Tag Archive | US author

Her talents rejected? ‘Tis A SEASON MOST UNFAIR! by J. Anderson Coats (Middle grade book review)

cover image of A Season Most Unfair / J. Anderson Coats. Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Candlemaking is hot, stinky work, but Scholastica helps her father render the tallow and twist the wicks and dip the candles until they’re just right. Her loving stepmother can’t have children or bend down with her leg brace, so Tick has worked with Papa since she was tiny.

This year Tick is old enough to mold the Agnus Dei charms for travelers’ safety, using pricy beeswax and expensive paints. The charms sell well at the Stourbridge Fair, and Papa can’t see well enough now to paint their fine details.

So why does Papa think he needs an apprentice?!

Tick doesn’t care that Henry’s father and Papa are friends – how will an inexperienced boy help make enough candles to sell to get them through the bitter winter?

If only she can get some beeswax and make the charms…
If only she can find a way to Stourbridge Fair…
If only she can be sure that Papa still loves her enough…

There are joys among the hardships of living in medieval England, and Tick just wants to do the job that makes her happy!

By the author of The Night Ride, recommended here: https://booksyalove.com/?p=13684

What task did you like to help your family with when you were younger?
**kmm

Book info: A Season Most Unfair / J. Anderson Coats. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Friends and more – tweens look for ANSWERS IN THE PAGES, by David Levithan (MG book review)

book cover of Answers in the Pages, by David Levithan. Alfred A. Knopf Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

What an exciting book!
Who wants to take it away?
Why can’t kids read what they want?!

The Adventurers! Donovan can’t wait to read the novel that Mr. Howe has chosen for their fifth-grade class – three young people trying to stop an evil mastermind, with danger and bravery at every turn!

But his mom’s bad habit of jumping to the end of a book halts everything. She interprets its final sentence as too mature for tweens to handle: “At that moment, Rick knew just how deeply he loved Oliver, and Oliver knew just how deeply he loved Rick, and the understanding of this moment would lead them to much of the happiness and adventure that came next.”

She calls other parents and visits the principal, making Mr. Howe take back The Adventurers until the school board can meet about it. But Donovan forgot his copy at home (way under his bed), so he gets to read it – alligators and helicopters and three amazing friends saving the world.

Meanwhile, shy Gideon is stunned to make a new friend when Roberto moves to town – a fellow lover of turtles and books. Joelle and Tucker have been his friends forever, but Roberto likes Gideon for being himself, and the pair spends more and more time together.

Can Donovan get the author to town to defend the book?
Does Oliver have to choose between help Rick escape from the alligator and capturing the villain?
Does Roberto share the same feelings as Gideon?

At the school board meeting, viewpoints clash. Some adults want to “protect kids” by banning the book. Members of the community and gay students speak up for everyone’s right to live and love.

Three stories, presented chapter by chapter – Donovan’s headed by a book symbol, Rick and Oliver’s by an alligator, and Gideon and Roberto’s by a turtle – each symbol reminding us of the characters’ essential focus.

Released in paperback on 5 September 2023 – read the first pages free here, courtesy of the publisher.

What book has revealed an important truth about your own self to you?
**kmm

Book info: Answers in the Pages / David Levithan. Alfred A. Knopf Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Kids start THE GREAT BANNED-BOOKS BAKE SALE to get their books back! by Aya Khalil & Anait Semirdzhyan (Picturebook review)

book cover of The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale, by Aya Khalil; art by Anait Semirdzhyan. Tilbury House Publishers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Our favorite books!
So many different faces!
Where have they gone?

Kanzi is excited to lead her class to the school library, remembering how they welcomed her from Egypt.

But they are dismayed to find their favorite shelves of diverse books… empty!

Those beautiful books about many different types of people have been banned – why? Ms. Jackson, the librarian, says “Some books are so powerful that they intimidate people.”

Now Kanzi can’t find any books with words in Arabic to share at home, and other classmates don’t see any books with kids who look like them either.

During discussion time, Kareem asks if they could raise money to buy those books to donate to Little Free Libraries around town, and the class decides on a bake sale and protest!

After school on Friday, they set out the treats featured in their beloved books and quickly sell them all.

It’s time to protest! Students hold signs asking for diverse books, teachers and parents join the chant “No banned books!” and here comes the TV reporter!

Can they convince the school district to bring back the books they love?

Unfortunately this book is based on a real incident, as Kanzi’s first story, An Arabic Quilt, is among books being removed from school libraries in the US.

During Banned Books Week (and every week), seek out books that feature characters from outside the dominant culture and hear voices often suppressed!
**kmm

Book info: The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale / Aya Khalil; art by Anait Semirdzhyan. Tilbury House Publishers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy, sample pages, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

pages from The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale, showing children & adults in group, saying No Banned Books. Student hands holding her poem "Books are for everyone. Am I not important? Am I invisible? Books make us think. Books make us imagine. Books make us compassionate. Books make us creative. Books make us LOVE. You have banned important books, but you can't ban my words. Books are for EVERYONE."
(c) Tilbury House Publishing

PAUL BUNYAN! Invention of an American Legend?! by Noah Van Sciver (Graphic Novel review)

book cover of Paul Bunyan: the Invention of an American Legend / by Noah Van Sciver, with Marlena Myles, Lee Francis IV, Deondre Smiles. Toon Graphics

Babe the Blue Ox!
Paul Bunyan, the mighty lumberjack!
Made up by an advertising guy??

We’ve all heard the legend of enormously tall Paul Bunyan who conquered the northern woods and his gigantic companion Babe the Blue Ox, but… they were just part of an advertising campaign, not true folk-heroes!

America’s huge appetite for timber removed complete forests as settlers moved westward, overrunning the traditional lands of Native Americans while destroying cultures and ecosystems.

In 1914, the advertising department of Red River Lumber Company began promoting the “legend of Paul Bunyan” to gloss over their clear-cutting of old-growth woodlands, as they abandoned Minnesota and headed for the untouched forests of the West Coast.

Lumberjacks had always exaggerated stories of strong men at work like Saginaw Joe and Paul Bon Jean, but this newly-invented Paul Bunyan fellow beat them all!

From how his floating cradle created the huge tides in the Bay of Fundy to making the Finger Lakes when his hand hit the ground in New York to felling a tree with one axe stroke, Paul’s story was bigger and better than any other.

And heroic Paul worked for…Red River Lumber Company, at least in their pamphlets. He and Babe could clear and haul away 100 acres of big trees in one day and created the Mississippi River when their water wagon sprang a leak! No one in Minnesota believed those tall tales because they knew what the greedy lumber companies had actually done.

But the stories were in newspapers, then kids’ books and finally animation, obscuring the truth about why the mighty forests were reduced to small patches of woodland and how indigenous peoples were taken away from those valuable forestlands to reservations.

This fascinating graphic novel includes introduction and postscript by Native American scholars, as well as the Tree-Dwelling Little People story and a richly illustrated map of the Dakota homelands where Bunyan’s adventures were set.

Which American legend would you like to know more about?
**kmm

Book info: Paul Bunyan: the Invention of an American Legend / by Noah Van Sciver, with Marlena Myles, Lee Francis IV, Deondre Smiles. Toon Graphics, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Oh, no! She has the WORST BROOMMATE EVER at witch school! by Wanda Coven & Anna Abramskaya (MG book review)

book cover of Worst Broommate Ever! by Wanda Coven; illustrated by Anna Abramskaya. Published by Simon Spotlight | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Learning to be a better witch! Eek!
Leaving friends and family…sad.
No more bully Melanie – yay!

Heidi knows that her mom and aunt loved going to Broomsfield Academy – regular boarding school with secret witch classes.

But what if no one at Broomsfield likes her? How can she start middle school without her best friends, Lucy and Bruce?

Her broommate’s side of their dorm room is all pink, pink, pink – oh, no! It’s snarky Melanie, and she’s a witch, too?!

Heidi uses magic to prank Melanie into moving to another room, but gets busted for doing spells outside their amazing hidden Magic School.

Forced together during getting-acquainted games and activities, the tweens find some common ground, still wish for other broommates.

Why has Melanie always picked on Heidi?
How does the Academy keep the School of Magic secret from the regular students?
Will Heidi ever discover her secret witch gift?

Her first crush, new ways of looking at familiar things – definitely a growing-up year for Heidi!

Brimming with illustrations and Heidi’s words getting bigger for emphasis, this first book in the Middle School and Other Disasters series is a fun read.

What’s your best starting-school memory?
**kmm

Book info: Worst Broommate Ever! (Middle School and Other Disasters, book 1) / Wanda Coven; illustrated by Anna Abramskaya. Simon Spotlight, 2023. [author video] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

They’re seeking SPELLS FOR LOST THINGS, like hearts… by Jenna Evans Welch (YA book review)

book cover of Spells for Lost Things, by Jenna Evans Welch. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

How can Willow’s aunt be dead? Mom doesn’t even have a sister!

Willow’s parents divorced two years ago, Mom took her from Brooklyn to LA, Dad remarried and had triplets. Only being in Paris with best friend Bea feels like home, but Mom won’t let her go there to finish high school…

Now Mom has inherited a witch’s beautifully renovated house from her twin sister, so they’re in Salem to sell it. Bur Mom won’t even go in the front door! Willow adores Bell House – can’t they just stay here?

Mason bounced through foster care for years as his mom’s addiction worsened. Now he’s in Salem, with her high school best friend Emma, her husband, and their blended family – they became foster parents just for him?

After an awkward meeting on the Bell House roof (telescope, Mason, stars, of course), the teens try to unravel the mystery of Lily Bell retold in the spell book kept by Mom and Aunt Sage as teens.

Why didn’t Willow know she had great-aunts who are witches?
Does Emma know where Mason’s mom is?
What is this feeling growing between Willow and Mason?

Told in alternating chapters by Willow and Mason during the summer before their senior year as they try to find a solid place to land in their lives’ uncertainty.

Available in paperback today, 8/29/23! By the author of Love & Gelato (I recommended it here), Love & Luck (more here), and Love & Olives (here).

What family tale was most surprising to you?
**kmm

Book info: Spells for Lost Things / Jenna Evans Welch. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022, paperback 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

He escaped? Again!? Good thing we know HOW TO CATCH A POLAR BEAR, by Stacy DeKeyser (MG book review)

book cover of How To Catch a Polar Bear, by Stacy McNulty. Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

This summer will be great!
Until his buddies get jobs,
no time to play baseball…

Wow, Frosty the polar bear escaped from the city zoo! If he gets out again, Ace and Penny will watch for him on their early-morning paper route – if the boss doesn’t fire Penny for being a girl.

Since his best pals are so busy now, 12-year-old Nick helps Uncle Spiro at Sparky’s frozen custard shop. If only competitor Happy Harold would quit bugging Spiro – Milwaukee is big enough for them both…

The zookeeper offers Uncle Spiro the frozen custard concession inside the zoo for the summer! If they can just find someone over age 14 to run the stand with Nick as helper…

Oh, no! Happy’s Custard sets up a cart right outside the zoo entrance, undercutting Sparky’s price and selling a third flavor! If Nick and Mama can just invent a unique flavor and compete with that sneak Happy and bullying classmate Pete who works for him…

Hurray! Their favorite radio personalities are so pleased with Sparky’s “Frosty Freeze” custard that they decide to broadcast from the zoo for all the Fourth of July festivities. Hope those frozen custard-loving monkeys and Frosty behave…

There are plenty of reasons that signs say “Don’t Feed the Animals” all over the zoo in summer 1948! If only people heeded them…

The rollicking follow-up to The Rhino in Right Field, recommended here.

What’s your favorite hot weather treat?
**kmm

Book info: How To Catch a Polar Bear / Stacy DeKeyser. Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

It’s not fair! Teens incite THE PEACH REBELLION post-WWII, by Wendelin Van Draanen (YA book review)

book cover of The Peach Rebellion, by Wendelin Van Draanen. Alfred A. Knopf | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Over a decade since coming to California during the Dust Bowl days, her tiny brothers dying of sickness and buried under a creekside tree north of here, and folks are still calling Ginny Rose’s family “Okies” after World War II, despite all their hard work.

After her first day working at the peach cannery, a flat bike tire detours the 17 year old to Peggy’s peach farm where she meets banker’s daughter Lisette.

Wow, Papa and Mama tell Ginny Rose to keep half her wages for new school clothes and her future! Her sister Anna Mae is aghast at the idea of being left behind with their deeply depressed mother

Peggy’s big sister opens the teen’s eyes to truths about the family peach farm, very unwelcome facts that explain why Doris hasn’t brought her baby back to visit.

Lisette’s fancy new house? Her father’s bank foreclosed on his good friend’s house, then the banker bought it instead of stopping the seizure?!

Ginny Rose discovers Babyland in the cemetery, where the tiniest children are buried – could she bring her little brothers here, for good?

The three teens from very different parts of society find a common purpose as Peggy and Lisette decide to help Ginny Rose on her quest!

Told in alternating chapters by Ginny Rose and Peggy during the sweltering summer of 1947.

Which friends would help you with a challenge?
**kmm

Book info: The Peach Rebellion / Wendelin Van Draanen. Alfred A. Knopf /PRH, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Get THE JUMP on invading oil company! by Brittney Morris (YA book review)

book cover of The Jump, by Brittney Morris. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

They know Seattle, street by street, edge to edge, even belowground. No one is better at digital scavenger-hunting than Team JERICHO.

Jax, cryptologist, Black vegan – why should the community garden his parents founded be replaced by an Roundworld oil refinery?

Yas, parkourist, gay hijabi – her father’s Pakistani-American convenience store is losing business to Roundworld’s HQ cafeteria.

Spider, tech-whiz, social justice warrior – thankful that Mom and her Korean restaurant staff support his transitioning.

Han, cartographer, autistic – brother working for Roundworld, Dad’s livelihood threatened by its pipeline.

When “The Order” posts a puzzle whose prize is “power” during protests against Roundworld, JERICHO decides to accept the challenge!

Can they solve The Order’s puzzle before Team Royal?
Will it allow the teens to stop Roundworld from placing an oil refinery in their neighborhood?
What does “the game is anarchy” in The Order’s first clue really mean?

The four long-time friends take turns telling this complex tale of clues, loyalties, greed, and consequences.

By the author of The Cost of Knowing, recommended here.

How are you reacting against injustice near you?
**kmm

Book info: The Jump / Brittney Morris. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

ONCE THERE WAS…some magic, a monster, a miracle? by Kiyash Monsef (YA book review)

book cover of Once There Was, by Kiyash Monsef. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her best friends try to help, but Marjan is sleepwalking through life since Dad was killed by who-knows-what recently in their California home. She’s trying to juggle sophomore classes and Dad’s struggling vet practice and her anger and grief.

Wait, her Pakistani father didn’t just treat dogs, cats, and birds – he was a veterinarian for creatures out of myth and legend?! And “the work” is Marjan’s now, because she’s inherited his gift of knowing precisely how to care for them, wherever in the world they are.

People who live with these amazing creatures contact Marjan through the secretive Tea Shop group. Off she goes to see a griffon in England reaching the end of its very long life, an incontinent house gnome a few hours from home.

Into Dad’s vet office comes a young woman named Malloryn, a self-taught witch whose grey fox is ill. She’ll stay with Marjan for the mythic nine-tailed fox‘s lengthy treatment, maybe disperse the house’s gloom and bad aura.

Um, this ultra-rich Horatio guy isn’t collecting mythic creatures to appreciate them, like Malloryn loves Zorro or cute Sebastian’s family loves the griffon who chose his family generations ago. There’s something dark about Horatio, and Marjan wants to stay far away from his underground menagerie of faerie and stone giant and deadly manticore – every Persian tale her father told her, come to life.

Tea Shop believes that magical creatures’ contentment influences the overall good for humanity. As many creatures have disappeared lately, things are worsening in the world – and they want to find the missing.

Horatio keeps requesting her help with his creatures – can she safely stay away?
Dad was preparing for a trip to Ithaca, New York, when he was killed – will Marjan find any answers there about his death?
Sebastian wants to help her – what can two teenagers do against age-old problems?

“Once there was, once there was not…” Tales told by her father punctuate the action and peril – read the first chapter here free on the publisher’s website.

What’s your favorite mythic creature?
**kmm

Book info: Once There Was / Kiyash Monsef. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.