Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Image: HarperCollins Publishers

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. 432 p. Quill Tree Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, May 5, 2020. 9780062882769.

Waiting on Wednesday features Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. Acevedo's YA verse novel, Poet X, is a TMS favorite. It also won multiple awards and prizes, such as The National Book Award, the Printz and a Carnegie Medal. Her next novel, With Fire on High, was prose. She returns to the verse format in Clap When You Land. This is the story of two sisters, one living in New York City and one in Dominican Republic, who are unaware of each other until their Papi dies in a plane crash. Sounds intense. Clap When You Land will be published in early May. I was a lucky recipient of an arc at Midwinter and I cannot wait to dive in!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Teen Tuesday:

Image: Simon & Schuster

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams. 384 p. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Atheneum/ Simon & Schuster, January, 2019. 9781481465809. 

Teen Tuesday features Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams. Thirteen-year-old Genesis has it pretty tough. She returns home from school to find her family's belongings out on the street. They've been evicted. Again. Mostly thanks to her father's alcoholism and inability to pay the rent. He promises to do better and Genesis starts a new school. But her problems go beyond this. She has a list of 95 things she hates about herself and one of them is the darkness of her skin. She is ridiculed both at home and at school about it. This novel sensitively explores issues of colorism and self-acceptance and the power that a loving mentor, in this case Genesis' music teacher, can have in helping healing. 

Genesis Begins Again is Williams' debut. It was a Morris Award Finalist and a Newbery Honor. She also won the John Steptoe Award for New Talent, which is bestowed by the Coretta Scott King committee. The book made several "Best" lists including an NPR Favorite. Surely a first-purchase!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Middle Grade Monday: Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

Image: HarperCollins Publishers
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia.166 p. Amistad/ HarperCollins Publisher, May, 2017. 9780062215918. 

Happy Presidents' Day TMS Readers! I hope you are enjoying your break. Middle Grade Monday features Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Garcia-Williams. Clayton and his grandfather, Cool Papa are tight much to his mother's dismay. Cool Papa is a bluesman and Clayton's mentor about all things blues. He can't wait to be good enough to be called in to join the band when they play in Washington Square Park. Clayton's world is turned upside down when Cool Papa dies. When his mother sells or gives away most of Cool Papa's possessions, including items Cool Papa wanted Clayton to have, Clayton runs away to join the band, only he has to take the subway, go underground in order to do so. This slim novel depicts a complex, imperfect family and a boy's grief so profoundly that Clayton will remain in your heart after you close the book.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For Review:

Image: Penguin Random House

Harry versus the First 100 Days of School by Emily Jenkins. illustrated by Pete Oswald. 210p. Scwartz & Wade Books/ Random House Children's Books/ Penguin Random House, June 30, 2020. 9780525644712.

Publisher synopsis: An acclaimed author and a #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator team up to bring us a funny, warm, and utterly winning chapter book that follows, day by day, the first hundred days in one first grader’s classroom.

In just one hundred days, Harry will learn how to overcome first-day jitters, what a “family circle” is, why guinea pigs aren’t scary after all, what a silent “e” is about, how to count to 100 in tons of different ways, and much more. He’ll make great friends, celebrate lots of holidays, and learn how to use his words. In other words, he will become an expert first grader.

Made up of one hundred short chapters and accompanied by tons of energetic illustrations from bestselling illustrator of The Good Egg and The Bad Seed, this is a chapter book all first graders will relate to–one that captures all the joys and sorrows of the first hundred days of school.

Purchased: The hub and I both received BN gift cards from my brother and sis-in-law for Christmas, so we went on a BN date. This is what I bought.
Image: Holiday House
Itch by Polly Farquhar. 252 p. Holiday House, February 4, 2020. 9780823445523.

Publisher synopsis: When everything around you is going wrong, how far would you go to fit in?

Isaac's sixth grade year gets off to a rough start.

For one thing, a tornado tears the roof off the school cafeteria. His mother leaves on a two month business trip to China. And as always. . . . there's the itch. It comes out of nowhere. Idiopathic, which means no one knows what causes it. It starts small, but it spreads, and soon—it's everywhere. It's everything. It's why everyone calls him Itch—everyone except his best friend Sydney, the only one in all of Ohio who's always on his side, ever since he moved here.

At least Itch has his job at the pheasant farm, which is tough but cool. And most of the guys at school are okay to hang out with, even if they're crazy about college football, and Itch could care less. He's doing the best he can to get along—until everything goes wrong in the middle of a lunch swap. When Sydney collapses and an ambulance is called, Itch blames himself. And he's not the only one.

When you have no friends at all, wouldn't you do anything—even something you know you shouldn't—to get them back?
Drawing on her own experiences with idiopathic angioedema and food allergies, Polly Farquhar spins a tale of kids trying to balance the desire to be ordinary with the need to be authentic—allergies, itches, confusion and all.

For everyone who's ever felt out of place, this debut novel set in the Ohio heartland is a warm, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking look at middle school misfits and misadventures. Whether you root for the Buckeyes or have no clue who they are, you'll be drawn into Itch's world immediately. This engaging debut is perfect for fans of See You in the Cosmos and Fish in a Tree.

Image: Little Bee Books
Jelly by Jo Cotterill. 266 p. Yellow Jacket/ Little Bee Books, January 7, 2020. 9781499810066.

Publisher synopsis: Twelve-year-old Jelly hides her true self behind her humor and keeps her true thoughts and feelings locked away in a notebook. Can she find the courage to share who she really is?

Angelica (Jelly for short) is the queen of comedy at school. She has a personality as big as she is, and everyone loves her impressions. But Jelly isn’t as confident as she pretends to be. No one knows her deepest thoughts and feelings. She keeps those hidden away in a secret notebook.

Then her mom’s new boyfriend, Lennon, arrives. He’s kind and perceptive, and he is the first person to realize that Jelly is playing a part. Jelly shares her poetry with him and he convinces her to perform one of her poems as a song at the school talent show. Can Jelly risk letting people see the real her? What if it all goes wrong?

Image: Disney
Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer. 354 p. Disney Hyperion, November, 2019. 9781368043755.

Publisher synopsis: One week after their eleventh birthday, the Fowl twins—scientist Myles, and Beckett, the force of nature—are left in the care of house security (NANNI) for a single night. In that time they befriend a troll who has clawed his way through the earth’s crust to the surface. Unfortunately for the troll, he is being chased by a nefarious nobleman and an interrogating nun, who both need the magical creature for their own gain, as well as a fairy-in-training who has been assigned to protect him. The boys and their new troll best friend escape and go on the run. Along the way they get shot at, kidnapped, buried, arrested, threatened, killed (temporarily), and discover that the strongest bond in the world is not the one forged by covalent electrons in adjacent atoms, but the one that exists between a pair of twins.

Image: Macmillan
A Galaxy of Sea Stars by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo. 330 p. Farrar Straus Giroux/ Macmillan, February 4, 2020. 9780374309091.

Publisher synopsis: A Galaxy of Sea Stars is Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo’s second middle-grade novel—a heartwarming story about family, loyalty, and the hard choices we face in the name of friendship.

Sometimes, the truth isn’t easy to see. Sometimes, you have to look below the surface to find it.

Eleven-year-old Izzy feels as though her whole world is shifting, and she doesn’t like it. She wants her dad to act like he did before he was deployed to Afghanistan. She wants her mom to live with them at the marina where they’ve moved instead of spending all her time on Block Island. Most of all, she wants Piper, Zelda, and herself—the Sea Stars—to stay best friends, as they start sixth grade in a new school.

Everything changes when Izzy’s father invites his former interpreter’s family, including eleven-year-old Sitara, to move into the marina’s upstairs apartment. Izzy doesn’t know what to make of Sitara—with her hijab and refusal to eat cafeteria food—and her presence disrupts the Sea Stars. But in Sitara Izzy finds someone brave, someone daring, someone who isn’t as afraid as Izzy is to use her voice and speak up for herself. As Izzy and Sitara grow closer, Izzy must make a choice: stay in her comfort zone and risk betraying her new friend, or speak up and lose the Sea Stars forever.

If you leave a comment, leave the link to your stack. I will pop by and to check it out!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Fact Friday: Port Chicago 50: disaster, mutiny and the fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

Image: Roaring Brook Press
Port Chicago 50: disaster, mutiny and the fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. 200 p. Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan, January, 2014. 9781596437968. (Own.)

Fact Friday features Port Chicago 50: disaster, mutiny and the fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. If you think you dislike narrative non-fiction, you have probably not read anything by Steve Sheinkin. He has the research chops and the narrative skills to take the reader back in time in an intense, immersive reading experience. It is not surprising that he won the Edwards Award this past January for his body of work. 

In Port Chicago, he relates the story of a little-known military disaster from World War II. Port Chicago was a naval base in the San Francisco bay where mostly Black soldiers loaded bombs onto the vessels under dangerous conditions. On July 17, 1944, a huge explosion killed more than 300 people and injured hundreds more. The men were ordered to report back to duty the following day. Two hundred men refused, citing the dangerous conditions. They were charged with treason and threatened with the firing squad. Sheinkin delves into the racism that kept troops segregated and allocated the most dangerous jobs to soldiers of color. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

#tbt: Yummy: the last days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri

Yummy: the last days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri. Illustrated by Randy DuBurke. 96 p. Lee & Low Books Inc., September, 2010. 9781584302674. (Own)

#tbt features Yummy: the last days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri. This compelling graphic novel "biography" is told from the POV of a fictional classmate, but tells the very true story of Robert "Yummy" Sandifer. It was inspired by a TIME Magazine article the author read in 1994. Eleven-year-old Yummy inadvertently killed a bystander while he was threatening a rival gang member. He went on the run from the police but his gang was also on the hunt for him. The pace is fast and suspenseful. The black and white panels also effectively build suspense. 

Back matter includes a number of articles as well as an author's note. Lee & Low's page for the book contains extra information as well and worth a look.

Funny Coincidence: two graphic novels about Diana/ Wonder Woman

Image: DC Comics
Diana: Princess of the Amazons by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale. Illustrated by Victoria Yang. 160 p. DC Comics, January 7, 2020. 9781401291112. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

Image: DC Comics
Wonder Woman: Warbringer Graphic Novel by Leigh Bardugo. Illustrated by Kit Seaton. Adapted by Louise Simonson. 208 p. DC Comics, January 7, 2020. 9781401282554. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

It was kind of a funny coincidence that I read these two Wonder Woman origin stories on Sunday. I was organizing the arcs I got from Midwinter. I spied the Hale GN and dove in. I am huge fan of Shannon Hale, ever since Goose Girl.

In the Hales' origin story, Diana is still a tween trying to find her place among the Amazons and feeling the loss of her mother's attention. Inspired by the story of her own birth and lonely because she is the only child on the island, she asks to keep a flawed piece of clay and molds a child she names Mona. Mona comes to life but is not quite as vibrant as Diana. The two quickly become thick as thieves. It isn't long before Mona begins influencing Diana in negative ways - encouraging her to break rules and harm people. Soon, Mona convinces Diana to travel to the island where monsters are imprisoned behind Doom's Door. 

The art is brightly colored and energetic. The panels are easy to follow. Diana is an appealing tween with relatable issues of identity. This is an all-girl adventure with zing!


In Wonder Woman: Warbringer, Diana is a teen and also wrestling with her identity and place among the Amazons. She is determined to win a foot-race and the approval of her mother when she spies a sinking ship. She abandons the race and dives into the sea looking to rescue survivors. There is just one, a girl names Alia. She brings Alia to the island, hides her and returns to the race, which is over, and her disapproving mother. Earthquakes rattle the island and Amazons quickly fall ill. Alia is the cause. She is a Warbringer and must die. Diana decides to bring her to a spring near the burial place of Helen, the original Warbringer instead. 

The palette in this graphic novel origin story is decidedly darker and moodier. The blue and gray tones have occasional splashes of red during the action sequences. This will appeal to fans of graphic novels as well as fans of the DC Icons novels and also the many fans of Leigh Bardugo.

Both origin stories belong in any school or public library collection.