Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Freeform / Disney
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Kira and her adoptive family train search-and-rescue dogs. Called to a national park to investigate a child’s disappearance, Kira experiences flashbacks to her own traumatic childhood and rescue. When three generations of family secrets threaten to derail the search, Kira must depend on both her human and canine friends to save herself and her family.
This first-person thriller draws readers into the story with multiple dramas, including the disappearance of a young girl, and hints of Kira’s own experiences living alone in the woods as a child. Kira’s physical and mental trauma is referenced throughout the story, and her difficulty relating to others leads her to make both amazing and frightening choices. This is a quick and engaging read, and Barnes builds the suspense and tension throughout the novel, as one disappearance turns into many. Readers are treated to multiple twists and red herrings. As an added bonus, the rescue dogs are portrayed as important characters with their own personalities.
Fans of Ally Carter’s Not if I Save You First (2018) or S. E. Green’s Monster (2019) will enjoy this book’s unique setting, and Kira’s impressive skills.
— Kathleen J. Barker
New Kid by Jerry Craft
HarperCollins Children’s Books
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Jordan Banks is about to start seventh grade at an elite academic private school when what he’d really like to do is draw cartoons and go to art school. In following his parents’ dream for him he must also deal with the fact that he’s one of only a few black students in his entire school. Jordan struggles to find his place both in school, in his skin and the larger community he lives in.
The art and writing blend well, bringing focus to Jordan’s coming-of-age middle school adventure. The dialogue feels real and is laced with laugh-out-loud humor that will appeal to young and older teens who know what it is like to stand out in a crowd and face racial prejudice and ignorance from adults in positions of authority. The graphic novel format provides instant appeal to reluctant young teens and should hook them with the relatable and humorous look at one teen’s introduction to a world that isn’t always fair.
With a relatable middle schooler’s attitude and energy, New Kid should appeal to graduates of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Holes, and appeal to the artistic sensibility of those who enjoy Raina Telgemeier’s Drama and other works.