Tag Archive | US author

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 McNulty (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 McNulty. 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.

A quest, an escape, SOMETHING CLOSE TO MAGIC is needed! by Emma Mills (YA book review)

book cover of Something Close to Magic, by Emma Mills. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

When Aurelie’s feckless parents used up all their money, she was forced to leave school and magic lessons to become apprentice to a miserly baker.

Use her Seeker skills again? Dashing finder Iliana convinces her to try – for a percentage of the bounty. Everyone knows that each magic spell used has a consequence of opposites…

They set out through the dreaded Underwood to find Elias, son of a royal servant. Along the way, Aurelie is pulled underground by an ancient being, rescued by Quad (a troll friend of Iliana), and has a vision of Elias nearby.

But instead of Elias, the three young women find Prince Hapless’s coach under attack!

To throw off the kidnappers, they continue roundabout in the Underwood, rather than take Hapless directly onward to the Scholar’s City. The prince is funny and nice and honest about being a very terrible student of magic, only living up to his court-given royal name now and again.

What?! The newspaper says Iliana and Aurelie kidnapped Hapless! But the attackers wore palace guard uniforms… something’s fishy.

They magically change the prince’s appearance and head for the capital instead. He and Aurelie hate to part, but promise to write… back to boring real life.

When Iliana appears at the bakery several weeks later, worried about a plot against Hapless at his sister’s ball, Aurelie must decide – see the man she knows she cannot be with or abandon her chance to become a master baker.

A pretender grabbing for the throne, unrequited affections, old magic and new magic – a worthy tale indeed!

What magic spell would you choose, if you knew it could boomerang?
**kmm

Book info: Something Close to Magic / Emma Mills. Atheneum, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

You know you can LEAN ON ME! by Bill Withers & Rachel Moss (Picturebook review)

book cover of Lean On Me / Bill Withers; illustrated by Rachel Moss. Published by LyricPop/ Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Four young friends in a seaside town help each other through good times and bad in this brand-new picturebook version of Bill Withers‘ classic song.

“Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s
Always tomorrow”

From bike mishaps and fort-building fails in elementary school to growing up through family problems to their graduation day, each verse of the song underscores how these friends care for one another.

“Lean on me
When you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on…”

Whether grownups and kiddos sing along through this upbeat book or read it using Withers’ inimitable rhythms, Lean On Me will become a family read-aloud favorite!

Happy book birthday to the newest LyricPop picturebook in the series introducing classic pop songs to a new generation, like Dream Weaver (recommended here) and Good Times Roll (more here).

Who can you lean on?
**kmm

Book info: Lean On Me / Bill Withers; illustrated by Rachel Moss. LyricPop/ Akashic Books, 2023. [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Experience our Black History when you read with your ears! (audiobook recommendations)

Our AudioSYNC 2023 summer season ends with two outstanding audiobooks celebrating Black history of recent and earlier times.

You must download either or both audiobooks into your Sora shelf by Wednesday August 2nd! Get all the details here.

Huge thanks to Audiofile magazine and the many audiobook publishers who provided these great selections to us free!

CD cover of Freedom: The Story of the Black Panther Party,by Jetta Grace Martin, Joshua Bloom, Waldo E. Martin Jr. | Read by Dion Graham. Published by Recorded Books

Freedom: The Story of the Black Panther Party (free Sora download 7/27 -8/2/23)
by Jetta Grace Martin, Joshua Bloom, Waldo E. Martin Jr. | Read by Dion Graham
Published by Recorded Books

The history of the Black Panther Party comes to life, from its founders and their stories to its work supporting African American families in crisis to its collapse and next steps of key members.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/208263/freedom!-by-jetta-grace-martin-joshua-bloom-waldo-e-martin-jr-read-by-dion-graham/

swirling lines clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of Not Without Laughter, by Langston Hughes | Read by Jaime Lincoln Smith. Published by Tantor Media

Not Without Laughter (free Sora download 7/27 -8/2/23)
by Langston Hughes | Read by Jaime Lincoln Smith
Published by Tantor Media

A Black family’s struggles and challenges include racially charged encounters as son Sandy grows up in 1930s Kansas.

A classic Harlem Renaissance novel, narrated to perfection.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/225993/not-without-laughter-by-langston-hughes-read-by-jaime-lincoln-smith/

What was your favorite AudioSYNC summer audiobook this year?
**kmm

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