Tag Archive | school

U is being unhappy with TAKING UP SPACE, by Alyson Gerber (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Taking Up Space, by Alyson Gerber. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Basketball is her favorite thing!
Her changing body isn’t
How to fix this??

Since she’s getting curvier and taller all at once, Sarah feels awkward on the basketball court for the first time ever. Coach says this is normal and that the 7th grader will get used to herself again – but how long will that take!?

As Coach discusses nutrition in health class, Sarah and so-cute Benny decide to be partners for the Chef Junior competition at their Massachusetts school – he cooks such wonderful things for his family!

When Dad’s away, Mom can forget that Sarah needs a good dinner every night. At least she remembered to sign the Chef Junior permission slip.

Mom hides candy from herself, eats only little bits of boring food, forgets to buy Sarah the healthy food she asks for – how will she get back to her best size for basketball?

Will Benny start to really like her as they practice cooking together?
Why can’t Mom remember to keep enough food at home?
When will Sarah feel like herself again on the court?

Big questions during a tumultuous junior high year for her whole friend group.

What advice from health class nutrition do you remember?
**kmm

Book info: Taking Up Space / Alyson Gerber. Scholastic Press, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

T is for Trix, family secrets & A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES, by Miranda Asebedo (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of A Constellation of Roses, by Miranda Asebedo. Published by Harper Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Thieving is a gift,
all that Trix has now
since Mom has gone again.

Running away from that foster home wasn’t her best idea, but Trixie knows that if drug-addicted Mom is coming back, she’ll come to this cheap motel – exactly where her social worker finds the 17-year-old and takes her to relatives on her dad’s side, a family she never knew about.

Her aunt Mia bakes amazing pies, almost magical Lucky Lime, Never-Lonely Lemon – all the McCabe women have some kind of gift, according to her great-aunt. Eventually her very quiet teen cousin Ember will tell Trix about her gift, maybe.

What’s a streetwise teen with a gift for undetectable theft going to do in this tiny Kansas country town? Live with her aunt and graduate from high school – or go to prison! Okay… but Trix missed so much school that it’ll take two years to finish now!

She’s sketched since she could hold a stolen pencil, so art class is fine (artistic just like her late father, folks say), and some of the students are okay, like Jasper who helps with pie deliveries.

How did Jasper’s brother die last year?
Why does everyone in Rocksaw have a different story of how her dad died?
What future does her great-aunt see in Trix’s palm?

Putting down roots like the climbing roses at the McCabe house or blowing away with the drifters in the city – Trix thinks and thinks…

What paranormal gift would you choose, if you knew it was in control?
**kmm

Book info: A Constellation of Roses / Miranda Asebedo. Harper Teen, hardcover 2019, paperback 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Q is for questions & quarrels TANGLED UP IN LUCK, by Merrill Wyatt (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Tangled Up in Luck, by Merrill Wyatt. Published by Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Two weeks till summer break!
Start a special class project?!
Now? Why? Hidden jewels!

Learn to work together, find things that aren’t on the internet – the seventh graders aren’t too happy to have different assignment partners or go through old newspaper articles at the library for this project.

Find the lost jewels hidden in the late 1880s when Jacob Hoal’s partner Thomas dynamited the safe and jumped on a train – the same train that collided with Jacob and Lucretia’s train, killing them and leaving an orphan son!

Volleyball star Sloane gets paired with class eccentric Amelia – arguing in the town library, sneaking around the historical museum – this won’t be easy as old grudges make the girls wary of each other.

A circus gone bankrupt, a Stock Market wizard, explosion at the mansion, a manhunt through Ohio and beyond, then the fatal train crash – newspaper articles tell the story, but what information is missing?

Their classmates are using the same resources (bad luck), so Sloane and Amelia check the museum and find old timers to interview (good luck), getting a little less uncomfortable around each other as they go.

Did Thomas take the jewels on the train with him?
What happened to the orphaned son?
Why are the kids working on this complicated project right now?

As Sloane frets about her widowed father remarrying and Amelia dreads going home to her ultra-competitive family, they don’t yet realize the danger they’ll face if they solve the mystery!

What local historical event still has people talking in your area?
**kmm

Book info: Tangled Up in Luck (Tangled Mysteries, book 1) / Merrill Wyatt. Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is painting! P is president? BLAINE FOR THE WIN, by Robbie Couch (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Blaine for the Win, by Robbie Couch. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

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.

O is for ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS with cards, candle, dark waters! by Caroline O’ Donoghue (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of All Our Hidden Gifts, by Caroline O'Donoghue. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

In-school suspension (again),
Storeroom clean-out (boring),
Tarot card deck…hmmm.

Falling behind in high school, Maeve longs for the days when her four much-older siblings lived at home so she wasn’t Mum and Dad’s only focus.

The tarot cards she found in the school basement storage are more interesting than her classes, for sure, especially as she studies more about them online.

Soon her circle of acquaintances at their all-girls school is asking her to do tarot readings for them, with pal Fiona as scheduler, earning Maeve some pocket money and a tiny bit of popularity.

It all goes bust after a unique card appears in a reading for her former best friend Lily. Maeve doesn’t know what it means, so she left it at home! When quiet, hard-of-hearing Lily says it’s all done just for attention, Maeve snaps that she wishes that Lily would disappear. That’s the last time anyone sees Lily…

The police have questions for Maeve several days later; so does Lily’s big brother Roe whom Maeve began talking to just as this tarot thing began. Of course, the headmistress confiscates the tarot deck.

Days crawl along with no progress, as slow as the river Beg through their Irish city. Maeve’s dreams include gender-fluid Roe and his band, the mysterious Housekeeper on the unique card, and eventually Lily by the river. And the tarot deck brings itself to Maeve’s house.

Is the Housekeeper more than ink on a card?
Who will believe that she has taken Lily?
How can the three teens bring her back without losing themselves?

The power of wishing, the power of hope, the power of learning to love your true self – don’t miss this UK novel brought to American readers by Walker Books US – in hardcover now, paperback release in May 2022 – read the first chapter here, free courtesy of the publisher.

What hidden gift has graced your life as you’ve gotten older?
**kmm

Book info: All Our Hidden Gifts / Caroline O’Donoghue. Walker Books US, 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.

L is LOVELESS – dating and kissing just don’t appeal to her, by Alice Oseman (YA book review) #A2Z

US book cover of Loveless, by Alice Oseman. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never been kissed,
nor in a relationship –
maybe at college…

Like everyone in her family, Georgia is a romantic about romance, the happily-ever-after forever kind. The British teen just doesn’t fancy anyone in that way, not even a celebrity crush.

Surely she’ll find a relationship at university – she knows her best friends Jason and Pip will. It’s so weird to be living in different student housing across Durham instead of seeing them hours every day…

So with her new roommate Rooney, the 18-year-old tries to be brave and meet new people during Freshers Week as freshmen check out social societies to join on campus. Their upper-class mentors (‘college parents’) help them adjust to university life.

At her college parent Sunil’s urging, Georgia gets on the Pride Soc mailing list, then joins Rooney, Pip, and Jason in the not-quite-fully-registered Shakespeare Society.

UK book cover of of Loveless, by Alice Oseman. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com
UK cover

Pip goes with her to some Pride social nights, Jason decides to be more than friends with Georgia, and she’s still not sure how a handful of people will be able to perform a Shakespeare play so the society can become official with the university.

How will Pip react to Jason-and-Georgia as a new relationship?
Will Georgia find love or lose friendship there?
Asexual, aromantic – maybe helpful words for her to consider?

A crisis in Shakespeare Society just before opening night pulls them together as Georgia’s first year at university is quite different than she envisioned.

When has found-family kept you going?
**kmm

Book info: Loveless / Alice Oseman. Scholastic Press, 2021. [author Facebook] [US publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

J is for Japan, living and learning in HIMAWARI HOUSE, by Melody Becker (Graphic novel review) #A2Z

book cover of Himawari House, by Melody Becker. Published by First Second | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A gap year,
a new start,
away from family…far away.

Three young women move to Japan, living with people from other cultures in a Tokyo sharehouse and becoming good friends in this bilingual (sometimes trilingual) graphic novel.

Nao had moved to the US Midwest with her American father and Japanese mother when she and her brother were young, never quite fitting in there. Returning to Japan after high school graduation, she wants to reconnect with her roots and family here.

Tina came from Singapore to learn Japanese well enough to pass the university entrance exams here, close to home and also far away from her boisterous family for a while.

Hyejung left Korea because she was so very deeply unhappy with the treadmill of going to college to get a job to work till retirement; her parents didn’t approve, and they don’t communicate.

Japanese brothers Shinsan and Masaki anchor Himawari House, the elder suggesting festivals they can all attend together, and Masaki being generally moody (what is his problem?).

The girls work at low-skill jobs as they attend gogakuin to improve their Japanese, with not a few cultural mishaps along the way. Thank goodness they can all communicate in English at Himawari House!

Childhood memories are revived as Nao visits her mother’s family in the countryside where she played with her cousins, now also all grown up.

Will Tina and Hyejung pass their entrance exams?
Can Nao become fluent in Japanese during the short time she’s here?
Will Masaki ever come out of his shell?

A fun and thoughtful look at family, expectations, and friendship by the illustrator of the graphic novel version of George Takei’s memoir, They Called Us Enemies (recommendation coming soon).

If you could take a year off from your current life, where would you live?
**kmm

Book info: Himawari House / Harmony Becker. First Second, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Library book; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

G is young Bollywood fan’s GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING, by Uma Krishnaswami (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, by Uma Krishnaswami. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Singing and dancing,
true love overcomes all –
Bollywood is perfect, real life isn’t!

A dream is finally coming true – for Dini’s mom, who’s gotten a job as doctor at a clinic in a small town in India.

But for 11-year-old Dini, moving away from her best friend Maddie for two years is terrible! Who will watch Bollywood movies with her and sing every song and dance all the dances?

And Swapnagiri is far, far away from Mumbai and its Bollywood studios, so Dini won’t even get to see their favorite star, Dolly Singh. Just in case, Dini writes a letter, telling Dolly where her family will be in India.

Such a long journey from Maryland, and so many different things in their new home: monkeys on the roof, rose petal milkshakes, their little house on a working tea plantation.

Oh dear, her new neighbor Priya has taken a dislike to Indian-American Dini, and soon they’ll be classmates. Priya’s uncle is sad because his fiancee broke their engagement – his sweetheart, Dolly Singh!

Ah, if Dini can get Chickoo Uncle and Dolly back together again, they’ll film her next movie right here as planned – time for more letters, a big party, and Dini’s perfect Bollywood script.

Told by Dini, the mail carriers, the mechanic trying to find out what’s making the strange noise in Chickoo Uncle’s car, Dolly’s agent from the movie studio, and Dolly herself, this story is like a Bollywood special – start the music, cue the dancers, action!

When have you tried to help people fix a situation they couldn’t fix by themselves?
**kmm

Book info: The Grand Plan to Fix Everything / Uma Krishnaswami; illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal copy; 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.