Tag Archive | reading

Ready, set, go deliver DRAGONS IN A BAG! by Zetta Elliott (kids’ book review)

Book cover of Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott, art by Geneva B. Published by Yearling-Random House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Follow the rules to stay safe,
avoid trouble,
keep your eyes open!

Jax doesn’t need a babysitter! The Black 9 year old isn’t happy that he has to stay with old Ma while Mom is in court to fight being evicted.

Hmm…he is intrigued when a squirrel zips into Ma’s apartment and tries to feed whatever is in Ma’s big handbag, the thing that came from Madagascar, something that Ma needs to deliver elsewhere – very special lizards!

There’s a transporter in Prospect Park?
The lizards are really dragons?
Ma is a witch?!

Maybe Jax can help Ma as her apprentice, if he follows the rules: keep the dragons in their case and never feed them.

When a problem with the transporter lands Jax and the baby dragons back in Brooklyn without Ma, he enlists the help of his best friend Vik to get the dragons safely to their new home in another dimension.

First in a series, followed by The Dragon Thief !

What mythic creature would you like to see in your town?
**kmm

Book info: Dragons in a Bag / Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Geneva B. Yearling/ Random House, 2018. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Secrets and more secrets – audiobook summer continues!

A journey across the Big Pond or summer job together with your crush? You can have both with this week’s free audiobooks from AudioSYNC!

After you’ve registered and gotten the Sora app on your phone or tablet, you can easily download either or both titles -free- using the links below.

CD cover of The Bronte Plot, by Katherine Reay. Read by Laura Kirman.
Published by Thomas Nelson | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Bronte Plot (download free here, 18-24 June 2020)

by Katherine Reay. Read by Laura Kirma. Published by Thomas Nelson

Asked by her ex-sweetheart’s grandmother Helen to lead a literary excursion in Great Britain, Lucy leaps at the chance to leave Chicago and the bad choices she’s made at her job.

Helen is confronting ghosts from her past as they travel – perhaps Lucy can absorb some of her wise advice, become as strong as the Bronte sisters, and make amends for her past actions.

CD cover of The Music of What Happens,  by Bill Konigsberg. Read by Joel Froomkin & Anthony Rey Perez. 
Published by Scholastic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Music of What Happens (download free here 18-24 June 2020)

by Bill Konigsberg. Read by Joel Froomkin, Anthony Rey Perez. Published by Scholastic Audio

Relaxed jock Max and high-strung Jordan are determined to revive the vintage food truck business for Jordan’s mom to pay her mortgage.

As they work together that sweltering Arizona summer, the guys begin falling for each other – but will their secrets keep them apart?

More than halfway through our AudioSYNC summer of free audiobooks – thank you for sharing, publishers! Which title is your favorite, so far?
**kmm

Nine years of #books… did it!

logo of 10th April Blogging A to Z Challenge

Yesterday, I wrapped up my 9th April A to Z Blog Challenge – 26 new books reviewed in a month. Nine years in a row!

Thank you to the A2Z organizers for providing annual graphics, badges, sign-ups, and promotion for free. During this pandemic, having a scheduled daily task was especially welcome.

Every year, I wonder if I should push myself to post every April day but Sundays, forcing books to fit into that A to Z progression (X, I am looking at you), and every year I am glad that I did it so y’all have 26 more books worth seeking out.

And today marks the beginning of my TENTH year of blogging about books beyond the bestsellers as BooksYALove!

Big thanks to Michele Rafter, whose Blogathon caught my attention in late April 2011 so I could start my very first blog on May 1st and learn the ins and outs of blogging during that May and several to follow.

Huge thanks to Barb Langridge, who asked me in 2010 to join other librarians in writing reviews for her book discovery site for kids www.abookandahug.com. Building up a digital folder of no-spoiler Young Adult and middle grade book reviews to post on my new blog was a true gift.

Much appreciation to the publishers who provide review copies and who have begun bringing us more books by #ownvoices authors, people of color, underrepresented populations – still a long, long way to go, but it’s a start.

All the love to my daughter Emily who designed the BooksYALove logo, helped me move this blog to self-hosting several years ago, and is the best kind of tech support always – mwah!

Will I post every day from now on?
Probably not.

Will I seek out books that are #ownvoices or beyond bestsellers, always worth your attention?
You bet!

Will I promote libraries and independent booksellers over other options?
Always, always, always!

What’s new in your book-reading world?
**kmm

P is THE DISTANCE BETWEEN ME AND THE CHERRY TREE, by Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir (MG book review)

book cover of The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree, by Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir. Published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

First were a few dots in her vision,
then glasses (not so cute),
now clouds cover her view…

Mafalda’s eyesight is failing, and the list of things the Italian girl can do grows shorter by the week – no more having a best friend or counting stars at night.

No more playing soccer, as the black spots widen so she cannot see the ball coming toward the goal, no more walking home from school by herself.

She hates how people have already started treating her differently, hates 11th birthday presents coming many months early while she can still see their colors, hates having to move to a one-story house away from her cat…

Only Estella, the Romanian janitor at school, seems to understand how hard this all is for Mafalda and suggests making a list of things she doesn’t want to forget when she is blind.

As days pass, she must stand ever closer to see her favorite cherry tree… if only Mafalda could live in its branches so no one knew her blindness was happening so fast.

Read an excerpt here (courtesy of the publisher) from this debut novel by an Italian author who was diagnosed as a young teen with the same vision-loss condition as Mafalda.

How do you cope when unhappy changes are inevitable?
**kmm

Book info: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree / Paola Peretti; translated by Denise Muir; illustrated by Carolina Rabei. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author interview] [translator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is Kels in WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU, by Marisa Kanter (book review)

book cover of What I Like About You, by Marisa Kanter. Published by Simon Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kels blogs about YA books and baking,
Nash is an amazing graphic novelist,
their online friendship is epic, but IRL…

Halle wants to work in publishing on her own merits, not as famous Grams’ granddaughter, so online she is Kels who matches her exquisite cupcakes with talk-worthy books.

The 17 year old wanted her senior year in one place, not traipsing around the world with their famous filmmaker parents, so it was logical that she and baseball-playing brother Ollie stay with Gramps… in Nash’s town?!

At school, at synagogue, the attraction between Halle and one-quarter Korean Jewish Nash is growing – why can’t Halle tell him the truth about who she is online?

NYU will be Nash’s escape from his clingy parents, Halle’s ticket to becoming a publicist – what if they don’t get in? What if they both do?

Published just last week, debut novel What I Like About You is available from your local indie bookstore (order directly or through bookshop.org) or check WorldCat to see if your library has the eBook. Be sure to request it at your library so they order print copy, too.

So when is it okay to be two people at the same time?
**kmm

Book info: What I Like About You / Marisa Kanter. Simon & Schuster Teen, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Making friends or Papa’s best cakes – PIE IN THE SKY dreams? by Remy Lai (book review)

book cover of Pie in the Sky, by Remy Lai. Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Everything is different,
no one understands –
moving to a new country is so hard!

Jingwen feels like like an alien when Mom moves him and little brother to Australia, especially when Yanghao picks up English so much faster than he can. Or maybe a ghost, since his classmates hardly include him in anything because he’s so quiet.

Only remembering Papa’s special cakes makes him happy (and sad), so he decides to bake each one, just as Papa taught him back in the family bakery after all the plain, inexpensive ones were done.

Why did Mama decide to emigrate, even after Papa died?
Why can’t Jingwen understand English better? Why?
Will he be held back at school to be in little brother’s class next year!?

Illustrated middle grade novel with so much heart! (and fantastically yummy descriptions of Papa’s cakes)

How can we understand others when words don’t connect us?
**kmm

Book info: Pie in the Sky, by Remy Lai. Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

April AtoZ – I did it!

logo of A2Z Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 10th anniversary

Woo-hoo! Another April AtoZ blogging challenge successfully in the books, offering 25 books and 2 audiobooks for your reading pleasure.

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?
**kmm

Authors & illustrators share their childhood works in Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissman (book review)

book cover of Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissnman. Published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.


Running with Cosmos Flowers, after Hiroshima bombing, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall (book review)

book cover of Running With Cosmos Flowers: The Children of Hiroshima, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comAfter the A-bomb hits,
surviving winter in Hiroshima is so hard,
then flowers bloom in spring – and perhaps hope also?

Among the packages of desperately needed clothes and food sent to these Japanese schoolchildren when World War II ended were simple gifts of paper, pencils, and crayons from a church in the USA.

So they drew their thank-yous, sent back to the church which displayed and preserved them until today.

Ask for this story of war’s aftermath as seen through children’s eyes and art at your local library or independent bookstore.

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.

War…
**kmm

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.

The raiders are coming! Evangelina Takes Flight with her family, by Diana J. Noble (book review)

book cover of Evangelina Takes Flight, by Diana J. Noble, published by Pinata Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com 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.
**kmm

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!