egypt’s afterlife.

However, for the real inside story, we need a tour guide like Bastet the cat who will explain all of its important rules and symbolism.

“My pre-death career was as Pharaoh’s cat,” says Bastet, as he introduces the major gods (like his namesake) who placed the pharaohs as rulers over Egypt, as well as the four sons of Horus who guard those who have died.

After death, ancient Egyptians believed that the soul split into two parts, reuniting in the body nightly. Mummification was perfected to preserve bodies and prevent a second, final death.

Bastet the cat gives us a detailed (but not gory) tour through mummification’s steps and the meanings of the many symbols placed on each mummy’s coffins and sarcophagus.

Everything a person needed in life will also be required in their afterlife, so ancient Egyptian tombs contain food, clothes, furniture, and mummified cats for good luck. The walls are painted with servants, animals, more food and entertainments.

The journey to the Land of the Dead is perilous, so our guide shows ancient ones everything they need to get there safely!

Travel along with knowledgeable and witty Bastet to learn the symbolism of scarab beetles, what shabti dolls are, and why both legs are shown on Egyptian paintings of people.

Lavishly illustrated in the two-dimensional style that we associate with hieroglyphics and paintings inside pyramids, this book cleverly conveys familiar and little-known information about ancient Egyptian beliefs and practices.

Ever tried writing your name in hieroglyphics?
**kmm

Book info: The Unofficial Guide to the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife / Sophie Berger & Laura Winstone. Cicada Books, 2022. [publisher interview] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy, page image, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

pages 1 & 2 of The Unofficial Guide to the Ancient Egyptian Afterlife, by Sophie Berger & Laura Winstone. Published by Cicada Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.

O is for on campus, starting college at FIRST-YEAR ORIENTATION! edited by Eric Smith & Lauren Gibaldi (YA book review) @A2Z

book cover of First-Year Orientation, edited by Eric Smith & Lauren Gibaldi. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Move-in day,
time for goodbyes and hellos –
your new life after high school begins!

Welcome to Rolland College, home of the Owls! Many first-year students (we don’t say freshman anymore) come from other states or countries to this small New Jersey institution, which is a hometown fixture for a few.

This year’s entering class includes marching band buddies and theater stars (on stage and behind the scenes), a football player with brains and brawn, former child actors trying to escape rerun fame, youth with helicopter parents or a missing family member or a big secret…

Through these 16 short stories by YA authors and an actress, we meet students who are first in their family to attend college and those following relatives’ footsteps at Rolland, young people who want to reinvent themselves or finally get to show their true selves.

Get ready for dorm drama, an emotional support rabbit, a crack in the universe, and campus ghosts in these stories by Adi Alsaid * Anna Birch * Bryan Bliss * Gloria Chao * Jennifer Chen * Olivia A. Cole * Dana L. Davis * Kristina Forest * Lauren Gibaldi * Kathleen Glasgow * Sam Maggs * Farah Naz Rishi * Lance Rubin * Aminah Mae Safi * Eric Smith * Phil Stamper.

I love how main characters in one story appear in others as the first-years and returning students at this fictitious college rush to and from orientation, the student organizations fair, welcome parties, and the much-anticipated live concert… a kaleidoscope of encounters and emotions.

Just published this month in hardcover and paperback! From the editors of short story anthology Battle of the Bands, another look at a single day from multiple perspectives by several YA authors – recommended here.

What “how I got here” story do you tell on your first day in a new place?
**kmm

Book info: First-Year Orientation / edited by Eric Smith & Lauren Gibaldi. Candlewick Press, 2023. [Eric’s site] [Lauren’s site] [publisher site] Review copy via Edelweiss and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

So much to do as SISTER OF THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE! by Nandini Bajpal (YA book review)

book cover of Sister of the Bollywood Bride, by Nandini Bajpal. Published by Poppy/ Little Brown & Company | recommended on BooksYALove.com

As big sister Vinnie’s wedding approaches and Dad is immersed in his new start-up, Mini misses their late mother more than ever. Thankfully, the Boston teen has an entire community of Desi aunties to help her with all the planning details, since Vinnie and fiance Manish are medical students in Chicago.

Tutoring pays Mini’s fashionista bills (thrift stores plus her sewing skills equals amazing), and running with her dog Yogi on the grounds of a nearby college gives her time away from planning and time to get to know handsome Vir, the dean’s son.

The beautiful gold wedding jewelry that Mom left for them inspires Mini’s vision for the big day:
Outdoor venue? The beautiful gardens in the park where Vinnie played youth sports – check!
Food from two different regions of India? Check and… the other will get back to her (eventually?)
Dress? By her designer aunt Masi, of course. Never mind that Mini’s role model and inspiration has been oddly distant these past few years.

Worrying about whether Dad will accept her dream of attending design school (instead of law/medicine/engineering that all Indian parents want for their children), if she can actually get Manish to ride in on a horse per tradition, what Vir’s very successful father will think of her – two months to plan a summer wedding!?

Mini is determined to squeeze their budget to make Vinnie’s wedding as memorable and beautiful as any Bollywood movie extravaganza, like Mom would have done.

Family, love, fun and stress, British car enthusiasts, henna and altering bridesmaids’ outfits
And then the weather forecast changes – hurricane on the horizon!

From the author of Made in Mehendi (recommended here), another Indian-American romance to savor.

What’s your favorite wedding tradition?
**kmm

Book info: Sister of the Bollywood Bride / Nandini Bajpal. Poppy/ Little Brown & Company, 2021.
[author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Inspirations for A PATH TO THE WORLD: BECOMING YOU, edited by Lori Marie Carlson-Hijuelos (Nonfiction book review)

Book cover of A Path to the World: Becoming You / Lori Marie Carlson-Hijuelos, editor. Published by Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Why are you… you?
How do you become a better person?
What does it mean to be yourself?

These fundamental questions about being human are considered, argued, and partly answered in this collection of 30 essays by famous folks and new writers.

Trying and trying to replicate her mother’s dal recipe might help Geeta Kothari answer “If You Are What You Eat, Then What Am I?”

Valerie Gribben explains that “Practicing Medicine Can Be Grimm Work” as fairy tales gave her insight into the injuries and pains of her patients.

Retired businessman Freddy Schumann became the loudest person in Yankee Stadium and revitalized their fans in the late 1980s as “The Octogenarian Cheerleader” interviewed by Scott Pitoniak.

A 1790 letter from George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island notes that their new national government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance” and sends his appreciation for their welcome and support. (p.72)

KellyNoel Waldorf’s university experience was much different from her peers – “I Came to Duke With an Empty Wallet” and the effects of growing up poor still inform all her decisions.

Be sure to read Anna Quindlen’s advice “Get a Life” which concludes “All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.” (p. 85)

What advice would you share on “becoming you”?
**kmm

Book info: A Path to the World: Becoming You / Lori Marie Carlson-Hijuelos, editor. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Simon & Schuster, 2022. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

At the powwow, hear ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith (YA book review)

book cover of Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids / Cynthia Leitich Smith, editor. Published by Heartdrum/Harper Collins | recommended on BooksYALove.com
Cover art by Nicole Neidhardt

“A powwow is
where our hearts beat as one
to the thump of the drum,
together
so strong
where we belong.”

  • Kim Rogers (pg. 3)

The great Dance for Mother Earth Powwow draws Native American families and friends from all over North America to visit, dance in competitions, sell their wares, and celebrate being together in Michigan.

Smell the frybread cooking, eat the best corn soup, admire the silver bracelets and intricate beadwork, hear the drums – it’s time for the Grand Entry of all the dancers!

Can Jess convince her grandpa to dance in the Veterans’ Dance or will they go back to Oklahoma sad again this year?

Back in New Mexico, Alan and Kevin definitely don’t get along, but at the Powwow the sixth graders need to help each other locate down a certain girl and a certain silver bracelet.

Oh, beaded regalia has gone missing at this powwow too? Shana asks Tokala to help find her floral-beaded Anishinaabe moccasins before the Jingle Dance begins!

Marino’s t-shirt business could use some clever advertising – good thing that “everybody’s dog” Ozzie hitched a ride all the way from the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh to the powwow!

This collection of intertwined stories brings us viewpoints from 16 Native authors from different places and tribes, as Elders, young people, and one very cool rez dog experience Powwow, some for the first time, others returning for their favorite weekend of the year together.

Enjoy these stories and poems during Native American Heritage Month and all year long!

What Native American dances have you seen?
**kmm

Book info: Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids / Cynthia Leitich Smith, editor. Heartdrum/Harper Collins, 2021. [editor site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.