Tag Archive | writing

Off with her grandmother on The Last Great Adventure, by Rebecca Behrens (book review)

book cover of The Last Grand Adventure, by Sarah Behrens. Published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

To find her long-lost sister,
to find her place in a new family,
to make things the way they used to be…

In 1967, World War II was just one generation ago, the Summer of Love calls for peace, and Bea’s grandmother knows that it’s time to meet up with her sister Amelia Earhart back in their favorite childhood place, no matter what!

If someone’s dream seems possible, but very unlikely, what will you do?
**kmm

Book info: The Last Grand Adventure / Rebecca Behrens. Aladdin, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Her grandmother wants to reunite with her long-lost sister, and 12-year-old Bea wants to get away from her new stepfamily – a trip from California to Kansas sounds great! Never mind that only grandmother Pidge has heard from her sister Amelia since the famous aviator went missing or that Bea was only staying at Pidge’s new retirement village for a short visit…

With 30 years of Meelie’s letters in Pidge’s purse, the pair hops an eastbound train headed for Atchison (never mind about reservations for a sleeper), as Bea writes about their trip in her new adventure journal.

Her parents’ divorce made Bea so sad – why did Dad have to remarry?

Pidge keeps changing her mind about things – is she really in control of the situation?

Train, plane, automobile – will they get to Atchison in time to meet Meelie?

Family stories old, new, and being written form the heart of this road trip during the “summer of love” in 1967 as Pidge tries to reconnect with her beloved adventurous sister.


Authors & illustrators share their childhood works in Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissman (book review)

book cover of Our Story Begins, edited by Elissa Brent Weissnman. Published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Looking forward to a new year,
looking back over the past –
writers and artists do this, too!

You’ll recognize so many of your favorite authors and illustrators of works for kids and young adults in the “About the Author” section at the publisher’s webpage for this book!

So think about the stories you wrote in earlier years, the comic strips you drew, the plays that you put on for your family, the news reports that you made as a kid.

A new year, new opportunities, what will you begin?
**kmm

Book info: Our Story Begins: Children’s Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids / edited by Elissa Brent Weissman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: “When did you start drawing? When did you know that you wanted to write books?” These frequent questions from young readers are answered by 25 of our favorite authors and illustrators – with examples of their very early works – in this anthology which will inspire a new generation of creators.

A grade-school photo from each author and illustrator begins their chapter which includes reproductions of their childhood stories or drawings in crayon, pencil, pen, or typing.

There’s a photo of author Elissa Brent Weissman as a kid with Gordon Korman at his book signing, then turn to Korman’s chapter to read his fifth-grade speech “How to Handle Your Parents”.

Kwame Alexander’s mom still has his first-ever poem (to her on Mother’s Day) framed in her living room. Thanhha Lai and her family fled Vietnam during her childhood, but she can still recite the story-poem “A Bird in a Cage” that she told her mother over and over.

Illustrators’ talents as kids ranged from polished (Grace Lin) to rudimentary (Jarrett J. Krosoczka – graphic novels), and several authors say that they copied their favorite writers’ styles in early stories – all continued to work at their craft and work to be published.


Syria, Turkey, Iraq – refugees & Rolling Blackouts: graphic novel by Sarah Glidden (book review)

book cover of Rolling Blackouts, by Sarah Glidden. Published by Drawn & Quarterly | recommended on BooksYALove.com

War hurts the innocents the most,
Refugees fleeing or staying in bombed-out homes,
True now as it was in 2016…

So much of what the Seattle Globalist journalists and ’embedded artist’ Sarah Glidden experienced as they traveled in this strife-filled area of the Middle East is repeating in the news today.

Look for this nonfiction graphic novel at your local library or independent bookstore to see what happened and is still happening in Syria and neighboring Turkey and Iraq.

Where can you go when home is no longer safe… or even there?
**kmm

Book info: Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq / Sarah Glidden. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As part of an independent US journalism team examining conflict in the Middle East, cartoonist Sarah Glidden shows actions and interactions resulting when people in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq are asked “Who are you?” including the young veteran of the Iraq War accompanying them as a civilian.

The Seattle Globalist team has to leave for Turkey without visas for Syria (the Syrian ambassador in DC said yes to reporting on youth culture, but no to covering drought and refugees), but they’re looking forward to interviewing many different people on their two-month journey in 2010.

“Who are you?” they ask Iraqi refugees in Syria, their Kurdish driver in Iraq who won’t go to the Arab cities, an Iranian blogger, an American couple helping students get into college, a man deported from the US, their veteran friend who returned to Iraq for perspective.

This visual chronicle of their encounters and challenges brings glimpses of understanding about the continuing conflicts resulting from modern national boundaries intersecting with long-established cultural groups’ traditional territories.


Hope the journey is worth it for Charlie and Me: 421 Miles from Home, by Mark Lowery (book review)

US book cover of Charlie and Me, by Mark Lowery, published by Yellow Jacket Books| recommended on BooksYALove.com

US cover

UK book cover of Charlie and Me, by Mark Lowery, published by Yellow Jacket Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

UK cover

It was the best vacation their family ever had,
Charlie loved the dolphins, Martin loved the sea…
Just have to go back, recapture the good times!

Most middle grade guys wouldn’t voluntarily take their very individual younger brother on a very long train trip, but Martin isn’t most guys: his extremely different brother has been his annoyance and best friend since Charlie’s premature birth ten years ago.

So if Charlie would be happiest seeing the dolphins again at the seacoast hundreds of miles away, then that’s what Martin will do! No need to involve ever-sad Mum and always-working Dad – not the same since that vacation…

Us or UK cover – which do you prefer for this journey saga?
**kmm

Book info: Charlie and Me: 421 Miles From Home / Mark Lowery. Yellow Jacket Books (Bonnier), 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Getting back to the Cornwall seaside town where they saw the dolphins will make Charlie so happy that 13-year-old Martin takes all his savings, puts their favorite Christmas cookie tin in his pack, and heads to the train station with his neurologically special little brother – later, they’ll update their parents…

If the Dolphinwatch app is correct, they can get to the coast just in time…
As long as the railway police don’t stop them, like Mum and Dad would have if Martin had told them his plans…

Will the Angry Girl they meet on the third train (or maybe fourth) help them or not?
What if they run out of money on the way or Charlie has another asthma attack?
Can Martin really pull this off for his best-bud, pain-in-the-youknowwhat, dolphin-obsessed little brother?

Each chapter begins with the distance traveled (mostly in the right direction) and one of Martin’s poems as the two brothers traverse England on this singular journey.

A is for Alcott, in The Revelation of Louisa May, by Michaela MacColl (book review)

book cover of The Revelation of Louisa May, by Michaela MacColl, published by Chronicle Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comWhy does she have to run the household instead of writing?
And keep their Underground Railroad stop functioning (and secret)?
And discern a suitor’s true nature without her mother’s guidance?

Yes, this is that Louisa May, author of Little Women and Little Men, as a teen tasked with keeping house for her sisters and philosopher father during the summer when her mother worked away from home to support the family, rather than writing.

MacColl’s historical fiction about literary women, like Emily Dickinson in Nobody’s Secret (my recommendation here), is worth adding to your list.

Which author or poet would you like to read more about?
**kmm

Book info: The Revelation of Louisa May: a Novel of Intrigue and Romance / Michaela MacColl. Chronicle Books, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Always #teamme says Brooding YA Hero! by Carrie DiRisio & Linnea Gear (book review)

book cover of Brooding YA Hero by Carrie DiRisio, illustrated by Linnea Gear. Published by Sky Pony Press  | recommended on BooksYALove.comYou’ve read him a million times –
eyes like gems, attitude = #teamme,
Why’s he writing a book instead of starring in one?

Indeed, Broody McHottiepants has made the leap from Twitter sensation to published author (well, creator Carrie has), and as he gives advice to aspiring main characters, he wonders why he’s not in an Author’s book right now.

Maybe his Evil Ex-Girlfriend could help our self-centered bad boy figure that out – if he’d only change and listen!

Reading about Broody’s favorite (predictable) plot twists can show us what great YA writing really is.

Who’s your favorite (non-trite) YA hero?
**kmm

Book info: Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) As Awesome As Me / Carrie DiRisio; illustrated by Linnea Gear. Sky Pony Press, 2017. [author site] [illustrator site]   [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Every YA novel has its hero and its supporting characters – can one ever become the other? As Broody McHottiepants waits in New Story City for an Author to write him into his next heartthrob role, he decides to write an advice book (between admiring glances into his own mirror) for minor characters who aspire to his lofty status as Brooding YA Hero.

Interrupted often by his Evil Ex-Girlfriend (who only wants him to see past old tropes and tired stereotypes), Broody catalogues the usual features of young adult fiction – from character arc to literary devices – as he continues to wait for an Author (which should have happened by now…).

Tweeting as @BroodingYAHero was easy (140 characters, then back to describing his marvelous eyes), but writing a whole book is tiring and makes Broody think, despite his superficial gorgeousness and shallow personality.

Why does the YA world look so ‘white bread’ as evil Barbi says?
Can’t a selfish bad-boy star in every novel?
How much longer must Broody wait for an Author to write him in?

Looking at the too-common settings, plot twists, and happily-ever-afters of formulaic YA fiction, Broody and Barbi show readers what to look for in the best of today’s YA writing.

Oh, such critters in this sketchbook! If Found Please Return to Elise Gravel (book review)

book cover of If Found Please Return to Elise Gravel, by Elise Gravel. Published by Drawn & Quarterly 2017  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWant to become an illustrator?
Ready to step up your drawing style?
Elise says “let out all the ideas” in your sketchbook!

Monsters and microbes and funny mushrooms are some of the “complete nonsense” that this Quebecoise author/illustrator allows herself to draw in her plain black notebook, only later revising them or adding funny stories or spinning them off into her many books for kids.

Her top advice for illustrators-in-training? “Draw all the time!”

Enjoy this sample of Elise’s unique creatures and drawing style here, courtesy of the publisher, then visit your local library or independent bookstore to get your own copy.

What creatures might your doodling reveal?
**kmm

Book info: If Found, Please Return to Elise Gravel / Elise Gravel, translated by Shira Adriance. Drawn & Quarterly, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Creatures large, small, and all whimsical fill this notebook by Canadian illustrator and children’s author Elise Gravel, as inspiration for us to draw, draw, draw!

Draw in spare moments, like Elise does – practice and more practice is the way to improve, as you find your own drawing style.
You can imitate illustrations for practice or create crazy ideas and doodles. Some may inspire a story, so write it.

Look at her Floofs and foxes, bunnies dressed in punk rock t-shirts, and “the Incredible Hulk presents his favourite recipes for a romantic dinner” – mashing up ideas can make really funny pictures!

To become a better illustrator, just grab your notebook (any color, says Elise) and keep on drawing!

Memories and expectations – listen in….

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC tell of memory and expectations, with teens with so much of their futures riding on now.

You can download each title pair (just click on the link below) from Thursday through Wednesday, then you can listen to them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Single-narrator audiobooks or full-cast productions with sound effects? This summertime @AudioSYNC free program lets to try many genres of books – for free!

CD cover of Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer | Read by Will Lasley Published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.comRemember to Forget
(download here free from 6-12 July 2017)
by Ashley Royer
Read by Will Lasley
Published by Blink

Sent to Dad’s house in Maine from Australia to shake his depression, Luke isn’t sure he wants to “get over” his girlfriend’s death or to talk again or to meet anybody (especially the girl who reminds him of someone…)
 
Rebuttal
(download here free from 6-12 July 2017)CD cover of Rebuttal by Jyotsna Hariharan | Read by Phoebe Strole, Michael Crouch, Nina Mehta, a Full Cast Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Jyotsna Hariharan
Read by Phoebe Strole, Michael Crouch, Nina Mehta, a Full Cast
Published by HarperAudio

A 2nd place at debate tournament gets Alex to her dream writer’s workshop, but she needs a debate partner. Passing AP Biology gets Jeremy closer to becoming a doctor (his parents’ dream), but he needs a tutor.  Helping each other will be easy, right?

Expectations can be a heavy burden – how do you cope?
**kmm

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Why so candid? Because You’ll Never Meet Me, by Leah Thomas (book review)

book cover of Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas published by Bloomsbury Teen  | recommended on BooksYALove.comElectricity flares in rainbow colors – and will kill Ollie.
Moritz has no eyes, yet is not blind.
And a doctor suggests that they correspond…hmmm

Find this penpal story like no other in hardcover or paperback at your local library or favorite independent bookstore. And there’s a sequel!
**kmm

Book info: Because You’ll Never Meet Me / Leah Thomas. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, hardcover 2015, paperback 2017.   [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: One is allergic to electricity, the other is kept alive by a pacemaker – two very different teen boys become more than brothers or best friends through postal mail, uncovering a secret past that endangers them both.

Ollie must stay in a forest cabin, far from any US city because the tiniest bit of electricity sends him into life-threatening seizures, and says that being 14 and alone is extremely boring.

Moritz, seeing with his ears only, lives with his adoptive father in a busy German city, has a pacemaker for his fluttering heart, and at 16 is beyond bored with his schoolmates.

A doctor sets them up as penpals, so the guys begin telling one another their life stories through trans-Atlantic letters.

Their childhoods were quite strange, with parents gone missing and medical lab mishaps, and real-life friendships today are very difficult. Ollie misses Liz, who’s given up hiking in their woods for the normalcy of high school. Moritz finds a tenuous connection with Owen and his sister Fieke as bullies target all three of them.

These letters exchanged by Ollie and Moritz start encouraging each other to dare to live a little, even if it’s dangerous – as dangerous as the secret past that their shared memories begin to reveal.

Followed by Nowhere Near You.

Diaries of life, despair, hope – on audiobooks!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC bring us the hopes, dreams, and fears of American teens in their own varied voices.

Please download these complete, professionally recorded audiobooks before midnight PDT Wednesday, May 17, 2017. You can listen to them whenever you want, as long as you have them saved on your computer or electronic device.

Download great audiobooks all summer long at http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes | Read by Jessica Almasy, Kevin R. Free, Marc Damon Johnson, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Melanie Martinez, Cherise Boothe Published by Recorded Books |recommended on BooksYALove.comBronx Masquerade (download here free through May 17)
by Nikki Grimes
Read by Jessica Almasy, Kevin R. Free, Marc Damon Johnson, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Melanie Martinez, Cherise Boothe
Published by Recorded Books

During poetry slams at their inner city high school, 18 young people express their fears and hopes aloud.
 

Teenage Diaries: Then and Now (download here free through May 17)CD cover of Teenage Diaries Then and Now by Radio Diaries | Read by Hosted by Joe Richman Published by HighBridge Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Radio Diaries
Read by Hosted by Joe Richman
Published by HighBridge Audio

Five diverse people who recorded their lives as teens on the award-winning NPR series in the 90s return to speak about their lives as adults.

How do you chronicle your life story?
**kmm