Nubia: The Real One by L.L. McKinney, Illustrated by Robyn Smith
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Nubia has Amazonian strength, but after using her strength to stop a robbery, she is the one who ends up in handcuffs. Even a superhero is not immune to racist police brutality, and sadly, this is not the first time something like that has happened to her. When her best friend is repeatedly harassed by a white boy who will not take no for an answer and a protest turns deadly, Nubia must decide whether she is going to potentially reveal her secret identity to protect the ones that she loves.
The artwork is gorgeous, and readers will be pulled in by the beautiful cover that showcases Nubia herself, followed by the action-packed panels that are brightly and neatly designed with lettering that reads easily. Nubia and her friends are relatable, and their witty dialogue make for excellent overall pacing of the graphic novel in between the tense fight scenes. Her moms also provide a loving portrayal of family that support Nubia in her times of need. Teen readers will relate to the social justice themes depicted in a realistic way, especially empathizing or relating to Nubia and the injustices she faces while simply trying to live her life (but with super strength).
Fans of CW superhero shows like Black Lightning, Batwoman, and Stargirl will gravitate to Nubia. For further reading after finishing it, hand readers Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson and Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang.
–Molly Dettmann, Norman, OK
Other Nominated Titles
- Alone by Megan E. Freeman (January 12, 2021)
The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the field nomination form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.