Tag Archive | surprises

Her luck foretold by Three Pennies? by Melanie Crowder (book review)

book cover of Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comAsk the pennies, get the answer.
Always 3 pennies, always Mom’s pocket book of I Ching,
Mom should be her answer, but where?

So-quiet Marin has bounced around the foster care system so long.
Young owl’s injury has kept him in city, away from big trees for so long.
Earth beneath their city has stayed in tension for so long… too long.

All children need loving homes – too much to ask?
**kmm

Book info: Three Pennies / Melanie Crowder. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Foggy San Francisco – where any moment can bring an earthquake or the right home or a loving family – young Marin searches for her birth mother, and a wounded owl feels the faraway forest calling him…small beings trying to find their right place in the big city.

From foster home to foster home, quiet 11-year-old Marin seeks answers daily from the I Ching book of changes left behind by her mother seven years ago.

Silently gliding in the night sky, a young owl feels his wounded wing become stronger and soon may leave this not-forest place.

How can Dr. Lucy become her parent when Marin knows she must find her birth mother?
Will young owl go to the giant trees of his ancestors or stay here to watch the small girl?
When will the slowly moving rocks under the city finally slide too far?

Many voices – Marin, the owl, lonely Dr. Lucy, social worker Gilda, the earth beneath the city – tell this story of loss, love, and hope.

Strange Fire! technology is forbidden here – by Tommy Wallach (book review)

book cover of Strange Fire, by Tommy Wallach published by Simon Schuster BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comTechnology destroyed the world,
never repeat the sins of the past!
But ignoring knowledge that could save lives??

Remnants of humankind survived the asteroid hitting Earth, rebuilt their world over thousands of years without the evils of technology, yet some people are seeking out and using forbidden knowledge!

After their parents are killed, older brother Clive vows that the heretic attackers must die.
Studying at the seat of all wisdom, younger brother Clover sees that technology is not purely evil.
The precarious power balance between church and military is shifting, but both want technology-users wiped out!

Look for Strange Fire at your local library or independent bookstore, and also check for Wallach’s earlier book, We All Looked Up , about a community waiting for the asteroid heading for Earth…very soon.

How do we balance technology overload with being truly alive?
**kmm

Book info: Strange Fire (The Anchor & Sophia, book 1) / Tommy Wallach. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Their family attacked by heretical rebels, teen brothers Clive and Clover must decide how – or whether – to fight back in their technology-averse society.

After sky-filling lightning devastated the world, its few survivors vowed to erase technology and never repeat the past’s mistakes, for their safety and their future.

Preaching this Descendancy gospel has been the Hamill family’s life work – and may destroy them when they discover a remote settlement purposely experimenting with forbidden science.

Clive knows technology is blasphemy and that long-adored Gemma will help soldiers from the Anchor find the rebels.

Clover wants to learn everything and begins to question the Descendancy’s stranglehold on knowledge.

When technology is blasphemy, can new ideas ever be accepted?
Is it right to keep the people of the Descendancy in ignorance?
What is truth? What is right? Who gets to decide?

This first book in The Anchor and Sophia series pits the power of the status quo against the struggle of knowledge to be free.

Hurricane Boy, separated from family after Katrina! by Laura Roach Dragon (book review)

book cover of Hurricane Boy by Laura Roach Dragon, published by Pelican Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandma scoffs at weather warnings,
Hurricane Katrina proves her unwise!
Rescue! Safety? Separated!!

This fictional account of one family’s struggles to survive Katrina’s fury, then be reunited after their rescue has been heralded as true-to-life and as frightening as reality by people in the Ninth Ward who were also there during the devastating hurricane.

Recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria spread similar destruction and disruption – be ready for more hurricanes hitting unusual locations.

But have we really learned from these disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Hurricane Boy / Laura Roach Dragon. Pelican Publishing, 2014. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When their Ninth Ward home is swept away by Hurricane Katrina, Hollis and his younger siblings are separated from big brother Jonas and grandma Gee during the evacuation – will they be able to find each other and get back to New Orleans?

Good thing that Gee had an axe in the attic so they could escape through the roof when the levee broke and flooded the house.

Lucky that rescuers could read ‘insulin’ painted on the roof and save her after the long first days with no drinking water.

Most unfortunate that Jonas had swum over to help others when Hollis, Leta, and Augie are finally taken to safety – far, far from home!

As Augie refuses unfamiliar food at the shelter, Hollis deals with people trying to take advantage of the three siblings and other kids separated from their parents, all the while wondering why his dad abandoned the family as mom died of cancer and whether he even survived the hurricane.

Mystery wind again for Pablo and Birdy, by Alison McGhee & Ana Juan (book review)

book cover of Pablo and Birdy, by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Ana Juan. Published by Atheneum  | recommended on BooksYALove.comA boy who arrived from nowhere,
a parrot who won’t talk or fly,
a shadow lurking in their town.

An unusual tropical wind brought baby Pablo to Isla, securely netted into an inflatable swimming pool and accompanied by Birdy who took care of him.

Ten years later, the wind is predicted again, but Pablo wants only to know where he came from – and why his parents abandoned him to the sea.

Ask for this August 2017 release at your local library or independent bookstore to find out how the “winds of change” affect Isla and its residents.

Is knowing the past more important than living in the present?
**kmm

Book info: Pablo and Birdy / Alison McGhee; illustrated by Ana Juan. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [illustrator site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Washed onto the island as a baby, Pablo wonders where he came from, wonders why parrot Birdy never talks, wonders why this flightless friend arrived on the raft with him in the storm ten years ago (well, an inflated kiddie pool, not a real raft).

With storm season coming soon, his adoptive dad Emmanuel and the town of Isla prepare to celebrate Pablo’s tenth birthday (well, his tenth arrival-here-day), the many wondrous birds of the tropical island continue to show off for tourists, and the annual rumors about a Seafaring Parrot who flies thousands of miles begin again.

Why is lavender-feathered Birdy suddenly fluttering about?
Who is stealing food from Pierre’s bakery and other shops?
Will the television reporter stop at Isla to search for the Seafaring Parrot?

As he hears a loud voice repeating conversations in the night and sees a shadow lurking on the streets, Pablo worries about the predicted “winds of change” and the future for constant companion Birdy and their past clouded in mystery.

Peril for refugees on The Journey, by Francesca Sanna (book review)

book cover of The Journey by Francesca Sanna published by Flying Eye Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comWar arrives,
we must flee –
Where is safety?

This powerful picture book by an Italian illustrator and author uses black and sunset-hued colors to chronicle the escape of a young girl, her younger brother, and their mother from the war-torn land “by the sea” where their father disappeared.

Ask for The Journey at your local library or independent bookstore.

How do we help others find safety?
**kmm

Book info: The Journey / Francesca Sanna. Flying Eye Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As war takes her father, then makes home dangerous, a girl escapes with her mother and brother by night, seeking safety in a faraway place.

By car, on foot, by bicycle, boat, and train – the small family crosses borders as they travel onward and onward, their luggage growing smaller, their money dwindling, yet their hope growing as they get nearer and nearer their destination.

The girl sees her mother’s strength (but not her nightly hidden tears), tells her brother stories about imagined monsters beneath the rough seas and dreamed-of fairies in their new land who “give us magic spells to end the war” as their journey continues.

From dark forests where angry guards loom large to the bright shore where freedom beckons across the sea, The Journey picture book is artist/author Francesca Sanna’s tribute to all refugees and migrants.

Always #teamme says Brooding YA Hero! by Carrie DiRisio & Linnea Gear (book review)

book cover of Brooding YA Hero by Carrie DiRisio, illustrated by Linnea Gear. Published by Sky Pony Press  | recommended on BooksYALove.comYou’ve read him a million times –
eyes like gems, attitude = #teamme,
Why’s he writing a book instead of starring in one?

Indeed, Broody McHottiepants has made the leap from Twitter sensation to published author (well, creator Carrie has), and as he gives advice to aspiring main characters, he wonders why he’s not in an Author’s book right now.

Maybe his Evil Ex-Girlfriend could help our self-centered bad boy figure that out – if he’d only change and listen!

Reading about Broody’s favorite (predictable) plot twists can show us what great YA writing really is.

Who’s your favorite (non-trite) YA hero?
**kmm

Book info: Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) As Awesome As Me / Carrie DiRisio; illustrated by Linnea Gear. Sky Pony Press, 2017. [author site] [illustrator site]   [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Every YA novel has its hero and its supporting characters – can one ever become the other? As Broody McHottiepants waits in New Story City for an Author to write him into his next heartthrob role, he decides to write an advice book (between admiring glances into his own mirror) for minor characters who aspire to his lofty status as Brooding YA Hero.

Interrupted often by his Evil Ex-Girlfriend (who only wants him to see past old tropes and tired stereotypes), Broody catalogues the usual features of young adult fiction – from character arc to literary devices – as he continues to wait for an Author (which should have happened by now…).

Tweeting as @BroodingYAHero was easy (140 characters, then back to describing his marvelous eyes), but writing a whole book is tiring and makes Broody think, despite his superficial gorgeousness and shallow personality.

Why does the YA world look so ‘white bread’ as evil Barbi says?
Can’t a selfish bad-boy star in every novel?
How much longer must Broody wait for an Author to write him in?

Looking at the too-common settings, plot twists, and happily-ever-afters of formulaic YA fiction, Broody and Barbi show readers what to look for in the best of today’s YA writing.

Poetry? I’m Just No Good at Rhyming, says Chris Harris (book review)

book cover of I'm Just No Good at Rhyming, by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith, published by Little Brown | recommended on BooksYALove.comPoems must rhyme?
Poems may rhyme?
To the poet, does it matter?

If you want your funny bone tickled, your visual imagination charmed, and that soft part of your heart bumped a bit, this is the poetry book for you!

Happy book birthday to I’m No Good at Rhyming!

Hope to see more versified silliness (with a bit of seriousness) from debut poet (longtime TV writer) Chris Harris (who is pretty good at rhyming after all) and well-known illustrator Lane Smith (he wrote It’s a Book; he draws humorous pictures; he argues with the author!) in the future.

Which style of poetry is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: I’m Just No Good at Rhyming, and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Adults / by Chris Harris; illustrated by Lane Smith. Little, Brown: 2017.  [illustrator site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lengthy poems, short poems, serious ones, and silly ones (lots of silly ones) fill this collection aimed at kids and grownups so they can read and smile together.

Enjoy the wise words in “The Valleys Shape the Mountains”, good advice in “Just Be Yourself”, and utter(ed) nonsense in “Yes Means No and No Means Yes…”

Illustrations by Lane Smith add to the fun of “Alphabet Book (by the laziest artist in the world)” and sideways-across-the-pages short verse about “The Hungry Giraffe”

You should never laugh at a hungry giraffe;
It takes him so long to swallow,
He may have eaten yesterday —
But he won’t feel full till tomallow. (pp. 44-45)

Debut author Harris may claim that he’s “no good at rhyming” but readers won’t believe it, just as they won’t believe how many poems he can make from one entitled “The Door” or the way that “L-O-V-E” winds up spelled in its poem or why some page numbers are missing in this fun volume (even “without William Shakespeare”) as the author and illustrator banter throughout.

Who is spying on her & The Watcher in wartime? by Joan Hiatt Harlow (book review)

book cover of The Watcher by Joan Hiatt Harlow published by McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com From Maine to Berlin,
from suspected to suspicious,
and someone is watching her…

Nothing that this young American teen thought she knew about her family is true – Mom and Dad aren’t her parents, glamorous Aunt Adrie is her mother… and a German spy! And what a terrible truth she discovers about the Lebensborn nursery where she is required to volunteer.

Find this 2015 paperback (or 2014 hardcover) at your local library or independent bookstore.  Be sure to also grab the companion book Shadows on the Sea (my no-spoiler review here) to discover how Wendy finds herself in this perilous situation in the first place.

How far would you go to stand up for your beliefs?
**kmm

Book info: The Watcher / Joan Hiatt Harlow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, 2015).  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kidnapped from America by her German spy ‘aunt’ and taken to Berlin, Wendy learns of her real parentage, encounters the people spying on her, and must decide which path to follow during World War II.

After rescuing a puppy who failed SS police dog school, Wendy walks in the park near Adrie’s house, where she and Watcher meet Barret and his seeing-eye dog – at last, someone who speaks English and doesn’t scorn her for living in America!

The young man’s grandfather says Wendy’s father wasn’t a German officer, as Adrie claims…
Frau Messner says the children at the Lebensborn nursery are orphans; Johanna says they were stolen from parents in occupied countries because they look so Aryan…
Oh, no! Was that White Rose anti-Nazi pamphlet still in Wendy’s coat pocket when she fell terribly ill??

Wendy becomes convinced that she must escape from Nazi Germany in this suspenseful tale which follows the events in Shadows on the Sea.

Hijacked in 1970! teen Girl on a Plane, by Miriam Moss (book review)

book cover of Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  | recommended on BooksYALove.comFirst-time solo air trip,
not her first time on this flight route.
First airline hijackings by terrorists!

The author was aboard this hijacked flight as a teenager in 1970, when no one knew just how far the Palestinian fighters would go with their threats to blow up the planes and passengers.

Read an excerpt here as the age of terrorism begins with the first plane hijackings as political statement.

Girl on a Plane is being released in paperback today, or find it in hardcover at your local library or independent bookstore.

Cooperate or fight back?
**kmm

Book info: Girl on a Plane / Miriam Moss. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2016 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Flying back to boarding school from her father’s Army posting in Bahrain, Anna’s 1970 journey becomes a death watch as Palestinians hijack the BOAC plane headed for England!

At 15, Anna is old enough to fly on her own passport, young enough to be seated with other kids returning to school, routine travel for them all.

Suddenly, men in the cabin flourish guns, forcing the captain to fly far into the Jordanian desert where the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine guerillas await.

Explosives are loaded onto the plane, food is not. With the engines off, their plane becomes a sweltering prison – Anna wonders if she, David, and young Tim with his pet turtle will ever get to school, will live to see another day…

Based on the author’s experiences as a teen, this gripping story is a glimpse into the tension-filled history of the Middle East and the passion of those who’d risk anything and everything for their cause.

She’s no saguaro – Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti_Bowling (book review)

book cover of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti Bowling. Published by Sterling Children's Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com Arm count = zero,
Nose for mysteries and secrets = keen,
Sense of humor = boundless!

Moving to a new school can be nerve-wracking, especially in junior high when you don’t know anyone and you don’t have any arms to wave hello or shake hands… but Aven will carry on regardless of the stares.

Just released this week, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus showcases Aven’s curiosity, self-sufficient attitude (thanks to her parents), and witty storytelling as she leaps (or tiptoes) into new situations in her new town and school.

How do you treat new folks who are different from you?
**kmm

Book info: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus / Dusti Bowling. Sterling Children’s Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Moving across the country, 13-year-old Aven wonders whether living in Arizona will be more difficult because she has such fair skin or because she has no arms.

Her adoptive parents have encouraged Aven to do everything for herself – button her jeans, brush her teeth, play the guitar – and she can.

Dad really needs a job, so off they go to Arizona where he and Mom will manage an Old West theme park, and Aven will start 8th grade without the longtime friends who are used to her crazy stories about where her arms went, knowing she was born that way.

Eating with her feet (of course she washes them first!) in front of new kids? Yikes! Better after meeting Connor, who never eats in front of anyone because of his Tourette’s tics, and Zion, who eats by himself so kids don’t tease him about being big.

Uncovering the mystery of the missing Cavanaugh photo and the secrets in the locked shed? Just takes persistence and clue-gathering by Aven, Connor, and Zion. And a crowbar. And the right key.

Making sure that Stagecoach Pass park stays open? She’ll have to think on that a while.

Ancient saguaro cacti that guard the hilltops near the park, tarantula photos on the ice cream parlor walls, upcoming soccer tryouts – interesting opportunities for Aven, whose blog posts shout and whisper the happy and challenging parts of her new life.