Tag Archive | pets

V is for VIOLETS ARE BLUE, Wren and her makeup are, too, by Barbara Dee (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Violets Are Blue, by Barbara Dee.Published by Aladdin / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New town, new school,
same Mom, new stepmom,
same worries, plus some…

They move the summer after the divorce, after her sixth grade sort-of-friends abandon her, after Wren starts learning to do special effects makeup, after Dad marries pregnant Vanessa in faraway Brooklyn.

Wren hides the high-quality makeup that Vanessa buys so she can create mermaids and super-characters like KatFX videos show. Mom adds a lock to her bedroom door to keep the cat out… huh?

When her skills catch the attention of new friends, Wren is asked to do makeup for the school play – turning snooty Avery into so-green Elphaba might be fun.

Kai is really talented – draws superheroes, runs sound and lights for the play. Wren hopes he doesn’t really have a crush on her.

Mom’s an ER nurse on different shifts, sleeps all the time she’s home, pill bottles under the sink… now she’s missing work.

Why can’t Wren make KatFX’s mermaid instructions work?
How can she keep Kai as just a friend?
Why did Dad say she could call him about anything?

Seventh grade year is full of tension for Wren as she tries to balance two families and navigate too many changes at the same time.

When someone you love is in trouble, how do you know when to help?
**kmm

Book info: Violets Are Blue / Barbara Dee. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N is no, not again! Oh HONESTLY ELLIOTT! by Gillian McDunn (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Honestly Elliott, by Gillian McDunn. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Some days at different houses,
so many assignments (just hide them),
not sporty, just his messy honest self…

Every kid in town goes to sixth grade in the same building for project-based learning and cool stuff together, except Elliott’s best friend who’s homeschooling across the country with his moms this year…sigh.

That leaves Elliott and his guinea pigs alone to deal with his divorced parents, his ADHD making his brain zone-out more often, and his lunch-buddies to excluding him from their year-end group project.

Well, brilliant Maribel can’t agree with her friends on what project to do, so it looks like she and Elliott are partners – with their semester grade on the line!

Their project must be something they can make themselves to sell, that’s related to their hometown, staying within a budget…hmmm.

Super-organized Maribel must avoid gluten in food or her digestive system goes haywire – how about gluten-free pies?

Easily distractible Elliott loves to experiment with cooking, but baking? His star chef idol says “cooking is about inspiration and baking is about control” (pg. 60) – can’t hurt to try.

In his mom’s cozy kitchen, the pair gets to work. Elliott’s attempt at gluten-free pie crust is disastrous, and Maribel’s wonderful strawberry filling is too expensive, so they search the cookbook library at Avery Local market for ideas.

As the weeks count down, the pressure builds up – have a successful project, get ready for his new step-brother to be born, stop ignoring The Incident, stop disappointing Dad about everything…

Honestly, Elliott is a guy you want to cheer for – and hope he can cope with all these changes!

What do you prefer – baking or cooking?
**kmm

Book info: Honestly Elliott / Gillian McDunn. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C is for Callie, reinventing herself ACROSS THE POND, by Joy McCullough (MG book review)

book cover of Across the Pond, by Joy McCullough. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Goodbye, not-so-good friends,
hello, new life in a new country!
Now… how to become a new me?

Callie and Jax’s parents have inherited what? A large drafty castle in Scotland that her family will renovate into a tourist destination is a huge change from their small two-bedroom apartment in San Diego where she was bullied at school.

Jax bounds into primary school as happily as he races through the castle’s many chilly rooms where stones fall from fireplaces and mice munch on tapestries.

Callie loves the small village library, but utterly panics at starting mid-term at the high school – please, please, will her parents let her homeschool to finish seventh grade and help them renovate?

They agree, as long as she does an outside activity to make friends… hmm, Lady Whittington-Spence’s childhood journal talks about bird-watching when she was evacuated to the countryside early in World War II.

When Callie unintentionally makes an enemy of their landscape designer’s young teen granddaughter, escaping to the youth birdwatching club (oops, it’s called ‘twitching club’ in Scotland) seems the best idea.

The twitchers are pleased to have access to the castle grounds for the Big Day competition when their club will try to beat teams from neighboring villages by spotting the most birds. Callie has some catching up to do, and Cressida (“just Sid”) forgives her so they can learn all the birds’ favorite nesting spots.

Can she and Sid show the twitching club that girls are great birders?
Can Callie’s family get the castle in shape for visitors soon?
How did their new cat get into the dumbwaiter?

Entries from Pippa Spence’s journal punctuate Callie’s own journey into confidence in her own abilities to learn new things and finally make friends worth having.

Published in paperback this week! By the author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost (I recommend here).

What’s on your “must-see” personal list?
**kmm

Book info: Across the Pond / Joy McCullough. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Avenging his death? It’s up to ELATSOE & her gifts, by Darcie Little Badger (book review)

of Elatsoe, by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her dreams carry truth,
Every animal, dead or alive, knows her,
Cousin’s death was no accident!

During their dream conversation, Trevor revealed his killer’s name, so Ellie’s sacred duty is justice for her cousin whose Anglo widow Lenore doesn’t fully understand Lipan Apache ways or traditions.

Down the length of Texas go Ellie and her parents for his funeral, to a town that’s shown only on paper maps, with lush green lawns during drought, New England colonial-style buildings, and a strong dislike for newcomers.

The person named by Trevor is rich Dr. Allerton known for his miraculous cures – how did he and a young grade-school teacher ever cross paths?

Like her many-generations-ago grandmother Great-Six, Ellie can raise animals from the dead and has powers against supernatural creatures – will this be enough to stop whatever is keeping her cousin from his final rest?

Vampires, monsters, fairy-ring transport stations, greed and deception – asexual Ellie, her ghost dog Kirby, and best friend Jay try to piece together the mystery to protect her cousin’s son and widow before it’s too late.

Happy book birthday to this debut #ownvoices novel bringing the stories of Great-Six back to the land and waters of south Texas as her descendent Elatsoe lives into her heritage to battle against evil.

How do you support family in difficult times?
**kmm

Book info: Elatsoe / Darcie Little Badger; illustrated by Ravina Cai. Levine Querido, 2020. [author Twitter] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A SONG ONLY I CAN HEAR tempts him to dare, by Barry Jonsberg (book review)

book cover of A Song Only I Can Hear, by Barry Jonsberg. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Try something new?
Stay quiet as a mouse?
Show his true self to the world?
Better choose well…

Rob is utterly smitten with the new girl in his class and too tongue-tied to even say hello. Easier to play chess with his grandfather every afternoon at the old folks’ home.

But when text messages from an unknown number challenge the 13 year old to get out of his comfort zone if he wants to succeed, Rob enters his Australian town’s youth talent show, even though public speaking gives him panic attacks.

Inspired by another text, non-sporty Rob tries out for the soccer team because Destry likes athletes – and makes the team as goalie! (but no changing in the locker room…)

Publically protesting the environmental damages of meat production gets Rob featured in the newspaper, as one text challenged, and also sent to the principal’s office for the very first time.

Bad at math, he can count on best pal Andrew and sailor-mouthed grandad.

Great in English, Rob struggles to write the perfect poem for Destry!

Will the Vietnam War ghosts ever stop tormenting his grandad?
When will Daniel stop bullying Rob?

As the mysterious texts continue, Rob moves slowly off his path of comforting routines and begins to find himself, despite how others see him.

What challenge would you like to see in your inbox?
**kmm

Book info: A Song Only I Can Hear / Barry Jonsberg. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020 (USA). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Statistics show OPTIMISTS DIE FIRST, right? by Susin Nielsen (book review)

book cover of Optimists Die First, by Susin Nielsen. Published by Tundra Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sister’s death wasn’t her fault-
Everyone says so,
but she can’t accept that…

Everyday life in Vancouver is filled with deadly risks, so 16-year-old Petula takes every precaution now (but nothing can bring back her little sister or her best friend).

The new guy with the prosthetic arm witnesses her panic attack in class and is in her youth art therapy class and thinks Petula is nice (but doesn’t know how Maxine died).

Ack! Petula and Jacob have to do a project together for English?! His movie-making skills and her recently abandoned crafting supplies plus her mom’s rescue cats should be perfect (but Dad doesn’t agree about having so many cats, not one bit).

As they work together, Jacob reveals his struggles with surviving the crash that killed his best friends back in Toronto, Petula begins to look forward to spending time with him, and life becomes brighter for both of them (but hopefully kissing is less germ-filled than she thought).

When the art therapy class rebels against their teacher’s little-kid ideas, she challenges them to find creative ways to face their issues – parental rejection, grief, survivor’s guilt, addictive behaviors – and they begin working together (but don’t call them friends quite yet).

But when one secret comes to light, Petula’s new happiness and the art therapy group’s progress are all threatened.

From the author of We Are All Made of Molecules (recommended here).

How do you know when it’s time to let old problems go?
**kmm

Book info: Optimists Die First / Susin Nielsen. Tundra Books, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Mutant space-cat? Oh, Sanity & Tallulah, what have you done?! by Molly Brooks (book review)

book cover of Sanity & Tallulah, by Molly Brooks. Published by Disney/Hyperion | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A pet would be nice,
especially a soft one that purrs…
even if it does have three heads!

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!

Mystery wind again for Pablo and Birdy, by Alison McGhee & Ana Juan (book review)

book cover of Pablo and Birdy, by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Ana Juan. Published by Atheneum  | recommended on BooksYALove.comA boy who arrived from nowhere,
a parrot who won’t talk or fly,
a shadow lurking in their town.

An unusual tropical wind brought baby Pablo to Isla, securely netted into an inflatable swimming pool and accompanied by Birdy who took care of him.

Ten years later, the wind is predicted again, but Pablo wants only to know where he came from – and why his parents abandoned him to the sea.

Ask for this August 2017 release at your local library or independent bookstore to find out how the “winds of change” affect Isla and its residents.

Is knowing the past more important than living in the present?
**kmm

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.

Blind Guide to Stinkville, by Beth Vrable (book review) – she’s not ‘that blind’, right?

book cover of A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel published by Sky Pony Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comLearning her way around a new town with limited sight,
coping with albinism in the sunny South,
wondering if Mom’s depression will ever lift…

Maybe Alice is right to think that she will never feel at home in the small paper mill town of Sinkville.
Or maybe she can find connections that will make her new life less stinky.

Travel to Alice’s new town today by visiting your local library or independent bookstore where you can find A Blind Guide to Stinkville as 2015 hardcover or 2016 paperback. Watch for its follow-up title, A Blind Guide to Normal, too (published in October 2016).

Do we let our first impressions of others make them ‘other’ to us?
**kmm

Book info: A Blind Guide to Stinkville / Beth Vrabel. Sky Pony Press, 2015 (hardcover), 2016 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Moving to a small South Carolina town means new challenges for sight-impaired Alice, but as she tries to get people to not see her as different, she discovers new friends and connections that are at risk when her parents discuss sending the 12 year old to school for the blind.

If people want to think that her farting Shi Tzu is a Seeing Eye dog, Alice won’t correct them.
If her best friend back in Seattle is suddenly busy with parties and boys, Alice can’t do much about that.
But when Mr. Hamlin may be forced into a nursing home, mean girl Eliza lies about Tooter attacking her, and Dad spends even more time at work as Mom retreats into depression, Alice is ready to fight!

Writing her essay for the local contest will fix everything…unless it can’t.

Followed by A Blind Guide to Normal, this story of unlooked-for changes and hopeful new beginnings finds “not that blind” Alice finding new perspectives and friendships. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Unexpected Everything, by Morgan Matson (book review) – summer plans? poof, woof & wow!

book cover of The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson published by Simon Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.comShe’s got it all planned:
internship, great college, med school…
until step one is revoked!

Andie loves her checklists, her plans to become a doctor, her best friends – and sticks to short-term boyfriends.

Then her fancy internship gets yanked away, her politician father is suddenly home from DC, she lands in a summer job far outside her experience or comfort zone, and she meets Clark…

Happy book birthday week to The Unexpected Everything!  This is a great summer read, like Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone  (my no-spoilers recommendation here) and Second Chance Summer  (more here) with less road trip, but just as much self-reflection and heart.

What do you do when a perfectly crafted plan falls apart?
**kmm

Book info: The Unexpected Everything / Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When problems at her congressman father’s office cause her pre-med internship to vanish, Andie is forced out of her structured life of success checklists and into a summer job as a dog-walker (never had a dog), wanting to stay around new guy Clark (never mind her 3-weeks-only rule for boyfriends), and trying to keep her best friends in sync as an outside relationship threatens to dissolve their group.

A world-famous author in their midst?
Dad home in Connecticut all summer instead of away in Washington DC?
A long-time crush keeps his distance, or does he?

An epic scavenger hunt, bridging the father-daughter gap 5 years after Mom’s death, emojis-only text message challenge, a committed relationship (wait! this is Andie we’re talking about…) – such an unexpected summer before senior year!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)