Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Gone to Drift by Diana McCauley


Gone to Drift by Diana McCauley. 272 p. HarperCollins Publishers, April 3, 2018. 978062672964.

Publisher synopsis: From award-winning Jamaican author Diana McCaulay, Gone to Drift is a powerful voice-driven middle grade novel about family set in Jamaica.

Lloyd comes from a long line of fishermen. Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, Lloyd feels most at home with the sea and his grandfather, Maas Conrad, at his side.

When his grandfather doesn’t return from a fishing trip, Lloyd fears he has gone to drift. The sea may be in Lloyd’s blood, but as he searches for his grandfather, he discovers a side of the ocean—and the people who use it—that he’s never known before.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Teen Tuesday: Dear Martin by Nic Stone


Dear Martin by Nic Stone. 224 p. Random House Children's Books, October, 2017. 9781101939499. (Borrowed from public library.)

Like Starr in that other auspicious debut, Justyce McAllister straddles two worlds, only he boards at his tony prep school and doesn't have the intact family and extensive extended family support that Starr had. He's a top student with his eyes on an Ivy league education; but he begins to question all that when he is arrested as a suspected carjacker when all he was trying to do was help his drunk ex-girlfriend get home safely. Luckily for him, his friends and their parents have his back and charges are soon dropped, but the experience causes him to question everything and everyone. He tries to sort through his feelings by writing letters to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Interspersed between his letters and the narration of events are bits of dialogue.

Stone packs a lot into this relatively short book. There will be tears and anger. While some characters receive short shrift (I for one, wanted to know more about his tough-love mother), readers, both reluctant and avid alike, will tear through this and have much to think on. I have a student who discovered Jason Reynolds' book Ghost at the end of his seventh grade year. He came back to eighth grade wanting Patina, then read every one of Reynolds' books before moving on to Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down and Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give. He devoured Dear Martin as well.

I read this one with my ears. While narrator, Dion Graham turned in his usual stellar performance, the lists and sections of dialogue are more difficult to convey. Either way, Dear Martin is a must-read and must purchase for high school and public libraries.






Monday, February 19, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Saint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda Woods


Saint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda Woods. 136 p. Nancy Paulson Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, September, 2011. 9780399255076. (own)

In the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, readers get to know eleven-year-old Saint Louis Armstrong Beach. He's a confident kid who lives with his parents in the Tremé section of New Orleans. He's also an accomplished clarinetist who often busks for cash. He doesn't think this hurricane is going to be a big deal. Just as he's about to evacuate the city, Shadow, the neighborhood dog runs off and Saint decides to go looking for him, becoming trapped as the storm surges.

Saint is an engaging narrator. His heart is in the right place and he loves his city and its denizens. Suspense ratchets up as the levees break and Saint has to think quick if he's to save Shadow and his neighbor. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cover Coincidence: Canoes

Cover Coincidence is the occasional post prompted by the question, "Where have I seen this before?" In this case, it is two books that I will be highlighting in Waiting on Wednesday posts in the next few weeks.



Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender. 224 p. Scholastic Inc., March 27, 2018. 9781338129304.

Publisher synopsis: Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.

Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She's hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won't stop following her, and -- worst of all -- Caroline's mother left home one day and never came back.

But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline's first and only friend -- and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.

Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline's missing mother -- before Caroline loses her forever.



Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay. 210 p. Papillote Press, February, 2016. (Wait, what?)

Publisher synopsis: From award-winning Jamaican author Diana McCaulay, Gone to Drift is a powerful voice-driven middle grade novel about family set in Jamaica.

Lloyd comes from a long line of fishermen. Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, Lloyd feels most at home with the sea and his grandfather, Maas Conrad, at his side.

When his grandfather doesn’t return from a fishing trip, Lloyd fears he has gone to drift. The sea may be in Lloyd’s blood, but as he searches for his grandfather, he discovers a side of the ocean—and the people who use it—that he’s never known before.

Okay, now I'm confused. The image above is the cover of the paperback(?) which currently unavailable (?) and below is the cover image of the hardcover which is pubbing on April 3 from HarperCollins. I'm so confused!


Okay, so technically, not a coincidence, but still interesting that two middle grade books from Caribbean authors feature a canoe on the cover.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

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:

Ella Queen of Jazz by Helen Hancocks. upgd. Frances Lincoln Children's Books/ Quarto, February, 2018. 9781847809186.

Publisher synopsis: Ella Fitzgerald sang the blues and she sang them good. Ella and her fellas were on the way up!It seems like nothing could stop her, until the biggest club in town refused to let her play... and all because of her color. But when all hope seemed lost, little did Ella imagine that a Hollywood star would step in to help.

The inspiring, true story of how a remarkable friendship between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe was born-and how they worked together to overcome prejudice and adversity.



Blue Grass Boy: the story of Bill Monroe, father of bluegrass music by Barb Rosenstock. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. 40 p. Calkins Creek/ Highlights, March 6, 2018. 9781629794396.

Publisher synopsis: Here is the story of Bill Monroe, whose deep Kentucky roots helped him to create the unique American music called bluegrass.



Everything Else in the Universe by Tracy Holczer. 253 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons, June 12, 2018. 978-399163944.

Publisher synopsis: In the midst of the Vietnam War, a young girl struggles to embrace change in this tender family story for fans of Cynthia Lord and Wendy Maas
Lucy is a practical, orderly person—just like her dad. He taught her to appreciate reason and good sense, instilling in her the same values he learned at medical school. But when he's sent to Vietnam to serve as an Army doctor, Lucy and her mother are forced to move to San Jose, California, to be near their relatives—the Rossis—people known for their superstitions and all around quirky ways. 

     Lucy can't wait for life to go back to normal, so she's over the moon when she learns her father is coming home early. It doesn't even matter that he's coming back "different." That she can't ask too many questions or use the word "amputation." It just matters that he'll be home. But Lucy quickly realizes there's something very wrong when her mother sends her to spend the summer with the Rossis to give her father some space. Lucy's beside herself, but what's a twelve-year-old to do? 

     It's a curious boy named Milo, a mysterious packet of photographs and an eye-opening mission that makes Lucy see there's more to life than schedules and plans, and helps to heal her broken family. The latest from critically-acclaimed author Tracy Holczer is a pitch-perfect middle grade tale of family and friendship that's sure to delight fans of One for the Murphys and Rules.


When Paul Met Artie: the story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri. Illustrated by David Litchfield. Candlewick Press, March20, 2018. 9780763681746. 

Publisher synopsis: From childhood friendship to brief teenage stardom, from early failures to musical greatness — the incredible story of how Simon & Garfunkel became a cherished voice of their generation.

Long before they became one of the most beloved and successful duos of all time, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were just two kids growing up in Queens, New York — best friends who met in a sixth-grade production of Alice in Wonderland and bonded over girls, baseball, and rock ’n’ roll. As teens, they practiced singing into a tape recorder, building harmonies that blended their now-famous voices until they sounded just right. They wrote songs together, pursued big-time music producers, and dreamed of becoming stars, never imagining how far their music would take them. Against a backdrop of street-corner doo-wop gangs, the electrifying beginnings of rock ’n’ roll, and the rise of the counterculture folk music scene, G. Neri and David Litchfield chronicle the path that led two young boys from Queens to teenage stardom and back to obscurity, before finding their own true voices and captivating the world with their talent. Back matter includes an afterword, a discography, a bibliography, and a fascinating list of song influences.

(I am so-o happy about receiving this! I've been looking forward to this since featuring it here.)

Purchased: Nothing, so frugal!

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave your link and I will definitely visit and comment. 

Graphic Novel Review: Time Shifters by Chris Grine


Time Shifters by Chris Grine. 266 p. Graphix/ Scholastic, May, 2017. 978054592657. (Review of finished ppb copy courtesy of publisher.)

This graphic novel adventure begins on a somber note with the accidental death of Luke's brother, Kyle. Months later, Luke is still grieving when his mom suggests that he get some fresh air. A flash of light in the woods behind his house makes Luke curious so he leaves his porch to check it out. He stumbles upon a hapless trio of henchmen who also happen to be dead. They've dropped a device in the snow and Luke accidentally picks it up not realizing that it is a time travel device. It becomes locked on his arm and the henchmen are about to kidnap him but he's rescued in the nick of time by a crew of time-travelers that include a robot named Abraham Lincoln, a shape-shifting dinosaur and a smart-mouthed teenaged ghost girl. They are led by the scientist who invented the device. 

Readers may suffer from a bit of whiplash trying to keep up with the random but often laugh-out-loud predicaments. The crew ends up on a wild-west-styled planet peopled with giant hungry spiders so not only are they being pursued by the undead trio of hapless henchmen, but trying to avoid becoming spider food.

The art is colorful and adds to the energy. Panels are easy to follow. There is thought and depth here as Kyle makes a poignant choice at the end leaving open the possibility for more adventures.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Fact Friday: 28 Days: moments in Black History that changed the world by Charles R. Smith


28 Days: moments in Black History that changed the world by Charles R. Smith. Illustrated by Shane Evans. 56 p. Roaring Brook Press, January, 2015. 9781596438200. (Own.)

This beautifully illustrated collective biography highlights 29 notable African-Americans. Most are fairly well-known, though there are a few lesser known figures. Some figures receive a double-page spread, others single-pages and one pair of astronauts share a page. There are eulogies and poems and even quotations from Supreme Court decisions to convey the importance of people and events chosen.

The illustrations are the stars here. Evans' brilliantly colored art bursts with energy and emotion. Backmatter consists of a bibliography of books for young readers who may be interested in further exploring Black History Month.