Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzi Lee
Abrams / Abrams Image
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Mackenzi Lee romps through the stories of 52 intriguing women who deserve far more attention than they’ve heretofore received. Readers may recognize names such as Hatshepsut (Pharaoh of Egypt) and Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts), but they’ll also meet Khutulun, the best wrestler in the Mongolian Empire, and Annie Jump Cannon, a scientist who devised the star classification system still used today.
Full page, color illustrations of each woman featured celebrate the diversity of their subjects. A unique color palette featuring burnt orange, purple, and red catches the eye immediately. Each entry is about two to three pages long, perfect for browsing or teens with shorter attention spans. Lee’s tone is chatty and her miniature biographies engagingly written and humorously offbeat. A diverse array of women are discussed, of many backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, time periods, and sexual orientations. Many of the paragraphs are only one or two sentences long, leaving white space to reassure reluctant readers who may be intimidated by walls of text in a nonfiction book. The book includes a bibliography in case teens are inspired to do further research on one or more of these extraordinary women.
Followers of the original #BygoneBadassBroads hashtag, Rachel Hawkins’ #SexyRoyals Twitter series, or Tumblr posts explaining history will enjoy this title. This pairs well with Brazen by Pénélope Bagieu or Legendary Ladies by Ann Shen.
— Pamela Penza
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Penguin Random House / Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
What happens when you are taken away from your family?
Amal’s one dream in life is to become a teacher in her small Pakistani village. That is until one fateful trip to the market when she accidentally insults the son of the village’s most dangerous and wealthy residents – the Khan family. Publically humiliated, the Khan family tells Amal’s father that he must pay a huge debt to forgive his daughter’s mistake. Unfortunately, Amal’s family cannot afford the fee so the family must pay back their debts through the only other option: Amal becomes an indentured servant to the Khan family.
The cover alone on this book is enough for readers to want to pick it up. What they will find inside is a moving, character-driven story showing the injustice young women face in modern-day Pakistan and the courage it takes to stand up for education. Amal Unbound tells this believable tale in less than 250 pages and in a voice that will connect with a wide-range of readers.
Amal Unbound serves as a gateway book to Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography I Am Malala and pairs well with Refugee by Alan Gratz (for younger teens) and Copper Sun by Sharon Draper (for older teens).
— Anna Taylor
What’s the Difference?: 40+ Pairs of the Seemingly Similar by Emma Strack, illustrated by Guillaume Plantevin
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
What’s the Difference? is a collection of pairs, and each has a significant difference. The difference is in the details: noodles or pasta; alligator or crocodile, star or planet?
Intriguing illustrations and clever text illuminate facts, trivia and fun tidbits about each “seemingly similar” pair. Students who enjoy websites like “Spot the Difference” and comic strip Hocus Pocus will enjoy this title and its browseable collection of animals, food, geography, and even clothing pairs.
— KE Hones
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Penguin Random House / Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Haley McGrath lives with her uncle after a tragic car accident killed her mother and sent her drunk driving father to prison. When teacher Ms. Laverne transforms an old art room into a safe space for a small group of students, A Room to Talk (ARTT) is born. Haley and five classmates meet there weekly to share their stories and help each other heal.
The cover image of six kids looking over the water together to the Statue of Liberty at sunset foreshadows their camaraderie. At only 192 pages, Woodson hooks readers and packs a punch with ripped from the headlines storylines including immigration/deportation, incarceration, and more. The culturally diverse cast of characters are authentically awkward yet likeable and will tug reader’s heartstrings as their candid stories unfold in ARTT.
Although a middle grade book in character age and readability, the characters are weathered and wise for their ages, providing appeal for older teen audiences as well. Readalikes include Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle and The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore. Aficionados of the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu) by Jason Reynolds and The Crossover and Booked by Kwame Alexander will also find common ground.
— Lisa Krok