Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

Swim Team
by Johnnie Christmas
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: HarperAlley
Release date: May 17, 2022
ISBN: 9780063056770

Bree’s move to Florida from New York comes with all sorts of changes. Her father is working a full time job and is in a program at night to advance his career.  Fortunately, Bree immediately meets a new friend in her apartment complex along with Ms. Etta, an older woman who is happy to look out for Bree. Unfortunately, the Math Puzzles class is full, leaving only swimming.  With the help of Ms. Etta and Clara, Bree overcomes her self-doubt and becomes a leader on the Enith Brigitha Middle School swim team.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Batter Royale by Leisl Adams

Batter Royale
by Leisl Adams
Publisher: ABRAMS
Imprint: Amulet Books
Release date:
ISBN: 9781419750755

17-year-old Rose loves to bake, and while working as a waitress at her friend’s family diner is great, Rose wants to bake. When a dessert mishap at the diner leads to an exclusive invite to a new baking competition called Batter Royale, Rose sees more than one opportunity opening up. If she and her best friend, Fred, win the competition, the half a million dollar prize not only gives Rose the money she needs for culinary school, but could also help Fred save his mom’s diner. However, Batter Royale seems rife with fierce competitors and a mysterious saboteur guaranteeing high stakes rather than a simple cake walk.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of This Might Get Awkward by Kara McDowell

This Might Get Awkward
by Kara McDowell
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Imprint: Scholastic Press
Release date: March 1, 2022
ISBN: 9781338746235

Gemma Wells’ social anxiety keeps her on the fringes of high school life until her major crush (and high school hot guy) Beau Booker is in a tragic boating accident.  Having grown up on Lake Powell, Gemma immediately springs into action, dragging Beau out of the water and performing the CPR that saves his life–except his injuries have meant that he is in a medically-induced coma.  Beau’s last Instagram post is of him and Gemma, and his claim that she is his girlfriend now provides her with entry into the hospital as family.  Being Beau’s dutiful girlfriend is her dream come true until she meets his older “black sheep” of a brother, Griff.  Now Gemma is caught in a web of lies, but how does she dump the comatose brother for Griff?

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of And We Rise by Erica Martin

And We Rise
by Erica Martin
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release date: February 1, 2022
ISBN: 9780593352526

Poignant and educational poems chronicling the Civil Rights Movement and the important people involved. Divided up into different sections each chapter highlights a major timeframe in the history of the movement. From Rosa Parks, to the Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education, to Martin Luther King’s march on Washington, these poems give a visual and sensual look at these events. The poems take some creative license in depicting the real life people and their emotions at the time, but the other important facts are accurate.  

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys

Girl on Fire
by Alicia Keys
Publisher: Harper Collins
Imprint: Harper Alley
Release date: March 1, 2022
ISBN: 9780063029569

Lolo Wright’s life is pretty ordinary.  She may live in the Monroe Housing Projects with her father, brother, and maternal grandmother, but she’s going places.  She’s taking AP courses and doing well in school, and sure, she misses her mother, but she doesn’t lack love.  She’s just keeping her head down until she graduates.  It’s not until she and her brother are accosted by a pair of cops in a case of mistaken identity and her brother is roughed up that she discovers she has an untapped superpower. Faced with temptations to use that power on bullies, she manages to keep it in check until the neighborhood drug dealer wants to use her abilities to protect his drug and “protection” businesses.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

You’ll Be The Death of Me
by Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release date: November 30, 2021
ISBN: 9780593175866

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be best friends in middle school. Now estranged 11th graders, they come across each other and decide to skip school to relive ‘the best day ever’ from middle school. However, what began as a fun ditch day, quickly turns into real life danger – far beyond the walls of high school – and with real life consequences.

This mystery  begins with the cover itself and the plot is dramatic and includes a gossipy nature.  While the immediate mystery of the day deepens, so does the backstory of family relationships and secrets among these former friends. Chapters are short with alternating voices and the pace stays fast and intensifies as more secrets are uncovered.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow

You’d Be Home Now
by Kathleen Glasgow
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release date: September 28, 2021
ISBN: 9780525708049

Emory is lucky. She survived the car crash that killed the super popular Candy MontClair and provided the impetus for Emory’s older brother, Joey, to be shipped off to a rehab program in Colorado. Now left with physical and emotional scars from the trauma, Emory is trying to recover even as her mother places more responsibility on her to regulate the newly returned Joey’s behavior. Feeling unseen leaves Emory vulnerable to manipulation by her crush while weighing her down by the fear that her failures could be the cause of Joey’s relapse.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

A-Okay. By Jarad Greene. HarperCollins Children’s Books/Harper Alley, $12.99 (9780063032859). 

Jay deals with acne, acne medicine side effects, friend drama, and figuring out romantic feelings, during a tumultuous eighth grade year.

Blackout. By Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon. HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books, $19.99 (9780063088092). 

Six distinct but connected stories highlight black resilience and love in the midst of a New York City-wide blackout.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of The Missing Passenger by Jack Heath

The Missing Passenger Cover Art

The Missing Passenger by Jack Heath
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
ISBN: 978-1534449893

A plane with no passengers crashes in his hometown and Jarli quickly finds himself in the middle of a mystery. When he gets suspicious of the police working the case and learns that no one can be trusted, Jarli allies himself with his best option: his former bully, Doug. Together they attempt to track down the pilot and outwit a secretive criminal mastermind known as Viper.

The action grabs the reader right away with a plane crash on page one. The pacing is reminiscent of an action movie, with lots of high-risk situations, daring escapes, and chase scenes happening frequently throughout the plot. Short chapters and frequent dialogue help make this an easy read.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Hide and Don’t Seek and Other Very Scary Stories by Anica Mrose Rissi

Hide and Don’t Seek and Other Very Scary Stories by Anica Mrose Rissi. Art by Carolina Godina
Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
ISBN: 978-0063026957 

This collection of “all types of” short stories includes twenty short texts ranging from one to eighteen pages in length. Text message exchanges, letters, a script, poetry, and traditional prose comprise this eclectic collection of scary stories geared towards younger teens, but enjoyed by all readers.    

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