The Dragon With A Chocolate Heart

It’s almost a week after Halloween—is anyone sick of chocolate yet? Well, I can assure you that none of the chocolate you’ve been sneaking out of your kids’ Halloween stash is as delicious or as life-changing as the chocolate in Stephanie Burgis’ new book!

Dragon with a Chocolate Heart

Aventurine longs to leave her dragon family’s cave and explore the world. She is dismayed when her mother tells her that she must wait another thirty years for her scales to harden to a protective shell before she can venture outside. Feeling claustrophobic, and ready to prove that she is capable of taking care of herself, Aventurine waits until the adults are asleep and leaves the cave.

After hours of unsuccessful hunting, Aventurine finds a human singing by a fire in the forest. Prepared to strike and bring her prey home to share with the other dragons, Aventurine pauses when she smells the most delightful scent wafting up from a pot. The human prepares hot chocolate for Aventurine, but enchants it with a spell that turns Aventurine into a human around twelve years old.

Unable to return to her cave in human form, Aventurine travels to the nearest city. Once in Drachenburg, Aventurine searches for her place in her new human world.

Aventurine discovers there is much more to chocolate than simple hot chocolate, she learns about friendship and family, she finds there are humans who fit the stereotypes that her family described for her and there are those who do not, and, most of all, Aventurine discovers her passion.

This is a fun tale that weaves together the excitement of dragons, the thrill of solving a challenge that will help others, and the lessons of persistence, friendship, and loyalty. It has something for everyone, and keeps the reader wanting “just one more chapter.”

Stephanie Burgis is the author of many books and short stories, both for children and adults. Her other middle grade books tell the story of Kat Stephenson in a trilogy (plus a novella). One of the characters from The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart will appear in Ms. Burgis’ next middle grade book, The Girl with the Dragon Heart, coming in 2018. You can find Ms. Burgis online at her website and blog at www.stephanieburgis.com.

Have you read any great books lately?

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street

We have more ghosts this week! (It is almost Halloween, after all!)

Peculiar Incident on Shady Street

Tessa Woodward and her family have just moved from Florida into a spooky old home on Shady Street. Tessa is depressed about the move—it’s cold in Chicago, there’s no ocean, and she had to leave her best friend behind.

Strange things begin happening on their first night in the new house. Tessa is sure she heard crying in the hallway. The next morning, she finds a strange mark in her sketchpad. When she goes into the bathroom, the lights dim and the door won’t open.

Things get weirder and weirder at the house. Flowers in a painting on the wall appear to wilt. Someone—or something—continues to draw in Tessa’s sketchpad. The crying keeps Tessa up every night. Soon, Tessa is afraid to be in her new home.

Tessa makes some friends who decide to help her get to the bottom of what is haunting her home. Through research at the library and a trip to the local cemetery, they try to track down the truth behind the mysterious noises and incidents.

This creepy ghost tale might keep kids up at night—definitely a middle grade read! But a fantastic one for those who are ready for it!

Author Lindsay Currie is a big fan of ghost legends. Her website, www.lindsaycurrie.com, has links to five places that MIGHT be haunted. For readers who share Ms. Currie’s interest in ghost tales, they can explore the websites of the haunted locations and tell Ms. Currie what they think about the places. Ms. Currie will send those readers bookmarks and postcards to celebrate their bravery!

I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. Many thanks to Ms. Currie and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for the chance to read this fabulous book!

Have you read any great books lately?

Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind – PLUS GIVEAWAY!!!

Today, I’m thrilled to be joined by Darlene Foster, author of a series about a traveling twelve-year-old named Amanda.

In book six of the Amanda Travels series, Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind, the book follows Amanda and her class on a school trip from Calgary to New Mexico. Their exploration of different parts around Taos, New Mexico, is interrupted by a ghost. Ms. Foster’s description of the New Mexico geography, architecture, and artifacts is truly amazing! Ms. Foster brings New Mexico to life for readers as she details Amanda’s travels. 

Amanda in New Mexico

Welcome, Darlene!

Thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Elizabeth.

You asked me what drew me to Amanda as my main character. The wonderful thing about being a writer is that you can create any character, place and situation you want. You are totally in control. Well almost, sometimes your characters take over the story. I know Amanda does.

Amanda Jane Ross seemed to pop into my head and wouldn´t go away. She is a spunky young girl whose love for travel takes her around the world to many interesting places where she meets intriguing people, learns a lot about the culture and always has an adventure. She is curious, brave and cares about other people, which sometimes gets her in trouble. I would have loved to be able to travel all over the world when I was her age.  I guess you could say Amanda is the twelve-year-old girl I would have liked to be.

My books are inspired by my travels. I have been to all the places Amanda goes to. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to travel as a young person, I have explored much of this amazing planet as an adult. Every time I visit a new place, I feel like a child experiencing something awesome.  I try to incorporate these thoughts and feelings into my stories which is why I like telling the stories from a tween’s point of view. My books feature places I myself have found fascinating such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, England, Alberta, Germany, Austria and Hungary. In recently released book six, Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind, Amanda visits the enchanting state of New Mexico. I spent some time in this state a couple of years ago and immediately knew it would be the perfect setting for an Amanda adventure.

The character of Amanda tags along with me everywhere I go now. I am constantly thinking about what she would like about the place and the adventures she could have. I take lots of pictures and keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas. I have often said in my out loud voice, “Amanda would just love this!” My husband has got used to having my imaginary friend with us.

Where is Amanda planning to go to next? She is scheduled to visit Holland, a remarkable place with brilliant tulips fields, charming windmills, wooden shoes and many bicycles. While visiting the sites of Holland, she learns more about World War II and attempts to find out what happened to a great-uncle who went missing in action in that country many years ago.

The more Amanda travels, the more she learns about the world and herself. To me, that is what travel is all about. My wish is that my books will encourage readers of all ages to explore new places.

I have a question for you and your readers, if you could travel with any fictional character, which one would you chose and why?

Awesome question, Darlene! Can’t wait to see who folks say they would want to travel with (and why)!

Darlene is offering an amazing Amanda in New Mexico GIVEAWAY for U.S. and Canadian residents (if the winner is from a location outside those two countries, he or she will win digital copies of the full series)!

A little more about Darlene:

Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. With a desire to write since she was twelve, her short stories have won a number of awards. She is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels series featuring spunky twelve-year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Her books include: Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel, Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone, Amanda on The Danube – The Sounds of Music and Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene, her husband and their dog, Dot, divide their time between the west coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa, in Spain. She was encouraged by her parents to follow her dreams and believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.

You can follow Darlene on her website, on her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter!

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!!!

Monster Or Die 2: Into the Shadowlands

Let’s get into the Halloween mood with a monster story! Into the Shadowlands is a fun middle grade adventure involving ogres, trolls, frankenstein monsters, and so much more!

Monster or Die.jpg

Monster or Die is a series set in Uggarland—a world full of monsters set apart from humankind. In Uggarland, there are Monsters, and then there are OMOs, or Odd Monsters Out.

The OMOs don’t act as monsters are expected to behave. Among the many OMOs in Uggarland are sixth graders Frank, the frankenstein who has blue skin and likes his clothes to be crisp and his hair neatly combed; Oliver, the mummy who prefers to be unwrapped; Vanya, the ogre who prefers sparkly, pretty outfits and things; and Stan and Dan, the two-headed gargoyle who likes humor over scaring people.

Life is difficult for the OMOs. Uggarland rules require them to purge themselves of their misfit ways and become more monsterly (“monster or die!”), or they will be exiled to a horribly sunny and warm island to live out the rest of their days.

Malcolm the troll is a classic Monster. He hates the OMOs, or misfits, as he calls them. So he is shocked to discover that his father, who he believed died a hero’s death four years ago, was actually living a life of exile with the misfits.

Malcolm already loathed the misfit Frank. But when Malcolm learns the truth about his father and Frank is there to see it, Malcolm decides both his father and Frank must be destroyed.

This is a wonderfully fresh book of middle-grade self-discovery and acceptance. It addresses differences in others and finding the best in people. It explores themes of the marginalization and exclusion of minority groups, and calls to mind the forced conformity and assimilation to European ways found in the Native American boarding schools of the early 20th Century.

The language in this book is entertaining. There are many monster words (such as the “slybrary” and exclamations like “snotfargle extremo!”) to keep readers entertained. The characters’ names all make kids chuckle (e.g., Mr. McNastee). And there is plenty of action to keep the story moving.

Ms. Reeg is a former librarian and author of both middle grade and picture books. She has many suggestions for games, crafts, and puzzles for kids available on her website, www.cynthiareeg.com. For parents and teachers, Ms. Reeg offers a number of resources, including grammar games, study guides, and book lists.

I didn’t read the first Monster or Die book, but that didn’t impair my ability to read and enjoy this one. I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Have you read any great books lately?

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

I heard the opening paragraphs of this book at the SCBWI Midsouth conference this past weekend, and as soon as the session ended, I ran out to the “bookstore” Parnassus had set up in the hotel lobby and bought a copy. It took every ounce of my self-control to keep from reading further while the conference continued around me.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

The best introduction I can give to this book is the one I received:

When I was little, a kid pointed at me on the playground and shouted, “Her arms fell off!” then ran away screaming in terror to his mom, who had to cuddle him on her lap and rub his head for like ten minutes to get him to calm down. I think, up until then, I hadn’t thought about the idea that my arms must have actually fallen off at some point in my life. I had never really thought about not having arms at all.

My missing arms weren’t an issue for me or my parents. I never once heard either of them say, “Oh, no, Aven can’t possibly do that because that’s only for armed people,” or “Poor Aven is so helpless without arms,” or “Maybe Aven can do that one day, you know, if she ever grows some arms.” They always said things like, “You’ll have to do this differently from other people, but you can manage,” and “I know this is challenging. Keep trying,” and “You’re capable of anything, Aven.”

I had never realized just how different I was until the day that horrible kid shouted about my arms having fallen off. For the first time I found myself aware of my total armlessness, and I guess I felt like I was sort of naked all of a sudden. So I, too, ran to my mom, and she scooped me up and carried me away from the park, allowing my tears and snot to soak her shirt.

Yeah, wow. Just let that sink in for a minute . . .

So, Aven is a thirteen-year-old girl who was born without arms. Her parents are awesome, telling her things like “having arms was totally overrated” and pondering whether there are arm-removal services that they can use. But just after Eighth Grade starts, Aven’s parents move her from her comfortable life in Kansas to Arizona.

Aven tells her tale in the same sassy, sarcastic voice evident in those first paragraphs. She confronts the stares of her classmates with bravery and strength (far more than I remember having in Eighth Grade!). Although many of the kids at her school can’t see past her missing arms, she eventually meets some wonderful friends who have some quirks of their own.

Alex was drawn into this book as quickly as I was. He made me share one of Aven’s tales of how she lost her arms (in a forest fire in Tanzania) to Dad—who has now placed a ban on me reading to the kids in restaurants, since he says I get too excited and the rest of the restaurant patrons didn’t want to hear about arms burned to a crisp, like bacon, while they were eating.

This is a must-read for everyone. It has the potential to open readers’ eyes to their own actions around people who have differences, and to help change those actions for the better. Aven and her friends can guide middle graders who are in the midst of feeling that no one understands them toward accepting and loving themselves. And it’s so important to have well-written books with characters with disabilities available for kids to read.

This is Dusti Bowling’s first book, and I hope we see many, many more from her. Ms. Bowling offers a discussion guide for Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus on her website, www.dustibowling.com.

Have you read any great books lately?

Ban This Book

Alan Gratz’s new novel, Ban This Book, seems like the perfect choice to help celebrate Banned Books Week!ban this bookAmy Anne has a favorite book in her school library. She borrows it as often as the library rules allow. But when she tries to check it out one day, Mrs. Jones, the school librarian, tells her that she had to take it off the shelf. Some of the parents decided that it wasn’t appropriate for elementary school, and the school board agreed with them. With that, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was banned from the school library.

Mrs. Jones asks Amy Anne to attend the school board meeting to tell the board why the book is so important to her. Amy Anne agrees to go, but the meeting doesn’t go as she hoped. Instead of returning Amy Anne’s favorite book to the library, the board leaves its ban of eleven books in place.

Although Amy Anne can’t prevent the ban, she decides to take action to help students have access to the banned books. As the list of banned books continues to grow, the students’ interest in the forbidden books grows as well. Amy Anne and her friends find creative ways to circumvent the ban to satisfy this interest.

Ban This Book is a marvelous tale of inspiration, impressing upon middle school readers that they can make a difference, even when things seem hopeless. Through her experience responding to the banned books, Amy Anne’s self-confidence blossoms, and she learns to speak up for herself. The impact of her objection to the censorship reaches her relationships with family and friends, which all grow stronger during the book.

The Author’s Note explains that every book that the school board banned in Ban This Book has been challenged or banned in an American library at least once in the last thirty years.

The American Library Association (ALA) publishes a list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books each year, along with the reasons for the challenges. Judy Blume made the list in 2005. Since 2000, Mark Twain has been on the list twice; J.K. Rowling has been on it three times; and Maya Angelou has been on the list four times. Well-known books that have appeared on the Top Ten list more than once since 2000 include Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

The ALA holds Banned Books Week every year to celebrate the freedom to read. It highlights the value of free and open access to information. During Banned Books Week, the entire book community comes together in support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those that some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The ALA has many suggestions on ways to get involved in Banned Books Week. You can also check with your local library to find out what is happening in your area!

Alan Gratz is the author of many books, including Samaurai Shortstop and the League of Seven trilogy. He can be found online at www.alangratz.com.

Have you read any great books lately?

Kat Greene Comes Clean

Cleaning. It might be the task I hate more than anything else. So it was with great appreciation for attention to detail that I read the opening paragraph of Kat Greene Comes Clean—Kat’s mother is using an electric toothbrush to clean the kitchen floor.

Kat Greene

It didn’t take long to realize that Kat’s mom cleans more than the typical adult, though. She cleans all day, every day—literally. She washes her hands until they are red and raw. She throws away anything that she thinks is dirty or might be carrying germs. She makes Kat wipe her backpack with antibacterial wipes before she takes it into the house. She even wears—and makes Kat wear—latex gloves in the supermarket!

Kat knows something is wrong at home, but she doesn’t know what to do. She just knows that she has to keep what her mom is doing a secret. She can’t tell her dad, who has remarried. And she doesn’t want people at school to know.

Luckily, she has a best friend who she can talk to about anything. But even with her friend Halle’s support, the pressure of keeping her mother’s strange behavior a secret is taking over Kat’s life.

The problems at home do not relieve Kat from the drama of middle school. At eleven years old, Kat is also in the center of middle school crises. There are fights with friends, romantic crushes, and crazy classmates to deal with every day.

This story about a parent with an obsessive-compulsive disorder and the impact it has on her child’s life is fascinating. Kat’s confusion and struggle to find a way to help her mother is compelling, and it was impossible to put this book down.

Melissa Roske has a teacher’s guide available for Kat Greene Comes Clean on her website, www.melissaroske.com. She is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can find an interesting interview of Ms. Roske on the blog Literary Rambles.

According to the American Psychiatry Association, approximately 1.2 percent of Americans have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It affects slightly more women than men. The average age at which OCD symptoms appear is 19. People with an immediate relative who has OCD are two to five times more likely to experience OCD than those without a close relative with OCD.

The International OCD Foundation has a set of Guidelines for Family Members of people with OCD, which are designed to help strengthen relationships between individuals with OCD and their family members. If someone in your family has OCD and you are looking for help, this is a good resource to use as as starting point.

Many thanks to Ms. Roske for shedding some light on this condition and its effect on families. I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I look forward to reading more from this fabulous new author.

Have you read any great books lately?

Best. Night. Ever.

Remember how much fun it was back in school playing the game where each person came up with a sentence of a story? This is SO much better—like a really amazing version of that story!

Best Night Ever

Seven authors came together to write this book, which tells the story of one night from seven points of view. It is the night of the middle school dance and the students of Lynnfield Middle School know it is going to be the most unforgettable night of their lives. But, like most of our experiences in middle school, it turns out far different than they had planned.

Carmen is the lead singer of the hit middle school band Heart Grenade. She was ready to become a star singing at the dance, but her parents are making her go to her cousin’s wedding instead. Life is so unfair!

Taking Carmen’s place at the front of Heart Grenade is Genevieve. She loves to sing and has a fabulous voice, but she only likes to sing in the background. She has stage fright.

The drummer of Heart Grenade, and Carmen’s best friend, is Tess. Not only does she have the performance to think about, but she has a big date too!

Ellie can’t believe she’s going to the dance with the cutest guy in school. Kevin asked her to be his date, and she knows this is going to be the most romantic night she’s ever had.

Ashlyn is stuck babysitting instead of going to the dance, just so her almost-step-sister, Ellie, can go. Well, there is that whole grounded thing too . . .  But it’s just not fair that she has to miss showing off her awesomeness to the rest of the seventh grade.

When Ryan signed up to be part of the dance committee, he was hoping it would help move his friendship with Mariah to the next level. Will it work?

And Jade is at the dance just to get revenge.

All of these lives weave together seamlessly—even though they are not just seven different points of view, but written by seven different authors! The kids sound believably seventh grade, and range from the hopeless-romantic bookworm to the angry and sarcastic popular kid. The book is told in the first person (changing character point of view with each chapter), and there are frequent text messages and emojis throughout the book.

I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review, and I am so glad! I loved this book. It took me right back to my middle school dances, although I have to say we had a lot less drama at mine! I never thought about it when I was at one of those dances, but I was with a room full of people having similar, yet different, experiences—just like the seven main characters in this book.

Perhaps reading this will make it easier for middle school kids going through their own drama (at dances, or elsewhere) to realize that others are scared/excited/nervous/upset/etc. too. Or maybe they’ll just enjoy a really good book!

Best. Night. Ever. was written by Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, Jen Malone, Gail Nall, and Dee Romito. A reading guide for Best. Night. Ever. is on Ms. Alpine’s, Ms. Faris’s, and Ms. Romito’s websites.

Ms. Alpine writes both middle grade and young adult novels, including Operation Pucker Up and You Throw Like a Girl. She is online at www.rachelealpine.com.

Ms. Arno’s middle grade novels include Ruby Reinvented and Molly in the Middle. She is online at www.ronniarno.com.

Ms. Cherry writes books for middle grade and young adult readers, including Willows vs. Wolverines and The Classy Crooks Club. She is online at www.alisoncherrybooks.com.

Ms. Faris writes the Piper Morgan chapter book series and middle grade novels, including 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses. She is online at www.stephaniefaris.com.

Ms. Malone writes both middle grade and young adult novels. She is the co-author of the You’re Invited series, as well as novels including The Sleepover and The Art of the Swap. She is online at www.jenmalonewrites.com.

Ms. Nall writes the You’re Invited series with Ms. Malone. She is the author of middle grade and young adult novels, including Out of Tune and Breaking the Ice. She is online at www.gailnall.com.

Ms. Romito is the author of middle grade novels The BFF Bucket List and No Place Like Home. She is online at www.DeeRomito.com.

Have you read any great books lately?

From Ant to Eagle

By the end of the first chapter of From Ant to Eagle, eleven-year-old Calvin Sinclair has confessed to killing his younger brother. And with that—just a dozen or so sentences into the book—author Alex Lyttle had my undivided attention.

From Ant to Eagle

From Ant to Eagle is the story of Calvin and his six-year-old brother Sammy. Calvin loves his brother, but he also loves picking on him and manipulating him, and he occasionally excludes or neglects him.

Like many sibling interactions, Sammy adores his big brother. And Calvin takes advantage of Sammy’s hero-worship. Calvin has created a Level System to make Sammy do nearly anything he can think of—like try to eliminate a wasp’s nest with a can of WD40. When Sammy completes a “mission” with bravery and courage, Calvin awards him a Level. Sammy began at Ant, and is eager to reach the highest Level: Eagle.

Two years ago, Calvin’s family moved to Huxbury, a small town in Southern Ontario. They live in the country, surrounded by fields, trees, and, far in the distance, Lake Huron. There is nothing to do, and no one around to play with except Sammy.

Then, the summer Calvin is eleven and Sammy is six, a new family moves nearby. They have a daughter Calvin’s age named Aleta. Calvin is instantly smitten, and reaches out to become Aleta’s friend. As he gets closer to Aleta, he spends less and less time with Sammy. What happens during that summer changes everyone’s lives forever.

I can’t praise From Ant to Eagle enough. This book was absolutely phenomenal. The interactions between Calvin and Sammy were all-too realistic (and may have hit me a little too hard, since my kids are about the same age as these brothers). This book grabbed hold of my emotions and twisted me into an emotional wreck as I watched the brothers’ relationship change, Calvin’s friendship with Aleta grow, and, of course, the aforementioned killing of Sammy. (It’s always hard to explain tears over a book in public!)

Author Alex Lyttle is a pediatrician living in Calgary, Alberta. He has a website serving his “duo-life” at www.alexlyttle.com. Listen to him “ramble” on his blog, learn a little about him (he credits R.L. Stine and the Goosebumps books for teaching him to read!), and maybe even check out his guidance as a pediatric allergist.

I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I am so grateful for the opportunity—this is one of those books that stays with you, that makes you thankful for your own family, and gives you a little perspective into the challenges some families face.

Have you read any great books lately?

The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball

It’s sometimes too easy to forget that the way we live (whether in Canada, the United States, or China) is not the only way. The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball explores just how jarring moving halfway around the world can be—particularly for children.BaseballThe Forbidden Temptation of Baseball follows two brothers, Woo Ka-Leong and Elder Brother Woo Ka-Sun, as they move from their village in Southern China to Suffield, Connecticut in 1875. They are part of a group of 120 boys that the Imperial Government of China is sending to the United States as part of the Chinese Educational Mission. Their task is to learn English, complete college degrees, and return home to help transform China to a strong, modern country.

The boys participating in the Chinese Educational Mission are sent to the United States with almost a year of training in the English language (enough to be polite), descriptions of American culture, and many admonitions: do not act “too American,” do not join a church (although they must attend with their host families), do not cut the long braid that all Chinese men and boys wear as a symbol of loyalty to the emperor, and avoid the American frivolity called “baseball.”

Ka-Leong and Ka-Sun are placed with the Swann family: Reverend Swann, his wife, and their two daughters, Julia and Charlotte. The Swanns immediately begin calling the boys Leon and Carson, deciding their Chinese names are simply too difficult to pronounce. A day later, Carson, who is the more serious and studious of the two brothers, is dismayed to learn that their teacher will be a woman.

This is just the beginning of the clash of the two cultures. As the boys’ time in America continues, they are teased by children and adults for their braids and their clothing. They struggle to learn the English language and to continue their own Chinese studies after their lessons. They are stunned by aspects of American culture that they were unprepared for, in particular, the role and treatment of women.

Author Dori Jones Yang has done a fantastic job identifying many ways in which the cultures of 1870s China and 1870s America differed. But even more impressive is her interpretation of how the Chinese boys might have responded to these disparities. Although Leon and Carson are brothers and come from the same home and upbringing, their reactions to life in America, and their willingness to adapt to this new life, are dissimilar.

I was enamored with this tale of two brothers and could not put it down. Ms. Yang’s exploration of the relationship between Leon and Carson was brilliant. I loved the use of baseball to symbolize one brother’s attraction to American culture, while he pulled away from both his brother and the life in which he was raised.

The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball is based on the true story of the Chinese Educational Mission, in which the emperor of China sent 120 boys ages eleven through sixteen to study in America. They stayed with host families in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. You’ll have to read the book to learn whether the Mission was successful!

I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Dori Jones Yang is the author of a number of books, from non-fiction to YA novels to children’s readers. Her website is www.booksbydori.com.

Have you read any great books lately?