Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, November 26 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.

cover artChangeling (Sorcery and Society #1) and Fledgeling (Sorcery and Society #2) by Molly Harper
Nancy Yost Literary Agency, Inc
Published August 22nd, 2018 and July 18th, 2019
ISBN: 9781641970457 and ISBN: 9781076160881

14 year-old Sarah Smith has grown up as a “snipe,” a non-magical member of the servant class.  One day, while in a panic, she shows a remarkable feat of magic in front of her employer. A snipe displaying magical powers could shake the foundations of society, so her employer takes her in as a “distant cousin” and introduces her to elite society as such.  Suddenly thrust into the upper class and enrolled at a magic school under a new name, Sarah must protect her secret from mean girls and teachers alike.

In Fledgling, further adventures of Sarah Smith ensue. She is finding her place at school with her friends. However, she feels a strong pull to find the other children like her, those with magic but not born into the elite magical class. Intrigue, romance and exciting action bring this chapter of the series to a satisfying close.

cover artFledgling is a fun, silly romance, that follows nicely from Changeling. With a great start, quick action and light romance with a satisfying ending, it also sets up the story for a 3rd book. The Sorcery and Society books have lots of action, and familiar fantasy elements that make these quick reads. Sarah and her friends are a fun lot, with lots of snarky humor and mild romance.

Those who like magical fantasies, with Cinderella-like rags to riches story lines will love these books.  Harry Potter fans who’d like to see a girl lead magician will enjoy these. Those who want stories of magic showing up in unexpected places like Aveyard’s Red Queen Series and stories of girls thrown into royalty level lives such as Cass’s Selection Series and Maas’s Throne of Glass Series will also be interested in the Sorcery and Society Series.

— Cathy Outten





cover artThe Giver (Graphic Novel) by Lois Lowry, adapted by P. Craig Russell
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
ISBN:  9780544157880

When Jonas reaches the age where all in his community are assigned to their future job, he is named the Receiver of Memory.  As such, he is shocked to discover that his peaceful Utopian community hides some terrible secrets. When the life of an infant is in danger, Jonas must make a life-changing decision.

Lois Lowry’s Newbery-winning book The Giver translates beautifully into graphic novel format.  Knowing the importance of color in the story, the illustrators have created a dull, gray community in which Jonas lives.    Apart from occasional touches of blue, everything is monochrome gray, which is how the dwellers in this place view the world.  As Jonas’ eyes are opened to his community during his training by the current Receiver of Memory, color begins to be featured in the illustrations.  Particularly painful memories are portrayed in a sepia tone, which places them in historical context. The illustrations are easy to absorb and the shock of color added to them perfectly conveys what Jonas is feeling as he learns more and more about not only the past but the terrible truth of the present.  

This brilliant interpretation of a well-beloved classic is sure to appeal to Lowry fans as well as those who enjoy dystopian stories like Neal Shusterman’s Scythe and Allyson Condie’s Matched.  

–Allison Gray

cover artI Am Hermes!: Mischief-Making Messenger of the Gods by Mordicai Gerstein
Holiday House
Publication Date: April 16th, 2019
ISBN: 9780823439423

Hermes, the messenger God, tells his story in comic form in this short graphic novel.  Several of Hermes’s myths are told with a mischievous air. Born from Zeus and Hera, he frolics through life creating fun and helping out his Olympian family.

Lighthearted and a quick read, with a quick dip into some of the sillier Greek myths, this is an easy one to pick up and read.  Fabulous, quirky illustrations by Caldecott medalist Mordicai Gerstein are a treat to the eye.

Fans of Greek Mythology, the Percy Jackson series, and those who like comics will enjoy this book.

— Cathy Outten

cover artIt’s the End of the World As I Know It  by Matthew Landis
Dial Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
ISBN: 9780735228016

Derrick’s mother was killed in Iraq, and in the year since her passing, Derrick has convinced himself that doomsday is approaching. This novel is a countdown to Derrick’s forecasted end of time. Derrick’s friends, father, and sister care for him deeply, but Derrick can only focus on the apocalypse, going so far as to convert the shed into a reinforced shelter that he stocks with plenty of survival supplies. Misty, Derrick’s neighbor, is a quirky kidney-transplant survivor, and their unusual friendship helps Derrick live in the present rather than feeling weighed down by the past and worrisome for the future. 

This title is a short, fast-paced read filled with heart and humor that gives readers a glimpse of the struggles associated with grief and anxiety. The important role that friends and family can play in coping with and easing such emotions is a valuable message for teen readers. 

Readers who empathized with Aza in John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down will find Derrick’s character relatable as well. Viewers who found solace in movies like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and A Monster Calls for their sensitive handling of adolescent grief may feel likewise about this title.

–Aimee Haslam

cover artLoki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee, Illustrated by Stephanie Hans
Marvel Press
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019
ISBN: 9781368022262

A young Loki struggles to prove himself worthy of the throne of Asgard.  Attempting to cause general mischief, he destroys a valuable artifact. His friend Amora takes the blame and is banished to Earth.  Several years later, Loki is sent to Edwardian era Earth to investigate magical murders. He meets up with Amora again, and their unholy alliance threatens everything.

Those invested in the Marvel universe will love this back story of Loki, trickster, God of Chaos, etc.  With romance, betrayal, action, murder mystery and more, this one is hard to put down.

— Cathy Outten


cover artLook Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds
Atheneum/ Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Published October 8th, 2019
ISBN: 9781481438285

Look Both Ways tells 10 short stories of young teens as they travel home from school.  The stories are woven together to a degree as the kids head in different directions on their way home.  Each story is poignant and heartfelt with glimpses in realistic lives of the neighborhood kids.  

Look Both Ways features characters with authentic voices and experiences.  The short story style with the longer arc pulling the book together will be appreciated by reluctant readers.

Fans of other books by Jason Reynolds such as the Track series and As Brave as You will love this.  Also for those who like short stories and stories of urban kids’ lives such as Crossover by Kwame Alexander, or Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

–Cathy Outten

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.