Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
Henry Holt / Macmillan
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Nina’s senior year elective–radio broadcasting–forces her into an unlikely group project with a diverse cast of students, including her neighbor and childhood crush, Jamie. Meanwhile, she navigates group work and these blooming romantic feelings for her sort-of friend while also trying to resolve family issues: a difficult relationship with her somewhat estranged father and her mother’s looming remarriage. Nina’s relationship with her sisters features as a prominent force in the novel, one that keeps her grounded and helps her sort out the deeper issues in her family.
This is a light romantic comedy with touches of heavier elements that will attract a reader who likes drama but doesn’t want to read something too dark. The novel is heavy in dialogue, which makes for a quick read and keeps the plot moving steadily along. The dialogue between Nina and her friends is fast and humorous, which should be a strong draw to young readers looking for a witty, realistic read.
A recommended read for those who like light romances like Ashley Elston’s Ten Blind Dates, Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, as well as anything Jane Austen.
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
First Second Books / Macmillan
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Magic happens when Snapdragon (Snap) befriends Jacks, the town witch. When Snap needs help caring for an abandoned passel of opossums, she reaches out to Jacks, a queer older woman who sells roadkill skeletons online. As they bond over their shared love of animals, Snap and Jacks discover their lives are intertwined in ways they could never have imagined.
This is a sweet graphic novel that combines magical realism with stories of self-acceptance.The main characters are quirky and well-developed with engaging story arcs. Snap is a fierce young black teen who fears that she doesn’t behave like a “proper” girl. Her transgender friend, Lulu, just wants to be accepted for their true self, and Jacks, a former motorcycle racer, is mourning a lost love from her youth. The story moves quickly, with minimal dialogue. Despite the potentially dark content, the lively and colorful artwork conveys a lot of physical action, as well as Snap’s high energy.
Share this graphic novel with fans of magical coming-of-age tales, such as The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag or The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner. Also a great choice for readers who enjoy intergenerational escapades, such as Nic Stone’s Clean Getaway.
—Kathleen J. Barker