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.
Michigan vs. The Boys by Carrie S. Allen
KCP Loft / Kids Can Press
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Michigan Manning is thrilled when she earns a spot on the boys’ varsity ice hockey team. Despite becoming the team’s leading scorer, her teammates make it clear she’s not welcome. Even when “harmless” pranks cross the line into assault, Michigan fears that speaking up will cost her everything she loves.
Michigan’s story starts when she learns the girls’ hockey team has been eliminated due to budget cuts. She is a strong and passionate protagonist who thrives despite the many challenges (both physical and emotional) thrown her way. Allen’s narrative includes a fair amount of suspense, as readers are constantly left to wonder how Michigan will manage the various secrets she keeps in order to stay on the team. While exploring Michigan’s experiences, Allen tackles uncomfortable topics that will nonetheless appeal to teens, including hazing, toxic masculinity, and learning when and how to stand up for yourself.
Readers who enjoy stories about female athletes and/or hockey will appreciate Allen’s attention to detail when it comes to the rituals and camaraderie of playing team sports. Titles to explore include Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren (2019), the graphic novel Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu, and nonfiction anthologies such as Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win by Rachel Ignotofsky (2017).
–Kathleen J. Barker
Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science Behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia
Carolrhoda Books / Lerner Publishing Group
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Explore the real-world origins of eight popular monsters, including Dracula, werewolves, zombies, and Godzilla. Readers will learn how to separate monster fact from monster fiction, and investigate detailed drawings of monster anatomy. The book includes fun tips for precocious monster hunters, everything from keeping a sea monster in your bathtub to surviving a werewolf attack.
This engaging narrative takes an irreverent look at the monsters of our collective nightmares. Informative text combines with eye-catching infographics and timelines to connect science, history, literature, and popular culture. The book is organized into eight chapters, one for each monster, and each chapter is parsed into smaller chunks of text and visuals, making the book easy to navigate and browse. Beccia’s dark humor and conversational tone make this an approachable text, even for younger YA readers.
Perfect for fans of monster movies, video games, and television shows. The book complements monster-themed fiction, such as Rebecca Schaeffer’s Not Even Bones (2019), or books in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles. Readers of monstrously good nonfiction, including Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lita Judge (2018) will enjoy learning more about their favorite creatures in this compendium.
–Kathleen J. Barker
Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Steve Pugh
Publication Date: September 3rd 2019
Harleen Quinzel finds herself in Gotham City, parentless, and is taken in by a fabulous group of drag queens. As the gentrification of their neighborhood orchestrated by an evil conglomerate threatens their home and livelihood, Harleen, now Harley Quinn, wants to take action. With the help of her friend Ivy, and maybe the Joker(?), will she succeed?
A Young Adult DC Comics origin story, this is written by graphic novel expert Mariko Tamaki. It features a gripping tale, with just enough wrong behavior coming from a good place on Harley Quinn’s part to keep the reader intrigued. There is tons of representation, and incredible illustrations to fill out this fantastic book.
Those who enjoy comic graphic novels with known characters and female leads, like Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia and Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle will be interested in this title.
— Cathy Outten