That’s 8 years in a row… which means that BooksYALove is 9 years old yesterday!
Thanks to Michelle Rafter for running WordCount Blogathon in Mays gone by, bringing me into blogging on 1 May 2010, with help from Jan Udlock in later years – a stellar volunteer effort that put many folks on the path to successful blogging.
Will I keep up the Monday through Saturday posting schedule required by the A2Z challenge? Most unlikely, but I will keep talking here about wonderful books from debut authors and smaller presses (not self-published, because there are only so many hours in each day).
Which April-highlighted title intrigued you most?
Looking forward to a new year, looking back over the past – writers and artists do this, too!
You’ll recognize so many of your favorite authors and illustrators of works for kids and young adults in the “About the Author” section at the publisher’s webpage for this book!
So think about the stories you wrote in earlier years, the comic strips you drew, the plays that you put on for your family, the news reports that you made as a kid.
A new year, new opportunities, what will you begin? **kmm
Book info: Our Story Begins: Children’s Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids / edited by Elissa Brent Weissman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: “When did you start drawing? When did you know that you wanted to write books?” These frequent questions from young readers are answered by 25 of our favorite authors and illustrators – with examples of their very early works – in this anthology which will inspire a new generation of creators.
A grade-school photo from each author and illustrator begins their chapter which includes reproductions of their childhood stories or drawings in crayon, pencil, pen, or typing.
There’s a photo of author Elissa Brent Weissman as a kid with Gordon Korman at his book signing, then turn to Korman’s chapter to read his fifth-grade speech “How to Handle Your Parents”.
Kwame Alexander’s mom still has his first-ever poem (to her on Mother’s Day) framed in her living room. Thanhha Lai and her family fled Vietnam during her childhood, but she can still recite the story-poem “A Bird in a Cage” that she told her mother over and over.
Illustrators’ talents as kids ranged from polished (Grace Lin) to rudimentary (Jarrett J. Krosoczka – graphic novels), and several authors say that they copied their favorite writers’ styles in early stories – all continued to work at their craft and work to be published.
The author’s documentary film “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard” includes the restored children’s drawings sent to All Souls’ Church in D.C. as well as archival footage showing life in Hiroshima in the days and months after the bombing.
Book info: Running with Cosmos Flowers: the Children of Hiroshima / Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing, 2014. [book website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Now her turn to evacuate in summer 1945, Hana-chan arrives at her aunt’s country village shortly before her mother departs with students going home… to Hiroshima.
Struggling to travel from the mountains into the city after the A-bomb strikes, Hana and her aunt are aghast at the devastation, yet try to help where they can.
Back at school in one of the few buildings remaining upright, 7 year old Hana and her young classmates worry about whether radiation sickness is contagious and how they will cope with oncoming winter weather.
Then packages arrive from America – with clothes and food and paper and pencils.
Can small gifts of paper and crayons begin to heal these broken lives?
And their thank-you drawings are sent to the USA, seen by thousands and remembered over the decades.
Based on the author’s experiences as a young girl born in Hiroshima just after World War II ended, hearing survivors’ stories and becoming part of a rebuilding nation. As usual in Japanese fiction, quotation marks aren’t used in the dialogue, but readers will soon be caught up in the story without need of this punctuation.
Pancho Villa‘s rebels are coming!
Carry what you can and flee – or be killed!
But refugees aren’t welcomed when they cross into Texas…
So much for 13-year-old Evangelina to cope with now – a girl trying to steal her suitcase on the train (with grandfather’s secret box inside!), store signs in the Texas town that say “No Mexicans” (where can they buy food?), and wondering if they can ever go home to Mexico (is anyone safe there?).
The story is set in 1911, but many things still resonate today in the borderlands.
Book info: Evangelina Takes Flight / Diana J. Noble. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, 2017. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Pancho Villa and his rebel soldiers are coming? As big sister celebrates her quinceanera before the family flees their northern Mexico rancho, Evangelina worries about little Tomas’ recovering so slowly from a scorpion sting, whether grandfather can travel north with them, what they will find at her aunt’s house in Texas.
By mule wagon, with the men herding their best cattle on another trail, Evangelina’s mother gets the children to the crowded train station, but the journey onward is anything but smooth, and the Texas border town holds no welcome for refugees.
Why is wailing woman La Llorona coming into her dreams?
Will the townspeople’s prejudice keep her and Dr. Taylor from saving lives?
What is in the box grandfather gave her for safekeeping?
Evangelina might even be brave enough to attend the town meeting where rich white people are demanding that only white children can attend the school!
Emily and James are always on the hunt for books hidden by fellow Book Scavenger fans, but when coded clues in particular volumes link up with revenge-fueled fires at listed hidden-book sites, they decide to solve the mystery… but the fire bug is watching them!
Happy book birthday to The Unbreakable Code! You can read this second adventure in the series by itself, but will enjoy it even more if you get the full background in book one, Book Scavenger (my no-spoiler recommendation here).
Be sure to visit the Book Scavenger game website if you want to report a found book or register a book to hide yourself – there are hundreds hidden all over the USA!
What ‘lost treasure’ from a favorite author would you like to find?
Book info:The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavengers, book 2) / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books for Young Readers, 2017. [Book Scavenger site] [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.
My book talk: The unbreakable code? As Emily and James seek out hidden books in the Book Scavenger game, the middle schoolers discover a secret message that sets them hunting for information on Gold Rush ships buried beneath San Francisco’s skyscrapers and the code that author Mark Twain said could never be broken.
But someone with a grudge is setting fires at Book Scavenger hiding places and doesn’t want the young teens to discover the next fire site…ever.
What does their teacher (and fellow Book Scavenger) know about the code – and the fires?
Why must they help with the school dance now when they want work on this mystery?
Ciphers, codes, clues – which ones to follow?
As the fires strike closer to what’s important to Emily and James, they must decide who to trust and how far they can go on their own. Second book in the Book Scavenger series, following Book Scavenger.
– toted dozens and dozens of ARCs (advance reader copies) all over the gigantic convention center and to my hotel, as I asked publishers’ representatives which forthcoming books they adored in-house, but might get overshadowed by the season’s “big books” and blockbusters,
– and even succumbed to the lure of acquiring a few completed books signed by authors, both brand-new and deservedly famous, despite the extra weight of hardcovers and acid-free paper.
Life in the world of books and ideas and imagination is very good!
But the libraries that serve us all are threatened by drastic funding cuts at the national and state level.
Please, please, click on those links to find ways to tell legislators how libraries make a difference in your community and your life – it will take all our voices to change their minds.
If only Gracie’s family can get to the edge of the world and cross over to the The Extraordinary World, that mythical globe-shaped Earth where they can find a cure for her little brother’s illness before the Cloud takes him from them forever…
When have you seen a Dark Cloud and wondered?
Book info: My Diary From the Edge of the World / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2015 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When a Cloud comes for Gracie’s little brother, the 12 year old’s family packs up the RV and goes searching for the mythical ‘Extraordinary World’ to find a cure.
Leaving their Maine hometown, the Lockwoods (plus Oliver, recently orphaned by a Sasquatch attack) visit a witch (Gracie’s grandmother), then head west where they encounter a strange circus, gamble against a genie in Luck Town, and hire a guardian angel on the coast for the perilous voyage to the far south edge of the world.
Can’t they outrun that Dark Cloud?
Will her big sister ever stop complaining about the trip?
How far is it to a miracle?
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