Just a little fun for Kenyan boys or PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME? by Patrick Ochieng (MG book review)

book cover of laying a Dangerous Game, by Patrick Ochieng. Published by  Accord Books /Norton Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His baba has been promoted by the Railway, so now 10-year-old Lumush and little sister Awino can attend the Hill School, a big step up from their neighborhood school in 1970s Kenya.

More homework, less time to hang out by that old rusted car with his buddies, playing pata potea or dreaming up stunts to do – Mama is so happy this opportunity has finally come.

But everyone at Hill School except Lillian treats him with suspicion, his friends think he’ll become stuck up, and cute Nijah frets that he’ll get distracted by the Hill girls.

Ripe zambarau fruits tempt the boys to climb the tree at the ghost house; a dare sends them back at night to spy on the ghosts of the white woman and her daughter who died there!

The friends hear all the gossip as they ramble the neighborhood – medicine stolen from the dispensary, bags of coffee beans disappearing from railway cars, a delivery lorry stolen.

What will the thieves target next?
Do ghosts always smell like cigarette smoke?
What’s hiding in the junkyard?

Wander the Railway Estates with Lumush and his friends as they try to solve the ghost house mystery without becoming ghosts themselves!

Lumush tries to be a good Hill School student and also a good friend to his buddies as their manhood ceremonies approach, holding onto good times in the neighborhood even as his parents and teachers insist that his school success now will determine his entire future.

What landmark in your town has ghosts?
**kmm

Book info: Playing a Dangerous Game / Patrick Ochieng. Accord Books /Norton Young Readers, 2021. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Look again – THAT WAY MADNESS LIES: 15 OF SHAKESPEARE’S MOST NOTABLE WORKS REIMAGINED, ed. by Dahlia Adler (YA book review)

book cover of That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare's Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Published by Flatiron Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ah, the Bard!
His classic plays.
retold and retold – now with a twist!

A brooding bad boy becomes obsessed with a young ballerina from a rival high school – Romeo and Juliet, told completely in text messages.

Finally! Among the everlasting whiteness of the Fairy Court, the brown girl stolen from the mundane world as a baby sees another indigenous person in a gender-queer Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Not madness but anger drives Anne to unmask the vampire who killed her father, allowing her uncle to marry Mother for control of Elsinore in 1892 – the journals and letters of an educated young woman rewind the Hamlet narrative.

This anthology includes reimaginings by YA writers (famous and rising)

Dahlia Adler (The Merchant of Venice),
Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew),
Lily Anderson (As You Like It),
Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet),
Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale),
A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing),
Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147),
Joy McCullough (King Lear),
Anna-Marie McLemore (A Midsummer Night’s Dream),
Samantha Mabry (Macbeth),
Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus),
Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night),
Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar),
Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet),
Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest)

Each story is introduced by a quote from Shakespeare’s work, and often followed by author’s notes.

Shakespeare wrote in the everyday words of his time; these reimagined works bring his works into our time with clever twists and setting changes (outer space, a school dance, a rooftop greenhouse).

What’s your favorite quotation from the Bard?
**kmm

Book info: That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Flatiron Books, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [editor site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the author.

Real life stories to read with your ears – free audiobooks!

Have you registered for your free Sora shelf here yet? That’s where the free AudioSYNC audiobooks will reside when you download them during their Thursday-Wednesday access weeks so you can listen anytime.

Did you know that these professionally produced audiobooks are checked out to your Sora shelf online for 99 years?!

I’ll highlight each new audiobook pair on Thursdays so you’ll have time to download them. If you miss any, check your local public library or independent bookstore.

Let’s hear real life stories this week:

CD cover of The Real Herge: The Inspiration Behind Tintin, by Sian Lye | Read by Simon Vance.  Published by Oasis Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Real Herge: The Inspiration Behind Tintin (free Sora download 5/26-6/1/22)
by Sian Lye | Read by Simon Vance
Published by Oasis Audio

Tintin and his faithful canine companion traveled the world in search of news and adventure in a long-running graphic novel series that has myriad fans today.

Intrepid boy reporter Tintin reflected some of his Belgian creator’s personal dreams and characteristics, as this well-narrated biography of Herge reveals.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/191573/the-real-herge-by-sian-lye-read-by-simon-vance/

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CD cover of Someone Like Me: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for Her American Dream, by Julissa Arce | Read by Julissa Arce. Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Someone Like Me: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for Her American Dream (free Sora download 5/26-6/1/22)
by Julissa Arce | Read by Julissa Arce
Published by Hachette Audio

After spending her childhood in Mexico, Julissa joins her working parents in the US as a young teen. When her tourist visa expires, she remains to complete her education, ever fearful of deportation.

Stellar grades, great SAT scores – still so many barriers between her and university!

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/186636/someone-like-me-by-julissa-arce-read-by-julissa-arce/

Whose life story do you want to listen to next?
**kmm

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See them in new ways – STRAW INTO GOLD: FAIRY TALES RE-SPUN, by Hilary McKay (MG book review)

book cover of Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun, by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never insult fairy godmothers,
kindness makes the path easier,
curses can flip to blessings…

The fairy tales that we’ve heard over and over can be retold, modernized, role-switched, or set in other lands, yet we recognize their core stories every time.

This collection of “Fairy Tales Re-Spun” charmingly presents a double-handful of familiar tales using non-classic viewpoints, like the new teacher whose writing assignment at a backwoods school results in “What I Did in the Holidays and Why Hansel’s Jacket is So Tight (by Gretel, age 10)” – truth or fiction?

Cinderella finds a friend in Buttons and helps him shine boots for the prince who’s turned away from royal society to tend “The Roses Around the Palace.”

A stuffy bureaucrat is more concerned about keeping his town tidy (and his coffers full) than paying the agreed price to that motley-looking Piper for luring away all those horrid rats… so very quiet now at “The Fountain in the Market Square.”

Enjoy these ten fairy tale retellings, including lesser-known stories “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Swan Brothers” (also the basis for A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth that I recently recommended here).

Which fairy tale is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun / Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [illustrator bio] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Their quest is complete! SO THIS IS EVER AFTER – now what? by F. T. Lukens (YA book review)

book cover of So This Is Ever After, by F. T. Lukens. Published by Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Behead the evil king!
Fulfill the prophecy!
And then…

We all know the quest narrative: a hero answers the Call, they gather companions – mage, knight, healer, bard, rogue – and we follow their Quest journey.

This time, we join the story just as Arek and his teenage companions arrive at the castle, where the 17 year old beheads the Vile One with a magic sword to fulfill the prophecy (rather messily).

Well, the old wizard didn’t say there would be trumpets or lightning when the quest was done, so rogue Lila is sure it’s time to grab some loot and leave.

But the knight Rion reads out the prophecy again – whoever cuts off the Vile One’s head must rule, so Arek grabs the blood-smeared crown and declares himself king (temporarily, as they search for the imprisoned true heir) .

When there’s no living heir to be found, it’s up to Arek and friends to actually manage their kingdom after 40 years of terror – with the help of castle steward Harlow (who really knows how things are supposed to work).

Arek’s lifelong friend, Matt the mage, sets wards to protect them, and Bethany the bard magically sings out invitations welcoming all to the castle.

So many details! Liaisons to rebuild with neighboring kingdoms, a company of knights to assemble, and this little matter of Arek finding his soulmate in the next three months… but only if he wants to stay alive.

Maybe their healer Sionna? (after she stops blushing as castle worker Meredith teaches her to dance)
Perhaps one of the many noble folk invited to the first ball at the castle?
Why, oh, why can’t it be Matt?!

Tick tock, the days count down to Arek’s 18th birthday…

By the author of swoony magical In Deeper Waters , recommended here.

Who would you select for your quest crew?
**kmm

Book info: So This Is Ever After / F. T. Lukens. Margaret McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Politically charged choices – history to read with your ears! (audiobooks)

Thursday means it’s time for a new pair of free audiobooks from Audiofile SYNC. Use the simple registration steps here, then download two audiobooks into your Sora shelf free every week (Thursday-Wednesday) through the summer.

Once you download either or both of these history-related audiobooks to your Sora shelf online, you have 99 years to listen to them.

If you miss these or any other AudioSYNC featured titles, check your local public library or independent bookstore.

Making choices means living with the consequences, especially when it’s political! This week, two shorter audiobooks with big impact:

CD cover of A Brief History of Fascist Lies, by Federico Finchelstein | Read by Edoardo Ballerini. Published by Post Hypnotic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A Brief History of Fascist Lies (free Sora download 19-25 May 2022)
by Federico Finchelstein | Read by Edoardo Ballerini
Published by Post Hypnotic Press

From Hitler and Mussolini to Peron and Trump, lies have been the weapon of choice for fascist and populist political leaders during the past century.

This short audiobook by a noted Argentinian historian examines the connections between fascism and lying – can the former succeed without the latter?

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/190749/a-brief-history-of-fascist-lies-by-federico-finchelstein-read-by-edoardo-ballerini/

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CD cover of No-No Boy, by Ken Narasaki | Read by Kurt Kanazawa, Emily Kuroda, John Miyasaki, Ken Narasaki, Sharon Omi, Joy Osmanski, Sab Shimono, Greg Watanabe, Paul Yen. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No-No Boy (free Sora download 19-25 May 2022)
by Ken Narasaki | Read by Kurt Kanazawa, Emily Kuroda, John Miyasaki, Ken Narasaki, Sharon Omi, Joy Osmanski, Sab Shimono, Greg Watanabe, Paul Yen
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

During World War II, a Japanese-American man refuses to make a loyalty oath to the US or to serve in its armed forces, instead staying in internment camps and prison for years.

When he finally returns to Seattle, he is shunned by the Japanese-American community, the girl he loves has married someone else, and his mother believes that Japan has won the war.

This full-cast performance shows a full range of emotions as the man wonders about finding hope while living with the choices he has made.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/200997/no-no-boy-by-ken-narasaki-read-by-kurt-kanazawa-emily-kuroda/

What other historical events would you like to read with your ears as AudioSYNC summer audiobooks?
**kmm

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The death of the QUEEN OF THE TILES was no accident?! by Hanna Alkaf (YA book review)

book cover of Queen of the Tiles, by Hanna Alkaf. Published by Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Same tournament,
same competitors,
who wished her dead?

Maybe making her re-entry into the cutthroat world of teen Scrabble competition at this venue was a mistake. But after a lonely year, coming to the last place that Najwa saw her best friend Trina alive seems fitting somehow.

Trina’s gameplay was stunningly brilliant, her popularity off the charts – why the wealthy girl befriended quiet Najwa when she changed schools was a mystery.

Everyone (else) is here at the Malaysian hotel – Trina’s on-and-off boyfriend Mark, socially inept Josh, fidgety Emily (cheating scandal, yah), Singapore Ben and his hover-mother, Yasmin who knew Trina as a child… plus two annoying young players making a tribute documentary about Trina.

Najwa’s roommate this weekend is Puteri, Mark’s ex-girlfriend before Trina – no happy late-night chatfests with her fellow hijabi this weekend!

When Trina’s dormant Instagram account suddenly posts Scrabble tile photos that spell out clues, Najwa and companions begin wondering if Trina’s death during her final game with Josh was really accidental.

Pushing past grief and panic attacks, Najwa wants to win the tournament in memory of her best friend and find answers, even if asking questions puts her in danger, too.

Trina was “easy to love and easy to hate” – which emotion led to her demise?

Peppered with high-scoring Scrabble words, definitions, and anagrams, Najwa’s journey to win this tournament as she recreates Trina’s last moments makes for a high-stakes mystery!

What’s your favorite word game?
**kmm

Book info: Queen of the Tiles / Hanna Alkaf. Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Classic tales retold – read with your ears!

Get ready for week 3 of Audiofile SYNC season by registering free here.

Every Thursday through Wednesday this summer you can download either or both featured audiobooks onto your Sora shelf and listen to them online whenever you like.

If you miss any AudioSYNC titles during their free download time, just check your local public library or independent bookstore.

This week: classics retold take us back to vital roots of relationships:

CD cover of Never Look Back, by Lilliam Rivera | Read by Almarie Guerra, Samuel Maria Gomez. 
Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never Look Back (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Lilliam Rivera | Read by Almarie Guerra, Samuel Maria Gomez
Published by Recorded Books

This retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth centers Afro-Latinx characters in the Bronx today: upbeat, suave Pheus who serenades all the girls and Eury who’s troubled by the spirits that haunt her after she survived Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

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CD cover of When Morning Comes, by Arushi Raina | Read by Jamie Bloch, John Fleming, Patience Mpumiwana, Tony Ofori. Published by ECW | recommended on BooksYALove.com

When Morning Comes (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Arushi Raina | Read by Jamie Bloch, John Fleming, Patience Mpumiwana, Tony Ofori
Published by ECW

Romeo and Juliet set in the apartheid struggles of 1976 South Africa: a white boy from the best school in Johannesburg falls in love with a black girl from the poor side of the city in the time leading up to the bloody Soweto Youth Uprising for racial justice.

What other classic retellings would make great audiobooks?
**kmm

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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.

Listen to African Voices this week on AudioSYNC – free!

It’s finally Audiofile SYNC season! Register free here, then you can download two audiobooks into your Sora shelf free every week (Thursday-Wednesday) through the summer.

Keep either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks on your Sora shelf online so you can listen anytime, on any device.

Enjoy this week’s African Stories, African Voices:

CD cover of The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o | Read by Benjamin A.  Onyango. Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Ngugi wa Thiong’o | Read by Benjamin A. Onyango
Published by Brilliance Audio

The origin of the Gikuyu people of Kenya is masterfully narrated in this poetic and stirring creation story adventure.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/188758/the-perfect-nine-by-ngugi-wa-thiongo-read-by-benjamin-a-onyango/

http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of This Book Betrays My Brother, by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit. Published by ECW Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

This Book Betrays My Brother (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit
Published by ECW Press

Thirteen-year-old Naledi stays quiet about her brother’s crime until she realizes years later that the truth must be told in their South African community.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/186126/this-book-betrays-my-brother-by-kagiso-lesego-molope-read-by-jacqui-du-toit/

What other African stories would you recommend?
**kmm