Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

A-Okay. By Jarad Greene. HarperCollins Children’s Books/Harper Alley, $12.99 (9780063032859). 

Jay deals with acne, acne medicine side effects, friend drama, and figuring out romantic feelings, during a tumultuous eighth grade year.

Blackout. By Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon. HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books, $19.99 (9780063088092). 

Six distinct but connected stories highlight black resilience and love in the midst of a New York City-wide blackout.

Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork

On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork
Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
ISBN: 978-1338692150

The last few years haven’t been easy for Hector and his family. His father’s untimely death resulted in the loss of their home and subsequent move to the projects, and sent his brother Fili into a battle with depression and alcohol abuse. But things seem to be looking up–Hector’s become a star player on the school’s chess team and just recently won a prestigious essay contest. Even Fili seems to be doing better. Then, Joey, the younger brother of a local gang member, targets Hector, intimidating him and threatening to kill him. Terrified, but too afraid to tell anyone, Hector’s life begins spiraling downhill again, culminating in a tragic encounter that lands Hector in a reformatory school along with his nemesis, Joey. 

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of The Missing Passenger by Jack Heath

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The Missing Passenger by Jack Heath
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
ISBN: 978-1534449893

A plane with no passengers crashes in his hometown and Jarli quickly finds himself in the middle of a mystery. When he gets suspicious of the police working the case and learns that no one can be trusted, Jarli allies himself with his best option: his former bully, Doug. Together they attempt to track down the pilot and outwit a secretive criminal mastermind known as Viper.

The action grabs the reader right away with a plane crash on page one. The pacing is reminiscent of an action movie, with lots of high-risk situations, daring escapes, and chase scenes happening frequently throughout the plot. Short chapters and frequent dialogue help make this an easy read.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of A-Okay by Jarad Greene

A-Okay Cover Art

A-Okay by Jarad Greene
HarperCollins Children’s Books/Harper Alley
Publication Date: 11/2/2021
ISBN: 978-0063032842

Jay is in eighth grade and suddenly he has acne. He doesn’t really think anything of it until there are pimples all over his face. In consultation with a couple doctors, Jay tries various treatments (which don’t really work) until he’s finally put on a stronger medication which has some odd side effects. Everything else seems to spiral from there – his good friend is being distant, he’s not sure where to sit at lunch, and he doesn’t seem to have romantic feelings of any kind for anyone. What’s a teen to do when they don’t know where they fit in and life is just so confusing?

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton and others

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Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon; narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, A.J. Beckles, Jordan Cobb, Dion Graham, Imani Parks, Shayna Small, and Bahni Turpin
Quill Tree Books
Publication date: June 22, 2021
ISBN: 9780063088122

Blackout subtly weaves six unique novellas featuring Black characters by six Black authors into one connected story in New York City during a summer blackout. Tiffany D. Jackson’s story focuses on exes Tammie and Kareem who run into each other at the same summer internship opportunity. Nic Stone’s contribution is a queer male/male love story about Tremaine and JJ. Ashley Woodfolk tells a cute sapphic romance between Joss and Nella that takes place at a senior living facility. Dhonielle Clayton tackles a friends-to-lovers romance in the New York Public Library. Angie Thomas tells of a love triangle with some emotional baggage. Nicola Yoon’s meet cute of Seymour and Grace is a heartwarming end to this high-interest book about Black Love.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Summer

Due to the large number of nominees, not all titles are shown here. See full list below.

Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.


Amari and the Night Brothers. By B.B. Alston. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (9780062975164).

Amari’s brother Quinton has disappeared, and her only hope of finding him is to follow in his footsteps and become a Junior Agent with the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. 

Amber and Clay. By Laura Amy Schlitz. Candlewick Press, $22.99 (9781536201222). 

In ancient Greece, two unlikely friends Rhaskos and Melisto find their lives intertwined in a search for freedom and purpose. As a ghost bound to Rhaskos, Melisto must help free him before she can find her own rest in the Halls of Hades.

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Summer

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

Blackout Cover Art

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon
HarperCollins / Quill Tree Books
Publication Date: June 22, 2021
ISBN: 978-0063088092

It’s a hot, muggy summer day in New York City. When the power goes out, sparks fly. All across the city, an interconnected group of Black teens finds love. Bitter exes cross paths at a competitive internship before they’re forced to walk home together. Old friends reconnect on the subway and at the library. New attractions bloom at a nursing home and in a rideshare. Everyone is on their way to the same block party in Brooklyn, and who knows how their stars will have realigned when the lights finally come back on… 

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles

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Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles
Random House Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House 
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
ISBN: 978-0593175170

Wes is very familiar with two things in life: accompanying his parents to protests and loving his neighborhood. When a real estate developer rolls into Kensington Oaks offering to buy their homes, Wes and his friends must take things into their own hands to fight back against an issue even greater than they imagined. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

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The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris 
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: April 6, 2021 
ISBN: 978-1534445451 

Since his parents’ death in a car crash, Black sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus has somehow developed the ability to see the future of any object or person his hand touches. Seeing himself scooping ice cream whenever he touches the handle of a scoop at work is not much more than a nuisance, but with every inadvertent foreseeing, Alex becomes more certain that his abilities are a curse. When Alex touches a family photo and sees a series of events leading to his brother Isaiah’s death, he resolves to do something, anything, to repair their relationship and save Izzy in what little time he has left. 

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What to Do After Your Debut? Keep Writing, Of Course!

The 2021 Morris Award Finalists (shown above) were announced in December, and the winner will be revealed at the ALA Youth Media Awards on January 25. First granted in 2009, the William C. Morris YA Debut Award recognizes the most impressive debut published in Young Adult Literature each year.

With more than a decade of winners to look back on, let’s see which of our former debuts are still impressing readers today.

2010’s Morris Award went to L. K. Madigan’s Flash Burnout. Tragically, the author passed away just a year after receiving the award. The rest of the finalists from that year, however, have continued to contribute to YA in significant ways, perhaps none more notably that Nina LaCour, who went on to win the 2018 Printz Award for We Are Okay. LaCour’s latest novel, Watch Over Me, has been nominated for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults Selected List.

In fact, several names on the 2021 BFYA nominations list were originally finalists for the Morris Award, including 2015’s Jessie Ann Foley, 2016’s Anna-Marie McLemore, 2018’s Nic Stone, and David Yoon in 2020.

Last year’s winner, Ben Phillippe, has been nominated. Both the winner of the 2019 Morris Award and one of its finalists have companion books that were nominated — Adib Khorram with Darius the Great Deserves Better and Tomi Adeyemi with Children of Virtue and Vengeance. And Becky Albertalli, the winner in 2016, is enjoying praise this year for Yes No Maybe So, cowritten with Aisha Saeed.

What about books out in 2021? Morris Award recipients have those, too!

Just released is Concrete Rose, 2018 Morris Award winner Angie Thomas’s follow up to The Hate U Give.

And out in August is In the Wild Light from 2017 Morris Award winner Jeff Zentner.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

The moral of the story is this: no matter which finalist is chosen in 2021, we will look forward to reading them for years to come.