Tag Archive | war

THEY CALLED US ENEMY – Japanese-Americans in WWII, by George Takei (Graphic novel review)

Book cover of They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Published by Top Shelf Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Leaving their home and possessions,
not his parents’ choice…
Why? Why!?

His mama’s purse is full of treats for five-year-old George and little Henry as they make the long train trip with her, Daddy, and baby Nancy from their home in Los Angeles to a camp in the woods of rural Arkansas.

Not a vacation place, but an internment camp with barbed wire fences, unfamiliar foods, very little privacy, and their loyalty to the USA constantly in question – boring for kids, disheartening for adults.

Later, George’s family was moved to a facility in the California desert at Tule Lake, another of several concentration camps that housed 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese who were forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II.

At war’s end, they hoped to move back to their homes and businesses, but their properties had been seized and sold to others… time to start all over again.

Will the US government deport George’s family?
How can they live in a country that hates them?
What will the future be like in a world after war?

This is a sobering portrayal of a dreadful time in America’s history, as seen through a child’s eyes and reinforced by decades of subtle and overt racism against Asian Americans.

(One of the white co-authors had worked previously with Takei and pitched the idea of capturing his childhood memories as a graphic novel. The book’s artist is Japanese-American, creator of Himawari House graphic novel that I recommended here.)

The well-known Star Trek actor and social activist continues to speak out against discrimination, racism, and the rights of all to love and be loved.

What young childhood memory would you write or draw?
**kmm

Book info: They Called Us Enemy / George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf Media, 2019. [author site] [co-author site] [co-author interview] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is for brave KEMOSHA OF THE CARIBBEAN, now free – and a pirate! by Alex Wheatle (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Kemosha of the Caribbean, by Alex Wheatle. Published by Black Sheep/Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Enslaved no more!
Fight for her freedom,
to free her family!

From her late mother, Kemosha learned Spanish and the dream of freedom, gifts kept secret from the brutal English sea captain who owns the Jamaican plantation and its Black workers.

When Kemosha is sold to a tavern owner in Port Royal, the 15 year old leaves little brother Gregory in cook Marta’s care, promising that she’ll return to get him, someday.

Port Royal is surely “the wickedest place on earth” in 1668, filled with drunken sailors who’ll pay Mr. Powell for “time with her” – but not if she can escape first!

She finds refuge with barrelmaker Ravenhide, the only free Black man in town, who teaches her how to fight with a sword, so she can challenge Powell and win her freedom in a public duel.

Through Ravenhide, Kemosha meets Isabella (even lovelier than the sailors’ song about her) and secures a job as cook on Captain Morgan’s privateer ship, away to fight against the Spanish.

Will she survive being on board the same ship as Mr. Powell?
Can she earn enough to buy Marta and Gregory’s freedom?
Will she ever see her beautiful Isabella again?

The author of 1760-set Cane Warriors (recommended here) brings another blood-spattered page from Jamaica’s history to life in this action-packed adventure.

If you could go back in time to talk to someone from history books, who would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: Kemosha of the Caribbean / Alex Wheatle. Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C is for Callie, reinventing herself ACROSS THE POND, by Joy McCullough (MG book review)

book cover of Across the Pond, by Joy McCullough. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Goodbye, not-so-good friends,
hello, new life in a new country!
Now… how to become a new me?

Callie and Jax’s parents have inherited what? A large drafty castle in Scotland that her family will renovate into a tourist destination is a huge change from their small two-bedroom apartment in San Diego where she was bullied at school.

Jax bounds into primary school as happily as he races through the castle’s many chilly rooms where stones fall from fireplaces and mice munch on tapestries.

Callie loves the small village library, but utterly panics at starting mid-term at the high school – please, please, will her parents let her homeschool to finish seventh grade and help them renovate?

They agree, as long as she does an outside activity to make friends… hmm, Lady Whittington-Spence’s childhood journal talks about bird-watching when she was evacuated to the countryside early in World War II.

When Callie unintentionally makes an enemy of their landscape designer’s young teen granddaughter, escaping to the youth birdwatching club (oops, it’s called ‘twitching club’ in Scotland) seems the best idea.

The twitchers are pleased to have access to the castle grounds for the Big Day competition when their club will try to beat teams from neighboring villages by spotting the most birds. Callie has some catching up to do, and Cressida (“just Sid”) forgives her so they can learn all the birds’ favorite nesting spots.

Can she and Sid show the twitching club that girls are great birders?
Can Callie’s family get the castle in shape for visitors soon?
How did their new cat get into the dumbwaiter?

Entries from Pippa Spence’s journal punctuate Callie’s own journey into confidence in her own abilities to learn new things and finally make friends worth having.

Published in paperback this week! By the author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost (I recommend here).

What’s on your “must-see” personal list?
**kmm

Book info: Across the Pond / Joy McCullough. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

RIMA’S REBELLION – she rides against tyranny in Cuba! by Margarita Engle (YA book review)

book cover of Rima's Rebellion: Courage in a Time of Tyranny / Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No voice in elections,
no protection from angry men,
no standing under the law – enough!!

Rima’s grandmother fought on horseback during the long struggle for independence from Spain, yet two decades laterin the 1920s Cuban women still cannot vote, not even las Mambisas.

Men hold all the power here, may kill a wife or daughter suspected of adultery without penalty, yet leave their own illegitimate children in poverty with no rights.

Forced to leave school at 14, ‘natural child’ Rima learns lacemaking with her mother in the shack on the far edge of her father’s land, knowing he could destroy it and Abuela’s horseshoeing forge at any time. Riding on her buckskin mare is Rima’s joy and escape:

“The enemy I run away from
is my own thought-trapped self,
all these doubts born within me.
If only I could mount a horse of hope
day and night, airborne, free!” (pg. 44)

It’s awkward to make lace mantillas for her half-sister Violeta, but worse to be mocked at the forge by every man in the village – except the glassblower’s son, who gives her glimpses of beauty in his work and his words.

Year after year, Abuela and Las Mambisas ride in parades to show their skills as horsewomen, inspiring young women like Rima and even Violeta to ride, to ask again and again for voting rights and protection of women’s rights.

Can Rima find a future without the protection of her father?
Can Violeta live up to the perfection he expects?
When will Cuban women finally earn respect and rights?

Happy book birthday to Rima’s Rebellion, another powerful novel-in-verse celebrating Cuba’s history like The Lightning Dreamer (see more here), and Lion Island (recommended here); the Spanish edition will be published in April 2022.

I also recommend the author’s Jazz Owls (here) and With a Star in My Hand (here) – so much poetry, such compelling histories!

What injustice would you parade against?
**kmm

Book info: Rima’s Rebellion: Courage in a Time of Tyranny / Margarita Engle. Atheneum, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Tapping her HIDDEN POWERS: LISE MEITNER’S CALL TO SCIENCE, by Jeannine Atkins (YA book review)

book cover of Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner's Call to Science, by Jeannine Atkins. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

School through age fourteen,
prepare to raise a family,
but she wants more, so much more!

In a time when new elements are being added to the periodic table, Lise longs to be a scientist, to study further – so unladylike for the early 1900s!

But she persists, going to university, earning her PhD, hearing the discoveries of Planck and Einstein and Hahn from the great men themselves – so much more to learn!

Segregated in her Berlin basement laboratory away from the university’s male chemists and physicists, Lise makes an electroscope to examine radioactive substances – surely they can fill the periodic table’s gaps!

She publishes her important findings in academic journals before and during and after World War I – Dr. L. Meitner is applauded, yet her male co-researchers get more of the credit.

Hitler invades her home country of Austria in 1938 – safety for a Jewish woman in Nazi Germany will soon be impossible!

Can Lise escape to another country?
How will she continue her research?
Why did her lab partner alone get a Nobel Prize for their work on nuclear fission??

This biography in verse is a worthy addition to your reading list for International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February or any day!

What woman of science do you think should be more celebrated for her work?
**kmm

Book info: Hidden Powers: Lise Meitner’s Call to Science / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She writes hopeful, worried LETTERS FROM CUBA to war-darkened Poland, by Ruth Behar (MG book review)

book cover of Letters From Cuba, by Ruth Behar. Published by Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Random House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Cross the wide ocean,
earn money slowly, slowly –
bring family to safety – soon, soon!

Papa went first to Cuba, trying to make enough money so their whole family could escape the increasing peril of merely being Jewish in Poland.

Esther is the oldest child, ready to travel across the sea and help Papa grow their savings faster, 11 years old on a ship crossing the Atlantic in 1938, writing letters to her sister Malka in an old notebook until time to send them.

Always-summer Cuba means sandals instead of woolen stockings, a small village in the hills away from the city, walking and walking with their peddler’s packs to sell goods throughout the countryside where the air smells like candy from the sugar mills.

As Esther learns Spanish, she’s befriended by Francisco Chang who came from China to his uncle’s store, Doctor Pablo and Senora Graciela whose daughter died young, and Manuela’s formerly enslaved grandmother who honors the gods of her African ancestors.

Angry sugar mill owner Eduardo thinks she and Papa don’t belong here, so the young woman takes refuge in the poems of Juan Marti shared by Senora Graciela as Esther designs and sews stylish cotton dresses that become popular in Havana.

Can she make enough dresses by herself to fill the orders?
Can they earn enough money to get their family here soon?
As Europe rejects Jewish people, will Cuba still welcome them?

As powerful people like Eduardo begin echoing Hitler’s anger and lies, Esther and Papa work hard and pray harder to bring their family to safety!

What letters have shared family stories with you?
**kmm

Book Info: Letters From Cuba / Ruth Behar. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, 2020. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is for ODDITY, logic-defying objects, the desire of Clover’s heart, by Eli Brown (YA book review)

book cover of Oddity, by Eli Brown. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A button that whistles when it rains,
the rooster leading US troops into battle,
the search for oddities that killed Clover’s mother…

Far from the city, Clover’s physician father trains her to treat the ills and injuries of country folk. Rarely will he speak of the accident that claimed her mother, a noted scholar of magical Oddities that draw the thirteen year old’s attention and her father’s wrath.

An attack on their home sends Clover fleeing with just their medical bag and papa’s warning that he did keep one necessary Oddity of mama’s collection – but what?

Each Oddity can do one very specific thing and only that – a fiddle that compels hearers to dance, the umbrella that stores lightning bolts – how many uncataloged Oddities are still waiting to be found?

Nessa’s medicine show wagon can get Clover to the city, if they can outwit bandits and avoid magical creature attacks along the forest road.

But the young woman finds more questions than answers when she locates her mother’s colleague in the city – and treachery too!

A hat filled with secrets and fangs, the deadliest snake of all, a destructive ragdoll, the Seamstress who stitches together malign creatures from odd parts – who will gain control of their world?

In this alternate history tale, Napoleon used an Oddity to create platoons of identical soldiers for the Louisiana War that tore apart the New World, a corrupt politician wants to use Oddities to control the now-bankrupt eleven Unified States, and Clover journeys into danger to find the source of the Oddities’ magic.

One small task per Oddity – what would you choose? What price would you be willing to pay?
**kmm

Book info: Oddity / Eli Brown, illustrated by Karin Rytter. Walker Books US, 2021. [author site] [author video] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

M for MILLION MILE ROAD TRIP in the purple whale, to Mappyworld and beyond? whoa… by Rudy Rucker (YA book review)

book cover of Million Mile Road Trip, by Rudy Rucker. Published by Skyhorse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Feuding alien beings,
augmented old station wagon (surfboards included),
three teens must save humanity…

Zoe just wants to get through graduation tomorrow, best friend Villy might not get to (math = yuck, guitar = yes), and his younger brother Scud excels at… being annoying.

Her dad’s in a flying saucer cult, Mom hasn’t forgiven him for walking out when Zoe was little, and her half-sister is in jazz band, too – just regular Southern California, right?

When the musical riff that Maisie just taught her opens an interdimensional portal, small yellow aliens Yampa and Pinchley call Zoe, Villy, and Scud on a mission to stop bad aliens from invading Earth!

Stretch crawdads, fleshy flying saucers (friendly vs. evil), Thudd dinosaurs – the three teens meet all sorts of aliens on their million-mile road trip through the basins and ridges of Mappyworld.

Will they make it to Szep City where rebels gather to oppose Lord Groon’s takeover of Ballyworld aka Earth?
Can they get back to Los Perros in time for Zoe to play her trumpet solo at the talent show and save the world?
Is that Maisie over there?

“Upsy downy inside out” plus a saucer-pearl can get the kids out of jams or into multi-worlds trouble!

Zoe and Villy take turns recounting their amazing sci-fi journey through Mappyworld and from friendship to love. One universal truth – chocolate is the ultimate currency.

Which of your skills would help you outsmart an alien invasion?
**kmm

Book info: Million Mile Road Trip / Rudy Rucker. Night Shade Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

J is CANE WARRIORS fighting enslavement in Jamaica, by Alex Wheatle (YA book review)

book cover of Cane Warriors, by Alex Wheatle. Published by Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The marks of the back-ripper whip,
fear in every breath,
time now to rise and fight!

Moa wishes that Tacky’s plan was quiet, but the 14 year old has seen too many fellow slaves worked to death in these Jamaican sugar cane fields or whipped for anything, like mentioning Midgewood who escaped from this plantation or talking about the old Akan ways and gods.

Three days from now – might be soon enough for young Hamaya since no slave can defend herself against their brutal overseer.

Can they kill all the white people on Easter Day so no one can warn the other plantations?
Can they tek the good foot across the green mountains and capture Fort Haldane?
Will Moa and his friend Keverton survive long enough to fight tomorrow?

“De blood will remember!” is the cane warriors’ cry.

Tacky’s leadership in 1760 is recounted in books and family stories, especially in St. Mary’s parish where Trinity and Frontier plantations once watered the fields with the blood of the enslaved. By the author of Home Girl (my review here).

When injustice is known, how can we answer with bravery?
**kmm

Book info: Cane Warriors: a Novel / Alex Wheatle. Akashic Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D for daring & doubts in WWII: I AM DEFIANCE, by Jenni L. Walsh (MG book review)

book cover of I Am Defiance: a novel of World War II, by Jenni L. Walsh. Published by Scholastic Press | BooksYALove.com

Purity of Aryan blood!
Devotion to the Fuhrer!
Questions not allowed!

Brigitte tries to act just like the other girls in her Hitler Youth JM group, but the 12 year old worries that a leader may discover big sister Angelika’s disability or Papa’s empathetic heart and take them away to the camps that no one talks about.

A pamphlet with unusual words like ‘freedom’ and ‘resistance’ appears in apartment mailboxes, and her botany professor Papa silently takes it away. Then comes another, and Brigitte’s JM leaders denounce the White Rose group for trying to undermine the Nazi government.

Then the third pamphlet arrives, and Brigitte agrees with Papa and Angelika that it carries more truth than the official state radio and newspapers. They’ll pretend to be ‘good Germans’ for now…until they can leave Munich safely.

Can Angelika hide her limp well enough to continue at university?
Can Brigitte hide her new knowledge from JM friends and leaders?
Is there any chance that the Schmidt family gets out of this war intact?

As Allied bombers close in on Munich, the secret trapdoor to the cellar may be what saves them, if their neighbors don’t report them first!

What is your defiance against the wrongs you see?
**kmm

Book info: I Am Defiance: a Novel of World War II / Jenni L. Walsh. Scholastic Press, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.