Tag Archive | sports

Z is for ZERO O’CLOCK in Covid-19’s early days, by C. J. Farley (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Zero O'Clock, by C. J. Farley. Published by Black Sheep/ Akashic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mysterious plague,
not fiction, not science fiction,
how will it end?

Geth’s hometown, New Rochelle, New York, is ground-zero for the Covid-19 pandemic in USA, as the entire world hits the pause button in March 2020.

The sixteen year old and her best friends are unhappier to miss next weekend’s Broadway show than about school being closed for two weeks (more teleteaching, more homework… ugh). Diego is the star quarterback, so that’s his ticket to college. Tovah is tiny and mighty and a math genius; Geth is sure that they’ll both be accepted to Columbia soon.

Two weeks’ closure keeps stretching out, stores in ‘the containment zone’ are running out of essentials, and the neighborhood foxes are scavenging boldly as trash pickup is delayed and delayed again. After each face-touch, the Black teen washes her hands for safety (her OCD compulsions are getting companions now).

Worrying about her mom working at the hospital, the Native American teen who’ll be isolating with them in their little house (Mom’s boyfriend’s stepson?), whether prom will be cancelled – Geth gets more stressed by the day, clinging to her friends’ text messages and BTS songs as a lifeline.

Neighbors dying of Covid at home, friends hospitalized on ventilators, the President saying there’s nothing to be concerned about… .

Why are they still reading The Plague for English class?
Who’s trying to sabotage Diego’s football scholarship?
What advice would her late father have?

Three months, a million emotions, thousands upon thousands of deaths – then 8 minutes 32 seconds of video that sparked a movement.

How do you look back on the early days of the pandemic?
**kmm

Book info: Zero O’Clock / C. J. Farley. Black Sheep/ Akashic, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Helping others find love, where’s her MATCH MADE IN MEHENDI? by Nandini Bajpai (YA book review)

paperback book cover of A Match Made in Mehendi, by Nandini Bajpai. Little Brown Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Henna or paint?
Matchmaking or the magic of art?
Family expectations or her own dreams?

Simi wants a future in art, not becoming a traditional matchmaker like her mom and aunt and grandmother, nor excelling in STEM like her Indian-American parents expect – let big brother Navdeep please them with his amazing computer skills.

Sophomore year is their turn to get out of the shadows where the popular crowd shoves everyone, Simi and best friend Noah decide, just like the transfer students who don’t know that Amanda tries to run everything at their New Jersey high school.

Hmm… incorporating her mehendi henna designs into a large-scale artwork could be perfect for Simi’s signature project.

Maybe stand out by matchmaking! Using Navdeep’s stalled app (Mom insists on talking in person), Noah’s clever quiz questions, and Simi’s charming icons, they create Matched! limited to students at their school.

At first, Simi and Noah stay quiet about Matched! but when more and more students take the quiz, their secret is out – and kids are excited to see who their top Matches will be.

Ohh… soccer stars Ethan and Tea are perfectly Matched even as Amanda keeps saying she’s getting Ethan back.

Umm… maybe Simi’s Matches include long-time crush Aiden from art or Suraj who transferred here for robotics.

Eek… Noah won’t tell Simi if cute new guy Connor from California is one of his matches – surely they’re compatible!

As Matches begin to meet in person and decide whether to go out or not, Amanda’s demands to be Matched with Ethan grow more frenzied – yikes!

Enjoy this debut novel to see which Matches flare brightly!

Have you ever tried a matching app?
**kmm

Book info: A Match Made in Mehendi / Nandini Bajpai. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SOMEBODY GIVE THIS HEART A PEN, a poet speaks up, shouts out – by Sophia Thakur (YA book review)

book cover of Somebody Give This Heart a Pen, by Sophia Thakur. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Being seen,
seeing others truly,
acknowledging support and pain.

In her poetry, Sophia Thakur captures life-moments low and high, reveals bone-deep concerns, speaks of youth, for youth, to youth.

“To you, the silence in this stillness is to be endured
not experienced.
It scratches at every anxious bone that you own…”
begins the poem “Fidgeting” (pg. 66), one of several whose unflinching observations resolve with grace and advice.

Section headers composed of proverbs and sayings – Grow, Wait, Speak, Grow Again – present themselves as concrete poems of wisdom, slashed white against a dark page.

Honed through her performance poetry and TED talks (like this one), the Black British poet’s style radiates on the page, like the opening lines of “When to Write”:

“When your fists are ready to paint faces
When there is nowhere to confide
When your skin lingers high above your bones
and you’re so out of touch with self.
Write…” (pg. 98)

Check out her first volume of powerful and empathetic poems today at your local library or independent bookstore, and be inspired to let your heart speak.

“…I swore to my lips
never to send up anything that would compromise
anyone’s perception of me.
I have a vision of how I wish to be seen
and I fear that that image will be challenged
if ever they know more of me.” –from “Secrets” (pg. 57)

Your favorite contemporary poem?
**kmm

Book info: Somebody Give This Heart a Pen / Sophia Thakur. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Uh oh… THE MEET-CUTE PROJECT when she hates rom-coms? by Rhiannon Richardson (YA book review)

book cover of The Meet-Cute Project / Rhiannon Richardson. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Big sister back home to wedding-plan,
School stress, swim team stress,
Now this!?

Preparing for the championship swim meet is grueling, but it’s much, much easier for Mia than finding a date for her sister Sam’s wedding will be!

For the Black teen, fact is better than fiction, and the rom-coms that her friends love are just ridiculous.

But just maybe they have the right idea – analyzing the best meet-cutes in rom-com movies can help the high school junior find the right guy. If she fails, Mia will be stuck with the groom’s spoiled 12-year-old brother for the rehearsal dinner and wedding and reception… ick.

So the math team whiz gets to work, listing eligible guys at school, arranging meet-cute opportunities, and even getting outside her comfort zone by volunteering at the community garden with Mom (gotta have all the accomplishments if she wants to be elected NHS president next year like Mom and Sam were…sigh).

How can the days be passing so fast?
Can she find a nice guy that Sam will approve of?
Does she really want the future that her family has scripted?

Sam becomes more like Bridezilla as her wedding approaches, while Mia keeps trying to meet the right guy amid all her school responsibilities.

What’s your favorite meet-cute scenario?
**kmm

Book info: The Meet-Cute Project / Rhiannon Richardson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She stays BRUISED to mask her bone-deep anguish, by Tanya Boteju (YA book review)

book cover of Bruised, by Tanya Boteju. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Block the mental pain
with physical pain,
repeat, repeat, repeat…

Daya bruises herself to keep from feeling the guilt and sorrow of surviving the car crash that killed her parents. Keeps her distance from everyone at school, from the well-meaning artsy aunt and uncle she lives with now, from the therapist trying to coax out feelings that must stay boxed in.

But the Sri Lankan-Canadian teen finds a better escape when skateboarding pal Fee introduces her to roller derby. Strong women, sweating and pushing and falling and getting up to skate and hit some more!

Can Daya up her skating skills enough to get onto the rink where the bashing starts?
Was Fee right when they said she could really do this?
Is Daya willing to let veteran skaters help her improve?

When she starts falling for Shanti, the derby team captain says Daya’s interest in her sister shows weakness, threatens to bench the former youth boxing champ for not being tough enough…

Stellar complex story from the author of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens (recommended here).

Ever try the right thing for the wrong reasons?
**kmm

Book Info: Bruised / Tanya Boteju. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

New heart, new dreams, EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW is upended, by Shannon Takaoka (YA book review)

book cover of Everything I Thought I Knew, by Shannon Takaoka, published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A better race time,
better grades for better college,
a better heart?

Chloe’s plans shatter when she’s suddenly sidelined from cross-country running to wait for a heart transplant, missing so much of her senior year that she’ll have to attend summer school with the slackers so she can graduate.

The 17 year old’s new heart came from a young donor within 30 miles of her California home, that’s all the hospital can say. Now everyday life is lots of anti-rejection pills and checkups and nightmares she never had before and avoiding her classmates’ graduation celebrations.

On a sudden whim, she decides to take surfing lessons to get away from her parents’ constant hovering and her unusual boredom with school subjects that plan-everything Chloe used to enjoy.

Kai teaches more by example than words, but every week’s lessons with the cute teen guy give her a focus beyond the yawning boredom of summer school.

Her new pal Jane is fine with Chloe’s out-of-character ideas, like getting a tattoo and trying to find out about her heart donor despite the other family’s wish not to be contacted.

If she gets better at surfing, will Kai stop giving her lessons?
Where did this sudden passion for music come from?
Who had the motorcycle crash in her recurring nightmare?

As Chloe’s dreams unspool incidents related to the crash, she’s compelled to follow those clues around the Bay Area like her life now is a mystical puzzle.

When have you felt an unexplainable connection to someone?
**kmm

Book info: Everything I Thought I Knew / Shannon Takaoka. Candlewick Press, 2020. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W is for THE WILLIAM HOY STORY: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, by Nancy Churnin (Picture book review)

book cover of The William Hoy Story, by Nancy Churnin, art by Jez Tuya. Published by Albert Whitman & Co. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Umpires, coaches, players –
so many hand signals in baseball!
Why do they do that?

Have you watched a baseball game and wondered what story the coach is signalling with their hands touching shoulder, nose, ear, ear, nose?

Each combination tells their players what the pitcher should throw to this batter or whether a runner should steal or stay on base.

Who started this no-words communication on the baseball diamond? It was William Hoy, a Deaf player in the early 1900s who practiced hard so he could run faster and hit harder to play in the Major Leagues!

He couldn’t hear the umpires say ‘ball’ or ‘strike’ at the plate or read the lips of players who hid their mouths behind their mitts – but when the umpires used American Sign Language to signal their calls as William suggested, he could steal bases better than anyone!

His teammates learned signs so they could talk strategy without the other team hearing it. too. Even the fans started waving their hands high in the air as Deaf applause after William’s great plays as an outfielder and base-runner.

Learn more about this game changer and the early days of baseball in this picture book for everyone.

What obstacles have you overcome to do something you loved?
**kmm

Book info: The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game / Nancy Churnin, art by Jez Tuya. Albert Whitmas & Company, 2016. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Personal collection; cover art courtesy of the publisher.

A is for ANA ON THE EDGE, by A.J. Sass (MG book review)

book cover of Ana on the Edge, by A. J. Sass. Published by Little, Brown | BooksYALove.com

Figure skating competition = rules and regimens.
Chinese-American home = expectations and routine roles.
Can time on the ice become Ana’s freedom and focus?

Age 12 means moving up to the next figure skating competition level for Ana and also following her coach to a new Bay Area rink, with new choreography and music and routine.

Ana likes her short hair, sleek skating leggings, and bold Juvenile national championship choreography. But Intermediate ladies will be skating to a princess theme, and Ana doesn’t like the quiet music or boring moves that famous Miss Lydia has chosen or having to wear a skirt to practice or the huge bill that her single mom must pay!

As a skating rink assistant this summer, Ana can earn free practice hours – too bad she has to miss being with her best friend at her old rink and at their synagogue. Awesome that she meets new student Hayden, who just moved here and is now publicly identifying as a boy.

Hayden assumed Ana was a boy too, and she didn’t correct him. Will he get mad when he finds out?

Ana feels very in-between about girl or boy – what does that all mean?

And this new choreography and music… how can Ana make it more Ana?

Discovering who you are takes time and work – Ana may have the people nearby who will help!
**kmm

Book info: Ana On the Edge / A. J. Sass. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A SONG ONLY I CAN HEAR tempts him to dare, by Barry Jonsberg (book review)

book cover of A Song Only I Can Hear, by Barry Jonsberg. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Try something new?
Stay quiet as a mouse?
Show his true self to the world?
Better choose well…

Rob is utterly smitten with the new girl in his class and too tongue-tied to even say hello. Easier to play chess with his grandfather every afternoon at the old folks’ home.

But when text messages from an unknown number challenge the 13 year old to get out of his comfort zone if he wants to succeed, Rob enters his Australian town’s youth talent show, even though public speaking gives him panic attacks.

Inspired by another text, non-sporty Rob tries out for the soccer team because Destry likes athletes – and makes the team as goalie! (but no changing in the locker room…)

Publically protesting the environmental damages of meat production gets Rob featured in the newspaper, as one text challenged, and also sent to the principal’s office for the very first time.

Bad at math, he can count on best pal Andrew and sailor-mouthed grandad.

Great in English, Rob struggles to write the perfect poem for Destry!

Will the Vietnam War ghosts ever stop tormenting his grandad?
When will Daniel stop bullying Rob?

As the mysterious texts continue, Rob moves slowly off his path of comforting routines and begins to find himself, despite how others see him.

What challenge would you like to see in your inbox?
**kmm

Book info: A Song Only I Can Hear / Barry Jonsberg. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020 (USA). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Squirrels, hidden money, wandering grandpa – what next?! JOSIE BLOOM & THE EMERGENCY OF LIFE, by Susan Hill Long (book review)

book cover of Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life, by Susan Hill Long. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Money in the fridge,
water in a saucepan for dinner,
Another emergency, Grandpa?

Josie and Grandpa have done okay since her mom died, but the 11 year old is sure tired of making sure the bills are paid and getting teased at school for her old clothes and worrying about Grandpa’s late-night rambles.

Her best friend Winky loves baseball, but being legally blind keeps him on the sidelines as water boy. If only he could play ball…

Money goes in and out of Grandpa’s bank account strangely, and his outbursts and actions get stranger. If only Josie could find a way to make some money herself…

When Winky’s baseball idol is sent down to their small Maine town’s minor league team, Josie recognizes him from the framed photo on Mom’s nightstand. But Joe Viola doesn’t pitch like he did in the big leagues and doesn’t act like a hero anymore either.

Can Joe Viola break his jinx?
Will Winky ever get the chance to play baseball?
Could Joe be Josie’s long-lost father?

Grandpa’s behavior gets more erratic, Josie redoubles her efforts to keep their home, and her teacher starts getting nosy about their situation. Emergency!

How can you help a friend when things get tough?
**kmm

Book info: Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life / Susan Hill Long. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.