The Hub Challenge 2021 – Amazing Debuts

The Hub Challenge 2021 is in full swing, and readers are taking advantage of all the ways to participate! Even if you didn’t sign up officially, you can always join the fun by keeping a copy of the Bingo Challenge board handy for inspiration.

2021 Hub Reading Challenge Bingo

Several of our Challenge participants have tackled that “Read an Amazing Debut” square, and others are curious about how to connect with those titles that might be Morris Award-contenders for 2022. To begin, some participants are using the 2021 Morris Award finalists to earn their Amazing Debut square.

Here is Leanna Chappell, Hub Challenge participant and Head of Youth Services at the Swanton Public Library in Ohio, describing her love of Christina Hammonds Reed’s tremendous debut The Black Kids:

Set around the trial (and acquittal) of the officers who beat Rodney King, this book is about Ashley, who goes from being one of the girls to one of the black kids. It’s a powerful book with an engaging voice and a great story.

Our interview with Christina tells a little more about her process and what she’s working on next, and if you’re curious about the other Morris Award finalists, we also did interviews with finalist Nina Kenwood, finalist Isabel Ibañez, and winner Kyrie McCauley.

But what about those books that could be the next Morris Award winner? Every year, there are stunning and thoughtful and funny and sad YA debuts, and you can earn the Amazing Debut square by reading one of those as well! Not sure what’s a debut? Here’s a list of the Selected Lists nominations that are debuts:

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (** BFYA and Amazing Audio Nom **)
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Odessa by Jonathan Hill
Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall (** BFYA and Amazing Audio Nom **)
Like Home by Louisa Onomé
Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore
Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks (** BFYA and Quick Picks Nom **)
What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson
American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar
Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson
Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado
Heiress Apparently: Daughters of the Dynasty, Book 1 by Diana Ma
When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris
Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
These Violent Delights, Book 1 by Chloe Gong
Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky
Speaker by Peter Wallace

Besides our lists, there are many places you can go to discover new writers, including The 21ders and Melanin in YA, both of which would point you to Elise Bryant’s Happily Ever Afters. Hub Challenge participant Anna Sharon, Teen Services Librarian and Bentonville Public Library, had this to say about Bryant’s debut:

This book was so precious – and such a good title to recommend to my teen patrons! I loved how Bryant crafted the perfect balance of a light, happy, feel-good YA romance – while also weaving in important themes and highlighting a diverse cast of characters. I can’t wait for more from this author!

Here are a few more new or forthcoming titles that have piqued our interest.

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass (released May 11)

In this vibrant debut, Dass draws upon her childhood in Tobago as she remixes Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker (coming this Fall)

Baker’s writing is born of her heritage (Chinese, Irish, and Japanese), and this bold fantasy debut introduces Ten Scarborough – half British, half Japanese and oh, yeah, she’s also a Reaper/Shinigami.

We’ve mentioned Ayana Gray’s forthcoming Beasts of Prey (out in September), but now there’s a cover to drool over.

These are just a few of the amazing debuts you might read in 2021!

Challenge Participants: Are there debuts we’ve missed? Let us know in the response form! Keep your responses coming for other squares, too. Our next check-in will focus on how to make recommendations to our Selected Lists teams and how to figure out what might be a Printz contender.