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Tag: kwame alexander

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2020) Nominees Round Up, October 10 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Skyward, vol. 3: Fix the World by Joe Henderson, Illustrated by Lee Garbett
Image Comics
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
ISBN: 978-1534312432

Willa and Edison have split up in order to try to save the world. Edison is back in Chicago to warn everyone about the farmer/bug invasion headed their way and to come up with a plan to stop them. Willa is in Kansas City following her father’s last words to fix gravity, but Barrow is right behind her—trying to stop her. What neither of them realizes is that the “big red button” doesn’t actually fix gravity, it opens the path to the safe underground town, Crystal Springs, that Willa’s father built as a prototype city to protect people when gravity failed. Only gravity failed earlier than anticipated and the only people in the town are the ones who worked there previously. Now Willa is trapped in Crystal Springs and can’t get out to help Edison save Chicago.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, July 30 Edition

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.

No More ExcusesNo More Excuses: Dismantling Rape Culture by Amber J. Keyser
Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: January 1st 2019
ISBN: 978-1541543959

Starting with an eye-opening account of the Steubenville high school rape case (in 2012), No More Excuses exposes the deep-seated problem of sexual assault and rape culture. With examples of current events, readers are given clear, concise, and easily understood explanations of the  misogynistic problems discussed and given concrete ways to fight the problem.

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#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, July 6 Edition

People Like Us by Dana Mele
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
ISBN: 978-1524741709

After boarding school student Kay Donovan and her friends discover a body floating in the water, she receives an email to participate in a revenge website to take down her friends. Intrigued, Kay visits the site only to find it is password protected. Unable to crack the code, Kay enlists in the help of Nola, a girl she once was mean to. Once in the site, the two discover that each task is given a certain amount of time to complete. If not completed in time, Kay’s secrets will be exposed. Despite backlash, Kay will do what it takes to hide the truth.

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#QP2019 Nominees Round Up, June 5 Edition

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
ISBN:  978-0062643800

It’s three months before prom and Leah’s squad is in shambles.

Leah has the greatest friends in the universe…so why hasn’t she come out as bi to anyone yet? Especially Simon, her BFF, came out to her to her last year before anyone else in the squad. Maybe it’s because she is starting get to feelings, REAL feelings, for someone in her group circle and that someone is dating her friend. Throw in the spring musical, college acceptances (and rejections), and senior prom, and Leah may just completely lose it.

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#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 7

This round of Amazing Audiobooks nominees are great stories told in unusual formats.

Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, narrated by Kwame Alexander and Randy Preston (original music)
Audio Published by Zondervan
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
ISBN: 9780310761891

Solo tells the story of seventeen year old Blade Morrison. Blade, like his father, is a talented musician; but unlike his father, he’s steadier, sober and less haunted by his mother’s death. Blade has a comfortable yet difficult life. His dad is wealthy, so he never needs to worry about money or how to pay for his future. He has a girlfriend, Chapel, with whom he plans to attend college. Yet Blade is constantly in the public eye, because his father is not only famous, but infamous for the stunts he pulls when he’s under the influence.  Blade, who is more self-possessed that most teenage kids with famous substance abusing fathers and self-involved sisters, is learning truths about himself that are throwing his world into a tailspin.

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2016 Middle Grade Titles with Teen Appeal

It can be easy to for me to forget that teens are some of the most dexterous readers out there. They can jump from reading adult novels one day, back to a young adult novel the next, and then have no qualms about picking up a book that we consider middle grade after that. I often feel that I need to be pushing older teens to move onward from young adult titles to adult titles, assuming that is what they are “growing into,” but will be surprised when one says how they have just read Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and loved it. Some teens stay loyal to the authors that meant so much to them in the grade school years, authors like Christopher Paul Curtis and Kate DiCamillo, and others will continue to read anything by Rick Riordan, no matter how old they get. Teens can still have an interest in titles that we assume they would feel are “babyish,” but for them can be a break from angst or romance, and to them are just a great story.

We have some great resources when we are looking for adult books for teen appeal. We have YALSA’s Alex Award and their annual vetted list of books and School Library Journal’s column Adult Books for Teens, but we rarely see resources out there for younger books that might have a place in a teen’s reading pile. Here is a list of recent titles, titles that can be both successful with both a 5th-grader and an 11-grader.

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Realistic Fiction

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

This story starts and ends with a gunshot. Ever since the night his father shot a gun at him and his mother, Castle Cranshaw left running and hasn’t stopped since. Now in seventh-grade, he’s nicknamed himself Ghost after coming upon a track tryout, and without officially entering, taking on one of the most elite runners and winning. Now he is being courted by the coach to join the track team, and learns that you don’t always have to run away from things, but can run towards things too. Track is one of those sports that many kids and teens participate in, but it is rarely the subject of novels. Fans of Friday Night Lights with love this coach in this as much as they do Coach Taylor. This is a character-driven and plot-driven novel with many appeals, but teens that especially love a Gatsby-esque novel laden with imagery and themes will find so much to pore over in this short, but rich, novel.

The Best Man by Richard Peck

This story starts and ends with a wedding. One that is a complete train-wreck, and one that couldn’t be more perfect. This coming-of-age novel is full of snarky humor and hilarious episodes that allow you to see the world of adults through a younger generation’s eyes. Unlike Tom Sawyer and Holden Caulfield, Archer Magill is clueless to the world around him, and his best friend Lynette is always having to explain life’s nuances. Teen’s who have appreciated David Sedaris’ childhood memoir essays will feel at home in how family can be hilarious and still be the best parts of our world.

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Soccer is the backdrop to this coming-of-age novel. Nick Hall, whose father makes him study the dictionary and turn in homework to him, would love to escape the world of words and books. Nick thinks he has the world all-figured out. He lives for soccer, and both he and his best-friend are getting to play in the Dallas Dr. Pepper Open, but on different teams. Just as things seem to be going his way, especially with his crush paying a little of attention to him, bombs start to drop–his mother announces she is leaving to follow her dream of training race horses, but in a different state, and he get appendicitis right before the big tournament. Teens will appreciate how messy life can be, and appreciate those little moments when you realize that you’ve gotten it all wrong.

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

At the start of their eighth grade year both Lily and Dunkin are trying to establish new identities for themselves. Everyone sees Lily as Timothy, but she is ready for the real her to be known, only her father isn’t ready for the the transition. Dunkin, has just moved to Lily’s Florida town to live with his Grandmother, and would love to leave his old name “Norbert”and some painful secrets in the past. This middle grade novel has strong characterization of two young teens navigating their identities. Older teens will identify with the work it takes to let others see the real you, and the hope they will accept you for who you truly are.

middle-grade-fantasy

Fantasy

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

When Peter’s father is heading off to war, he is forced to abandon his pet fox in the woods. Unable to handle the separation, Peter runs away to find his beloved pet, Pax. Told through alternating perspective between Peter and Pax, this book is a sensitive look at grief, man’s relationship with animals, and the marks of war.

When the Sea Turned Silver by Grace Lin

The magic of story will transport readers into a new time and place filled with adventure. Pinmei has to find the Luminous Stone to rescue her grandmother who has been kidnapped by the emperor. Teens that love books of fairytales retold, with love that feeling as Lin weaves new stories that have that classic feeling.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Young Alice lives in a world that values both magic and color, and she unfortunately seems to be lacking both. She hasn’t seem to exhibit any magical powers similar to those in her community, and she was born with no color in her skin or hair. After her father has been missing for several years, she hears that he might be in the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, and she sets out to find him. Teens will be drawn to this Whimsical, gothic fairy tale with a narrator voice similar to Series of Unfortunate Events.

Goblin’s Puzzle; Being the Adventures of A Boy With No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew S. Chilton

Teen fans of Douglas Adams or Monty Python will love the humorous writing and twists and turns in this adventure. This follows a slave boy with no name as he tries to rescue a princess and a peasant (both named Alice), and discover what his destiny is. He seeks the help of Mennofar, a tiny green goblin, even though he can’t be trusted as everyone knows goblins are sneaky.

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Kwame Alexander’s Picks

Newbery award winner, Kwame Alexander visited my school, Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas, this month. His novel The Crossover (2014) has received recognition and numerous awards: the Newbery Medal (2015), NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Honor for Outstanding Fiction for Children (2015), Coretta Scott King Author Honor (2015). Penn State/Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award (2015), and Paterson Poetry Prize for Young People’s Literature (2015).

The appeal of The Crossover stretches beyond age and gender of the reader – and reading level as many reluctant readers have enjoyed the focus on basketball in this story. It focuses on fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan who wrestle with the highs and lows of high school (on and off the court) while their father ignores his declining health. The “Basketball Rules” mentioned throughout The Crossover are inspiring rules that can be incorporated in life, not just basketball.

 

 

 

After a very engaging talk to middle school students, I was able to sit down with Mr. Alexander and ask what were his 5 good picks for (older) teens.

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Book Mania Descends on D.C.: The 15th Annual National Book Festival

NBF15-Poster-5.8The sun was high in the sky and the air was remarkably low in humidity as thousands of people begins to fill the downtown streets and converge on the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  While many might have left the city for the Labor Day long weekend, others have traveled into the nation’s capital to spend Saturday in an air-conditioned and crowded convention center talking about books.  And as I have for the past five years, I joined the throng and headed down to the Library of Congress‘s 15th Annual National Book Festival.

NatBkFest15crowd1
Note both the snazzy teal tote bag and the growing line in front of the information booth, AKA swag central.

After collecting my trusty guide pamphlet and the all important, traditional Book Festival swag—a large brightly colored tote and at least two copies of the highly collectible poster—I stopped by the Starbucks in the main foyer to arm myself with additional caffeine before trekking back to the Children’s and Teen’s pavilions.

Happily, the Library of Congress documents the multitude of wonderful speakers at this event and makes the recordings available on their website as webcasts.  According, I will refrain from verbatim recaps.  Instead, I will try to offer a sampling of favorite interesting moments from the presentations I attended.

  • Rachel Swaby, author of Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World,  shared that one of her largest take-aways from the project was everyone (especially women) must find the space that works for them to pursue their ambitions and dreams–and if such a space does not exist, make it!
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Cross-Unders Revisited: Great Teen Books for Tween Readers

Today’s post is co-written by myself and Kenzie Moore. Kenzie is a student in her final semester of Syracuse University iSchool’s MLIS program, where she’s been focusing on teen services in between watching episodes of Teen Wolf and going to One Direction concerts. You can connect with her on Twitter.

It feels like every day we meet new tweens who are reading above their grade level and seeking recommendations. Cross-unders, or teen books with tween appeal, were well-covered in this 2013 Hub post from Erin Bush and Diane Colson. The YALSA Blog chimed in with reasons why these books are an important part of a teen collection serving reluctant and ELL teen readers as well as advanced tweens and younger teens. Knowing how frequently we search for titles to fit these diverse needs, Kenzie and I offer some additional cross-under suggestions. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Cross-Unders Collage for the Hub

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie — 14-year-old Junior is going to do something he thought was impossible: he’s going to leave the Spokane Indian reservation where he lives. Not permanently or anything, but he deserves better than decades-old math books, and he’s mad about it. Mad enough to do something. Sherman Alexie’s highly-buzzed book deals with some complicated topics: bullying, racism, alcoholism, but it also deals with what it is like to find your own path to walk as a young person. That, combined with the humor in Junior’s voice and his drawings that pepper the pages, is going to make this a high-appeal book for readers just starting to dip their toes into the teen waters.

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Summer Sweat: 5 Stimulating Sports Stories

photo by flickr user laffy4k
photo by flickr user laffy4k

While school is out and you are free to enjoy your summer, you might be loading your calendar with fun activities, such as road trips, adventures, and sports. Tennis, archery, and aquatics are some popular sports during the summer that you can become involved with. Many recent young adult titles feature exciting sports stories for teens!

Blue by H.J. Bellus
Blue Williams yearned to blend in when all her life she has been known in her hometown for her looks as the prom queen, brains as the valedictorian of her class, and talented as the top cheerleader in her high school squad. With a full-ride scholarship in a prestigious school, cheer becomes Blue’s primary focus. Until everything is taken away from her. The man who saved her is just as scarred, and they learn to help each other.

The Storm Before the Calm by Cate Ashwood
Charlie lives for dance. He secures a coveted spot in the Free Rein Dance Company in New York for the summer, and he is excited to get away from his life that has been threatening to devour him dead or alive. In New York, Charlie meets Max, an instructor at the school, who inspires him to be the best. Max exposes him to the close-minded perspective of his town, but Charlie’s not sure how to be center-stage in a drama he is running away from. 

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