Underdogs win in an election, Status quo pushes back – Deadly fighting in the streets!
The small good-luck counting actions of childhood became full-blown obsession when her father died. Now 16-year-old Melati protects her mother through counting rituals as the djinn within her shows gruesome images of how Mama will die if the teen doesn’t do them perfectly (always in threes, always).
Improbably rescued by a Chinese auntie, Melati is panicked at Mama not knowing where she is, at leaving Saf behind, at being with Chinese people she’s always been warned not to trust…
The djinn inside Melati reproaches her constantly, Auntie Bee’s two college sons Frankie and Vincent argue about who started the fighting, and Uncle arrives home after seeing fires all over Kuala Lumpur.
Oh, 24-hour curfew! Rioters are burning everything, and soon Auntie Bee’s house is packed with her neighbor of all faiths – how long will the food last?
Frankie is eager to fight against the Malays; Vince loves music and understands a little about how it helps Melati drown out the djinn’s terrible words.
Is there any way to get back to Melati’s mom? Wherever she and Vince travel on his motorbike, one of them will be the outsider and in danger!
Malay, Chinese, and Indian groups all worked together to declare independence from Britain 12 years ago – why can’t they govern together now?
In Melati’s time, mental illnesses like OCD were ignored, not treated, so she is doing the best that she can during unbearable stress.
The debut novel by the author of Queen of the Tiles (recommended here). **kmm
Book info: The Weight of Our Sky / Hanna Alkaf. Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster, hardcover 2019, paperback, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.
The School That Escaped the Nazis: The True Story of the Schoolteacher Who Defied Hitler (free Sora download 5/12-17/23) by Deborah Cadbury | Read by Julie Teal Published by Hachette Audio
In the early 1930s, principal Anna Essinger was dismayed by the Nazis’ increasing power and decided to move her entire school and its students from Germany to England. Despite challenges and peril, “Tante Anna” saved many children who otherwise would have been imprisoned or worse.
Resisting South Africa’s colonial government, everyday working-class people stood up for basic rights, often risking their lives during the first half of the 20th century.
Six key court cases involving these “rebels and revolutionaries” set the stage for South Africa’s notorious apartheid policy:
“Until the Ship Sails” – For decades, Asian men brought to work in Transvaal faced tight restrictions of “the Black Act” – in 1908, Gandhi urged them to resist non-violently. How long would the hundreds arrested be detained aboard old ships?
“In the Shadow of a High Stone Wall” – Striking against unjust working conditions in 1911 put Irish emigrants in a wretched prison. Without bail money, they were denied access to their lawyers. Would their 1912 lawsuit for unfair treatment keep other poor South Africans from the same fate?
“Come Gallows Grim” – Companies and gold mines began hiring low-paid Black workers after World War I, leading to riots by displaced white workers who saw the government as allied with mine owners. Death and destruction during martial law in 1922, many captured, including Taffy Long. Two trials, calls for clemency, fears of more riots. When would the shadow of the hangman’s noose leave South Africa?
“The Widow of Marsbastad” – In a 1956 township without running water, they tell stories about 1925 when an old law was suddenly applied to Black women, requiring them to carry a Night Pass while delivering laundry to white customers or be arrested on the spot! Brave women volunteered go out at night to challenge this new restriction. Would the outcome of their cases affect Pass Laws proposed later under apartheid?
“A House Divided” – A land-use dispute in the 1920s pits two factions of the Bafokeng people against one another – the hereditary chief with inconsistent decisions and his councillors who see their tribe’s bankruptcy ahead. Both sides appeal to different departments of the colonial South African government. Will unwritten tribal laws prevail and send dissenters into exile from their homelands?
“Here I Cross to the Other Side” – Tuma leaves Besotho to work in the gold mines during World War II, toiling far underground, with an angry white bossman, too little food, not enough safety precautions. Enduring the same brutal conditions for 20 years led to his father’s early death during Tuma’s first contract time. Why are white mineworkers protected by a union, while Black workers are paid less and forbidden to talk about organizing? Strike!
This stunning graphic novel combines deep research with the visual works of South African artists Liz Clarke, Dada Khanyisa, Mark Modimola, Saaid Rahbeeni, The Trantraal Brothers, and Tumi Mamabola. Each chapter is followed by intriguing historical documents from legal archives and photos of key participants in each case.
Where do you resist injustice today? **kmm
Book info: All Rise: Resistance and Rebellion in South Africa 1910-1948 – a Graphic History / Richard Conyngham; illustrated by Liz Clarke, Dada Khanyisa, Mark Modimola, Saaid Rahbeeni, The Trantraal Brothers, Tumi Mamabola. Published by Catalyst Press, 2021. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Kohei still dreams of being three years old at the last dragon parade, holding his smiling grandfather’s hand as huge winged Western dragons flew overhead and sinuous Japanese ryu dragons strode along Osaka’s streets at the end of World War II.
His maternal grandfather was so angry about Kohei’s father dying soon afterward that he made the boy take his mother’s family name – maybe Ojiisan would be happy if he had a big dragon again, bigger than ryu Yuharu who rides on Kohei’s shoulder.
Isolde moves in downstairs, with her Japanese-American mom, Polish-American dad, and winged dragon Cheshire (very small, Kohei is so disappointed) – imagine starting middle school in a new country and language!
When Ojiisan is suddenly hospitalized, Kohei decides that he must bring a ryu to him. Isolde never knew her grandparents who died in concentration camps in the United States and Poland during the War, so she wants to help.
Venturing into Papa’s study, Kohei finds details about how ryu are hatched, so he and Isolde travel to the faraway New Ryugyu-jo where their dragons will help bring a special ryu into the world.
When the biggest ryu Kohei has ever seen snatches the baby ryu, of course he has to follow and save her!
His memories shift like a kaleidoscope as Kohei learns more about his father’s and grandfather’s pasts.
How far, how far will we go to bring comfort to those we love? **kmm
Book info: The Lost Ryu / Emi Watanabe Cohen. Levine Querido, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Us versus them or together we can succeed? Time to give in or time to persevere? Time to hold onto hope with our whole heart!
Written in the wake of the 2016 elections, the personal essays by these well-known YA authors call us to continue finding reasons to hope – and work – for a better future together: Atia Abawi, Renee Ahdieh, Libba Bray, Howard Bryant, Ally Carter, Ally Condie, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Gayle Forman, Romina Garber, I. W. Gregorio, Kate Hart, Brendan Kiely, David Levithan, Alex London, Marie Lu, Julie Murphy, Jason Reynolds, Aisha Saeed, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Nicola Yoon, Jeff Zentner.
“What I really think is that hope is in the work. That it lives in the space between what’s been done and what could be accomplished,” counsels Kate Hart (pg. 119) reminding Hope Nation that our work is fighting for what’s right.
Angie Thomas recounts an event from her book tour for The Hate U Give, where a Black woman asked those present “Can we begin to listen to one another, and can we change things?” (pg. 65) following racist incidents at their New Jersey high school – this is Hope Nation.
When bigots try to ban books in your school or town, stand against them and remember Jeff Zentner’s words: “Nothing forces people to confront the humanity of others like engaging with their stories” (pg. 92) – Hope Nation doesn’t see everyone else as ‘other’ like the bigots prefer.
Where do you find your hope? **kmm
Book info: Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration / Rose Brock, editor. Penguin Teen, 2018 [editor site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.
“The American story” has millions of chapters, each unique. This week (2-8 June 2022), the AudioSYNC program brings us a baseball life you may have missed and a glimpse of America itself gripped by Red scares during the Cold War.
Be sure you’ve registered here so your Sora shelf is ready to download either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks – free! Listen anytime and anywhere over the next 99 years, as long you can access your Sora shelf online.
A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War (free Sora download 6/2-6/8/22) by Albert Marrin | Read by Jason Culp Published by Listening Library
During the Cold War, some Americans thought Communist ideals could erase the nation’s deepening economic and social divides. Others saw Communism as an enormous threat to our democracy and would do anything to stop it – including blacklisting, lying, and trying to erase free speech.
This look at the McCarthy era’s strident bellowing against those who thought differently asks us to consider what’s worth fighting for and how far we each would go to protect our freedoms.
Thursday means it’s time for a new pair of free audiobooks from Audiofile SYNC. Use the simple registration steps here, then download two audiobooks into your Sora shelf free every week (Thursday-Wednesday) through the summer.
Once you download either or both of these history-related audiobooks to your Sora shelf online, you have 99 years to listen to them.
Out in the countryside, Liana is adopted by a brown dog who sings to the sky and helps the 14 year old find things to cook for her family. No, she won’t go to the government’s “summer camp” working in the sugarcane fields and leave her siblings to starve.
Neither will 15-year-old Amado, even though he’ll be an outcast in the village. If they knew his plan to evade military conscription, he’d be in prison with his brother who did the same. Constant hunger makes rebellious thoughts of freedom difficult, but he will persevere.
As the two young people try to fight their growing attraction, the singing dog called Paz does his best to nudge them together, knowing that they’ll be stronger together.
Can they grow any food without the government finding out? Can hope alone sustain them as the police keep watch on Amado? Should they also make a raft and try to escape to Miami?
Celebrate Poetry Month with this verse novel in three voices, by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here).
Dumped! In public! On their anniversary! Gotta win him back…
Blaine was sure that Joey was planning to ask him on a ritzy trip with his rich family, not break up on their one-year anniversary! The mural-painting junior doesn’t fit into senior Joey’s long-range plan to become the first out US President, since he’s “not a Serious guy” like Blaine’s classmate Zach.
Well, Blaine will show Joey that he’s serious – he’ll run for Senior class president! His best friend Trish says she’ll be his campaign manager, her girlfriend Camilla will help too (between interning at the Field Museum with dinosaur bones).
His loving, workaholic parents support him, as does his biggest fan Aunt Starr who’s living with them between jobs – best company ever on these long, no-Joey nights.
Whoa, so many requirements to get onto the ballot: 50 junior classmates’ signatures in two days, a speech to the 94-member student council, then a debate between the highest-ranked candidates in front of the whole school!
Trish helps Blaine stand out from the other candidates – he asks fellow students to talk to him, instead of telling them why he’s great. So many concerns that center around stress and mental health issues…
And cute Dannie, whose aloe vera plant was a casualty when Blaine literally ran into him on the sidewalk, joins the group as his dad’s coffeehouse in their Chicago neighborhood becomes their campaign headquarters, complete with amazing Vietnamese pastries.
Can he really make a difference for his classmates? Will he win back Joey if he wins the race? Where did his passion for painting murals go?
Easy-going Blaine shifts his focus from big murals to the big picture and finds out what’s really important to him.
When did you step out of your comfort zone? **kmm
Book info: Blaine for the Win / Robbie Couch. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
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