Tag Archive | stepfamily

Searching on THE SUPER MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF FREDDY YATES, by Jenny Pearson (book review)

book cover of THE SUPER MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF FREDDY YATES, by Jenny Pearson. Published by Norton Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A missing dad still alive?
Time to go find him!
Here’s the plan, guys…

Grams’ death leaves Freddie and his stepdad all alone their English town, but her final message solves a lifelong mystery – the name of his long-gone biological father!

Best pals Ben and Charlie agree to take the train with him to Wales as their last fun weekend before they’re dragged off to summer activities that their families love (and they despise).

The eleven year olds’ quick trip turns into an adventurous trek – missed connections, a new destination, an onion-eating contest, a bicycle-built-for-two, and emergency change into superhero costumes to elude a jewel thief!

Can they keep convincing their parents that they’re just at a sleepover?
Why did Freddie’s dad never try to contact him?
Why didn’t they bring more underwear?

Their teacher said it was a miracle that their class made it through the school year, but Freddie, Ben, and Charlie encounter real miracles aplenty in this hilarious debut novel.

When does your search become a mission?
**kmm

Book info: The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddy Yates / Jenny Pearson. Norton Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Vampires, BRASS CARRIAGES & GLASS HEARTS, by Nancy Campbell Allen (book review)

book cover of Brass Carriages and Class Hearts, by Nancy Campbell Allen. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A menacing letter,
a dashing detective –
she cannot stop in her quest for justice!

Emme firmly believes that shape-shifters have the same rights as every other person – most of those transformed for 3 days by each full moon are no danger to anyone.

Detective Oliver Reed has arrested the young woman more than once in London during her protests against new restrictive laws, and Emme’s so-elegant stepsisters are dismissive of her new role as regional spokesperson for the International Shape-Shifter Rights Organization.

As the ISRO Summit in Edinburgh nears, Emme receives a credible death threat, Detective Reed is assigned as her bodyguard, and near-accidents become frequent.

Who is trying to stop Emme from speaking at the Summit?
Can Emme and Oliver deny their growing attraction?

A fascinating steampunk world of automaton, airships, vampires, and Tesla lights, with a smattering of story elements from the Cinderella tale, this August 4, 2020 release stands on its own among the author’s ‘retellings’ under the Proper Romance banner.

Where are you standing up for the rights of the oppressed?
**kmm

STEPPING STONES, from city to farm life – graphic novel by Lucy Knisley (book review)

book cover of Stepping Stones, by Lucy Knisley. Published by RH Graphic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

From bustling city to quiet farm,
from only child to a trio of girls,
chores, chickens, snakes? (please, no snakes!)

Jen’s mom and her boyfriend are the ones who dreamed of living on a farm and selling their produce at the summer market, not Jen who would rather spend summer with Dad (who’s too busy in the city to talk on the phone).

The pre-teen gets flustered trying to make change at their market stand, is annoyed with chicken-keeping chores (twice. every. day), enjoys time alone in the hayloft to sketch, read comics, and play with the barn kitties.

Then Walter’s daughters come to Peapod Farm for the summer – younger Reese is okay, but same-age Andy is a smartypants, pointing out Jen’s problems with math and changing things at their market stand.

Can Mom and Walter make Peapod Farm a success?
How can Jen’s sketching talent compete with Andy’s intelligence and Reese’s utter cuteness?
Will the nearly-sisters ever get along?

Jen’s summer on the farm begins getting better, one step at a time, in this graphic novel sprouting from Knisley’s own experiences growing up. Find this first book in the Peapod Farm series at your local public library or indie bookstore.

What “oh no!” experience turned into “okay” for you?
**kmm

Book info: Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm, book 1) / Lucy Knisley; colored by Whitney Cogar. RH Graphic, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Among P.T. Barnum’s wonders, WE ARE ALL HIS CREATURES, by Deborah Noyes (book review)

Book cover of We Are All His Creatures, by Deborah Noyes. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The greatest showman!
Spotlight on him!
Overshadowing all others to reach his dreams…

Barnum’s museum of wonders captivates New York in 1842, yet his daughters feel he cares about the mermaid more than he loves them, would rather transform a little person into General Tom Thumb than tell them stories.

Jo is the decoy, drawing away mobs of fans so that famed opera singer Jenny Lind can safely make her way to each performance hall on Barnum’s 1851 tour, ever in her best friend’s shadow.

At home on her father’s lavish estate in Connecticut, only twelve year old Helen and the Barnum menagerie sense the presence of little sister Frances’ ghost who’s angry enough to wreak havoc as big sister Caroline’s 1852 wedding day approaches.

In 1868, no one can know that the Bearded Lady has a son! Mr. Barnum runs a most respectable establishment, and news of her illegitimate child would doom them both. Luckily, the American Museum is so crowded that Jack can sketch the animals with no one the wiser.

This double-handful of tales re-imagines the lives, dreams, and worries of people locked into their orbits around the self-created brilliance of “there’s a sucker born every minute” Barnum.

Is it ever right for the difference of others to be a show for the rest?
**kmm

Book info: We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman / Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Soul calls to soul, WILLA AND THE WHALE, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown (middle grade book review)

book cover of Willa and the Whale, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

She observes and learns,
listens and writes,
are her own answers in the sea?

Same island town in Washington that Willa left as a nine year old when she and Mom moved to Japan after the divorce, but now her horizons are wider and her grief is deep.

On a whale-watching trip with Dad just a month after Mom’s death, Willa films a gigantic female humpback whale breaching and calls out to her and the whale Meg talks back!

Too much can change in three years – best friend in a different house, too many people in Willa’s old house (step-siblings, half-sibling, too much noise!), no Mom to help her study the creatures of the ocean.

When Willa calls to Meg from the island beach, the whale answers from the distant deeps.

When friend Marc is secretive, Meg gives Willa good advice. When something dreadful happens on the beach, Willa tells Meg about it first.

Missing her Mom – will it ever get easier?
Being herself – will her island classmates ever understand?

In this tale of grief and loss and love, Willa’s journal entries from then and now reveal her deep appreciation of the sea’s inhabitants and her struggle toward living less-alone on the land.

When have you heard a call from afar?
**kmm

Book info: Willa and the Whale / Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [Chad’s site] [Shelly’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

If only he could meet her… SHE WORE RED TRAINERS, by Na’ima B. Robert (book review)

book cover of She Wore Red Trainers, by Na'ima B. Robert, published by Kube Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Family life is funny and frustrating,
community expectations can be a heavy burden,
how to stay true to your faith, yet find your own path?

Her stepfather is especially mean to Amirah’s younger brother who is deaf – hopefully getting all three younger siblings out of the house to the Islamic Center’s summer program will help Mom’s depression (another divorce coming?) sigh…

Mum’s death sent Dad’s business into freefall, brought Ali back to their faith – now the house is sold and they’ll be in London for his summer before college…

Playing basketball with the guys in their city Muslim neighborhood, Ali sees a young woman in hijab over there…who is she of the red shoes?

Will the right circumstances allow these new neighbors to meet properly, correctly, soon?
Can Amirah find a way to attend art school before her older brother arranges her marriage?
Can Ali convince his dad that law school was Mum’s dream, not his own?

Meet these Muslim families in south London and know more about their lives and worries and dreams. Find this 2014 book at your local library (worldcat.org/libraries) or independent bookstore (indiebound.org/indie-store-finder or https://bookshop.org/).

What happy ending are you willing to work for and wait for?
**kmm

Book info: She Wore Red Trainers / Na’ima B. Robert. Kube Publishing, 2014. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Grief froze her family like a TURTLE UNDER ICE, by Juleah del Rosario (book review)

book cover of Turtle Under Ice, by Juleah del Rosario. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Death pauses the living,
time restarts the clock,
except when it doesn’t.

Waking up to find that big sister is gone, no footprints in the swirling blizzard – how can Row think about going to school? Yet how can the high school freshman stay in this house of new grief laid over old sorrow? Oh, to be on the soccer field where she has a chance of controlling what happens!

Ariana slogs through the snow, carrying important things like her painting and uncertainty about the future and things that other seniors think about. But if the pain of losing Mom ever lessens, is there anything left inside her?

California to Colorado, a new house, a new stepmom…the Filipino-American sisters have chances to move on, to make friends – so much harder for Ariana.

Ariana says “I should know that there is no point in playing grief Olympics,” (p. 9) yet sees a kindred soul in musician Alex who lost her brother.

This novel in verse alternates between Row and Ariana who still feel as frozen in their loss as a turtle under the pond ice. Will their springtime ever come?

How do we respond when friends stay sad?
**kmm

Book info: Turtle Under Ice / Juleah del Rosario. Simon Pulse, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is for SALTY, BITTER, SWEET flavors and emotions, by Mayra Cuevas (book review)

book cover of Salty, Bitter, Sweet, by Mayra Cuevas. Published by Blink YA Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Food is Isa’s love language – this debut #ownvoices novel could fit anywhere in the April A to Z blog challenge calendar!

Like D, E, F for divorce, that took Papi from the 17 year old and her mom in Chicago to a new, now-expectant wife in southern France.

G for chef Grattard’s cooking school nearby, Isa’s chance to win a place working at his world-famous restaurant.

S for her stepmom’s college-age Spanish stepson who flirts with Isa’s classmates and is staying the summer too.

Or P for peeling potatoes, perfection, problems at the school – 13 teens from around the world competing for a single apprenticeship.

T is taste, trial and error, tradition, and Chef Troissant demanding total concentration from her students.

A,B,C for her late Abuela, beloved Cuban grandmother whose magical touch in the kitchen spread love through a small Kansas town, whose handwritten cookbook Isa still can’t open.

L is the charming city of Lyon and learning and legacies and… love?

How do you psyche yourself up for big opportunities?
**kmm

Book info: Salty, Bitter, Sweet / Mayra Cuevas. Blink YA Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

F for FREEING FINCH to be herself, by Ginny Rorby (middle grade book review)

cover of Freeing Finch, by Ginny Rorby. Published by Starscape (Macmillan) | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Old neighbor, new friend,
her body is a boy’s, but she is herself,
who else understands?

Momma taken by cancer and Dad who knows where, now all the family that Finch has is her unemployed stepfather and his new wife.

Most folks in their small northern California town think of her as a boy, but “you’re what you are in your head and heart, Finch, not what it says on your birth certificate,” Maddy assures the nearly 12-year-old as they care for rehabilitating wildlife together (p. 16).

Wondering if the scared yellow dog will ever come nearer than the food bowl at the edge of the woods, if Finch can locate her father again, if her new friend Sherri will stay friends….

Then her stepfather’s pastor suggests sending Finch to camp that will ‘cure’ her to match her birth body, Maddy is injured, and Animal Control traps the yellow dog!

Finch has to stay strong, stay true to herself, and find a way to get both Maddy and the dog Ben home.

How can we support trans friends and others whose families pressure them to conform?
**kmm

Book info: Freeing Finch / Ginny Rorby. Starscape (Macmillan), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

With her math journal & new friends, she’s SOLVING FOR M – #MGlit by Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Jennifer Naalgichar (book review)

book cover of Solving for M, by Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Jennifer Naalgichar, published by Crown Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mom rushes to doctor appointment not on their calendar,
The fifth grade art teacher thinks drawing isn’t important,
Mika isn’t in any classes at all with her BFF!

But Mr. Vann’s math class turns out to be more fun than she could imagine -“One to a customer! Bonus points! Show your work, thinkers!” Mika really likes sketching her artistic math journal entries and makes new friends who love science puns and ballet.

Uh-oh…that small mole on Mom’s leg isn’t a small problem after all – how many cancer treatments until everything is okay?

Why does the principal always come by Mr. Vann’s class when they’re loud and moving around to demonstrate a math problem?

Why is their school advertising for a new fifth grade math teacher?

Grab this debut novel now and see Mika’s math journal as she works out problems numeric and otherwise. Read a sample chapter free here at the publisher’s website = one of my favorite 2019 titles!

If old friends don’t equal now-friends, how do you solve for new friends?
**kmm

Book info: Solving for M / Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Jennifer Naalgichar. Crown Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.