Tag Archive | writing

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

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.

YOU WERE MADE FOR ME…the perfect guy, created by me! by Jenna Guillaume (YA book review)

book cover of You Were Made for Me, by Jenna Guillaume. Published in USA by Peachtree Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Writing and hoping,
sketching and sculpting –
make your own dream come true…

“The day I created a boy started like any other” (p. 1) with Katie’s sketches and stories, dreaming of her perfect first kiss, swooning over Declan at school, and constant commentary by BFF Libby. Who knew that their art + science creative project last night would bring handsome, adorable Guy into their lives today?

How?! No time for questions when she awakens to the perfect teen boy in her bedroom! Theo from next door comes to the rescue, and they discover that he’s real, he has no belly button (she forgot to sculpt it), and he loves 16-year-old Katie more than anything!

Katie helped Theo as they lost his mum to cancer, and now he lets Guy share his added-on bedroom as they all try to figure out what’s next… a guy with no last name or ID can’t go to school with them, right?

Aside from Guy being utterly delighted by Katie and sunset and the beach and every new food he tries (which means everything), the rest of her life is the same – Mikayla and the mean girls are still hateful to her and Libby, she’s still nervous about painting the big mural at school, and Declan is still cute – what??

How can she balance her part-time job and Guy and school?
Why is Theo starting to act weird around her?
Will her first kiss be perfect?

A story in two voices, as Libby interrupts often to refocus Katie’s narrative of how Guy was created and learned to live in their Australian neighborhood below parental radar (mostly).

What attributes would you give to the perfect person for you?
**kmm

Book Info: You Were Made For Me / Jenna Guillaume. Peachtree Publishing, 2021. (author link) (publisher link) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Feathers, wizard, corn fritters – HOW TO SAVE A QUEENDOM gets complicated! by Jessica Lawson (MG book review)

book cover of How to Save a Queendom, by Jessica Lawson. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mistreated at the inn, 12 year old Stub has years of apprenticeship ahead, until she finds a wizard in her apron pocket – tiny, unhappy, and magically bound to stay near her!

A plot to disrupt 100 years of peace? A journey across the entire queendom to the capital city? Only a week to get there!?

If the orphan girl can just get the maps hidden by Beaman’s mother, she and pet chicken Peck can escape the constant bullying…

If Beaman can brave the trip, he could cook his specialties for young Queen Sonora herself…

If wizard Orlan can guide them through perils while his magic is diminished, maybe they can stay alive long enough to save Sonora and the queendom!

Magical beasts, treacherous terrain, running low on spices – life in their coastal town hasn’t prepared Stub or Beaman for travel’s hazards, but they must get to Maradon Cross in time.

Can they stop the evil regent from shattering the Peace?
Will they get to meet Queen Sonora on her 13th birthday?
Is Orlan telling them everything about this mission?

Quick thinking, spells and transformations, a century of secrets – find out How to Save a Queendom at your local library or independent bookstore today!

How have your best friends helped you through difficult times?
**kmm

Book Info: How to Save a Queendom/ Jessica Lawson. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Can she stay safe from THE MEMORY THIEF? by Jody Lynn Anderson (MG book review)

book cover of The Memory Thief by Jodi Lynn Anderson, published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lurking spirits,
Mom mourning loss,
stories hide secrets!

When 12 year old Rosie decides it’s time to burn the stories she’s written to fill the empty spaces in herself, the old seaside house that she shares with so-forgetful Mom is filled with ghosts!

Her best friend Germ (really Gemma) starts liking makeup and boys, but Rosie has other things to worry about, like bringing her widowed mom back to the present long enough to sign progress reports so no one suspects her lack of attention to the sixth grader and her obsession with watching the sea.

The ghosts she can now see lead Rosie to an ancient book, The Witch Hunter’s Guide, that reveals much about her family history and perhaps why Mom can’t remember Rosie from day to day.

Somehow Germ also begins to see the ghosts (when not practicing with mean girl Bibi for the talent show!) who lead them to hidden buildings and warn that the 13 witches controlling the world know Rosie is coming into her powers!

What’s keeping the ghosts tethered to her New England town?
Can Rosie and Germ escape the Memory Thief’s cursing touch?
Could they rescue “him floating out there” that Mom is longing for?

First in a new trilogy by the author of My Diary From the Edge of the World (recommended here).

What family story do you want more details about?
**kmm

Book Info: The Memory Thief (Thirteen Witches, book 1) / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Celebratory lines – poems about NINE! a Book of Nonet Poems, by Irene Latham (picture book review)

book cover of Nine: a Book of Nonet Poems, by Irene Latham. illustrated by Amy Huntington. Published by Charlesbridge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rhymes or none,
poems are fun –
you know haiku,
so try something new!

Expressing yourself in verse or song can make everyday life more interesting. That’s what a birthday girl and her little brother and their armadillo pal do, using the nonet form.

What does that look like? She answers readers in the very first poem, “Nonet”:

Grand
poem
with nine lines –
one syllable
first line builds toward
nine-syllable ninth line
(or the reverse). A staircase
for poets and readers alike!
(Any subject, rhyming optional.)
-page 1

Did you count the syllables as you read down the nonet-staircase? Yep – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Some of the girl’s nonets start with the nine-syllable line and get shorter line by line, like “Nine-Banded Armadillo” and “Dressed to the Nines” for her big birthday bash!

Flip to the back of the book to learn more about all the nines in the poems and even the dimensions of the book itself.

Celebrate Children’s Book Week by writing your own nonet!

What’s your favorite nine fact?
**kmm

Book Info: Nine: a Book of Nonet Poems / Irene Latham; art by Amy Huntington. Charlesbridge, 2020. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Whoosh! 11 years of BooksYALove, a decade of April A2Z!

text reads: reflection- Blogging from A to Z April (2021) Challenge http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Like that snowball rolling downhill toward a cartoon character, growing larger and faster as it goes, time seems to pass more swiftly as the calendar pages flip over.

Eleven years ago today, I stepped out into the then-new world of blogging, thanks to the encouragement of Michelle Rafter’s Blogathon in the early 2010s and the repository of book recommendations that I had written for Barb Langridge’s awesome kids’ book discovery site www.abookandahug.com (still going strong – be sure to take the Reader Personality Type quiz here!).

Ten years ago today, I looked back at a whole month of posts (every day but Sunday) pegged alphabetically from A to Z – wow, I really could create content on a daily basis… for at least one month of the year during the April AtoZ Challenge!

At the end of March every year since, I’ve pondered whether I could really complete another AtoZ, not missing a single alphabetical day (X is so hard). And for 10 years straight, I’ve decided that I should try, and I have succeeded!

Book bloggers don’t get medals or awards for our work promoting books, authors, and illustrators.

Most of us don’t get any money for our writing, some of us get review copies from publishers (thank you, thank you!), and many of us pay out of pocket to host our sites.

We all spend innumerable hours reading, deciding which books to write about, looking at our growing TBR (to-be-read) piles of books…and the books waiting for a review.

Book reviewers may never know whether our recommendation of a specific book led someone to read it… but one review and one book may be what makes life better for one reader – and that is enough for me as I begin my 12th year of BooksYALove.

Have you read any of the 1000+ books that I’ve recommended?
**kmm

W is for THE WILLIAM HOY STORY: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, by Nancy Churnin (Picture book review)

book cover of The William Hoy Story, by Nancy Churnin, art by Jez Tuya. Published by Albert Whitman & Co. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Umpires, coaches, players –
so many hand signals in baseball!
Why do they do that?

Have you watched a baseball game and wondered what story the coach is signalling with their hands touching shoulder, nose, ear, ear, nose?

Each combination tells their players what the pitcher should throw to this batter or whether a runner should steal or stay on base.

Who started this no-words communication on the baseball diamond? It was William Hoy, a Deaf player in the early 1900s who practiced hard so he could run faster and hit harder to play in the Major Leagues!

He couldn’t hear the umpires say ‘ball’ or ‘strike’ at the plate or read the lips of players who hid their mouths behind their mitts – but when the umpires used American Sign Language to signal their calls as William suggested, he could steal bases better than anyone!

His teammates learned signs so they could talk strategy without the other team hearing it. too. Even the fans started waving their hands high in the air as Deaf applause after William’s great plays as an outfielder and base-runner.

Learn more about this game changer and the early days of baseball in this picture book for everyone.

What obstacles have you overcome to do something you loved?
**kmm

Book info: The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game / Nancy Churnin, art by Jez Tuya. Albert Whitmas & Company, 2016. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Personal collection; cover art courtesy of the publisher.

F is four friends FACING THE SUN & big changes, by Janice Lynn Mather (YA book review)

book cover of Facing the Sun, by Janice Lynn Mather. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Poems and stories and whispers,
Secrets and revelations and sorrows,
Good friends can endure them together… right?

Eldest of five, Eve is so tired of chasing after siblings, being the perfect pastor’s daughter, awash in her parents’ worries about losing the church to developers and something about her father’s health that they won’t tell her. Singing with Toons in the perfect acoustics of that small building is harmony and peace and maybe a little more.

Her single mom keeps Nia on such a short rope, claiming that an all-girls summer arts camp just across the bay wouldn’t be safe, that she needs to read every story before they print the neighborhood newspaper. Borrowing a song heard in the sea-grove as the poem for her camp application could be Nia’s ticket to some breathing room this summer.

Faith’s mother is getting further from reality, and trying to balance homework and dance lessons at her sister’s studio and maybe liking Toons and getting home to keep Mummy safe while her father works late is pulling Faith apart. She doesn’t live on Pinder Street like most of her school-friends, but it hits hard to find out that Daddy’s down there, saying the neighbors have no rights to go onto the beach anymore.

Keekee wonders why she’s the one getting grief from their mom when it’s Toons who’s stepping around with Faith and Eve and Paulette. Her songs channel some of the sting from neighbors’ scorn, those who don’t understand that Angel’s home laundry business supports folks who can’t afford to go to the clinic for condoms or period products.

What’s good about fencing off the beach and tearing down the church so rich people can stay at yet another Bahamas hotel?
Who set the church building on fire as protest?
Where is Toons? Where?

Ties between friends and families twist and tangle in this beachside neighborhood where change seems all-peril, little promise. A tale told in the voices of all four friends, from the Bahamian-Canadian author of Learning to Breathe (my no-spoiler review here).

How do you make yourself brave enough to face changes?
**kmm

Book info: Facing the Sun / Janet Lynn Mather. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is empowering words by THE LIGHTNING DREAMER: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, by Margarita Engle (YA book review)

book cover of The Lightning Dreamer, by Margarita Engle. Published by Harcourt | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Reading is escape.
Forbidden now, freedom removed –
She will tell new stories!

Of course she must marry someday, but Tula is told by her grandfather that the highest bidder will claim her next year, that her mother and stepfather will gain enough money in 1828 to buy more slaves to save their Cuban sugar plantation from ruin, that the thirteen year old’s too-brief time with her late father’s books will end forever.

Sent to wait at the convent, Tula meets nuns who accept every child abandoned because their skin is darker, who save every book they can find, who allow her to read the silenced poet Heredia’s calls for equality.

She writes plays and allegories that hide freedom’s songs within folktales, hiding them in her brother’s room. She dreams with her best friends of marriage based on love. She is betrayed, and yet continues composing messages of hope.

As the abolition of slavery is discussed publicly in America’s north, silence reigns on the island of Cuba, enforced by the whip and imprisonment. But what prison bars can keep captive the words of truth?

This novel-in-verse by the author of Jazz Owls (my review) and With a Star in My Hand (my review) sprinkles the voices of Mama, the nuns, and others among Tula’s poems about dreams, love, and a better future for all. Based on the life of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (1814-1873).

What are your powerful dreams?
**kmm

Book info: The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist / Margarita Engle. Harcourt, hardcover 2013, paperback 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.