Tag Archive | US author

L is LUMINOUS LIFE OF LUCY LANDRY: orphan, treasure seeker, by Anna Rose Johnson (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Luminous Life of Lucy Landry, by Anna Rose Johnson. Published by Holiday House/PRH

Mama the actress died, then Papa,
now her guardian too –
where will Lucy go?

A remote lighthouse on a tiny island in vast Lake Superior!? Living with a family she’s never met? Thankfully, they’re also of Ojibwe and Acadian heritage…

So 11-year-old Lucy goes to the Martin family in 1912, an only child in hand-me-down clothes with a big imagination and few practical skills now among a bustling family of eight.

They gather seagulls’ eggs for cooking, their school lessons arrive every month with the household supply order and a box of books, and not one of the six children believes that Lucy’s mother was a famous actress…

Her ship-captain father told Lucy of a valuable ruby necklace lost when the Elva Jane shipwrecked and how a grand piano from its cargo washed ashore at Mermaid’s Cove across the water from this island – she’s determined to find that necklace in memory of her father!

But first she has to get over her fear of boats and convince the older Martin children to help her search and not make more mistakes at the lighthouse (that scary inspector could arrive any time).

The necklace’s owner is still living? Perhaps she knows a little more.
Who’s that boy searching for the necklace? Lucy must find it first!
A storm is coming while Mr. Martin is away? The children must light up the lighthouse for sailors’ safety!

Lucy tries to find her place in a new family in northern Michigan while keeping memories of her parents alive in this historical novel touched with mystery, glossary of Ojibwe and French words included.

Could you live on an island with little communication to the outside world?
**kmm

Book info: The Luminous Life of Lucy Landry / Anna Rose Johnson. Holiday House, 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is Supriya Kelkar’s STRONG AS FIRE, FIERCE AS FLAME during revolution! (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame, by Supriya Kelkar.  Published by Tu Books /Lee & Low Books

Soon to be married,
then tragedy, death!
Must she die also?

Changes, changes! In 1857 India, British occupiers push Indian men to join their military as Sepoy brigades, tax people so much that starvation is increasing, and want to change devoutly followed religious traditions, leading to widespread rioting.

When Meera turns 13 in a few days, she’ll move into Krishna’s family home, sealing the Hindu marriage agreement made when they were toddlers.

Aiie! Instead of a wedding celebration in their tiny village, it’s Krishna’s funeral on the day before her birthday. Tradition demands that widowed Meera commit sati and allow herself to burn on her husband’s pyre as she follows him into the afterlife.

Leave! Go! Aunt urges her to run away, and Meera flees alone into the rainy night and an unknown future. Could she possibly reach Rani Lakshmibai, the widowed queen who defies the British and rules her region with fairness?

Rescued from the raging river by people on a boat, Meera meets Bhavani who is going to see her sister in town. Perhaps she can help both girls find jobs…

A tiny mistake puts them in the hands of Captain Keene, the one who’s abolishing their traditions! He orders them to work at his big house to pay for their error – at least they’ll have food and a place to sleep.

Luckily, his wife doesn’t share his anger, this kindly memsahib who likes to sketch, who mourns the death of their daughter, who asks that schools for local girls be created.

The two young teens help the cook, serve meals to Captain and Memsahib and their guests, and hear much talk about how the East India Company will soon complete the takeover of their homeland. Bhavani and her sister believe that the British must leave India alone, so they’re meeting with local rebels to make plans.

What’s this? Captain has a secret stash of ammunition and plans to attack! The rebels must be told!

Is Meera brave enough to search the Captain’s desk and help the rebels find out how to get that ammunition?
Can the sepoy Charan truly be on their side against the British officers?
Will the young women be as fearless as Rani Lakshimibai?

Based on true events of India’s history – see the endnotes for more details and timeline. By the author of contemporary middle-grade novel That Thing About Bollywood, recommended here.

When have you chosen to stand against injustice instead of just being a bystander?
**kmm

Book info: Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame / Supriya Kelkar. Tu Books /Lee & Low Books, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

J is THE JOCKEY AND HER HORSE – yes, a Black girl should ride in races! by Sarah Maslin Nir & Raymond White Jr. (MG book review)

Book cover of The Jockey and Her Horse, by Sarah Maslin Nir & Raymond White Jr. Published by Cameron Kids/ Abrams

To understand without words,
to work as a team of two,
horse and rider, running together with one mind!

Was the horse barn was Cheryl’s favorite place in the world, or the pasture where the queen mare ran with their herd? Only riding in races on Jetolara, the first thoroughbred she ever loved, could ever be better than growing up on their Ohio racehorse farm.

Dreaming of a better future for their children, her White mother and Black father married well before the 1964 Civil Rights Act allowed it nationwide.

Cheryl’s great-grandfather was a Black horse trainer who refused to let prejudice force him out of racing. Her father continues the business with pride and knowledge. He is sure that little brother Drew will be a winning jockey, when it’s really Cheryl who has the desire and skill.

A whiz at school, she accepts her mother’s challenge for 1971- if Cheryl aces her senior year classes, she’ll get to race on powerful filly Ace Regard to earn her jockey license!

Studying for academic quiz show tryouts and the jockey license exam, riding Jetolara and Ace in training runs, preparing to race nearby and travel far away to Senegal – can Cheryl do it all?

Listen in on the thoughts of Jetolara and Ace as they find their places in the herd and in Cheryl’s life, too.

This fictionalized story of Cheryl White, the first Black female professional jockey and winner of 750 races, was co-written by Cheryl’s little brother who held almost every job in horse racing – except jockey, because he grew too tall!

What’s your dream job and what will you do to get there?
**kmm

Book info: The Jockey and Her Horse (Once Upon a Horse, book 2) / Sarah Maslin Nir & Raymond White Jr., art by Laylie Frazier. Cameron Kids/Cameron + Company, 2023. [co-author interview] [artist page] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D is for a dog, determination, and OUR DIVINE MISCHIEF interfering! by Hanna C. Howard (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Our Divine Mischief, by  Hanna C. Howard. Published by Blink YA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

What will be her role in the village?
Mother must let her go try!
It’s time…

Aila sails to Yslet’s island to discover what skill the goddess will grant her. But instead of a golden disk with apprentice symbol inscribed, the 17 year old finds only a muddy puppy who insists on going home with her.

Hew waits with the other villagers, hoping that she didn’t receive a blank disk like he did, praying that she’s not cursed to be Unblessed as he is…

The priest is flummoxed, finds that a series of Ordeals might still reveal Yslet’s way for Aila’s lifework, and assigns Hew to watch over her as she prepares.

Orail, the puppy, is delighted to be with Aila and Hew as her mind expands, as the teens experience her mischief and magic growing rapidly, as she secretly helps Aila during the Ordeals.

When a scribe from the mainland intuits that Orail is a wish-granter, he decides that the dog’s gifts will help the Usurper overthrow the King and steals her away!

Aila and Hew follow, never mind the mainland’s dangers – they must rescue their friend!!

Reflecting Scottish history and folklore, this adventure is told in the three voices of Aila, Hew, and Orail, whose poetic mind-speak grows more lyrical as she quickly grows from rambunctious puppy to full-grown protector.

Would you want your future job to be locked-in by others?
**kmm

Book info: Our Divine Mischief / Hanna C. Howard. Blink, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C is CALLING THE MOON: 16 Period Stories from BIPOC Authors, edited by Aida Salazar & Yamile Saied Mendez (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Calling the Moon: 16 Period Stories from BIPOC Authors, edited by Aida Salazar & Yamile Saied Mendez. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

One’s first period…
awaited, dreaded, longed-for, a total surprise?

Whether you know a little or a lot about menstruation and the cultural traditions surrounding it, you’ll empathize, learn, and celebrate the varied perspectives shared by these Black, Indigenous, and people of color writers.

“The Arrival” is chronicled in verse by Nikki Grimes, as a young athlete fears that she’s injured herself at track practice, learns that it’s just a normal first period, and is determined to channel her new “woman-me” into strength and speed at the track meet.

Leah Henderson writes that Amari absolutely knows that she doesn’t want to give up soccer and return to ballet like her mom wants, but is really uncertain about the “Turning Point” Celebration day that Mom sets in motion as soon as the 12 year old gets her first period.

After their mother’s sudden death, how will Papi cope with his girls growing up? wonders the eldest, 13-year-old Lucia, when the neighborhood ladies tell him to worry about “pimples and periods and hormones” in “Ofrendas” by Guadalupe Garcia McCall.

Contributors include Hilda Eunice Burgos * Veeda Bybee * Susan Muaddi Darraj * Saadia Faruqi * Nikki Grimes * Leah Henderson * Mason J. * Erin Entrada Kelly * Guadalupe Garcia McCall * Elise McMullen-Ciotti * Yamile Saied Méndez * Emma Otheguy * Aida Salazar * Christina Soontornvat * Padma Venkatraman * Ibi Zoboi.

The list of Resources includes books (like Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, which I recommended here), films, podcasts, support organizations, and websites.

*kmm

Book info: Calling the Moon: 16 Period Stories from BIPOC Authors, edited by Aida Salazar & Yamile Saied Mendez. Candlewick Press, 2023. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

B is for BORN READING: 20 Stories of Women Reading Their Way Into History, by Kathleen Krull & Virginia Loh-Hagan (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Born Reading: 20 Stories of Women Reading Their Way Into History, byKathleen Krull & Virginia Loh-Hagan; illustrated by Aura Lewis. Paula Wiseman Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The skill of reading hasn’t always been taught to girls or encouraged for women, but that didn’t stop those determined to learn!

Meet Wu Zeitan, the first and only woman emperor of China, who promoted reading and education, published books on farming and government, wrote poetry, and created new Chinese written characters.

Get to know E. Pauline Johnson, an Indigenous Canadian poet and performer who was able to lecture and write about her Mohawk and White heritage in the late 1800s when few Indigenous or native voices reached such wide audiences.

Patsy Takemoto Mink didn’t let prejudice against Japanese Americans after World War II stop her from continuing her education, becoming a lawyer, then going into politics to change policies that discriminated against women and people of color. In Congress, she championed Title IX to end gender discrimination in higher education.

You’ll discover more about the reading lives of historical figures Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Phillis Wheatley Pierce, Chien-Shiung Wu, Indira Gandhi, Shirley Chisholm, and Audre Lorde in this book.

Contemporary women readers chronicled include Temple Grandin, Sally Ride, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor, Serena Williams, Taylor Swift, Mala Yousafzai, Amanda Gorman, and Marley Diaz.

The 20 profiles are followed by sections on Feminist Fun Facts, more Girls with Books, activities to keep you reading, how to access free books, organizations that help girls and children read, and an extensive resource list.

Prolific author Kathleen Krull died in 2021, leaving behind a handful of profiles in the manuscript for this book which was further researched and completed by author and long-time friend Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan.

Kathleen said “Once books change their brains, girls change history.” (page 1)
How will you read your way into history?
**kmm

Book info: Born Reading: 20 Stories of Women Reading Their Way Into History / written by Kathleen Krull & Virginia Loh-Hagan; illustrated by Aura Lewis. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. [Loh-Hagan interview] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A is for ARYA KHANNA’S BOLLYWOOD MOMENT, by Arushi Avachat (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment, by Arushi Avachat. Published by Wednesday Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Senior year at last!
Too bad Arya is student council VP to long-term rival Dean as president, especially as they have to work together closely to fundraise for the Autumn Formal.

Big sister Alina the artist is finally back home!
If only she and Mamma would reconcile during the complex preparations for Alina and Nikhil’s elaborate Hindu wedding…

So much tension in Arya’s life!
Her BFFs Andy and Lisa dated for a while, then broke up, but the trio should be enjoying senior activities together in their Boston suburb, not drifting apart.

As she juggles college application deadlines, Mamma’s depression, fall festival planning meetings with now-charming Dean, and working part-time at her favorite Boston bookstore, the Indian-American teen longs for her own super-romantic Bollywood moment…

This charming debut rom-com includes cupcakes and wedding cakes, a pumpkin patch and henna mehndi designs, practicing for Alina’s sangeet dance at the wedding and dressing up for the Autumn Formal dance, plus waiting for college acceptance letters to arrive.

Be sure to look for Arya’s lists of recommended Bollywood movies and music, too!

**kmm

Book info: Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment / Arushi Avachat. Wednesday Books, 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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