Monthly Archives: February 2017

Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron

Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron. February  14, 2017. Entangled: Teen, 400 p. ISBN: 9781633755925.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run―a betrayal and a death sentence.

Part of Series: The Ryogan Chronicles (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 15, 2017)
Cameron (Assassins: Nemesis, 2017, etc.) tells a YA fantasy tale about a “nyshin”—a warrior, mage, and hunter—on a desert island rife with danger. Khya is no stranger to hardship. Life on the island of Shiara is inhospitable at best, and as a nyshin, burdens fall especially heavily on her. Nevertheless, she’s always been able to depend on her clan and the fact that everyone in it works for the good of the many. But everything changes when they threaten to take from her the one thing she can’t give up: her brother, Yorri. Her worries are understandable as her sibling approaches a rite of passage that will determine the course of his life, but the greatest dangers facing her are ones that she can’t even imagine. As storms rage across the island and enemies probe the clan’s borders, a conspiracy begins to unfold that will test everything Khya has ever known. Not knowing whom to trust, she must rely on strange bedfellows: Sanii, a member of the servant class and the love of Yorri’s life; and Tessen, Khya’s sometime-friend, sometime-archrival, and possibly something more. But most of all, she must depend on herself, casting aside faith, duty, and honor for the strength of love and family. Readers won’t be able to put this book down, as the excitement begins from the first page and only grows from there. Cameron expertly blends worldbuilding and intriguing characters with page-turning action scenes and a story that builds in tension and complexity. The novel’s commitment to diversity adds new dimensions to the story, as the cast is entirely nonwhite, and the clan recognizes nonbinary gender identities and complex sexual orientations. The lexicon of unique terms and concepts may be intimidating to some readers, but the vocabulary adds fantastic texture to the world without distracting from the plot. This rare gem of a book has a lot to offer readers, including magic, action, and intrigue on the edge of a knife. A fresh, original series starter bolstered by a dynamic protagonist and a welcome sense of depth.

About the Author

After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years studying psychology and creative writing, basically getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Now, she’s the author of several series for young adults. She’s also a reader, asexuality advocate, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse who loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.

Her website is www.byericacameron.com.

Around the Web

Island of Exiles on Amazon

Island of Exiles on Goodreads

Island of Exiles on JLG

Island of Exile Publisher Page

Artemis by George O’Connor

Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt by George O’Connor. January 31, 2017. First Second, 80p. ISBN: 9781626720152.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.0.

From high atop Olympus, the nine Muses, or Mousai, recount the story of the powerful and quick-tempered Apollo, the Brilliant One. Born of a she-wolf and Zeus, King of Gods, Apollo is destined fro the greatest of victories and most devastating of failures as his temper, privilege, and pride take him into battle with a serpent, in pursuit of a beautiful but unattainable nymph, and into deadly competition with his beloved. Watch closely as Apollo navigates the tumultuous world in which he lives. Will he rise above the rest and fulfill his destiny as the son of Zeus, or will he falter, consumed by his flaws, and destroy all that he touches?

Part of Series: The Olympians (Book 9)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Mild sexual themes

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
O’Connor offers a portrait of the Wild Goddess of the Hunt as probably the last of the Olympians you’d want to cross.Born without labor pains (unlike her twin brother, Apollo) and a picture of gap-toothed charm as a child, Artemis grows into a lissome young white hunter with a ferocious glare beneath blonde bangs and a short way with all who offend her. Acteon learns this when he spots her bathing and is transformed into a deer to be torn apart by his own hounds, as does Queen Niobe of Thebes after she sets herself up as a replacement for the twins’ mother and sees all 14 of her children slaughtered. To keep temptation at bay and her sworn virginity intact, Artemis ultimately even has an arrow for her soul mate, the peerless hunter Orion—himself born, so the tale goes, from a bearskin on which Zeus, Poseidon, and Hermes “all, uh, micturated” (“Fun with words, kids,” O’Connor comments in an endnote). He is portrayed here as a brown-skinned  hunk with a herculean physique. Though the Olympians here are, by and large, a pale lot, groups of humans and demigods display some variation in hue. Artemis and Atalanta in particular show rather a lot of skin, but artful hand placement and angles of view keep things PG. Admire her—from a distance—and don’t dis her or her mom. (notes, character profiles, discussion questions, reading lists) (Graphic mythology. 8-14)

School Library Journal (January 1, 2017)
Gr 4-8-With the latest in his series of books focused on the Greek deities, O’Connor brings to life the goddess of the hunt. Various individuals share anecdotes, weaving a nuanced portrait of Artemis: formidable, quick-witted, occasionally cruel, yet always deeply devoted to the natural world and intensely protective of women and girls. The images are dynamic, with the use of different perspectives creating drama and suspense. Blonde, blue-eyed Artemis is illustrated with cool tones, befitting her characterization. Complementing the visuals, the writing is exciting yet lyrical, evoking the poetry of the original legends. Some stories contain violence, and there is brief nudity but nothing explicit (in one scene, the hunter Actaeon spies the goddess bathing naked and as punishment is transformed into a stag and devoured by his own dogs). The back matter is particularly noteworthy: in “Greek Notes,” O’Connor provides insightful-and witty-commentary, and his bibliography will intrigue readers curious about the source material. Though the author is true to the original tales (never shying away from their less savory elements), he injects a feminist perspective, emphasizing Artemis’s strong relationships with other women and, in “Greek Notes,” referring to Actaeon as a “creepy peeping Tom.” VERDICT An excellent addition to graphic novel and Greek mythology collections.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

About the Author

George O’Connor is the author of several picture books, including the New York Times bestseller Kapow!, Kersplash, and Sally and the Some-thing. JOURNEY INTO MOHAWK COUNTRY was his first graphic novel, a long-held dream that weaves together his passion for history and ongoing research into Native American life. He’s also the author/illustrator of a new picture book, If I Had a Raptor.
He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

His website is http://olympiansrule.com.

Teacher Resources

The Olympians Activities

Around the Web

Artemis on Amazon

Artemis on Goodreads

Artemis on JLG

Artemis Publisher Page

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson. January 24, 2017. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 432 p. ISBN: 9780399547584.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Gone Girl in this enthralling murder mystery set in Kenya.

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Violence; Strong sexual themes; Gangs

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 8-11. “If you’re going to be a thief, the first thing you need to know is that you don’t exist.” So begins Congo refugee and Kenyan street gang member Tina’s gripping narrative, a wonderfully twisted puzzle of a murder mystery. Six years ago, Tina’s mother, maid to wealthy Mr. Greyhill, was murdered in his study. Eleven-year-old Tina got her half sister Kiki (Mr. Greyhill’s daughter) a scholarship at a convent school and then disappeared into the streets of Sangui City, where she joined the Goonda gang. Here Tina refined her skills as a thief while carefully plotting revenge on Greyhill, whom she has good reason to believe murdered her mother. Now 17, Tina is ready to put the plan into action by blackmailing and then killing her mother’s assassin. Anderson, who has worked with refugee relief and development in Africa, addresses issues of race, class, and gender as intrinsic plot elements. Tina’s gay friend BoyBoy is an especially sympathetic and compelling character who refuses to join the Goondas, yet lends his computer skills to their many heists. Greyhill’s son Michael, Tina’s childhood playmate, is now both her captor and maybe her love interest, highlighting the tremendous gap between wealth and poverty and the resulting power dynamics. The nicely twisted climax is wholly believable, and readers will be sorry to leave Tina, whose fierce loyalty to family drives her courageous actions.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
Anderson’s debut mystery novel features a Congolese teenager bent on revenge.In fictional Sangui City, Kenya, lives 16-year-old Tina, a black Congolese refugee. Tina has two purposes in life: take care of her mixed-race half sister, Kiki, and avenge their mother’s death. Five years ago, Mama was murdered, and Tina believes the culprit can only be the rich and corrupt Mr. Greyhill, her mother’s white former employer and lover. To survive, Tina has embedded herself as the wiliest of thieves within the ranks of the Goondas, a powerful gang in the city. After a Goonda heist on Mr. Greyhill goes wrong, Tina finds herself in cahoots with his mixed-race son, Michael, to find the true murderer. Michael wants to prove it wasn’t his father, and Tina goes along with it so that she can resume her plan for vengeance. Along with her black tech genius partner in crime, Boyboy, they find themselves in the depths of Congo, looking for answers that could cost them their lives. The narrative is guided by Tina’s rules for survival, which reveal a strong yet vulnerable character. While much of the novel is fictionalized, it exposes both the very real corruption and greed of the mining industry in Congo and the women who pay the price. The novel is peppered with Swahili words and phrases, and Anderson makes an effort to paint a picture of the country. A story full of twists and turns, proving nothing is ever as black and white as it may seem. (glossary) (Thriller. 12-16)

About the Author

Natalie C. Anderson is a writer and international development professional living in Boston, Massachusetts. She has spent the last decade working with NGOs and the UN on refugee relief and development, mainly in Africa. She was selected as the 2014-2015 Associates of the Boston Public Library Children’s Writer in Residence, where she wrote her debut novel, City of Saints and Thieves.

Her website is www.nataliecanderson.com.

Around the Web

City of Saints and Thieves on Amazon

City of Saints and Thieves on Goodreads

City of Saints and Thieves on JLG

City of Saints and Thieves Publisher Page

Crazy Messy Beautiful by Carrie Arcos

Crazy Messy Beautiful by Carrie Arcos. February 7, 2017. Philomel Books, 320 p. ISBN: 9780399175534.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

When your namesake is Pablo Neruda—the greatest love poet of all time—finding “the one” should be easy. After all, sixteen-year-old aspiring artist Neruda Diaz has been in love many times before. So it’s only a matter of time before someone loves him back.

Callie could be that someone. She’s creative and edgy, and nothing like the girls Neruda typically falls for, so when a school assignment brings them together, he is pleasantly surprised to learn they have a lot in common. With his true love in reach and his artistic ambitions on track, everything is finally coming together.

But as Neruda begins to fall faster and harder than ever before, he is blindsided by the complicated nature of love—and art—in more ways than one. And when the relationships he’s looked to for guidance threaten to implode, Neruda must confront the reality that love is crazier, messier, and more beautiful than he ever realized—and riskier, too, than simply saying the words.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 8-11. Names have power, and for Neruda Diaz, the name of “the Poet,” Pablo Neruda, has shaped his conception of the world. Neruda longs to have a whirlwind romance as described in the Poet’s works, but he must balance his ideas of romantic love with the reality of his father cheating on his mother, being forced to work with his nemesis on a mural, and his growing feelings for edgy goth girl Callie. As that relationship grows, the schism between his desire for love and his doubt in it grows wider. It is in learning more about who the Poet truly was that Neruda comes to understand that love is crazy, messy, and beautiful—like all of life. The book shines most in Neruda’s interplay with Callie, who hides her artistic side behind her hard edges, and Ezra, a repentant ex-convict friend whose regret provides guidance for Neruda’s challenges. Arcos has written a classic story of a budding artist finding out the reality behind the artifice, and does so while keeping a wonderful sense of humor.

Publishers Weekly (November 28, 2016)
For 16-year-old Neruda Diaz, love is a mystery, maybe the mystery. He comes by his fixation honestly: he’s named after Chilean love poet Pablo Neruda, his parents are still in love, and he thinks that beautiful Autumn Cho might be the one for him. Then mystery turns tragic: Neruda’s parents’ marriage is less stable than he thought, and-like her predecessors-Autumn isn’t interested. Neruda gets to paint a mural at school, but has to work with a guy he hates, and he and a girl he barely knows have to interview each other for a class assignment. Arcos (There Will Come a Time) makes Neruda thoughtful and real, and Callie Leibowitz, that near stranger from school, is tough, funny, and interesting. Neruda is half Chilean, his Los Angeles is realistically diverse, and he’s a reflective, engaging protagonist. Arcos capably probes the mysterious without attempting to solve it as Neruda discovers the difference between crushing on someone he doesn’t know and loving someone he does, learning that friendship, too, is a kind of love. Ages 12-up. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (Feb.)

About the Author

Carrie Arcos writes young adult fiction. Her debut novel, Out of Reach, was a 2012 National Book Award finalist for young people’s literature. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her family.

Her website is  carriearcos.com.

Around the Web

Crazy Messy Beautiful on Amazon

Crazy Messy Beautiful on Goodreads

Crazy Messy Beautiful on JLG

Crazy Messy Beautiful Publisher Page

All Heart by Carli Lloyd

All Heart: My Dedication and Determination to Become One of Soccer’s Best by Carli Lloyd. December 6, 2016. HMH Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9780544978690.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.7; Lexile: 940.

In the summer of 2015, the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the World Cup behind an epic performance by Carli Lloyd. Carli, a midfielder, scored three goals in the first sixteen minutes—the greatest goal-scoring effort in the history of World Cup finals.

But there was a time when Carli almost quit soccer. She struggled with doubts and low confidence. In All Heart, adapted from When Nobody Was Watching specifically for younger readers, Carli tells the full inspiring story of her journey to the top of the soccer world—an honest, action-packed account that takes readers inside the mind of a hardworking athlete.

Includes two full-color photo inserts.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 6-10. Despite being named the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, winning two Olympic gold medals in women’s soccer, and being instrumental in clinching the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Lloyd’s successes did not come easy. In this memoir for young readers, adapted from her New York Times best-seller When Nobody Was Watching (2016), Lloyd highlights her constant struggles with self-criticism and her quest for perfection, which often leave her feeling like an underachiever. She begins with being cut in 2003 from the U.S. Under-21 soccer team and how it drove her more to become one the country’s best female soccer athletes. Her conversational narrative then takes readers step-by-step through her ups and downs both on and off the playing field, including her intense personal training, initial trouble fitting in among her teammates and with coaches, and troubled relationship with her parents. While soccer fans will especially enjoy the detailed descriptions of key matches from her career, there’s much to glean about teamwork and determination for any teen. An inspiring story of perseverance.

Kirkus Reviews (December 15, 2016)
Writing with sports journalist Coffey, Lloyd presents a play-by-play recap of her progress from elementary school soccer novice to World Cup player and winner of 2015’s FIFA Golden Ball and Silver Boot.In this young readers’ adaptation of her memoir for adults, When Nobody Was Watching (2016), Lloyd seems to remember with total recall every game she’s ever played, recapping them in a direct, detailed, blow-by-blow manner that is sure to confuse anyone who isn’t as into soccer as she is. Of course, her audience is likely to be a self-selected one. But soccer detail isn’t the only reason to read this book. All too often, it is easy to look at heroes of many stripes and think that success came to them easily. Lloyd makes it clear that her path was never easy, never without commitment, never without sacrifice, and, most of all, never without discipline and a lot of hard work. Her path covered a lot of ups and downs, and there were key people along the way who made her success the eventual inevitable goal…along with those who deserted and disappointed her. Narrating in the first person, Lloyd is frank about such difficulties as her estrangement from her family, telling readers, “I don’t hear from any of them after the [2012] Olympics, though they do send me a card. I can’t believe it has been four years since we’ve had any relationship to speak of.” True to real life, her story does not unfold neatly, with a clear narrative arc, but her character comes through loud and clear.Not for lovers of soccer only: readers after inspiration to keep playing, regardless of the odds, will find plenty here. (photos, index) (Memoir. 10-14)

About the Author

CarliLloyd is a co-captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and has been named the FIFA World Player of the Year for two years in a row (2015 and 2016). The midfielder led the U.S. team to World Cup victory in 2015 and also scored the gold-medal winning goals in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She has played in three FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments, helping the U.S. win bronze, silver and then gold. In 2015 she was also awarded the FIFA Golden Ball and the Silver Boot. The New Jersey native currently plays for the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Her website is www.carlilloyd.com.

Around the Web

All Heart on Amazon

All Heart on Goodreads

All Heart on JLG

All Heart Publisher Page

The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene

The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene. February 7, 2017. Sourcebooks Fire, 496 p. ISBN: 9781492638537.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

An emotional and heart wrenching novel about grief and striving for perfection.

Lighter. Leaner. Faster.

Raesha will to do whatever it takes to win Nationals. For her, competing isn’t just about the speed of her horse or the thrill of the win. It’s about honoring her mother’s memory and holding onto a dream they once shared.

Lighter. Leaner. Faster.

For an athlete, every second counts. Raesha knows minus five on the scale will let her sit deeper in her saddle, make her horse lighter on his feet. And lighter, leaner, faster gives her the edge she needs over the new girl on the team, a girl who keeps flirting with Raesha’s boyfriend and making plans with her best friend.

So she focuses on minus five. But if she isn’t careful, she’s going to lose more than just the people she loves, she’s going to lose herself to lighter, leaner, faster…

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 11))
Grades 9-12. Barrel-racer Raesha keeps her life and her loves small: she has best friend Asia, boyfriend Cody, her dog, and her horse. Home is just Rae and her dad and the memory of her mother, who died a few years back. But there’s a new girl in town, Kierra, and both Cody and Asia are growing close with her. Rae focuses on the one thing she can control: herself. Nationals are approaching, and if Rae can make herself just a little lighter, a little leaner, she won’t be as heavy in the saddle, and her horse will move faster. “Minus five” becomes her mantra as she strives to succeed at the sport her mother loved. The novel in verse approach isn’t always the most effective here; the spare format works best when the focus is on the worsening of Rae’s anorexia. Though there are many teen books about anorexia, few focus on equestrian sports, despite the fact that eating disorders in the equestrian world are common, and this debut provides an intriguing and valuable perspective.

Publishers Weekly Annex (January 30, 2017)
A competitive barrel racer, Raesha knows that a single pound can translate into seconds lost or gained. Determined to win Nationals, like her mother did before dying from cancer, Rae fixates on her weight, sure that losing five pounds will make all the difference. The arrival of Kierra-a new rider who throws a wrench in Rae’s relationships with her boyfriend, Cody, and best friend, Asia-leaves Rae feeling alone, jealous, and frenzied. As her eating disorder develops, Rae becomes less strong and less focused, yet those elusive five pounds remains just out of reach, no matter what the scale says: “Lighter/ Leaner/ Faster, My goal/ Is always/ There.” Writing in free verse, debut author Alene vividly conveys Rae’s spiral into anorexia; as she weakens, the poems fragment and become less fluid, mirroring Rae’s physical deterioration. Alene’s characterization of secondary characters, particularly Rae’s friends, is less successful; Cody’s shallow comments about Rae’s looks are particularly damaging, but this issue is never acknowledged. Even so, Alene presents an illuminating account of a girl struggling for control of her life and body. Ages 14-up.

About the Author

Catherine Alene wrote this story when she was in recovery for her own eating disorder. She has an MA in teaching and an MFA in writing from Vermont College. She spent the last seven years as a language arts teacher at an alternative high school. She lives in Oregon with her daughter.

Her website is www.catherinealene.com

 

Around the Web

The Sky Between You and Me on Amazon

The Sky Between You and Me on Goodreads

The Sky Between You and Me on JLG

The Sky Between You and Me Publisher Page

Scenes from the Epic Life of a Total Genius by Stacey Matson

Scenes from the Epic Life of a Total Genius by Stacey Matson. November 1, 2016. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 288 p. ISBN: 9781492638025.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.5; Lexile: 800.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Arthur Bean is ready to have the best year any eighth grader has ever had. The awesome zombie movie he’s writing with BFF Robbie Zack is definitely going to be a blockbuster. He even has a girlfriend. Yes, that’s right, a GIRLFRIEND! With everything lined up so nicely, he’s sure his teachers will start to appreciate his true genius this year.

Except for the little problem of the movie camera Arthur and Robbie “borrowed” to film their upcoming blockbuster movie. And then Arthur’s girlfriend gets jealous of his friendship with Kennedy. And there’s the actual co-writing, producing, and directing of their film…Drama is definitely on the menu for this year. Arthur would just prefer it stay confined to his script.

Sequel to: A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius

Part of Series: The Arthur Bean Stories

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Stealing

 

About the Author

Stacey Matson has worked in a theatre program on Parliament Hill and written theatre pieces for the Glenbow Museum and for the All-Nations Theatre in Calgary. She earned her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia. A debut novelist, Stacey lives in Vancouver, BC.

Her website is www.staceymatson.com.

Around the Web

Scenes from the Epic Life of a Total Genius on Amazon

Scenes from the Epic Life of a Total Genius on Goodreads

Scenes from the Epic Life of a Total Genius on JLG

Scenes from the Epic Life of a Total Genius Publisher Page

I Got This by Laurie Hernandez

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond by Laurie Hernandez. January 24, 2017. HarperCollins, 240 p. ISBN: 9780062677310.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.2.

Gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast and Dancing with the Stars champion Laurie Hernandez shares her story in her own words in this debut book for fans of all ages—with never-before-seen photos!

At sixteen years old, Laurie Hernandez has already made many of her dreams come true—and yet it’s only the beginning for this highly accomplished athlete. A Latina Jersey girl, Laurie saw her life take a dramatic turn last summer when she was chosen to be a part of the 2016 US Olympic gymnastics team. After winning gold in Rio as part of the Final Five, Laurie also earned an individual silver medal for her performance on the balance beam. Nicknamed “the Human Emoji” for her wide-eyed and animated expressions, Laurie continued to dance her way into everyone’s hearts while competing on the hit reality TV show Dancing with the Stars, where she was the youngest-ever winner of the Mirrorball Trophy.

Poignant and funny, Laurie’s story is about growing up with the dream of becoming an Olympian and what it took to win gold. She talks about her loving family, her rigorous training, her intense sacrifices, and her amazing triumphs. Be prepared to fall in love with and be mesmerized by America’s newest sweetheart all over again.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

About the Author

Laurie Hernandez is an American gymnast, an Olympic gold medalist, and the youngest-ever champion on Dancing with the Stars. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Laurie won silver in the individual balance beam competition and secured gold in the team all-around competition.

Laurie started gymnastics at the age of six because she wanted to experience the feeling of flying. She enrolled at Monmouth Gymnastics in New Jersey, where she met her coach, and they became a winning duo. The turning point in Laurie’s career came in 2014, when her progress was stalled due to multiple injuries. She returned stronger than ever by becoming the 2015 US junior national champion. Laurie’s other career highlights include all-around silver, beam gold, and floor exercise bronze at the 2016 US Olympic Trials, and bronze in all-around, floor exercise, beam, and uneven bars at the 2016 national championships.

Laurie is known for her dazzling floor exercise routines and for her grace and artistry on the balance beam. And she has been nicknamed “the Human Emoji” for her outgoing facial expressions.

 

Around the Web

I Got This on Amazon

I Got This on Goodreads

I Got This on JLG

I Got This Publisher Page

Motor Girls by Sue Macy

Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century by Sue Macy. February 7, 2017. National Geographic Children’s Books, 96 p. ISBN: 9781426326981.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.8.

Come along for a joy ride in this enthralling tribute to the daring women Motor Girls, as they were called at the turn of the century who got behind the wheel of the first cars and paved the way for change. The automobile has always symbolized freedom, and in this book we meet the first generation of female motorists who drove cars for fun, profit, and to make a statement about the evolving role of women. From the advent of the auto in the 1890s to the 1920s when the breaking down of barriers for women was in full swing, readers will be delighted to see historical photos, art, and artifacts and to discover the many ways these progressive females influenced fashion, the economy, politics, and the world around them.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Publishers Weekly (November 14, 2016)
Macy builds on Wheels of Change, which examined the connections between women’s rights and the mobility offered by the bicycle, as she chronicles the history of the automobile and the paths that led women to become motorists. Against a backdrop of captivating archival photographs and excerpts from periodicals, she introduces several “Motor Girls” who made strides behind the wheel. In 1909, Alice Ramsey became the first woman to drive a car across the United States; she was followed by numerous other cross-country female drivers and racers. A section on WWI demonstrates how the war necessitated that women pilot ambulances and other automobiles, further solidifying that woman could, and wanted to, drive vehicles. Using the lens of automotive history to inform a greater narrative about women’s liberation, Macy capably shows how threads of the past are intertwined. Ages 10-up.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
Well-documented proof that, when it came to early automobiles, it wasn’t just men who took the wheel. Despite relentlessly flashy page design that is more distracting than otherwise and a faint typeface sure to induce eyestrain, this companion to Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (2011) chronicles decided shifts in gender attitudes and expectations as it puts women (American women, mostly) behind the wheel in the first decades of the 20th century. Sidebar profiles and features, photos, advertisements, and clippings from contemporary magazines and newspapers festoon a revved-up narrative that is often set in angular blocks for added drama. Along with paying particular attention to women who went on the road to campaign for the vote and drove ambulances and other motor vehicles during World War I, Macy recounts notable speed and endurance races, and she introduces skilled drivers/mechanics such as Alice Ramsey and Joan Newton Cuneo. She also diversifies the predominantly white cast with nods to Madam C.J. Walker, her daughter, A’Lelia (both avid motorists), and the wartime Colored Women’s Motor Corps. An intro by Danica Patrick, checklists of “motoring milestones,” and an extended account of an 1895 race run and won by men do more for the page count than the overall story—but it’s nonetheless a story worth the telling. Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history. (index, statistics, source notes, annotated reading list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

About the Author

Sue Macy is the award-winning author of Winning Ways: A Photohistory of American Women in Sports and A Whole New Ball Game: The Story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Both were named ALA Best Books for Young Adults and NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies. She lives in Englewood, NJ.

Her website is www.suemacy.com.

 Around the Web

Motor Girls on Amazon

Motor Girls on Goodreads

Motor Girls on JLG

Mission to Pluto by Mary Kay Carson

Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt by Mary Kay Carson. January 10, 2017. HMH Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780544416710.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8; Lexile: 940.

In July of 2015 a robotic spacecraft reached Pluto after a nine-and-half-year journey. New Horizons is the first spacecraft mission to Pluto and revealed its five moons as never before seen. Images from the mission show a reddish surface covered in ice-water mountains, moving glaciers, and hints of possible ice volcanoes and an underground ocean. Pluto is geologically alive and changing!

This addition to the Scientists in the Field series goes where no person or spacecraft has ever gone before. Follow along with the team of scientists as they build New Horizons, fly it across the solar system, and make new discoveries about a world three billion miles away.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 5-8. This thrillingly up-to-date entry in the acclaimed Scientists in the Field series traces the history and progress of the exploration of Pluto, with special attention paid to the recent and still ongoing flyby mission, New Horizons. Bolstered by excited interviews with some of the scientists and engineers involved in the New Horizons mission, Carson covers the inception of the project, the construction of the probe, the physics gymnastics involved in collecting data once it finally arrived, and some of the groundbreaking discoveries garnered from those findings. Carson’s descriptions of the concepts are crystal clear and nicely supported by the many color photographs, plenty of which are part of the trove of photos taken by the probe, and diagrams charting, among other things, the probe’s path, Pluto’s geological makeup, and the solar system far beyond the usual eight planets. This enthusiastic, accessible look at both cutting-edge scientific discovery and the dynamic work behind the scenes will be an easy sell to space-mad kids and a valuable addition to any school library.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2016)
A team effort sends a space probe to the edge of our solar system.When New Horizons flew by Pluto and sent home data and images in 2015, it was the culmination of a 26-year campaign (and a nine-year journey) and the first-ever exploration of that far-distant ice dwarf planet. Science writer and self-described “space geek” Carson and her photographer husband introduce their comprehensive description of this collaborative mission by showing the jubilant scene at the mission operations center as the spacecraft revealed its first close-up images. Then, chapter by chapter, they explain its purpose; the makeup of the craft and the instruments it carries; the journey across the solar system to Pluto, which was demoted from planet to dwarf planet during the 9 years but turned out to have 4 more moons than previously thought; some major discoveries from this first encounter; and the continuation of the mission into the Kuiper belt of small planets. Sidebars and longer sections called “Mission Briefs” provide additional information. The author’s enthusiasm shines through her clear, conversational narrative, and she quotes from personal interviews as well as press conferences and releases, extending the book’s intimacy. Uhlman’s well-captioned photographs of the team members (mostly white and male) are nicely mixed with photos from NASA and elsewhere and occasional digital illustrations. A worthy companion to Catherine Thimmesh’s Team Moon (2006) with similar appeal. (glossary, web resources, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Mary Kay Carson is an award-winning children’s nonfiction author. She has written more than thirty books for young people about wildlife, space, weather, nature, and history. Her recent non-fiction titles include Emi and the Rhino Scientist, about the Cincinnati Zoo’s famous rhino mom; Exploring the Solar System, recipient of the 2009 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Children’s Literature Award; The Wright Brothers for Kids; Inside Tornadoes; and the Far-Out Guide to the Solar System series. The author also gives presentations at schools and libraries about space, animals, history, and writing.

Her website is www.marykaycarson.com.

Teacher Resources

Mission to Pluto Discussion and Activity Guide

New Horizons “Plutopalooza” Toolkit — extensive resources on the Pluto mission.

Around the Web

Mission to Pluto on Amazon

Mission to Pluto on Goodreads

Mission to Pluto on JLG

Mission to Pluto Publisher Page