Tag Archive | pets

Friends and more – tweens look for ANSWERS IN THE PAGES, by David Levithan (MG book review)

book cover of Answers in the Pages, by David Levithan. Alfred A. Knopf Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

What an exciting book!
Who wants to take it away?
Why can’t kids read what they want?!

The Adventurers! Donovan can’t wait to read the novel that Mr. Howe has chosen for their fifth-grade class – three young people trying to stop an evil mastermind, with danger and bravery at every turn!

But his mom’s bad habit of jumping to the end of a book halts everything. She interprets its final sentence as too mature for tweens to handle: “At that moment, Rick knew just how deeply he loved Oliver, and Oliver knew just how deeply he loved Rick, and the understanding of this moment would lead them to much of the happiness and adventure that came next.”

She calls other parents and visits the principal, making Mr. Howe take back The Adventurers until the school board can meet about it. But Donovan forgot his copy at home (way under his bed), so he gets to read it – alligators and helicopters and three amazing friends saving the world.

Meanwhile, shy Gideon is stunned to make a new friend when Roberto moves to town – a fellow lover of turtles and books. Joelle and Tucker have been his friends forever, but Roberto likes Gideon for being himself, and the pair spends more and more time together.

Can Donovan get the author to town to defend the book?
Does Oliver have to choose between help Rick escape from the alligator and capturing the villain?
Does Roberto share the same feelings as Gideon?

At the school board meeting, viewpoints clash. Some adults want to “protect kids” by banning the book. Members of the community and gay students speak up for everyone’s right to live and love.

Three stories, presented chapter by chapter – Donovan’s headed by a book symbol, Rick and Oliver’s by an alligator, and Gideon and Roberto’s by a turtle – each symbol reminding us of the characters’ essential focus.

Released in paperback on 5 September 2023 – read the first pages free here, courtesy of the publisher.

What book has revealed an important truth about your own self to you?
**kmm

Book info: Answers in the Pages / David Levithan. Alfred A. Knopf Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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.

F is Martha Freeman’s TRASHED! as a young detective aims to solve the perfect crime (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Trashed! by Martha Freeman. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Planning a mouse’s funeral,
a long-lost souvenir teacup reappearing,
his best friend’s mom going on a date – lots happening in 11-year-old Arthur’s life these days!

He and little sister Ramona (mouse owner) live with their parents above the Boulder thrift store founded by his grandparents, and that’s where the teacup showed up. Grandpa recognized his favorite rock band’s cartoon bear mascot on it right away – but who brought it into the store?

The mouse is back, as a ghost now called Watson – maybe here to be helpful?

Arthur hopes that Watson’s ghostly stealth and observational skills help solve the teacup mystery and why store-worker Randolph dislikes Officer Bernstein and where the confidential consignment items file went.

Did someone bring items for the store to sell that were actually stolen?!
How could the thief snatch so many things from people’s homes without anyone noticing?
Will Grandpa’s prejudice make him accuse the wrong person?

If Arthur can figure out why best friend Veda is mad at him, maybe she can help him and Watson solve “the perfect crime” in this entertaining mystery by the author of Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost (recommended here).

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever bought (or sold)?
**kmm

Book info: Trashed! / Martha Freeman. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is EVERYDAY HERO MACHINE BOY – can he ever control his powers? by Irma Kniivila & Tri Vuong (MG Graphic Novel review) #A2Z

book cover of Everyday Hero Machine Boy, by Irma Kniivila & Tri Vuong. Published by Skybound Comet / Image Comics | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A grandfather’s routine errand to buy tomatoes for spaghetti sauce turns violent as something crashes down from the sky!

The machine-boy tries to atone for his destruction by rebuilding the tomato greenhouse, but needs Grandma’s help to harness his powers.

He practices karate with her all summer long, anticipating the epic Orphan Universe concert and preparing to go to high school.

The school Frosh Dungeon obstacle course victors will get to meet Orphan Universe, so of course Machine Boy is eager to win – his partner Bea with the mysterious past, not so much…

His interstellar pet goes haywire, and Bea may not truly be his friend.

Can Machine Boy be the grandson that Grandma needs?

Includes a reading guide with questions and activities for this middle grade graphic novel, as well as the recipe for Grandma Mei’s Spaghetti and Meatballs!

How are you an everyday hero?
**kmm

Book info: Everyday Hero Machine Boy / Irma Kniivila & Tri Vuong. Skybound Comet / Image Comics, 2022. [Irma’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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.