Six Favorite Young Adult Books

 

  1. Vita Nostra, Written by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko

If you’re bored of the old variations on magic school books, Vita Nostra, written by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, turns the trope on its head. It is about a girl that is recruited after a series of increasingly threatening tests to attend a secretive and special university in the Ukraine. There, she gets enmeshed in a series of thought experiments and mind games which may/ may not involve very real magic, in which speaking up about the school’s dangerous activities may lead to the murder of all your loved people. The fact the characters of this book are all young adults at the age when mood and psychosis disorders sometimes become apparent is likely not a mistake. It is recommended to readers who are okay feeling vaguely nauseated when reading.

  1. Girls of Paper and Fire, Written by Natasha Ngan

Have you read YA fantasy and wish that it was more sapphic and more Asian? If yes, Natasha Ngan has you covered. Girls of Paper and Fire is a Malaysian inspired fantastic story of a girl that is taken to be a courtesan to a demon king… And there, she falls in love with another girl, also a courtesan who is vulnerable, mysterious, and dangerous in equal measure. Girls of Paper and Fire is a powerful story of feminism, resistance, queerness, and survivorship in the face of patriarchy. Moreover, the story’s prose is wonderfully poetic and transporting.

  1. In Other Lands, Written by Sarah Rees Brennan

This book is a humorous book and another twist on the magic school idea. It follows blunt nerdy bisexual Elliott when he gets drawn into a magic training program in a magical dimension which exists alongside our own. It has many queer badass kids with a variety of flaws and talents, including a girl from a fiercely matriarchal culture.

Top 10 Sports Books for Kids (part 1)

 

If your kid is athletic and/or a sports fan, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be a devoted bookworm, too. Watching and playing sports is fun, however, when your kids need a little downtime, it’s also nice to read books about sports. Here are ten books which combine the best of both worlds for sports fans, and those who love them.

  1. Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars, by Gregory Zuckerman, Elijah Zuckerman, and Gabriel Zuckerman

This book gives an inspiring look at some of the challenging stories that 11 famous athletes faced early on in their lives – for example, the Tourette Syndrome diagnosis of soccer star Tim Howard. It’s important and necessary to show your kids that even a great athlete like Stephen Curry was told that he wasn’t good/tall/strong enough to play college basketball, however, he didn’t give up and let that discourage him but worked twice as hard.

  1. Weird but True Sports: 300 Wacky Facts About Awesome Athletics, by National Geographic Kids

If your kids have ever entered the Trivia Phase, this is exactly the book for them! They will head back to school with a huge collection of up to 300 fun sports facts that will help them wow their classmates.

  1. Kid Athletes: True Tales of Childhood from Sports Legends, by David Stabler and Doogie Horner

Even the most famous athlete was once a child and this book of David Stabler and Doogie Horner is a poignant reminder of that. You might be surprised to know which football star had to do the tango in his play at school, or which baseball legend was sent to reform school. These touching tales are wonderfully entertaining, even for those who are not fans of sports.

  1. Sports Illustrated Kids Slam Dunk!: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Basketball, by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids

This book is the perfect gift for kids who are basketball fans! It’s jam-packed with a lot of trivia about the leagues, game, and players. In addition, there are full-color photographs from Sports Illustrated.

Five Family Favorite Books to Spend Time Together

Written by Mac Barnett

Illustrated by Adam Rex

Age Ranger: 4-8

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

We have never laughed as loud and long as we did when reading this book. The rhyme in this book will fool you again and again and I’m sure that you will want to share it with all the people you know.

Written by Margie Palatini

Illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Age Ranger: 4-8

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

The author and publisher of Under a Pig Tree seem to have had some communication issues. The author wrote a clear history of figs while the publisher is sure that she meant pigs. Things got mixed up somewhere in the publisher’s office when the illustrator drew pigs instead of figs. Needless to say, the author is not happy about this “little mix-up” and scrawls all over the book!

It’s hilarious! And you might learn some facts about pigs – I mean, figs.

Written by Sarah Stewart

Illustrated by David Small

Age Ranger: 4-8

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

You may not think that a historical fiction picture book which was written entirely in letters about the Great Depression would be all that appealing. If that, you’d be wrong.

Sarah Stewart introduces young readers to a determined and engaging heroine. The story is told through the letters written home while the illustrations done by David Small beautifully evoke the Depression-era setting.

  • Chicken Cheeks

Written by Michael Ian Black

Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Age Ranger: 3-8

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Basically, this book is a list of animal butts. The illustrations by Kevin Hawkes show not only one plot, but also an additional subplot. Moreover, there is a duck-billed platypus gluteus maximus.

  • Boats for Papa

Written and Illustrated by Jessixa Bagley

Age Ranger: 3-8

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

This book tells the story of Buckley, a little beaver, whose father is no longer around. He keeps making boats to send messages out into the ocean. It is also a book about an amazing mother who is raising an empathetic and amazing child.

 

Michael Carrick: Between the Lines: My Autobiography

 

Michael Carrick is a great football player who was the heartbeat of Manchester United. For more than 10 years, he was the player who made them tick. Worshipped by the Old Trafford faithful, lauded by his fellow professionals, loved by his managers, yet regularly misunderstood by the wider public, Michael Carrick was a football player like no other.

Calm, thoughtful, intelligent – the opposite of the archetypal English midfielder – Michael Carrick is typically forthright and has always been his own man. In his book Between the Lines, Carrick not only reveals how it’s really like to win relentlessly under the legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson but also shows us the famous Carrington training ground’s hidden secrets. He pulls no punches, exposing what went wrong under Louis van Gaal and David Moyes, then lifting the lid on the controversial charismatic Jose Mourinho. In addition, he invites us to experience the clashes and camaraderie in the United dressing room and lets us feel the experience of walking out on the Old Trafford pitch with some of the most famous names in the game – from Ronaldo to Rooney, Giggs, Pogba, Zlatan, Scholes, and the rest.

Between the Lines is a deeply personal book, revealing for the first time Carrick’s battles with mental health, the redemption he has found with his team and his family, as well as his struggles with the national side.

Growing up in the north-east, winning the Champions League and 5 Premier League titles with Manchester United, Tottenham, and West Ham, the story of Michael Carrick reveals him to be his own man: thoughtful, fearless, honest, and intelligent.

*All proceeds of Michael Carrick from the sale of his book Between the Lines  will be donated to Michael Carrick Foundation, used to provide financial support to community services which will give the underprivileged children in the North and North East the better opportunities so that they feel valued, safe, and inspired.*

C is for Chickasaw, by Wiley Barnes

 

Written by Wiley Barnes

Illustrated by Aaron Long

Age Range: 6 and up

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: White Dog Press

What to expect: Indigenous People: Chickasaw Nation, Culture, and Heritage

Hello! Welcome to the Chickasaw people’s world, which is introduced through this fascinating, brightly colored, and conceptual alphabet book.

C is for Chickasaw is a book about the Chickasaw history and culture as well as about the preservation of the Chickasaw Nation. Now, there are only fewer than fifty-five fluent Chickasaw language speakers, so this book is an exhilarating addition to the world of children’s literature.

C is for Chickasaw is not only well-written but also well-designed. It has a clear format which enables readers of different reading and comprehension levels to take in as much as they are ready for. In the end pages, there are the words glossary, the activities, and discussion questions, all that makes it also suitable for a classroom setting.

Through the alphabet, from A to Z, the author and illustrator of this book share 26 concepts which highlight the Chickasaw culture and heritage, for example, the importance of family, clothing, art, tools, and the forced resettlement of Native Americans in the 1830s. For each letter, there is an English word accompanied by a Chickasaw word and a two-line stanza which gives meaning to the word. To resound the identity of the Chickasaw people, the illustrator displays boldly the Southeastern Native American artwork on each page. Each concept includes a short description and additional information so that readers can dig deeper.

Filled with knowledge, courage, and wisdom, this educational picture book surely makes both the Chickasaw elders and readers ages 6+ be fascinated.

About the Author

Wiley Barnes has spent nearly 18 years forging a career in writing, publishing, printing, and graphic design, with his last 11 years at the Chickasaw Nation. During that time, he has had the pleasure of working on some projects promoting the Chickasaw culture. C is for Chickasaw is his first book for children. He lives in Oklahoma, with his wife and two children.

Cassandra and the Night Sky, by Amy Jackson

Written by Amy Jackson

Illustrated by Donna Paredes

Age Range: 5-12

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Bright Sky Press

What to expect: Astronomy, stars, constellations

Cassandra and the Night Sky is an interesting book telling the tales of the constellations in the night sky. It is about a world where all the stars have been stolen by an evil King. Therefore, the Kingdom lives nighttime in darkness except for the moon’s light. Cassandra, the Kingdom’s spoiled princess, who had every toy imaginable, has heard about the stars which used to shine brightly in the night sky. She was given a plain, broken teapot for her ninth birthday by her nurse. Being disappointed, Cassandra gives this gift to a servant’s daughter. However, one day, they discover that this teapot is filled with the stars in the night sky of ancient lore. They release all the trapped stars, to find the King who sets a trap of a nasty scorpion inside the teapot. With the help of her pet swan, Cygnus, Princess Cassandra can put the sky to right.

The story finally shows the real names and also the illustrations of the constellations Cygnus, Cassiopeia, the Scorpion, and the Teapot. This tale of constellations will delight all children and will make their telescope viewing adventures with the starry sky more exciting. The book’s illustrations, which are crafted with colored pencil by Donna Paredes, are richly saturated and bright. The book’s author Amy Jackson successfully brings this truly exciting and unique story concept to life by using her extensive background in teaching and in the sciences. This gives a funny reading for the whole family, especially before a star-viewing party.

About the Author

Amy Jackson is the Starry Sky Austin’s founder and director. She grew up in Houston with NASA in her backyard, her dream was to become an astronaut.

Knowing is Growing: Grown-Up Values for Children, by Herschel Kahn

Age Range: 5-8

Paperback: 52 pages

Publisher: Mountain Arbor Press (2018)

What to Expect: Parent-child interaction, family and personal values.

For children, grownups seem to have all the fun and make all the rules. To be “grown-up” is what every child wants. Knowing is Growing – a book by Herschel Kahn – acknowledges this childish preconception charmingly. It offers a volume fostering “grownup” thinking and knowledge, meanwhile reminds children gently that with knowledge and power come responsibility.

Knowing is Growing focuses on not only the values that children need to learn to successfully grow up but also the responsibilities which come with such knowledge. The book covers topics such as kindness, love, creativity, and more practical advice such as staying safe, saving money, and looking ahead. Although this overt didacticism may seem off-putting at first, the delivery in this book manages to be refreshing by involving the child reader in dialogues with adults about their roles in the social contract without hiding its practical motivations. This way empowers both the child and the adult, acknowledges the power imbalance that integral to childhood, and also helps the children try to gain knowledge, independence, and “grownup” values. The dialogues in the book are emphasized by spaces at the end for the child and adult readers to make free-style discussion, then to sign and date. This feature is particularly endearing, giving the book another function as a memoir of a child’s progress through his life. In addition, the illustrations of the book help to further highlight the idea that growing up is a process like life. The drawings may be not perfect or very professional, but colorful, engaging, and enthusiastic.

In general, Knowing is Growing has fantastic potential as an educational aid for child and adult readers to enjoy together.

About the Author

Herschel Kahn is a proud member of the octogenarian generation. He and his wife, Jody, have traveled around the world, visiting more than 80 countries. They live in Marietta, Georgia.

A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, by Glenda Millard

Title: A Small Free Kiss in the Dark

Author: Glenda Millard

For ages: 12 years +

Type: Young Adult Fiction

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Publication Date: February 2009

Noticing a headline about ‘urban tribes’ on a newspaper, Glenda Millard began thinking about the main character for this story and wondered how life would be for a young homeless boy, who lived with people thrown together in circumstances that they couldn’t control. While the backdrop for this story is war, she intended to capture the indomitable nature of hope. And in fact, the story has become a powerful tale of loss and the struggle to survive.

This is a story of Skip, a young teen boy who tries to find a home and a family to belong to and care for. His life has left him feeling separated and out of sync with the others around him. Ignored by his parents and the foster care system, he decides to live on the streets. Then he teams up with Billy, an old homeless man. When war happens, Skip and Billy meet a six-year-old boy, Max, and a beautiful teenage dancer, Tia, with her baby, Sixpence. They form a fragile family together, set up home and hide out in the ruins of an amusement park when the conflict rages around them.

Scavenging for food, baby formula, and diapers, they have to stay out of sight of the gangs and lawless soldiers. Firstly, they rely on Billy, the only adult. But when life deteriorates, Billy falls apart. Skip, just a 12-year-old boy, must take over and lead the family to search for sanctuary. How long can Skip and his fragile family hold out while the war grips the city?

Glenda Millard has a great ability to track all the characters’ internal conflict right to their own potential breaking point. Although there are some shocking and disturbing moments, none of them is gratuitous. And the story is always kept compelling and moving.

For all of these things, A Small Free Kiss in the Dark is among the most un-put-downable favorites of pre-teens and younger teens, both girls and boys, to read and enjoy.

My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie

Age Range: 1 and up
Hardcover: 108 pages
What to expect: Nursery Rhymes, Mother Goose, Favorite Characters
To all children, words are magical. And the most magical words are the beloved words of Mother Goose. My Very First Mother Goose, a beautiful book for children, covers the world’s most favorite nursery rhymes.
From the great story of Humpty Dumpty, Hey Diddle, Diddle, Pussycat, Pussycat to the lesser known Milkman, Milkman, the book of Twentieth Anniversary Edition is a large volume of the most popular and meaningful classic nursery rhymes. In this book, Iona Opie, the editor, and Rosemary Wells, the illustrator, collect the best of Mother Goose’s ageless work to a brilliant shine: more than 60 rhymes appear here in four chapters of large, toddler-friendly type. Besides the old-time favorite rhymes, the 60 plus rhymes in this book include some more recent ones such as “Shoo Fly” and “Down by the Station.”

Rosemary Wells is the famous author and illustrator of the Max and Ruby series, the Yoko series and many more. In this book, she has created an engaging and exuberant world filled with distinctive characters guaranteed to delight the youngest child. Her sweet and precocious animals bring the tales to real life and attract even the smallest children to flip the pages. The scenes in the book sometimes look like in old-time England or the rural hills of America. Besides, she chooses to use the bold color that will help to entrance little readers and bring excitement to these classic tales. Unlike many compilations of nursery rhymes, each page of this book is really colorful and interesting with inventive pictures, decorated letters, and tiny hidden easter egg-type surprises. The characters in the pictures often have their own conversations that help to increase the richness and interest to the rhymes.
Iona Opie’s fine research in the world of nursery rhymes has made My Very First Mother Goose become a special treasure that will enhance any child’s library. Although there are many distinguished entries in the nursery-rhyme book section, this book certainly adds special joy to any collection.

The Spy and The Traitor Review

The Spy and The Traitor by Ben Macintyre takes place a year after Alexander Litvinenko, a former agent for Russia was poisoned to death in 2006. Once again the world was captivated by another former agent, one that happened to be a double agent, fighting for his life. Only this time, the act did not happen on Russian soil but took place on United Kingdom soil.

Oleg Gordievsky was living in Surrey, England and leading a quiet life. He had assumed a new name, but it was not enough to hide him from the Russians. He too was poisoned and was acutely aware that he had been marked for assassination as a result of work he did decades earlier.

As a young man, Gordievsky led the life of a double agent working in London as the KGB bureau chief. While performing his role for the KGB, Gordievsky was revealing Russian secrets to the British Government. The information he passed along was so sensitive that even top government elected officials did not know his true identity.

Gordievsky’s life Retold

The publication of Macintyre’s The Spy and The Traitor takes a detailed look into Gordievsky’s and retells his escape from the Soviet Union in the 80’s, and it is only now that we understand the true meaning of the Gordievsky file.

The cases of recent poisonings have reminded people that while the cold war is officially over, it continues to battle on. The beginning of the cold war began over 70 years ago after Igor Gouzenko defected to Canada and shared Soviet secrets shortly after the end of WWII. Gouzenko defection revealed the Soviet had built a network of agents throughout the Western world. In the 60’s another double agent defected to Russia and information shared resulted in the destruction of England’s own spy network and the death of other spies. It also resulted in England out for revenge, and that is where Oleg Gordievsky entered the picture.

His life amplifies the distrust that is common among other countries, even those that share common ground and interests. The British kept secrets from the Americans, the Americans kept secrets from the British, and that led to America taking counterintelligence measure in an effort to figure things out.

Aldrich Ames, the head of counterintelligence for America, was an acting Russian double agent, and that led to the identification of Oleg Gordievsky and his eventual demise. The book provides content about his early professional career while in Denmark, and the decision to forego the Russians in favour of the British.

Macintyre provides old-fashion journalism to track down all those involved in the case, spoke with each and recounts statements that made with respect to events as they happened. For spy lovers, this is a must read that is not only exciting but enlightening as well.