Tag Archive | US artist

In breakdance or yo-yo, FREESTYLE is the coolest! by Gale Galligan (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Freestyle / words & art by Gale Galligan. Published by Scholastic/Graphix | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Team breakdance means cool moves,
perfect choreography,
everyone in sync… everyone!

Their final year of middle school means lots of pressure for Cory and his friends as they get ready for high school admission exams and the big Bronx Kids Battle dance competition.

As captain of Eight Bit breakdance team, Tess is committed to the breakdance choreography she wrote – no improvising, Cory!

In science, Cory gets partnered with loner Sunna instead of Eight Bit pal Asha, then gets grounded for bad grades – no fun, especially when his Filipino parents hire Sunna to tutor him!

Tess is mad that Eight Bit can’t practice every day after school now – this choreography will be her ticket to arts high school!

From a yelling match to using her yo-yo to explain angles in geometry, eventually Sunna and Cory get along, and he learns some yo-yo tricks, too.

Her grades are amazing, but the hijabi’s parents constantly compare her to big brother’s successes – she doesn’t even call Imran at college anymore.

Yo-yo competition – Cory is sure that Sunna will love it!
Getting un-grounded before the dance competition – Cory’s got to do it!
The rest of Eight Bit forgiving Cory’s flaky behavior – well, that’ll take work.

Days race past as the middle schoolers hone their dance moves, worry about the big exams and the Halloween dance, and count down to competition!

This fast-paced graphic novel comes from the same artist who drew the Baby Sitters’ Club graphic novel series – can’t wait to see what they draw next!

When did your friend group have to work through schedule issues?
**kmm

Book info: Freestyle / words & art by Gale Galligan. Scholastic/Graphix, 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.

They must find more LITTLE MONARCHS, butterflies vital for humanity’s survival! by Jonathan Case (Middle Grade graphic novel review)

book cover of Little Monarchs, by Jonathan Case. Published by Margaret Ferguson Books / Holiday House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sun-sickness wiped out mammals,
some humans survive underground,
can any ever see daylight again?

By 2101, only two people on Earth can survive sunshine – young Elvie and scientist Flora who’s caring for the 10 year old while Elvie’s parents travel onward as the team perfects a cure for sun-sickness.

Monarch butterflies carry the needed ingredient on their wings, so Flora and Elvie follow their migration south along what used to be the western USA, scavenging from former cities, foraging wild foods, and avoiding known underground settlements.

Elvie documents nature and schoolwork in her journal, while Flora tests and retests ways to make larger quantities of the monarch wing-scale medicine that prevents sun-sickness.

After an earthquake, they find a small boy near an abandoned settlement, so Flora gives him a dose of medicine and they keep going. Elvie left behind a note and some medicine, in case anyone returns to look for little Sito.

Wow, his family does follow them and wants to travel along – safety in numbers, right? Right?!?

This outstanding graphic novel documents their perilous journey to meet up with Elvie’s parents, as well as the natural wonders and survival skills that she records in her journal.

In our time, monarch numbers are dropping dramatically, so planting native milkweed along their migration route can make up for some habitat loss.

Do monarchs migrate through your region?
**kmm

Book info: Little Monarchs / Jonathan Case. Margaret Ferguson Books / Holiday House, 2022. [author site] [book site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

No party for MISS QUINCES, por favor, please! by Kat Fajardo (Graphic novel book review)

book cover of Miss Quinces, by Kat Fajardo; color by Marianna Azzi. Published by Graphix /Scholastic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A month away from her friends,
no internet, no cellphone service…
a surprise quinceaneara! What?!

Suyapa loves reading graphic novels and trying to draw her own. Her friends in Comics Club will go to Camp Willow later this summer, but not her – Mami won’t let the 15 year old go anywhere (anywhere!) without her older and younger sisters!

Same when their family goes to Honduras for a month – cousins everywhere, people in and out of Abuelita’s house, even going to a village shop with Papi becomes a parade. The introverted teen cherishes moments alone with her artistic grandmother who agrees to do a travelogue comic with her!

Surprise!! Mami has invited the whole town to Sue’s quinceanera, the traditional ceremonies and dances marking a young lady’s 15th birthday as she moves from childhood to the adult world!

But Sue had told them repeatedly she didn’t want a quinces! She hates speaking in front of people, can’t dance, and certainly can’t wear the required high heels!

Abuelita suggests that she and Mami compromise, so Suyapa agrees to the quinces as Mami has arranged it, and Mami agrees to call the camp so she can go with her friends when they get back to New York!

A poufy pink dress (so different from Abuelita’s satiny white one), stepping on her cousin’s toes as she tries learning to waltz, big sister choreographing the big dance, writing a speech of thanks – aggggghhhhh!

When a tragedy strikes their family, the quinces drops off their priority list – but having heard Abuelita’s quinces stories, maybe this is what Sue wants to do after all…

Family or friends, old ways and new ways – happy book birthday to Miss Quinces!

Be sure to grab this just-published graphic novel today at your local library or independent bookstore to see just how pink and poufy that dress is! Compare quinces traditions by reading Once Upon a Quinceanera (recommended here).

What’s your least-favorite family tradition?
**kmm

Book info: Miss Quinces / Kat Fajardo; color by Marianna Azzi. Graphix /Scholastic Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

J is for Japan, living and learning in HIMAWARI HOUSE, by Melody Becker (Graphic novel review) #A2Z

book cover of Himawari House, by Melody Becker. Published by First Second | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A gap year,
a new start,
away from family…far away.

Three young women move to Japan, living with people from other cultures in a Tokyo sharehouse and becoming good friends in this bilingual (sometimes trilingual) graphic novel.

Nao had moved to the US Midwest with her American father and Japanese mother when she and her brother were young, never quite fitting in there. Returning to Japan after high school graduation, she wants to reconnect with her roots and family here.

Tina came from Singapore to learn Japanese well enough to pass the university entrance exams here, close to home and also far away from her boisterous family for a while.

Hyejung left Korea because she was so very deeply unhappy with the treadmill of going to college to get a job to work till retirement; her parents didn’t approve, and they don’t communicate.

Japanese brothers Shinsan and Masaki anchor Himawari House, the elder suggesting festivals they can all attend together, and Masaki being generally moody (what is his problem?).

The girls work at low-skill jobs as they attend gogakuin to improve their Japanese, with not a few cultural mishaps along the way. Thank goodness they can all communicate in English at Himawari House!

Childhood memories are revived as Nao visits her mother’s family in the countryside where she played with her cousins, now also all grown up.

Will Tina and Hyejung pass their entrance exams?
Can Nao become fluent in Japanese during the short time she’s here?
Will Masaki ever come out of his shell?

A fun and thoughtful look at family, expectations, and friendship by the illustrator of the graphic novel version of George Takei’s memoir, They Called Us Enemies (recommendation coming soon).

If you could take a year off from your current life, where would you live?
**kmm

Book info: Himawari House / Harmony Becker. First Second, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Library book; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

H = he’s been HORNSWOGGLED! A Wacky Words Whodunit, by Josh Crute & Jenn Harney (Picture book review) #A2Z

book cover of Hornswoggled! A Wacky Words Whodunit, by Josh Crute; illustrated by Jenn Harney. Published by Page Street Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

One morning, Deer wakes up and realizes that something isn’t right.

Looking into the mirror, he discovers that he’s been hornswoggled!

He runs out to tell his friends about it, but at every stop, the thief has gotten there first.

The bison has been buffaloed, and the rooster cries “Poppycock” as they discover that their favorite things have been swiped!

So much robbery! So many strange words! Luckily, a helpful armadillo tells readers what the wacky words mean as the animal friends try to solve the mystery.

Grow your expressive vocabulary with this “wacky words whodunit” as you enjoy the many clever details of its lively illustrations. Ask for Hornswoggled at your local library or independent bookstore today!

What’s your favorite unusual exclamation?
**kmm

Book info: Hornswoggled! A Wacky Words Whodunit / Josh Crute; illustrated by Jenn Harney. Page Street Kids, 2021. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ready…set…MAKE YOUR OWN MANGA! by Elaine Tipping and Erwin Prasetya (YA book review)

book cover of Make Your Own Manga: Create Your Own Anime Comics With Action-Packed Story Fill-ins and Blank Comic Panels, by Elaine Tipping and Erwin Prasettya. Published by Adams Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

If you love anime and manga,
if you imagine the dialogue you’d write on the next page,
if you sketch and sketch on any paper nearby –
this is the book you need!

Story and art must work together seamlessly in manga, so Make Your Own Manga provides you pages upon pages of practice space for each skill.

Manga artists Elaine Tipping (draws Dubious Company and Licensed Heroes ) and Erwin Prasetya (illustrates Blade Bunny ) give you helpful hints about transfering your imagination to the page, then set you free to create.

Part one – Write Your Own Story – contains six illustrated stories with empty dialogue bubbles so you can practice fitting the story you’ve written into the usual manga framework. Three stories by each author are presented in left-to-right, top-to-bottom pattern, rather than traditional manga reading style, because this is a practice book to help you with the flow of the story. Why are they flying? Who’s the villain? – you decide!

Part two – Write and Draw Your Own Story – is hundreds of professionally drawn comic frames in many styles, just waiting for you to capture your manga! You can divide these 100+ pages into as many anime comics as you like – be sure to note each one’s title and starting page on the blank table of contents at the front of the book.

So get this book now at your favorite independent bookstore or order it through Bookshop.org where you choose the indie bookstore that gets credit, and the books are shipped straight to you! (These aren’t affiliate links; BooksYALove never profits from recommending books)

Whether you’re just starting to draw manga or you’re an experienced creator looking for layout inspiration, grab your pencil and Make Your Own Manga – then keep creating!

What series would you recommend for a first-time manga reader?
**kmm

Book info: Make Your Own Manga: Create Your Own Anime Comics With Action-Packed Story Fill-ins and Blank Comic Panels / Elaine Tipping and Erwin Prasettya. Adams Media / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [Elaine’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Almost time for the April #AtoZchallenge!

#AtoZChallenge 2022 alternative badge

The calendar is sliding toward April, so #AtoZChallenge is just ahead!

This will be my 11th year of participating in the blogging challenge to post alphabetically themed entries throughout April (with Sundays off).

My 2022 #AtoZChallenge theme is… books beyond bestsellers!

For y’all, this means a double-handful of new recommendations of middle-grade and young adult books, plus a few surprises.

You have time to sign up your blog for this free Challenge, too – more info here.

As I wrap up my 12th continuous year of recommending books – without giving away the endings, please let me know which April selections go on your wishlist to find at your local library or independent bookstore (remember – no affiliate links here – ever!).

Happy reading to all!
**kmm

ALEXIS VS SUMMER VACATION – all work & no fun? by Sarah Jamila Stevenson & Veronica Agarwal (MG Graphic novel review)

book cover of Alexis vs Summer Vacation, by Sarah Jamila Stevenson; illustrated by Veronica Agarwal. Published by Avenue A Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

School’s out!
Time for summer fun!
Or not so fun…

Alexis is dreading this summer before high school with BFF Lara gone to adventure camp for six weeks, the others in their G&G gaming group traveling away with family… and she’s stuck here, babysitting her little brother and sister for free!

So many changes since her parents divorced recently that the 14-year-old isn’t sure about what she wants to do with her future anymore, likes guys and gals but can’t summon the courage to talk to the girl she has a crush on… sigh.

Mom gets them pool passes so finally they can hang out with other kids. Alexis sees some classmates there and discovers they’re all going to the same high school… even that bully Mack.

Jason works with his dad in their Japanese fusion food truck, and Luke is in lifeguard training, but they both get time off so Alexis introduces them to Goblins & Gauntlets, her favorite role-playing game.

If only Mack would quit picking on Jason, and Luke’s perfect big brother would quit singling him out during exercises, and Alexis would quit stalling and actually go talk to Hayley…

Can the friends level themselves up, as well as their G&G characters?
Will Lara still be her BFF after all summer away?
What if Hayley won’t even talk to Alexis?

This graphic novel takes us through Alexis’ eventful/boring summer as she discovers more about herself with the help of new friends and her much-loved G&G game.

What’s your favorite game to play with friends?
**kmm

Book info: Alexis vs Summer Vacation / Sarah Jamila Stevenson; illustrated by Veronica Agarwal. Avenue A Books, 2019. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ballet is all she knows…then what? TINY DANCER memoir, by Siena Cherson Siegel & Mark Siegel (graphic novel review)

book cover of Tiny Dancer, by Siena Cherson Siegel; art by Mark Siegel. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Dance, stretch,
push through pain,
dance, dance… down.

Ballet classes during her blissful childhood in the 1970s set Siena on her life path. Dancing becomes an escape from the sixth-grade mean girls, from missing her big brother when he leaves Puerto Rico for Boston, from Mom and Dad fighting.

Audition for the School of American Ballet? Live in New York City? School with real friends? All wonderful (except leaving Dad back in San Juan).

Siena wants to be a ballerina more than anything, so that means total dedication, practice, and more practice. Summer ballet schools in and out of New York State as she grows just a little taller than is acceptable for the parts that she longs to dance, spotlight roles that go to her classmates.

An ankle injury forces her to sit out some practices at the New York City Ballet company, just as auditions for the next level are starting – the other girls will get ahead! A little pain is worth the chance to advance, right?

No time for boyfriends or hobbies… even in her dreams, she dances.

No carbs, no desserts – a ballerina’s physique is sleek and svelte…or else.

As her ankle’s healing slows and stalls, Siena’s self-confidence dwindles, and the teen feels trapped by expectations, like turning into a statue instead of a whirling, feather-light dancer.

This graphic novel memoir starts with light and lively lavender colors showcasing Siena’s early days, becoming darker and heavier as she struggles with what could possibly come after ballet, the tutu-clad ghost of her young dreams hovering over many sequences.

Where have your childhood dreams taken you?
**kmm

Book info: Tiny Dancer / Siena Cherson Siegel; art by Mark Siegel; backgrounds by Abe Erskine. Atheneum, 2021. [author bio] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.