Tag Archive | war

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.

A SONG ONLY I CAN HEAR tempts him to dare, by Barry Jonsberg (book review)

book cover of A Song Only I Can Hear, by Barry Jonsberg. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Try something new?
Stay quiet as a mouse?
Show his true self to the world?
Better choose well…

Rob is utterly smitten with the new girl in his class and too tongue-tied to even say hello. Easier to play chess with his grandfather every afternoon at the old folks’ home.

But when text messages from an unknown number challenge the 13 year old to get out of his comfort zone if he wants to succeed, Rob enters his Australian town’s youth talent show, even though public speaking gives him panic attacks.

Inspired by another text, non-sporty Rob tries out for the soccer team because Destry likes athletes – and makes the team as goalie! (but no changing in the locker room…)

Publically protesting the environmental damages of meat production gets Rob featured in the newspaper, as one text challenged, and also sent to the principal’s office for the very first time.

Bad at math, he can count on best pal Andrew and sailor-mouthed grandad.

Great in English, Rob struggles to write the perfect poem for Destry!

Will the Vietnam War ghosts ever stop tormenting his grandad?
When will Daniel stop bullying Rob?

As the mysterious texts continue, Rob moves slowly off his path of comforting routines and begins to find himself, despite how others see him.

What challenge would you like to see in your inbox?
**kmm

Book info: A Song Only I Can Hear / Barry Jonsberg. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020 (USA). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

When WAR IS OVER – what next? by David Almond (book review)

book cover of War Is Over, by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield. Published in US by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mam working at the munitions factory,
Dad away, fighting overseas,
the Great War goes on and on.

John writes to Buckingham Palace in 1918, asking when the terrible war will be over, but neither King nor teachers nor mothers can answer the boy’s question.

As his class walks to tour the gigantic weapons factory, they encounter a man who refused to fight, a conscientious objector against war who knows that German and British children are more alike than different.

After the police beat the man and take him away for speaking unpatriotic thoughts in public, one photo of a German boy is left behind.

Soon the boy Jan appears in John’s dreams, and though they speak different languages, their wish for peace is the same. “I am just a child. How can I be at war?” (pg 20)

Among the extensive black and white illustrations, the reader’s mind can imagine the red of homemade rosehip jam and of the tiny scars on Mam’s cheeks left by faulty shrapnel in the factory and of sunsets preceding John’s dreams of children spreading seeds of peace instead of hate.

Published in the UK in 2018 to mark the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I, this child’s eye view of war is a May 2020 US release.

Can we love our country and hate war?
**kmm

Book info: War is Over / David Almond; illustrated by David Litchfield. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Secrets abound at A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS! by Kathleen Baldwin (book review)

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Torture or merely draconian discipline?
Surely her parents won’t make her stay…

High society frowns on girls who prefer chemistry to needlepoint or whose frequent migraines are really visions of disaster – shutting them far, far away from the cotillions and balls of Regency London.

Yet the science experiment that burned down Father’s stable may be a blessing in disguise for Georgiana as the teen finds herself not in a reform school for rebellious girls, but a secret spy school!

Under the direction of Miss Stranje and Madame Cho, several young ladies with highly unusual talents are honing their skills in self-defense and espionage in the fight against Napoleon.

Georgie’s secret ink may give England the upper hand, if she can perfect its formula, if she can keep her heart safe from young Lord Wyatt, if they can keep French agents from stealing it!

Set in an alternate 1814 where Napoleon successfully returns from exile, this first book in the Stranje House series is followed by the equally adventurous and properly romantic Exile for Dreamers (centered on Tess), Refuge for Masterminds (Jane’s story), and Harbor for the Nightingale (Maya’s tale).

Where might your unusual talents take you?
**kmm

Book info: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, book 1) / Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Dare she tell THE STORY THAT CANNOT BE TOLD? by J. Kasper Kramer (book review)

book cover of The Story That Cannot Be Told, by J. Kasper Kramer. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Leader knows everything,
all must follow his new rules,
everything of the past must be erased!

“History is written by the victors,” goes the saying, but Ileana’s beloved uncle doesn’t believe that’s true and goes missing after a story critical of Romania’s Communist government goes public in 1989.

The teen’s parents whisk her out of the city, to her grandparents’ mountain village, hopefully far away from the secret police who have eyes and ears on every street corner.

In her knapsack is the notebook of stories she’s collected – old ones about the beautiful city before the Leader ruined it, older ones about her namesake princess, new ones from her uncle. Now she can add the stories about her own mother and the villagers as told by Mamaie and Tataie.

Weeks pass without word from her parents, but when strangers settle at the village inn, everyone knows this may be the last harvest festival before the government takes absolutely everything they have.

Can Ileana and her new schoolmates find a way to stop them?
What clues from the tale of Cunning Ileana might help?
Are her parents safe or have they been taken like her uncle?

Like the villagers’ tale of the White Wolf who saves the mountain people, Ileana wants her story to save those she loves… if she can.

When have you taken the truth to those who need it most?
**kmm

Book info: The Story That Cannot Be Told / J. Kasper Kramer. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

When home’s safety is an illusion, what next? Read tales of escape & danger … with your ears!

From home, they cross desert lands,
from desert to home,
siblings travel in fear and hope.

The destination and the journey may both prove dangerous for teens in this week’s free audiobooks from the summer AudioSYNC program.

Download by evening of 27 May 2020 via the links below, and you can read with your ears as long as you keep the files on your phone or tablet’s Sora app shelf.

CD oover of Sisters Matsumoto, by Philip Kan Gotanda. Read by Keiko Agena, June Angela, Ron Bottitta, Kurt Kanazawa, Suzy Nakamura, Greg Watanabe, Ryun Yu. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sisters Matsumoto (download 21-27 May 2020)

by Philip Kan Gotanda. Read by Keiko Agena, June Angela, Ron Bottitta, Kurt Kanazawa, Suzy Nakamura, Greg Watanabe, Ryun Yu. Published by L.A. Theatre Works

Leaving prison camp in 1945, three Japanese-American sisters return to their California family farm, but find that everything has changed.

The young women are determined to realize their late parents’ dreams, even if the land is out of their hands.

This full-cast live performance is followed by an excellent discussion with former internee George Takei about US citizens “relocated” during World War II.

CD cover of Disappeared,  by Francisco X. Stork | Read by Roxana Ortega, Christian Barillas
Published by Scholastic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Disappeared (download 21-27 May 2020)

by Francisco X. Stork. Read by Roxana Ortega, Christian Barillas. Published by Scholastic Audio

Las Desaparecidas, the disappeared girls, now include Sara’s friend Linda so the young journalist writes and worries, knowing that powerful forces in Juarez are behind the kidnappings.

Sara’s brother Emiliano hopes that building a small business will impress the wealthy classmate he adores.

Soon, the criminals threaten Sara and Emiliano’s lives – is it time for them to brave the desert crossing to safety?

What difficult journeys in life have you traversed with the help of your family?
**kmm