Tag Archive | US author

YOU CAN’T SAY THAT! yes, authors can! #BannedBooksWeek (nonfiction book review)

book cover of You Can't Say That! Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell, edited by Leonard S. Marcus. Published by Candlewick Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Too rude! too scary!
Not in our school, our town,
we don’t talk about such things…

Name a ‘controversial topic’ and you can find a list of books for kids and teens that someone, somewhere in the US has tried to censor or ban from class or remove from library shelves.

That’s why this is Banned Books Week and why noted children’s books expert Leonard Marcus decided to talk with authors whose books have challenged by people who think their viewpoint is the only one.

Marcus sets the stage in each chapter by noting the author’s books, the censorship they faced, and how he knows them, so the interviews are conversations between friends as well as explorations of how their depictions of real life often clash with adults trying to protect kids from unpleasant things.

Authors interviewed include: Matt de la Peña, Robie H. Harris, Susan Kuklin, David Levithan, Meg Medina, Lesléa Newman, Katherine Paterson, Dav Pilkey, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, Sonya Sones, R. L. Stine, and Angie Thomas.

You’ll recognize challenged titles from Captain Underpants to the Goosebumps series to Heather Has Two Mommies that have been stolen, challenged, and even publicly burned, but might not have heard about authors being ‘disinvited’ from speaking at schools because their books include gay characters or children in families with alcoholism.

Meg Medina expresses the balance between would-be censors and the author’s right to tell their stories freely: “When it comes to formal challenges to books, the problem is not that parents don’t have the right to be involved in deciding what their children read. The problem is that they don’t have the right to make that determination for other people’s children.” (p. 96)

What are your experiences with book banning or censorship at your school?
**kmm

Book Info: You Can’t Say That! Writers for Young People Talk About Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell / Leonard S. Marcus, editor. Candlewick Books, 2021. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

The more you know: CONSTITUTION DECODED, by Katie Kennedy, art by Ben Kirchner (Nonfiction book review)

book cover of Constitution Decoded, by Katie Kennedy, art by Ben Kirchner. Published by Workman Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Preamble, articles amendments –
we know what they are,
but what do they mean?

If we’re widely reading something over 200 years after its publication, it’s a classic.

To better understand the meanings of the Constitution’s old-time phrasing and vocabulary, we could use some help – here’s the book we need!

Going article by article, even word by word, we get insights into the historical context of key principles like separation of powers, creating new states, and establishing the U.S. monetary and postal systems.

The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights, detailing important ideas like the rights of free speech, peaceful gatherings, and trial by jury.

Other amendments fine-tuned Constitutional concepts or changed certain sections that were outdated. Did you know that here were no political parties in 1776, so the Vice President was the runner-up in the Presidential election? The 12th Amendment establishes the Electoral College with distinct voting on President and Vice President.

This book gives clarifying ‘translations’ side-by-side with each section of the Constitution and amendments, notes where amendments changed the original document, and provides vocabulary definitions, case examples, and facts in action (the 27th Amendment was ratified in 1992, but had originally been proposed in 1789!).

With full-color art on each page to help readers remember key concepts and fact-checked by a constitutional law scholar, this book makes a very old document very readable today.

Did you have to memorize the Preamble for school?
**kmm

Book Info: The Constitution Decoded: a Guide to the Document That Shapes Our Nation / Katie Kennedy; art by Ben Kirchner; contributions by Kermit Roosevelt. Workman Publishing, 2020. (author site) (artist site) (contributor site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Let’s keep this BETWEEN YOU, ME, AND THE HONEYBEES, by Amelia Dian Coombs (YA book review)

cover image of Between You, Me, and the Honeybees, by Amelia Dian Coombs. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The contented buzz,
orderly and productive –
bees always tell the truth.

Josie finally got through graduation and just wants to work full-time at her family honey business outside their small North California town.

But Mom insists that Josie apply to college (the chance she never got), and her bossy best friend is more than ready for them both to escape Volana for school in LA.

When the grandson of rival beekeepers arrives for the summer, Josie finally meets someone who understands her anxiety and her love for the bees. Ezra is a manga fan too and really wants to draw graphic novels professionally, despite his father’s disdain for the arts.

This summer, Hazeldine Honey will try for its 25th win for best honey in the state, beating the rival Blumsteins yet again… when disaster strikes.

Why can’t Mom understand that caring for their bees is more important than leaving town?
Will her beloved Gran have to move back with them because of her medical and memory issues?
Can Josie and Ezra keep their relationship secret from their feuding families?

Maybe sweetness doesn’t always have to come with a sting – read Josie and Ezra’s summer story to find out!

What’s your dream that’s outside the expected, tried, and true?
**kmm

Book Info: Between You, Me, and the Honeybees / Amelia Dian Coombs. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

THE ADVENTURE IS NOW on island of wonders! by Jess Redman (MG book review)

book cover of The Adventure is Now, by Jess Redman. Published by Farrar Strauss Giroux BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

During a truly terrible year at middle school, the Isle of the Wild game on Milton’s HandHeld device is the only good thing left, as he becomes intrepid explorer Sea Hawk instead of the boy no one wants to be friends with anymore.

So Milton is okay with traveling to his uncle’s research station on remote Lone Island for the summer – better than being around as his parents finalize their divorce.

Far out in the Atlantic Ocean, Lone Island is filled with unbelievable tropical flora and fauna, like an elephant that burrows underground and the Incredible Symphonic Cicadas noted in Dr. Paridis’ field journals.

But after her death, the Truth-Will-Out Vine covered the whole island except the research station and researchers’ small houses, even shutting out aerial views of its wonders!

Other kids on the island? Interesting.
No way to recharge his game device? Egad!
A greedy corporation trying to claim the amazing island? No way!

Milton and his new friends must find a way through the Truth-Will-Out Vine so they can verify Lone Island’s uniquely wondrous creatures, plants, and trees before it’s too late!

Look for this May 2021 adventure at your local library or independent bookstore so you can join the search for the Earthworm Pachyderm, Beautimous Lemallaby, and Yes-No-Maybe-So Tree!

When have friends helped you find something wonderful and worth sharing?
**kmm

Book info: The Adventure is Now / Jess Redman. Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Gothic intrigue in DIRE DAYS OF WILLOWEEP MANOR graphic novel! by Shaenon K. Garrity & Christopher Baldwin – YA book review

book cover of The Dire Days of Willoweep Manor, by Shaenon K. Garrity (story) & Christopher Baldwin (art). Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A daring rescue,
a ghost in the manor,
a brooding hero with a dark secret…

Haley’s teacher insists that she must write a book report on anything but a gothic romance if the African American teen wants to pass English class… sigh.

When Haley rescues a man from drowning under the river bridge, they emerge from the water into a different world! But what world and when??

The manor house is “three centuries and four European architectural traditions smushed together” on the eerie moors, brooding older brother Laurence says they’re in “the year of our Lord none of your business,” and there’s a ghost that only Haley can see or hear – are they actually inside a book?

Perhaps so, because Haley is now “the Maiden” attired in a long dress, the sinister housekeeper lets a few secrets out, and youngest brother Cuthbert acts more zany by the hour.

But maybe not, because Montague (the brother that she rescued) insists that he was seeking help from her world because a devouring Penultimate Evil was encroaching on Willoweep Manor, a pocket universe that’s the final defense…and there are cracks in the barrier!

As the Bile seeps out, it infects every creature to join in its attack against all things good!

Will the three brothers finally band together instead of bickering?
Can Haley become the Gothic Heroine that Willoweep needs?
Is she trapped in this pocket universe forever?

This clever graphic novel uses every trope, tradition, and cliche of gothic romances to great effect as our intrepid heroine and the desperate caretakers of Willoweep fight to save… everything!

What what you learned from reading fiction that can help in real time?
**kmm

Book info: The Dire Days of Willoweep Manor / Shaenon K. Garrity (story) & Christopher Baldwin (art). Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Book cover image and review copy courtesy of the publisher.

One night only! It’s the BATTLE OF THE BANDS anthology, ed. by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith (YA book review)

book cover of Battle of the Bands, edited by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

On stage, behind the scenes, in the audience,
taking tickets, selling merchandise –
all connected by local teen musicians!

Sixteen authors bring us interlinking stories that center around the annual Battle of the Bands at a suburban New Jersey high school from many points of view.

Solo acts and long-standing bands, breakups and first kisses, new friends and old grudges, family ties that bend and stretch (but will they break?).

Most stories begin before The Big Night with characters appearing in more than one narrative, just like the overlapping circles of acquaintance at the high school… or the first-time interactions at the Battle itself.

Get this book now at your local library or independent bookstore – just published last week!

I rarely read books twice, but I honestly can’t wait to reread this one, now that I’ve met so many characters as they gather for the music, the friendship, and the best Battle of the Bands ever!

What’s your favorite concert story?
**kmm

Book Info: Battle of the Bands / Lauren Gilbaldi & Eric Smith, editors. Candlewick Press, 2021. ISBN 9781536214338 (Lauren’s site) (Eric’s site) (publisher site)

Stories by Brittany Cavallaro, Preeti Chhibber, Jay Coles, Katie Cotugno, Lauren Gibaldi, Shaun David Hutchinson, Ashley Poston, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Sarah Nicole Smetana, Eric Smith, Jenn Marie Thorne, Sarvenaz Taghavian, Jasmine Warga, Ashley Woodfolk, and Jeff Zentner, and featuring Motion City Soundtrack’s Justin Courtney Pierre.

Pride and identity – audiobooks bring stories to life

Quick, quick! Put these outstanding free audiobooks from SYNC on your Sora shelf right now, before the selection changes on Wednesday night (30 June 2021)!

Once they’re saved on your free Sora shelf (FAQs here), you have 99 years (yes, really) to read them with your ears!

CD cover of audiobook Sasha Masha, by Agnes Borinsky. Read by Agnes Borinsky. Published by Tantor Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sasha Masha (free download 24-30 June 2021 on Sora)
by Agnes Borinsky
read by Agnes Borinsky
published by Tantor Media

Alex struggles with their identity, trying to live up to expectations of being a boy in Baltimore. A photo sent by faraway best friend revives suppressed memories, leading Alex to find a supportive social club for queer youth amid awkward interactions at home and school.

Read by the transgender author who invites us on Alex’s journey of personal truth.

CD cover of audiobook Stay Gold, by Tobly McSmith. Read by Theo Germaine, Phoebe Strole Published by Harper Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Stay Gold (free download 24-30 June 2021 on Sora)
by Tobly McSmith
Read by Theo Germaine, Phoebe Strole
Published by Harper Audio

At his new Texas high school, Pony isn’t announcing that he’s transgender, just wanting to make some friends, including cute cheerleader Georgia.

Georgia just wants to finish high school and get over a bad breakup, not expecting to fall for Pony.

What other affirming stories would you recommend for Pride Month and all year long?
**kmm

Listen to art talk – free audiobooks this week

Let’s talk about art – this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC are ready for you to download to your Sora shelf now!

These professionally narrated complete audiobooks are only available for Sora download from Thursday through Wednesday, or you can find them any time through your favorite independent bookshop or local library.

audiobook cover of Poemsia: a novel,  by Lang Leav. Read by Saskia Maarleveld. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Poemsia: a Novel (free download 17-23 June 2021 on Sora)
by Lang Leav
Read by Saskia Maarleveld
Published by Listening Library

When an obscure poem found in her grandfather’s antiquarian bookstore is mistaken for one of Verity’s own writings, the Australian teen is offered a publishing deal and travel to New York City!

Supported by her life-long best friend and new boyfriend, Verity has to cope with sudden fame and high expectations as she strives to stay true to herself.

audiobook cover of This Is What I Know About Art, by Kimberly Drew.
Read by Kimberly Drew Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

This Is What I Know About Art (free download 17-23 June 2021 on Sora)
by Kimberly Drew
Read by Kimberly Drew
Published by Listening Library

Access to art for all people, the relationship between art and protest – learn more about the ways that artistic expression can be open to everyone with the social media manager of NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art who communicates passionately about cultural studies, fashion, and Black contemporary art.

What art-inspired books can you recommend?
**kmm

How can life’s rarities outlast everyday reality? Audiobooks show us more!

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Remember to save these complete audiobooks to your Sora shelf (FAQs here) from Thursday through Wednesday so you can access them any time on your phone or device.

If you missed the free download of earlier AudioSYNC recommendations, be sure to check through your local public library!

CD cover of audiobook Crescendo:The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town,
by Allen Cheney, Julie Cantrell [Contributor].Read by Allen Cheney. Published by Thomas Nelson | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Crescendo: The Story of a Musical Genius Who Forever Changed a Southern Town (free download on Sora 10-16 June 2021)
by Allen Cheney, Julie Cantrell [Contributor]
Read by Allen Cheney
Published by Thomas Nelson

Bullied in his small Georgia hometown, musical genius Fred Allen escapes to New York City where his talent is appreciated and applauded.

The musician’s wife and family support his dreams, even when the long-term effects of childhood trauma darken his outlook. This biography is written and narrated by Allen’s grandson with love and hope.

CD cover of audiobook Extinction,
by Hannie Rayson. Read by Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Darren Richardson, Joanne Whalley. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Extinction (free download on Sora 10-16 June 2021)
by Hannie Rayson
Read by Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Darren Richardson, Joanne Whalley
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

Spotting a tiger-quoll in the wild means the endangered Australian carnivorous marsupial could be saved from extinction… if the American zoologist who finds it can convince a greedy timber baron to spare its habitat.

How can the rare and wonderful be saved from everyday life’s brutality and greed?
**kmm

Ah, France as you’ve never seen it before – journey there with free audiobooks!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC take us to an alternate City of Lights, then south to the wonderful tastes of Lyon – read with your ears and dream of travel…

Get your Sora app set up (FAQs here) and download either or both of these complete audiobooks FREE before Wednesday June 9, 2021. Then you can listen anytime you like as long as you keep them on your Sora shelf.

CD cover of audiobook Rook, by Sharon Cameron | Read by Caroline Feraday. Published by Scholastic Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rook (download free 3-9 June 2021 on Sora)
by Sharon Cameron
Read by Caroline Feraday
published by Scholastic Audiobooks

After the earth’s magnetic poles shift, technology is useless and the world is in turmoil. Among the power struggles of ruined Paris, 18-year-old Sophie works in the shadows to save the helpless from the Razor’s terrors, leaving behind a red-tipped rook feather as her calling card

But can she save herself from a loveless marriage arranged to keep her family from financial ruin?

audiobook cover of  by Mayra Cuevas | Read by Jennifer Jill Araya. Published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Salty, Bitter, Sweet (download free 3-9 June 2021 on Sora)
by Mayra Cuevas
Read by Jennifer Jill Araya
Published by Blink

From her Cuban grandmother’s kitchen in Kansas to staying with her father’s new family in southern France for an elite cooking school challenge, Isa finds herself balancing old hurts and new feelings.

I recommended Salty, Bitter, Sweet earlier on BooksYALove – read more here!

What other books set in France would you recommend?
**kmm