Tag Archive | surprises

She needs his help SHOOTING FOR STARS, by Christine Webb (YA book review)

Girl sitting on ringed planet above boy looking up at her, holding a star - book cover of Shooting For Stars, by Christine Webb

Her mom’s research cut short,
Sky plans to continue it –
now is her chance!

Skyler’s sole focus for years has been getting into MIT so she can further her late mother’s research on neutron stars; her dad concentrates on bacterial research for the hospital; their paths cross occasionally.

Wow – a NASA contest that could get her onboard the International Space Station with the NICER telescope! All the Las Vegas senior needs is the perfect video application… which means she needs help.

Hiring classmate Cooper as videographer is easy, figuring out the script is tricky, hearing Dad forbid her to even try for this internship is impossible!

Add in Dad dating a popular beauty influencer he met in the hospital, Cooper’s sister needing tutoring to stay eligible for volleyball, and Sky fretting about upcoming SATs as the video deadline approaches…

Is the growing attraction between Sky and Cooper real?
Why would Cooper give up on his own dream career before it begins?
Why won’t Dad let Skyler go after hers?

Happy book birthday (21 May 2024) to Shooting For Stars!

When have you taken a chance to make a dream happen?
**kmm

Book info: Shooting For Stars / Christine Webb. Peachtree Teen, 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

In TENMILE mining town, what future does she have? by Sandra Dallas (MG book review)

Back of young girl with long hair, looking at old western town at base of mountains - book cover of Tenmile, by Sandra Dallas

Beautiful mountains above,
gold in the ground below,
the many toiling to benefit a few..

Some have enough, most have little, a few have so much – life in their Colorado gold mining town isn’t fair, her widowed doctor father tells 13-year-old Sissy.

“She’d asked him once why he hadn’t moved to Denver, where there were beautiful houses and grass and leafy trees. ‘Because people in Tenmile need me,’ he’d replied.” (p.85)

When their fathers are injured in the mines, some of her friends must drop out of school to support their families, working as maids, clothes washers, even down in the mines as young teens…

Willie Gilpin’s big brother died of scarlet fever, so his worried mother keeps him home from school. The rich mine owner’s son has gotten spoiled and mean; 13-year-old Sissy will tutor him, but not put up with his bad behavior.

Oh, no! Another mine accident! Sissy runs to help.
Doc has taught her many treatments and remedies; she helps him setting broken bones and delivering babies – but no one thinks a girl can be a doctor in 1880!

Look for this 2022 release in hardcover, paperback, or eBook at your local library or independent bookstore (not affiliate links).

What dream job are you aiming for, despite what others say?
**kmm

Book info: Tenmile / Sandra Dallas. Sleeping Bear Press, hardcover 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

They search to see WINGS IN THE WILD – wings of hope? by Margarita Engle (YA book review)

Standing brown girl paints mural of tropical birds while seated brown boy serenades her with guitar - book cover of Wings In the Wild, by Margarita Engle

Creative people caged like birds,
our overheating planet –
where is justice?

Fleeing Cuba when their massive wood sculptures protesting the imprisonment of artists are revealed by a hurricane in 2018, Soleida is separated from her parents – the sixteen year old animal rescuer must continue out into the world, alone.

Yet another wildfire consumes his parents’ California mansion and the forest where Dariel serenades animals with Cuban love songs. Better to leave their elite expectations and go with Abuelo to help interview Cuban refugees stranded in Costa Rica, experience its natural wonders before climate change destroys them, too.

In spring 2019, Soleida and Dariel meet among the sea of refugee tents – her hopes of freedom shredded to the bone, his anger at these injustices burning hot.

What will she think of the tropical animals and birds that move in closer and closer to hear his songs and guitar?
What will he think of her journey-story, surviving fear and flood and hunger, leaving her parents behind?

Together, they find her artist cousin nearby in the cloud forest.
Together, can they let the world know about her parents, trapped in Cuba?
Together…can they have any future together?

Watching incredible birds, painting them, singing them near, pondering what could be – this novel-in-verse traverses difficult situations and wonder-filled landscapes.

Readers will recognize Soleida’s neighbors Liana and Amado from Your Heart, My Sky (recommended here), much like the interwoven stories of people who have left Cuba connect with those remaining there. Just released in paperback on April 23, 2024.

How far would you go to be free?
**kmm

Book info: Wings in the Wild / Margarita Engle. Atheneum, hardcover 2023, paperback 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Z is for alien Zyx fused with FELIX YZ – can they survive separation? by Lisa Bunker (MG book review) #A2Z

DNA spiral rising vertically from book title of Felix Yz, by Lisa Bunker

Thirty days till the Procedure –
a successful separation
or death sentence for them both?

The gigantic experiment that killed his scientists father fused a fourth-dimensional alien into Felix at age three, leaving his body contorted and hyperintelligent Zyx permanently part of his brain.

Zyx is a secret from everyone except Felix’s older sister Beatrix (piano genius), Mom, and Grandy (grandparent who is Vera with pearls or Vern in flannel or neither) – and the government group where Dad worked.

When Zyx encounters something new, its enthusiasm causes body spasms so Felix is shunned or bullied at school, his own mental capacity questioned by most teachers, except Mrs. C who encourages him to enter the annual essay contest.

The government experts say that the 13 year old and Zyx must be separated now, or Felix won’t grow to adulthood!

Felix journals what he and Zyx think about and encounter during the 30 days leading up to the Procedure – Zyx’s new-found joy in online chess making Mom’s boyfriend think Felix is a chess genius; Felix finally talking to his crush Hector, then a big misunderstanding; Zyx taking Felix on a small journey into the fourth dimension…

Because whether Zyx and Felix survive the Procedure or not, now is the time to celebrate the most important things in life! And finish that essay.

If you knew you had a short time to live, what would you do first?
**kmm

Book info: Felix Yz / Lisa Bunker. Puffin Books, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

X for excitement – THE WOLVES OF GREYCOAT HALL have arrived! by Lucinda Gifford. (MG book review) #A2Z

Tartan-clad wolf mom, wolf dad & wolf cub who holds large book on cover of The Wolves of Greycoat Hall, by Lucinda Gifford.

Where to go on vacation?

Aha! Once his father reads “Wolves to be reintroduced to Scotland” in the newspaper, Boris knows that’s where his wolf family will go!

The young cub reads about the Greycoats’ Scottish heritage on their interesting train and ferry journey to Portlessie, near the long-lost McLupus castle, Wolfemina Hall.

Folks stare at first, then welcome the Greycoats – except for dreadful Mr. Vorslad who wants to tear down Drommuir Castle to build a luxury resort (no one in town but the real estate agent wants that).

Such a lovely place and what wonderful food! If only they could outbid Mr. Vorslad and buy Drommuir as a vacation home in the Highlands, as a tribute to Wolfemina Hall…

Meeting historic battle re-enactors with swords – exciting!
Sketching birds at the beach and making sandcastles with new friends – very good.
Vorslad starting to destroy the beach and forest before the property sale is final – terrible!!

Can one young wolf save the castle and forest and beach, before it’s too late?

The author’s clever sketches add greatly to readers’ enjoyment – Mr. and Mrs. Greycoat in kilts, Boris sketching as they sightsee, paintings of their McLupus ancestors, and pages from A Guide to Morovia, their current wolfly homeland.

Followed by Boris in Switzerland at boarding school with snowboarding and a grand mystery. Find both books today, Independent Bookstore Day, and every day through the finder site for a store near you or online at bookshop.org.

What do you know of wolves that live in your region?
**kmm

Book info: The Wolves of Greycoat Hall (Wolves of Greycoat Hall, book 1) / Lucinda Gifford. Kane Miller/EDC, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W is WELCOME TO OUR TABLE: A Celebration of What Children Eat All Around the World, by Laura Mucha, Ed Smith, Harriet Lynas (Picturebook review) @A2Z

Many children from various countries sharing a multicultural meal around a large white tablecloth, book cover of Welcome to Our Table: A Celebration of What Children Eat All Around the World, by Laura Mucha & Ed Smith, illustrated by Harriet Lynas.

Noodles, potatoes, rice,
veggies fresh or pickled,
herbs and spices and yum!

Welcome, welcome! Our table is set with the tools we need (chopsticks, a flat-bottomed spoon, or our hands), and our senses are ready – let’s eat together!

Rice or corn or bread or noodles or potatoes could be the foundation of our meal – so many shapes and textures and flavors to enjoy.

Our food is more interesting because we add spices, herbs, peppers, tomatoes – each place in the world has its favorites.

Perhaps you’ve tried kimchi or other pickled vegetables. Molokhia and choy sum are green vegetables that might be new to you.

Beans, nuts, and soybeans are proteins that help our bodies stay strong, as are meats and seafood – look at all the wonderful ways they are cooked!

Oh, the lovely sweet ways to finish our meals – ice cream, fruit, pastries! Bananas are the most-eaten fruit in the world – can you guess the second most popular? *

Readers can learn to say “happy eating” and words about texture and “delicious” and “goodbye” in several languages, with phonetic pronunciations included for every non-English food word in the entire book.

Foods from 103 countries are featured in this attractive introduction to what we share around the table at mealtimes, fascinating for kids who want to know what their age-mates in other lands are eating and interesting for adults who want to expand their culinary horizons. Picture books are Everybody books!

Where did your favorite lunch food originate?
**kmm

Book info: Welcome to Our Table: A Celebration of What Children Eat All Around the World / Laura Mucha & Ed Smith; illustrated by Harriet Lynas. Nosy Crow, 2023. [Laura’s site] [Ed’s site] [Harriet’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

(* It’s watermelon!!)

V is for her very disastrous Valentine’s Day, on repeat! THE DO-OVER, by Lynn Painter (YA book review) #A2Z

Girl in blue van crashes back of red truck driven by boy. Second crash, he comforts her. Third crash, they stand apart. Book cover of The Do-Over, by Lynn Painter. Simon & Schuster.

Determined, organized,
people-pleaser –
now what’s all this!?

Her perfect Valentine’s Day plan gets a jolt when Emilie rear-ends her aloof lab partner’s truck, is told that her summer fellowship fell through, and sees her boyfriend kissing his ex!

This is not on her agenda at all: her divorced parents will be furious about the wreck, she needs that fellowship to pay for college, and how could Josh even do that to her?

Escaping to Grandma Max’s after more bad news from Dad, the high school junior turns in early so this horrible day can finally be over… and wakes up in her own bed on Valentine’s morning!

Her van is fine…until she rear-ends Nick’s truck again. Then she loses the fellowship again, and Josh is kissing Macy again… what is going on?

Next morning is Valentine’s Day yet again, and then the next is, too! Does the universe want her to change something to get out of this time loop?

On every repeated February 14th, she gets to know Nick a little better, but he doesn’t remember the next morning (also Feb. 14).

Different outfit, drive another route to school, talk her way back into the summer program, stop Josh from being alone with Macy, talk her way back into the summer program, convince Dad not to move – what else should she try?

Time for ultra-organized Emilie to go way off-script!

What single day would you want a do-over for?
**kmm

Book info: The Do-Over / Lynn Painter. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, hardcover 2022, paperback 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

U is THE UMBRELLA HOUSE and the stories it could tell! by Colleen Nelson (MG book review) #A2Z

Two kids and dog entering an apartment building whose fire escapes hold many colorful umbrellas - book cover of The Umbrella House, by Colleen Nelson; Pajama Press

Young Voices video contest!
At Veracity News!
She just needs the right story to tell…

Growing up in Umbrella House with her grandmother, 12-year-old Roxy knows all about its origins as an abandoned building brought back to life by creative people who fought for the right to live there.

She and her best friend Scout love to show off the neighborhood on their EaVillKids video channel, from their umbrella-covered co-op to unique shops and restaurants to the 3-story high murals defiantly created by the mysterious Midnight Muralist some years ago. Surely Roxy’s contest entry will convince Veracity News to make a documentary about it!

Researching East Village history, Roxy finds out more about her late father (didn’t know he was such a talented artist!) and fellow residents, plus articles and photos about the murals and Umbrella House’s early days – who exactly was the Midnight Muralist?

Oh, no! A fancy real estate developer is buying up nearby properties – could he convince the city to change its rules and force the co-op owners to sell it?

Scout is being evasive about his photography portfolio – will he still have time to video and edit Roxy’s contest entry? Just three weeks till the deadline!

A tense meeting with the City Council, the whole neighborhood working together to save Umbrella House – if only the Midnight Muralist could help!

Although the secret Muralist is fictional, this book is based on the real Umbrella House‘s journey to legalizing the building as low-income co-op housing in 2010.

What stories could your home tell?
**kmm

Book info: The Umbrella House / Colleen Nelson. Pajama Press, hardcover 2023, paperback 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

T is TASTING LIGHT: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions, edited by A.R. Capetta & Wade Roush (YA book review) #A2Z

vague human figure in spacesuit looking upward at title and author names on book cover of Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions,edited by A R Capetta and Wade Roush

What’s in our future?
Who gets to decide?
Can we change who gets to decide?

She hears a dead friend singing in the park – who selected that voice-mod to replace their own, and why?

Meeting him among the tethers holding together her small space city was electrifying – until she sensed one disintegrating.

Teens on different space habitats exchanging messages and dreams – via junk DNA in bio-sample data packets.

A robot far in the woods, observing the tiniest creatures in its soil – “I am very tired of humans desperately needing me to be something to them” (pg. 119).

Gender assumptions, body image, white entitlement, traditional knowledges, emotions and more…

Go to ten futures with William Alexander, K. Ancrum, Elizabeth Bear, A.R. Capetta, Charlotte Nicole Davis, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, A.S. King, E.C. Myers, Junauda Petrus-Nasah, and graphic novelist Wendy Xu.

The authors were challenged to write YA fiction using classic hard Sci-Fi with “no magic, no faster-than-light travel, just real-world physics,” and they succeeded brilliantly with these stories “about young people discovering themselves and how their bravery can change the world in small or big ways” (pg x).

Check it out at your local library or independent bookstore – hardcover, eBook, and paperback.

What do you see in your future?
**kmm

Book info: Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions / edited by A.R. Capetta & Wade Roush. MITeen Press /Candlewick, hardcover 2022, paperback 2023. [A.R. site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is for SHE’LL BE THE SKY: POEMS BY WOMEN AND GIRLS, selected by Ella Risbridger (YA / MG book review) #A2Z

Woman with cascading hair made of plants, water, trees, on book cover of She'll Be the Sky: Poems by Women and Girls, selected by Ella Risbridger. Nosy Crow Books.

Quick, quick!
How many women poets can you name?
Oh, there are so many more than that!

“There is a poem / scratched onto the walls of my throat / no one has heard it / but it is there” writes Kai Cheng Thorn (pg. 31) in this wonderful anthology of 100 short poems by women and girls.

The extensive introduction and afterword recount how the creative work of women and people of color has long been ignored while poems and novels by white men were readily published, leading to this collection. “It isn’t that art by boys is different from art by girls. It’s just that, all through history, we’ve simply paid it more attention. And that’s not fair, either.” (pg. 9)

Stars and cities, pets and wild horses, school time, family time, night time, celebrating common things, honoring persons of influence, worrying about the future – this anthology bring us all these themes and more, in words carefully chosen and artfully arranged and illustrated.

Jean Ayer lists “Everyday Things” in rhyming couplets, starting and ending her poem with
“Millionaires, presidents – even kings / Can’t get along without everyday things.” (pg. 108)

You’ve likely heard these lines “Tell me, what is it that you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” – you’ll be surprised by the rest of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” when you read it in this or other collections.

Readers are invited to create their own anthology of poems, and the Indexes of poets, poems, and first lines can help point the way to other works by these women and girls and one non-binary person who asked that their poem be included here.

“When you see a poem you love, write it down. Copy it out. Print it off. Take a screenshot. Take a photo. Whatever. Write it down; learn it by heart. Keep it with you. Tell someone about it.” (pg. 133)

“Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.” by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (pg. 114)

Happy National Poetry Month!
Which is your favorite poem by a woman?
**kmm

Book info: She’ll Be the Sky: Poems by Women and Girls / selected by Ella Risbridger; illustrated by Anna Shepeta. Nosy Crow, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.