Tag Archive | travel

Come along with SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE, words by R.E.M., illustrated by Paul Hoppe & Shinyeon Moon (Picturebook review)

book cover of Shiny Happy People; song lyrics by R.E.M.; illustrations by Paul Hoppe with Shinyeon Moon. Published by LyricPop / Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A journey, a reunion!

At the train station crowded with animals, a young fox spots his rabbit friend:
“Meet me in the crowd, people, people. Throw your love around, love me, love me”

Biking back to Rabbit’s house, the pair are “Shiny happy people laughing” under blue skies until angry Dad Rabbit points at the “no foxes allowed” sign, and the illustrations grow red and chaotic, even as the lyrics call “Everyone around, love them, love them”…

Fox has brought a gift that Rabbit’s brother likes and the parents try to ignore: “Put it in your heart where tomorrow shines”

When Dad Rabbit yells at him for trying to please them, here come some carnivores to defend Fox – oh no!

But the youngsters take control of the conflict: “WHOA! HERE WE GO!” and calm down both groups.

The lyrics “Shiny happy people holding hands, shiny happy people laughing” repeat for several pages as the grownups begin enjoying their time together, following Fox and Rabbit’s lead.

This well-loved R.E.M. song (with its Tiananmen Square uprising connection) is elevated by the storyline of friendship, acceptance, and joy through illustrations by Paul Hoppe and Shinyeon Moon.

Sing along with this new addition to LyricPop’s story-song picture books, just published on 22 November 2022.

What song should LyricPop turn into a picture book next?
**kmm

Book info: Shiny Happy People / song lyrics by R.E.M.; illustrations by Paul Hoppe with Shinyeon Moon. LyricPop / Akashic Books, 2022. [lyrics info] [artist Paul] [artist Shinyeon] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Can she be both HEALER & WITCH without peril? by Nancy Werlin (MG/YA book review)

book cover of Healer & Witch, by Nancy Werlin. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A family of healers,
an unlooked-for skill,
now her future is uncertain…

A healer relieves pain with herbs and treatments – wouldn’t removing a painful memory from the mind also be healing? But this action in 1531 France will definitely not be seen as a gift from God!

Soon after her beloved grandmother’s death, 15-year-old Sylvie leaves her mother as lone healer for their village, departing to seek a teacher to help her tame this new skill.

Martin decides to travel with her, having no skill at his family’s trade – now Sylvie has to feed a growing young boy and keep them both safe.

In the market town, they find a healer who knew her grandmother and tells Sylvie where she might find a teacher – a long, dangerous journey away.

Of course, the healer’s friend Robert whose caravan is going to Lyon is the same young man that Martin insulted at the market…

Can the merchant’s caravan avoid robbers on the way?
Will this Madame du Bois help Sylvie learn to contain her gift?
What’s the connection between Robert and Madame and…the archbishop?

The divide between being a healer or a witch is thinner than one of Martin’s red hairs, and Sylvie must decide for herself where to make her stand. Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

Have you ever wished to see inside another’s mind?
**kmm

Book info: Healer & Witch / Nancy Werlin. Candlewick Press, 2022 [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image by Jade Zhang courtesy of the publisher.

THE FIRE STAR jewel is missing – will these your courtiers be next? by A. L. Tait (YA book review)

book cover of The Fire Star (Maven & Reeve Mystery, book 1), by A. L. Tait. Kane-Miller Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A wedding almost delayed by goats,
a new squire for the groom,
a reluctant lady’s maid for the bride…

Rennart Castle is swirling with preparations for Sir Garrick’s wedding to Lady Cassandra – and rumors that its Airl will oppose the new King who is using the kingdom’s wealth for himself alone.

Reeve’s training in court etiquette and observing people should help Sir Garrick through this new situation – and is the 16 year old’s final chance to become a knight himself.

Maven now waits upon a young noblewoman displeased to be marrying a lowly knight. Not long ago, Maven also wore fine clothes, but the teen’s family has fallen upon desperately hard times.

The priceless Fire Star gem always goes to the family’s youngest daughter upon her betrothal – never to a son – and that is what Lady Cassandra brings into this marriage. The Airl will soon demand that she gives it to his headstrong daughter.

When the Fire Star is stolen before the wedding, Reeve and Maven find themselves searching for clues in the castle and countryside new to them both.

Is the secret Birch Circle of women involved?
Why is the Airl’s daughter taking so many risks?
Can Maven’s forbidden ability to read and write stay hidden?

Told in alternating chapters by the two teens, The Fire Star takes us to a medieval land where their detecting skills can save the castle household and perhaps the entire kingdom! Followed by The Wolf’s Howl (info here).

What part of courtly life would you like to experience for yourself?
**kmm

Book info: The Fire Star (Maven & Reeve Mystery, book 1) / A. L. Tait. Kane-Miller Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Searching for THE LOST RYU, dragon of his memory, by Emi Watanabe Cohen (YA book review)

book cover of The Lost Ryu, by Emi Watanabe Cohen. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kohei still dreams of being three years old at the last dragon parade, holding his smiling grandfather’s hand as huge winged Western dragons flew overhead and sinuous Japanese ryu dragons strode along Osaka’s streets at the end of World War II.

His maternal grandfather was so angry about Kohei’s father dying soon afterward that he made the boy take his mother’s family name – maybe Ojiisan would be happy if he had a big dragon again, bigger than ryu Yuharu who rides on Kohei’s shoulder.

Isolde moves in downstairs, with her Japanese-American mom, Polish-American dad, and winged dragon Cheshire (very small, Kohei is so disappointed) – imagine starting middle school in a new country and language!

When Ojiisan is suddenly hospitalized, Kohei decides that he must bring a ryu to him. Isolde never knew her grandparents who died in concentration camps in the United States and Poland during the War, so she wants to help.

Venturing into Papa’s study, Kohei finds details about how ryu are hatched, so he and Isolde travel to the faraway New Ryugyu-jo where their dragons will help bring a special ryu into the world.

When the biggest ryu Kohei has ever seen snatches the baby ryu, of course he has to follow and save her!

His memories shift like a kaleidoscope as Kohei learns more about his father’s and grandfather’s pasts.

How far, how far will we go to bring comfort to those we love?
**kmm

Book info: The Lost Ryu / Emi Watanabe Cohen. Levine Querido, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Sisters sharing DRIZZLE, DREAMS, AND LOVESTRUCK THINGS, by Maya Prasad (YA book review)

book cover of Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things, by Maya Prasad. Published by Hyperion /Disney | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Four sisters,
four seasons,
five chances for love…

For the past decade, the four teen Singh sisters have lived in the Songbird Inn on Orcas Island, where their widowed father met and married Pop as they renovated the old property together. But three years ago, the girls’ beloved stepdad died, before he could see their dream named as “the most romantic inn in America” for its unique seaside weddings.

Nidhi has planned her senior year and beyond in great detail as she will head to pastry school in Paris after graduation, with boyfriend Matt. A tree crashing through her bedroom brings Grayson and construction crew to the inn – how will his secret artistic passions affect her carefully ordered life this fall?

Avani has spent the winter avoiding Francisco after a date mix-up, not so easy when his family supplies produce and goat cheese to the inn daily. Her grief for Pop lingers even as Dad begins seeing Amir, so she decides to revive his beloved Winter Ball in his memory, finding that Francisco’s help can make it happen.

Spring on the is photographer Sirisha’s favorite season, and hosting the Thousand Shores theater troupe at the Inn makes it even better – brown girls, queer girls, stories turned and retold. And beautiful Brie leaves her tongue-tied, even as the young actress tries to help Sirisha find the story that will help her photos win the San Juan Snaps contest.

Queen of Romance – Rani’s deep love of romance novels has helped her twin Avani and her older and younger sisters find happiness this past year. As they prepare for the biggest summer wedding of all, which inn visitor will be her happily ever after – socially-conscious Vikram, fun and sporty Leo, or Raj who didn’t kiss her last summer?

A wonderful year in Washington’s Pacific Northwest with the Singh family as they work through past issues with family still in India, decide what their futures might look like, and host a parade of interesting guests in the beautiful inn that they call home.

Where would you build the best inn ever?
**kmm

Book info: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things / Maya Prasad. Hyperion, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Here? Now? THE SECRET BATTLE OF EVAN PAO starts at school! by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (MG book review)

book cover of The Secret Battle of Evan Pao / Wendy Wan-Long Shang.  Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bad enough that they have to move across the country to get away from Dad’s financial scams, but in this little Virginia town stuck in its Civil War history, their Chinese family does stand out, even though their uncle has lived here a while.

Evan hopes that sixth grade will be okay, but the class bully lives across the street from their tiny rental house. Brady calls Covid-19 “the China virus” and asks if Evan will bring it to Battlefield Elementary School. Evan can sense that he really believes that – yikes!

Luckily, most kids in his class are nice, including Max who’s assigned as Evan’s buddy and explains Battlefield Day, Mrs. Norwood’s favorite activity, where everyone becomes a Civil War character in costume for an outside learning experience.

Each student in class brings in a family heirloom from the Civil War, except Evan, so Mrs. Norwood suggests that he choose a behind-the-scenes role, like scribe (boring). Evan’s sister says there were no Chinese in the American Civil War, but a little research shows that she’s wrong!

So while Brady can portray his noted sharpshooter ancestor, Evan can be a Chinese soldier in the Army of the Potomac – Mrs. Norwood’s final Battlefield Day before retiring should be quite memorable!

Other things in town are rumbling, like discussions on removing the Confederate soldier statue in front of the courthouse and the cute stray dog that Uncle and Evan find (maybe Mom will change her mind about ‘no dogs’!) and someone shooting at Evan’s house!

Evan tells most of the story, with chapters by his sister Celeste and friend Max, even Julia and Brady from his class providing additional viewpoints.

What’s something that’s “always been this way” about your town that you would change?
**kmm

Book info: The Secret Battle of Evan Pao / Wendy Wan-Long Shang. Scholastic Press, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Always leave THE FIRST BLADE OF SWEETGRASS, Grandmother says, by Suzanne Greenlaw, Gabriel Frey, Nancy Baker (Picturebook review)

book cover of The First Blade of Sweetgrass: a Native American Story / Suzanne Greenlaw & Gabriel Frey; illustrated by Nancy Baker.  Published by Tilbury House Publishers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Musquon’s first trip to the salt marsh with Grandmother to gather sweetgrass!

But in an ocean of grasses, how will the young girl know which kind to pick?

Grandmother patiently shows her the emerald green grass with a purple bottom and reminds Musquon that her ancestors are here with them, where so many have carefully picked sweetgrass for basketmaking and spiritual medicine.

Musquon breathes the salty air, remembering that Grandmother learned as a small girl in this same marsh to pass over the first blade of sweetgrass she finds: “If we never pick the first blade, we will never pick the last one.”

Soon she will learn how to braid sweetgrass and help Grandmother make baskets as the Wakenabi people have done for countless generations.

The authors note the cultural significance of sweetgrass for First Nations’ peoples in their home state of Maine and beyond, as well as a glossary of Passamaquoddy-Maliseet words used in the story including Musquon (“blue sky”) who shares a name with one of their daughters. Watch an interview with the authors here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7weayTgxwgk

What gifts of the natural world are important to you?

**kmm

Book info: The First Blade of Sweetgrass: a Native American Story / Suzanne Greenlaw & Gabriel Frey; illustrated by Nancy Baker. Tilbury House Publishers, 2021. [author & illustrator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

We are still HOPE NATION, our favorite YA authors remind us, edited by Rose Brock (nonfiction book review)

book cover of Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration / Rose Brock, editor. Published by Penguin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Us versus them or together we can succeed?
Time to give in or time to persevere?
Time to hold onto hope with our whole heart!

Written in the wake of the 2016 elections, the personal essays by these well-known YA authors call us to continue finding reasons to hope – and work – for a better future together:
Atia Abawi, Renee Ahdieh, Libba Bray, Howard Bryant, Ally Carter, Ally Condie, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Gayle Forman, Romina Garber, I. W. Gregorio, Kate Hart, Brendan Kiely, David Levithan, Alex London, Marie Lu, Julie Murphy, Jason Reynolds, Aisha Saeed, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Nicola Yoon, Jeff Zentner.

“What I really think is that hope is in the work. That it lives in the space between what’s been done and what could be accomplished,” counsels Kate Hart (pg. 119) reminding Hope Nation that our work is fighting for what’s right.

Angie Thomas recounts an event from her book tour for The Hate U Give, where a Black woman asked those present “Can we begin to listen to one another, and can we change things?” (pg. 65) following racist incidents at their New Jersey high school – this is Hope Nation.

When bigots try to ban books in your school or town, stand against them and remember Jeff Zentner’s words: “Nothing forces people to confront the humanity of others like engaging with their stories” (pg. 92) – Hope Nation doesn’t see everyone else as ‘other’ like the bigots prefer.

Where do you find your hope?
**kmm

Book info: Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration / Rose Brock, editor. Penguin Teen, 2018 [editor site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Which side of his family will LUMBERJACKULA follow? by Mat Heagarty & Sam Owen (Graphic Novel review)

book cover of graphic novel Lumberjackula / words by Mat Heagarty, art by Sam Owen. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Chop, chop, chop!
Eerie, eerie, spooky!
What to do? What to do?

Choosing a secondary school is so important! Should young Lumberjackula go to Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire Academy like Dad and Grandpa or to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep like Mom and her parents did?

The 11 and a half year old will try one day at each school so he can see where he fits best.

But Jack splashes out during the essential lumberjack skill of log-rolling, and he’s scared of heights, so the flying part of being a vampire is out.

Feeling out of place at both schools, Jack dances out his stress in the woods, where a fairy dancer sees him and invites him to try the dance school she attends in a nearby town.

Fibbing to his parents about another trial day at each of their schools, Jack treks to Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy where he’s warmly welcomed and complimented on his technique.

This is where he belongs! But how will he convince his family that dancing is the better choice for him?

Some family drama, some friend misunderstanding, and a ManaTeen giving good advice – it’s your future to decide, Lumberjackula!

Enjoy this video interview with writer Mat and artist Sam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwhhJHbHEFg

What family tradition have you veered away from?
**kmm

Book info: Lumberjackula / words by Mat Heagarty, art by Sam Owen. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [artist info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

In a world GONE DARK, the prepper skills she longs to forget may save them, by Amanda Panitch (YA book review)

book cover of Gone Dark, by Amanda Panitch. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books /Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Forget how she got away,
just think of the future,
till it all goes dark.

Zara and her mom have a better life in southern California, five years gone since they escaped from her father’s survivalist compound back east.

Computer games instead of skinning squirrels? What teen girl wouldn’t leave behind such a hard life? But her father’s voice still echoes that the world is ending soon… no wonder Zara has panic attacks.

Then the sporadic power outages become a nationwide blackout, and civilized behavior vanishes, just like Dad predicted. When a huge stranger barges into their darkened house and calls for Zara by name, the 17 year old knows it’s time to leave.

Unable to get Mom to safety, Zara and her best friends head away from the coast, trying to outrun the threatening stranger and avoid danger on the road.

A Mormon fortress welcomes them, but can they ever leave?
More people join the group as they travel – can they stay safe together?
If they reach the hidden compound, can they survive its border traps?

This future where the electric grid fails large-scale could be tomorrow, just like the difficulties that Zara and friends endure in a world gone dark.

What’s your emergency plan for disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Gone Dark / Amanda Panitch. Margaret K. McElderry Books /Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.