Tag Archive | sisters

SINGING WITH ELEPHANTS, poetry in her heart breaks free! by Margarita Engle (MG book review)

book cover of Singing With Elephants, by Margarita Engle. Published by Viking Books /PRH  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Home isn’t here.
English is so hard to learn.
Animals always understand her.

Doctors in California after World War II couldn’t cure her grandmother diabetes, but now Oriol’s family is established here, her parents’ veterinary practice thriving, her big sister flirting with elephant handler Surey at the wildlife ranch they serve.

Summer is a release from kids who bully the 11 year old for not speaking English well, for the scents of animal companions that cling to her clothes. Oriol still longs for Cuba, where she and Abuelita cared for whistling birds.

Into their neighborhood comes an older lady whose words ring out with messages of nature and peace and hope. This poet from Chile begins teaching Oriol how to observe the world and bring poetry from her soul onto the page – in Spanish, in English, in both languages at once.

Oriol finally gets to meet wise-eyed Chandra at the ranch and Surey who cares for the pregnant elephant. The wonderful sounds that Chandra makes bring her so much joy, inspiring words and more words!

Can Oriol someday be a poet and a veterinarian, someone who translates animal speech to humans?

The noisy movie star who brought Chandra and Surey from Nepal can’t wait for the baby to be born – is he really the right person to own an elephant?

Big surprise when Chandra gives birth! Then terrible shock – what can Oriol do to help?

This novel-in-verse was inspired by the late 1940s California stay of Gabriela Mistral and her companion Doris Dana, as the educator, writer, and only woman Latin American winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature continued her work as a peace activist.

Another lyrical Cuban-centered story by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here), Your Heart My Sky (more here), Lion Island (here) and more.

What words does nature inspire you to write?
**kmm

Book info: Singing With Elephants / Margarita Engle. Viking Books /PRH, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ignoring WOUNDED LITTLE GODS doesn’t mean they’re gone, by Eliza Victoria (book review)

book cover of Wounded Little Gods, by Eliza Victoria. Published in USA by Tuttle Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gods of wind, of death,
spirits of dew and seedlings and soil –
unheeded, unneeded by modern life…

Regina was so glad to escape her hometown in the Philippine countryside, even if her first job out of college isn’t world-changing.

Hanging out in new co-worker Diane’s apartment, waiting for rush hour to subside, Regina notices many books on eugenics and terrible experiments on human beings – what a strange conversation they lead to!

Diane never returns to work, and Regina finds a hand-drawn map in her bag – a map of her hometown in detail, with notes in Diane’s writing, showing buildings that aren’t there and a big X and two persons’ names.

Regina makes a quick trip back to Heridos to ask her parents about it – they say a doctor at the hospital has a similar name, and aren’t there just trees on that part of Ka Edgar’s old farm? A phone call to her much older brother Luciano isn’t any help either. Hmmmm….

Trekking through the summer humidity to the abandoned farm, Regina finds hidden buildings (Center for Heredity and Genetics!?) – and a woman who says that Diane is late in returning. No, Florina can’t leave her little house to help Regina look for her…

Well, the young doctor says he doesn’t know anything about that Center, but a lady in the waiting room sees that map and exclaims that she was detained there as a child! Clara retells nightmarish stories of small bodies under white sheets, but now there are only woods where Regina found the Center recently….

As Luciano hurriedly drives to Heridos, two gods appear in his car, asking about his sister and offering their help – oh, he remembers how that went the last time…

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” said American writer William Faulkner – how very, very true for everyone connected to that Center for Heredity and Genetics!

With its storyline based on too-real human experimentation centers, this Finalist for the National Book Awards in the Philippines is available for the first time in the US now.

Where do you see the older ways amid the busyness of today?
**kmm

Book info: Wounded Little Gods / Eliza Victoria. Tuttle Publishing, 2022 (US), 2015 (Philippines). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Just a little fun for Kenyan boys or PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME? by Patrick Ochieng (MG book review)

book cover of laying a Dangerous Game, by Patrick Ochieng. Published by  Accord Books /Norton Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His baba has been promoted by the Railway, so now 10-year-old Lumush and little sister Awino can attend the Hill School, a big step up from their neighborhood school in 1970s Kenya.

More homework, less time to hang out by that old rusted car with his buddies, playing pata potea or dreaming up stunts to do – Mama is so happy this opportunity has finally come.

But everyone at Hill School except Lillian treats him with suspicion, his friends think he’ll become stuck up, and cute Nijah frets that he’ll get distracted by the Hill girls.

Ripe zambarau fruits tempt the boys to climb the tree at the ghost house; a dare sends them back at night to spy on the ghosts of the white woman and her daughter who died there!

The friends hear all the gossip as they ramble the neighborhood – medicine stolen from the dispensary, bags of coffee beans disappearing from railway cars, a delivery lorry stolen.

What will the thieves target next?
Do ghosts always smell like cigarette smoke?
What’s hiding in the junkyard?

Wander the Railway Estates with Lumush and his friends as they try to solve the ghost house mystery without becoming ghosts themselves!

Lumush tries to be a good Hill School student and also a good friend to his buddies as their manhood ceremonies approach, holding onto good times in the neighborhood even as his parents and teachers insist that his school success now will determine his entire future.

What landmark in your town has ghosts?
**kmm

Book info: Playing a Dangerous Game / Patrick Ochieng. Accord Books /Norton Young Readers, 2021. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

See them in new ways – STRAW INTO GOLD: FAIRY TALES RE-SPUN, by Hilary McKay (MG book review)

book cover of Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun, by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never insult fairy godmothers,
kindness makes the path easier,
curses can flip to blessings…

The fairy tales that we’ve heard over and over can be retold, modernized, role-switched, or set in other lands, yet we recognize their core stories every time.

This collection of “Fairy Tales Re-Spun” charmingly presents a double-handful of familiar tales using non-classic viewpoints, like the new teacher whose writing assignment at a backwoods school results in “What I Did in the Holidays and Why Hansel’s Jacket is So Tight (by Gretel, age 10)” – truth or fiction?

Cinderella finds a friend in Buttons and helps him shine boots for the prince who’s turned away from royal society to tend “The Roses Around the Palace.”

A stuffy bureaucrat is more concerned about keeping his town tidy (and his coffers full) than paying the agreed price to that motley-looking Piper for luring away all those horrid rats… so very quiet now at “The Fountain in the Market Square.”

Enjoy these ten fairy tale retellings, including lesser-known stories “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Swan Brothers” (also the basis for A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth that I recently recommended here).

Which fairy tale is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun / Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [illustrator bio] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

The death of the QUEEN OF THE TILES was no accident?! by Hanna Alkaf (YA book review)

book cover of Queen of the Tiles, by Hanna Alkaf. Published by Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Same tournament,
same competitors,
who wished her dead?

Maybe making her re-entry into the cutthroat world of teen Scrabble competition at this venue was a mistake. But after a lonely year, coming to the last place that Najwa saw her best friend Trina alive seems fitting somehow.

Trina’s gameplay was stunningly brilliant, her popularity off the charts – why the wealthy girl befriended quiet Najwa when she changed schools was a mystery.

Everyone (else) is here at the Malaysian hotel – Trina’s on-and-off boyfriend Mark, socially inept Josh, fidgety Emily (cheating scandal, yah), Singapore Ben and his hover-mother, Yasmin who knew Trina as a child… plus two annoying young players making a tribute documentary about Trina.

Najwa’s roommate this weekend is Puteri, Mark’s ex-girlfriend before Trina – no happy late-night chatfests with her fellow hijabi this weekend!

When Trina’s dormant Instagram account suddenly posts Scrabble tile photos that spell out clues, Najwa and companions begin wondering if Trina’s death during her final game with Josh was really accidental.

Pushing past grief and panic attacks, Najwa wants to win the tournament in memory of her best friend and find answers, even if asking questions puts her in danger, too.

Trina was “easy to love and easy to hate” – which emotion led to her demise?

Peppered with high-scoring Scrabble words, definitions, and anagrams, Najwa’s journey to win this tournament as she recreates Trina’s last moments makes for a high-stakes mystery!

What’s your favorite word game?
**kmm

Book info: Queen of the Tiles / Hanna Alkaf. Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY – Japanese-Americans in WWII, by George Takei (Graphic novel review)

Book cover of They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Published by Top Shelf Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Leaving their home and possessions,
not his parents’ choice…
Why? Why!?

His mama’s purse is full of treats for five-year-old George and little Henry as they make the long train trip with her, Daddy, and baby Nancy from their home in Los Angeles to a camp in the woods of rural Arkansas.

Not a vacation place, but an internment camp with barbed wire fences, unfamiliar foods, very little privacy, and their loyalty to the USA constantly in question – boring for kids, disheartening for adults.

Later, George’s family was moved to a facility in the California desert at Tule Lake, another of several concentration camps that housed 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese who were forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II.

At war’s end, they hoped to move back to their homes and businesses, but their properties had been seized and sold to others… time to start all over again.

Will the US government deport George’s family?
How can they live in a country that hates them?
What will the future be like in a world after war?

This is a sobering portrayal of a dreadful time in America’s history, as seen through a child’s eyes and reinforced by decades of subtle and overt racism against Asian Americans.

(One of the white co-authors had worked previously with Takei and pitched the idea of capturing his childhood memories as a graphic novel. The book’s artist is Japanese-American, creator of Himawari House graphic novel that I recommended here.)

The well-known Star Trek actor and social activist continues to speak out against discrimination, racism, and the rights of all to love and be loved.

What young childhood memory would you write or draw?
**kmm

Book info: They Called Us Enemy / George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf Media, 2019. [author site] [co-author site] [co-author interview] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Listen to African Voices this week on AudioSYNC – free!

It’s finally Audiofile SYNC season! Register free here, then you can download two audiobooks into your Sora shelf free every week (Thursday-Wednesday) through the summer.

Keep either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks on your Sora shelf online so you can listen anytime, on any device.

Enjoy this week’s African Stories, African Voices:

CD cover of The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o | Read by Benjamin A.  Onyango. Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Ngugi wa Thiong’o | Read by Benjamin A. Onyango
Published by Brilliance Audio

The origin of the Gikuyu people of Kenya is masterfully narrated in this poetic and stirring creation story adventure.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/188758/the-perfect-nine-by-ngugi-wa-thiongo-read-by-benjamin-a-onyango/

http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of This Book Betrays My Brother, by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit. Published by ECW Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

This Book Betrays My Brother (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit
Published by ECW Press

Thirteen-year-old Naledi stays quiet about her brother’s crime until she realizes years later that the truth must be told in their South African community.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/186126/this-book-betrays-my-brother-by-kagiso-lesego-molope-read-by-jacqui-du-toit/

What other African stories would you recommend?
**kmm

No party for MISS QUINCES, por favor, please! by Kat Fajardo (Graphic novel book review)

book cover of Miss Quinces, by Kat Fajardo; color by Marianna Azzi. Published by Graphix /Scholastic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A month away from her friends,
no internet, no cellphone service…
a surprise quinceaneara! What?!

Suyapa loves reading graphic novels and trying to draw her own. Her friends in Comics Club will go to Camp Willow later this summer, but not her – Mami won’t let the 15 year old go anywhere (anywhere!) without her older and younger sisters!

Same when their family goes to Honduras for a month – cousins everywhere, people in and out of Abuelita’s house, even going to a village shop with Papi becomes a parade. The introverted teen cherishes moments alone with her artistic grandmother who agrees to do a travelogue comic with her!

Surprise!! Mami has invited the whole town to Sue’s quinceanera, the traditional ceremonies and dances marking a young lady’s 15th birthday as she moves from childhood to the adult world!

But Sue had told them repeatedly she didn’t want a quinces! She hates speaking in front of people, can’t dance, and certainly can’t wear the required high heels!

Abuelita suggests that she and Mami compromise, so Suyapa agrees to the quinces as Mami has arranged it, and Mami agrees to call the camp so she can go with her friends when they get back to New York!

A poufy pink dress (so different from Abuelita’s satiny white one), stepping on her cousin’s toes as she tries learning to waltz, big sister choreographing the big dance, writing a speech of thanks – aggggghhhhh!

When a tragedy strikes their family, the quinces drops off their priority list – but having heard Abuelita’s quinces stories, maybe this is what Sue wants to do after all…

Family or friends, old ways and new ways – happy book birthday to Miss Quinces!

Be sure to grab this just-published graphic novel today at your local library or independent bookstore to see just how pink and poufy that dress is! Compare quinces traditions by reading Once Upon a Quinceanera (recommended here).

What’s your least-favorite family tradition?
**kmm

Book info: Miss Quinces / Kat Fajardo; color by Marianna Azzi. Graphix /Scholastic Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W is for weaving & crafting with NETTLE & BONE she must master to stop great evil, by T. Kingfisher (book review) #A2Z

book cover of Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher. Published by Tor | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A kingdom threatened,
no prince as heir,
daughters as pawns… or not.

Third daughter of a king with no sons, 15-year-old Marra is hidden away at a convent, remaining within its walls for years and years, as her older sisters are married in political alliances to save their tiny kingdom.

The weaving and healing skills she learns there will serve her well as now-grown Marra flees the security of Our Lady of Grackles, seeking ways to save her sister from the brutal prince of the Northern Kingdom.

She travels far and then farther to find the powerful dust-wife who communes with the dead and has the magic she needs. The spell requires Marra to make a cloak from nettles and cursed wool, to fashion a dog from bones, and bring moonlight in a jar – three impossible tasks (and she does them).

Away they go to kill the prince – Marra and Bone Dog, the dust-wife and her demon-possessed hen, through enchanted marketplaces and haunted lands, releasing from ensorcelment a man who unwisely slept in a fairy fort.

Secrets of the Northern Kingdom lie deeply buried in the crypts beneath its palace – danger and doom.

Its king lost in madness, the terrible prince rules with an iron fist and paranoia.

How to infiltrate the crypts? How to steer all blame from Marra’s sister? How to escape with their own lives?

A princess exists solely for the kingdom’s benefit, but not Marra…

Just published yesterday (4/26/22) – read the first two chapters on the publisher’s website here, free!

What non-traditional princess story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Nettle & Bone / T. Kingfisher. Tor, 2022. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is for sisters & THE SPLENDOR, hotel of secrets & stolen memories! by Breeana Shields (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Splendor, by Breeana Shields. Published by Page Street Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Glamour, luxury,
delights and dreams,
upheld by secrets, dark secrets!

At the Hotel Splendor, whatever you wish for comes true! This glittering promise has kept hope alive for orphaned sisters Juliette and Clare, now young women struggling to make ends meet.

A year of working extra jobs allowed Juliette to save up enough to give Clare the chance to live out her dreams at The Splendor, but a few weeks later, Clare returns as a stranger instead of Juliette’s dearest friend!

Whatever happened at the Splendor, Juliette must find a way to reclaim her sister’s love, so she takes their rainy-day money and becomes a guest at the dazzling hotel up on the hill.

There, she finds possibilities beyond her dreams – diving beneath the sea, riding on a giant bird, a garden made of sweets – as the staff creates a Signature Experience for each guest using the Splendor’s unique magic.

It is handsome young Henri who makes those Experiences seem more than real, with his mother Stella directing their huge staff of seamstresses, chefs, and concierges at the glittering, luxurious hotel.

How can Henri grant Juliette’s dearest wish when it was the Splendor that took away Clare’s love for her?

Every elegant inch of the Splendor Hotel is enhanced by Henri’s magic, but at what cost?

After Juliette is caught exploring behind the scenes, will the extravagant costume ball be her last dance?

Told in alternating chapters by Juliette and Henri, the dark secrets of the Splendor Hotel are gradually revealed! By the author of The Bone Charmer (recommended here).

What amazing experience would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: The Splendor / Breeana Shields. Page Street Publishing, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Cover image from the author; review copy courtesy of the publisher.